The Visual Miscellaneum by David McCandless

The Visual Miscellaneum

The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide To The World’s Most Consequential Trivia is a pretty cool book. It would make a good gift. A classic table-top-book. One you can pick up and pick a random page. It’s visually appealing and the graphics are very interesting.

That said the book isn’t very deep. Most of the information comes from Wikipedia or Google searches. Some of these charts are confusing and don’t illustrate the concepts very well. I would say as a source of information it leaves a lot to be desired. As a text book on illustrating complex concepts you’d be better off with one of Edward R. Tufte‘s books.

McCandless has a bad habit of emphasizing design over: clarity, meaning, and accuracy. The type is very small, so it’s often hard to see what each chart is trying to show, and even harder to see where this data comes from. Often the sources are disappointingly incomplete. My favorite chart is on page 160, “Articles of War: Most edited Wikipedia pages”, which was nothing but text. It could have been a table sorted by edit count. But instead it was a random jumble with the titles resized by the count number. Not exactly useful.
The entire book is interesting.. but disappointing.

256 pages


About craigmaas

I do a little web design work and support a couple web sites and blogs. My primary focus is lighting and energy consulting where I use a number of computer tools to help my customer find ways of saving money and improving their work environment. See my web site for more information:
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