I recently received a review copy of The Visual Miscellaneum A colorful guide to the world’s most consequential trivia.  This was a  great book from the author of Information is Beautiful. The books is a visual exploration of information and contains numerous examples of how to rethink ways in which we interpret data. Not all of the examples are what you would expect. The book is full of brilliant colors, shapes, sizes, charts, scatter-grams, area charts, and eye-popping visuals. It’s a great addition to any UI designers reference shelf.

What’s Great About A Book Full of Info-graphics?

So you may be thinking, how can this book help me as an interface creator or UI designer? The truth is quite a bit. If you have ever dealt with long boring data tables meant to convey Visual Miscelleanum - Music Genre Info-Graphic“important data” you can start to see the true power of representing data in a much more dynamic and thought provoking way. This is where inspiration can strike you in new and fun ways.

At first glance flipping through the pages of this book was much akin to being at a carnival and having all the vendors shouting at you for attention. The visual imagery can be overwhelming and not all the representations are outstanding. Some pictures are extremely confusing, but in many cases it is the exploration of imagery that provides meaning and stimulation to all the senses.

Some of the more powerful representations of data include: a chart representing different musical genres, things that will give you cancer, Virtual Massively multi-player online worlds as represented by a land map, the cloud of the top 100 web sites, just to name a few.

Summing It All Up

Like most books in this category you are very likely to get some type of inspiration and be able to interpret your data in new and exciting ways. By mastering unique ways to represent complicated and number laden data you can become much better at getting your point across.  After flipping through the pages of this book you will hopefully be able to render data like never before.

The Good:

  • 100’s of excellent info-graphic examples at your fingertips
  • New and interesting ways to visually depict data
  • Extremely fast to browse through and become inspired
  • The book is priced just right at $26.99 (odd number)
  • High end graphics and vibrant colors make it a joy to peruse

The Bad:

  • I wish there was more explanation behind the steps used to arrive at a chosen info-graphic
  • The title of the book may be misleading and as such some may miss out on this book.
  • I would have liked the charts to be organized more by topic (but it is miscellaneum, so it makes sense.)