Functional Art, The: An introduction to information graphics and visualization
Unlike any time before in our lives, we have access to vast amounts of free information. With the right tools, we can start to make sense of all this data to see patterns and trends that would otherwise be invisible to us. By transforming numbers into graphical shapes, we allow readers to understand the stories those numbers hide. In this practical introduction to understanding and using information graphics, you’ll learn how to use data visualizations as tools to see beyond lists of numbers and variables and achieve new insights into the complex world around us. Regardless of the kind of data you’re working with–business, science, politics, sports, or even your own personal finances–this book will show you how to use statistical charts, maps, and explanation diagrams to spot the stories in the data and learn new things from it.
You’ll also get to peek into the creative process of some of the world’s most talented designers and visual journalists, including Condé Nast Traveler’s John Grimwade, National Geographic Magazine’s Fernando Baptista, The New York Times’ Steve Duenes, The Washington Post’s Hannah Fairfield, Hans Rosling of the Gapminder Foundation, Stanford’s Geoff McGhee, and European superstars Moritz Stefaner, Jan Willem Tulp, Stefanie Posavec, and Gregor Aisch. The book also includes a DVD-ROM containing over 90 minutes of video lessons that expand on core concepts explained within the book and includes even more inspirational information graphics from the world’s leading designers.
The first book to offer a broad, hands-on introduction to information graphics and visualization, The Functional Art reveals:
• Why data visualization should be thought of as “functional art” rather than fine art
• How to use color, type, and other graphic tools to make your information graphics more effective, not just better looking
• The science of how our brains perceive and remember information
• Best practices for creating interactive information graphics
• A comprehensive look at the creative process behind successful information graphics
• An extensive gallery of inspirational work from the world’s top designers and visual artists
On the DVD-ROM:
In this introductory video course on information graphics, Alberto Cairo goes into greater detail with even more visual examples of how to create effective information graphics that function as practical tools for aiding perception. You’ll learn how to: incorporate basic design principles in your visualizations, create simple interfaces for interactive graphics, and choose the appropriate type of graphic forms for your data. Cairo also deconstructs successful information graphics from The New York Times and National Geographic magazine with sketches and images not shown in the book.
A link from Functional Art: An introduction to information graphics and visualization can be found here: www.thefunctionalart.com.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A comprehensive look at an important field,
This review is from: The Functional Art: An introduction to information graphics and visualization (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)In The Functional Art, Alberto Cairo has written one of the most comprehensive books on information design that I have ever seen. He starts by laying a foundation that makes the case for information graphics and visualization as a "functional art" -- that function being helping us humans make sense of the world and make more thoughtful, rational decisions. He makes the case for not only clear, minimal representations of data but also recognizes the roles that emotion, fun, perception and cognition play in our understanding of visual phenomena.
There's a fair amount of brain science in this book -- just the right amount, in my opinion, for anyone wanting to visually explore and express information and ideas. But Cairo follows the brain science with excellent practical knowledge and wisdom from the discipline of information design. With plenty of examples, case studies and interviews with expert practitioners, he manages to cover quite a lot of ground, from newspapers to... Read more
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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This review is from: The Functional Art: An introduction to information graphics and visualization (Voices That Matter) (Paperback)I really wanted to like this book. The author appears to be deeply thoughtful, observant, well-read and experienced. The book is attractively designed with many color examples of infographics and other visual displays.
But the ideas are incomplete. For instance, the author goes to great pains in chapter 3 to construct a "visualization wheel" - an analytical framework for categorizing your infographic. More functional or decorative? More literal or abstract? Etc. I was getting excited! But the author just kinds of leaves it at that. It's rarely referenced again in the book and turns out not to be a very useful planning tool at all. So why did we spend an entire chapter on this?
Similarly, chapters 5-7 go deep into understanding how vision works: eye saccades, the blind spot, guessing what the picture is without full information, etc. Interesting stuff, but again, it doesn't lead to any great insights. Nothing that couldn't have been expressed without the optometry... Read more
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Destined to be a classic.,
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This review is from: The Functional Art: An introduction to information graphics and visualization (Voices That Matter) (Kindle Edition)I've always enjoyed the visualizations, static and interactive, done by the New York Times. They generally contain a balance of simplicity and depth. Simplicity in presentation and organization while providing enough depth for exploration.
What I didn't fully appreciate was how much visual journalism (journalism in which the story takes a graphical form) parallels some aspects of a data scientist role. It wasn't until I picked up `Functional Art' by Alberto Cairo that I understood that visual journalists faced similar challenges in identifying the overarching story, organizing the structure, and designing visual communications to a general audience.
The book explores the theory and process of visual journalism based on Cairo's experiences working at Spanish newspaper El Mundo and teaching at the School of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Three of my favorite ideas/sections:
1. The `Visualization Wheel', a model... Read more
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Online Sample Chapter
Table of Contents
Introduction - What Infographics and Visualizations Are
PART 1 - Foundations
Chapter 1 - Why Visualization - From Data to Wisdom
Chapter 2 - Form and Function - Visualization as a Technology
Chapter 3 - The Beauty Paradox - Art and Communication Efficacy
Chapter 4 - Exposition, Exploration, And the Complexity Challenge
PART 2 - History
Chapter 5 - Here Be Dragons - On the Origins of Maps
Chapter 6 - Lights of Reason - the Dawn of Scientific Illustration
Chapter 7 - A Scottish Engineer And a Century of Revolutions - the History of Charts
PART 3 - Cognition
Chapter 8 - The Eye and the Visual Brain
Chapter 9 - Non-sensed Perception
Chapter 10 - Images in the Brain
PART 4 - Practice
Chapter 11 - The Creation Process in Infographics and Visualization
Chapter 12 - Interactive Graphics and Visualization
APPENDIX - Projects from leading practitioners in the field, explained in detail
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