Data Visualizations

This book is a short introduction to Data Visualization. Everything you would expect (and which you probably already know) is in there: bar graphs, histograms, diagrams; use of color, shape, size, positioning, info graphics and youtube videos of Bruce Lee. I got this book because I was starting to work on a project which required generating a lot of graphs. However, I’m not sure that there was any new and helpful information to help me in my project contained in this book. In fact this was my biggest problem with this book: I wasn’t sure that I was in the audience for it.

There were two opposite take-aways. The first one was: there are some basic common-sense rules which you need to keep in mind when designing data visualizations (and which you probably already know from your Statistics 101 course). And the second one was: Data Visualization is really an art and it is a huge domain with a lot of possibilities, so if you want to design any advanced data visualization you’d better leave it to a professional.

The book is however very well structured and the quality of the content is very high while entirely theoretical; it won’t try to tell you what to draw and when; just what a data visualization is, what they usually look like, what they look like when they’re bad and what they look like when they’re really good. Some interesting points are raised and explained; for example the fact that color can not be ordered. I think it would be a good high-school level introduction to data visualization and it has a lot of links which might prove useful to someone who would want to go deeper in this topic. On the other hand this book doesn’t do much on it’s own.

Although this book is available in all the usual ebook formats (PDF, mobi and epub), it has a lot of really big and colourful graphics which don’t really fit well on an ereader. The authors themselves suggest to look at them on your computer (which means that even though you can read the book on your ereader, you should stay close to a computer in order to comprehend the visualizations.


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