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Beautiful Visualization

Beautiful Visualization

Beautiful Visualization is a collection of essays on a wide range of topics in visualization. Don't let the title mislead you: while it has its share of artistic visualization, there is also quite a bit of technical information in there. One of the chapters was written by yours truly.

The chapters cover topics like Wordle, the New York Times News API, the use of color, visualizing Wikipedia, etc. Among the authors are people like Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viégas, Moritz Stefaner, Danyel Fisher, etc. All chapters are in the 10-25 page range, which makes for nice bite-sized chunks that can be read one after the other or as you find the time for them.

Julie Steele and Noah Iliinsky, the editors, have done a great job to make the chapters read well and be easy to digest. Even the more in-depth stuff is illustrated nicely with figures and described in ways that provide enough detail without getting too technical.

My chapter, Turning a Table into a Tree: Growing Parallel Sets into a Purposeful Project, talks about some of the thinking behind the Parallel Sets redesign I did about two years ago. It goes into a bit of technical detail how Parallel Sets work internally, but also describes how thinking about the data model lead to a visual redesign, which in turn prompted more technical changes and a better understanding of our own technique. I also use my little soapbox to complain about the quality of academic prototypes and the lack of an open-source culture in visualization.

O'Reilly offers the book in a physical version and as an ebook (as a completely annoyance-free PDF, and there's also epub and a few other formats). The chapters have also been released under a creative commons license, so you can find most of them posted on the web somewhere. If you buy the book, the proceeds go to charity.

Posted by Robert Kosara on June 15, 2010.