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The Visual Miscellaneum... by David McCandless

While the title implies the extraneous it’s all about expertise. Dynamic, colorful and very creative infographs enliven otherwise dull data. Subjects focus on the esoteric to eclectic.

Posted 06.15.10 by Marianne L. Sade

Visual Miscellaneum cover

David McCandless, the London-based author/designer of The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia, ploughed through huge amounts of information and crafted clever graphic interpretations to present “useful charts” in attractive ways. There are a dozen different categories, like Pop, Power, and Thought, along with predictable Nature, Science, and Health.

McCandless examines the relationship between facts and what makes the information purposeful. For an art-related example, his representation of Colours and Culture: The meanings of colours around the world is designed, not too surprisingly, in the shape of a color wheel. Contrast this, though, with his Red vs. Blue: Scientists have discovered that when two evenly matched teams compete, the team wearing red wins most often with patterns and geometric shapes showing a variety of these two primary colors.

Or who can resist The ‘In’ Colours: Women’s fashion colours, laid out neatly by time in rainbow shape. Not too surprising are the now ubiquitous internet-related tag clouds but here, they are presented with engaging type.

My favorite presentation might be Behind Every Great Man…Dictators’ wives, comparing eleven of the spouses of the world’s most notorious men. It is complete with data items like: Obsessions and pathologies and Most salacious rumor, and the Style Rating category has shoes for its labels. It ends with icons showing each man's Reason for death.

Or it is hard to resist Better Than Bacon: The real centre of the Hollywood univers, which uses The Oracle of Bacon as his source of a study showing a series of actors –using their heads as labels-- who are better connected (as in “Six degrees of separation”) than Kevin Bacon who comes in 1094th! The results will surprise you.

While some of the data may already be out of date (those who want up-to-date innovative interpretation might try flowingdata.com, Nathan Yau's visualization and statistics site) this portable book is chock-full of inspiration, a striking homage to the information age, for the student or practicing graphic designer or the trivia seeker. Clever, beautiful and neat. Sure to inspire and delight. Check this book out, and, as the author says, “see what you think.”

The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia
by David McCandless
AG195 .M33 2009 Reference