As I started looking through The Visual Miscellaneum by David Mccandless the first thing that struck me wasn’t the visuals but how he took public information that’s available to anyone and made a book through his perspective. That reason alone is why this book should be required reading for designers. The book isn’t perfect, there’s actually a lot of misfires in terms of printing and data representation, but how he manages to collect data, turn that into information while creating a narrative is something that will inspire designers.
Mccandless topics were varied as much as his use of type and display. Everything from Life to Thought through Pop to Music was examined. The best examples were those that showed a relationship of scale that a reader might not have realized. Most people realize that they will spend a lot of time sleeping in their life, but in the diagram Life Times there’s a number of things put into scale that would make a person take pause. Over and over I’d look at his editorial eye and marvel at how he took something from Wikipedia or Google and created a story worth visualizing. Other times he use info from a site that I’d never heard of and turn it into a ten minute examination of data comparisons. I’d try to imagine how much time and effort it took for some of the pages to be created. From inception to collecting to visualizing could have taken weeks.
As I mentioned that there’s some misfires in terms of printing. On page 64 there’s a lot of colourful circles about why people divorce, just no info on what each circle meant. Other times the info was a bit obscured in form such as the display of Kyoto Targets shows. I had a hard time understanding the circle within a circle scale menat. They’re not minor details but for every not so quite perfect diagram or story there were four or five compelling pages.
Now that he’s completed this book I hope he’ll use that experience and create more collections with a considered eye towards his own style of illustration and consistent use of type. While he credits his use of stock illustrations I wonder what he could have created if he had more time and budget. The book was interesting to look through but what got me excited was the potential for him or others to look at what he started and build something even more interesting out of the public data that people tend to take for granted through a personal narrative.