SeanChron | Book Review - Visual Complexity

Throughout the 20th century, computers were often used to describe how the human brain works in terms cognition and how knowledge is acquired, stored, recalled, and synthesized. Manuel Lima's new book Visual Complexity provides insight into how our brains will work in the 21st century and beyond. Data visualization and information graphics (we like to call it 'data candy' here at Future-ish) has taken pop culture and media by storm lately and for good reason. The increasing amount and complexity of information and data has become overwelming and the data jockeys and designers that have the skill and talent to translate that information into understandable charts, graphs, images, and artwork are quickly becoming the newest philosphers and engineers of ideas. In Visual Complexity, Lima has collected some of the most creative contributions to data visualization to date with a specific focus on representations of complex networks.

Here's a peek inside the book...

Lima begins with a brief survey of how systems have been represented throughout time. Going as far back as early deptictions of the tree of life as knowledge systems to early diagrams of hierarchies and lineages, Lima proves that visualization of connected information and knowledge and ideas is not exclusive to modern times. But soon, Visual Complexity becomes a collage of images that are both high-design and data-rich. Most importantly, Lima's curration and narrative demonstrate that by presenting relational data in innovative formats, completely new relationships and insights into the information become available to us...not to mention that the results are often distinct works of art in themselves. Lima finishes the book by reflecting on how we see the world through data, how our relationship with data will change in the future (cybernetics for example) and, more importantly, how data visualization can be used to solve some of the pressing challenges facing our planet by engaging audiences in completely new and compelling ways.

One thing is for geeks will not be able to let this book out of their hands. They will take this book with them coffee shops, on camping trips, to the bathroom. And yes, they will sleep with it under their pillow.