Book review: Knowledge is Beautiful

Its been a while since I first looked at the book “Information is Beautiful” a book that truly blew me away with its incredible breadth of infographics. “Information is Beautiful” is the first of the infographic books by David McCandless, first published back in 2009. I spotted the first book in a shop, this book always catches my eye on any shelf. When picking it up I thought it would be interesting to review the second book “Knowledge is Beautiful”.

Info-is-beautiful_wSo why am I doing a book review on the second book “Knowledge is Beautiful”? I wanted to see if this book could provide the same infographic magic that the first book gave me.

They say never judge a book by its cover, but coming from a design background I always find it hard not to judge a book cover that contains creative content. The cover provides a similar feel to its predecessor but gives the appearance of being a book on abstract art than visual data. That being said, I believe it is always easy to judge and understand that encapsulating the various types of visual data and putting it into a single book cover is no easy task. The cover to “Information is Beautiful” was beautifully simple, where the cover to “Knowledge is Beautiful” is more chaotic and is lacking the charm and intrigue of the first. Enough about the cover, the beauty of these books are all about what is going on, on the inside!

KIBBefore you get to the good stuff David McCandless gives us an introduction into his understanding of the differences between information and Knowledge. David McCandless believes “information focuses on the ‘now and the ‘what”, I believe it is hard to separate information and knowledge as a visual form. Reading on and looking at how information and knowledge is broken down into groups (data visualisation, structured data, information design, linked information, knowledge mapping and inter-connected knowledge) it becomes clearer in the way David McCandless sees the differences between information and knowledge.

Some of the infographics in this book are more esthetically pleasing than others and felt that sadly some information or knowledge had more attention than others. I know not every page can be equally as impressive as the last, but some data was extremely complex compared to others, making the more simple visuals lack something. Don’t get me wrong this book has some incredible infographics which truly are as the book states beautiful. The variety of content or knowledge if you will, makes it hard to stay interested in every page. I would like to see a series of ‘Information is Beautiful” but focused around a set or linked subject maters like history, motoring or film.

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Over all “Knowledge is Beautiful” does have some of the magic of the first book. I myself am a great fan of the first book and found it hard not to compare it with the first. I believe “Information is Beautiful” set such a high standard, leaving you with a feeling of being in awe by the beauty and complexity of its visual information. “Knowledge is Beautiful” unfortunately didn’t give the same feeling as the first book, not to say it’s a write off, far from it. This book has many infographic wonders to offer, but If I had to choose between the two books I would go with “Information is Beautiful”.

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