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There is another small ripple in the force that keeps together beauty and functionality, now Nicholas Felton put forward a short critique of a recently released infographic book titled "The Little Book of Shocking Global Facts".

Pitched as the combination of "startling graphic imagery with truly shocking facts gathered from the world's most authoritative sources", the book seems not to have convinced everyone. Reviewed instead as a "compendium of awful graphics", its illustrations seem to ignore even the most basic rules of good infographic design, while the lack of any source material does not make the resulting insights trustworthy.

Strange. In spite of its clear subject relevancy for the core audience of this blog, I was not aware of the book, yet this introduction makes a memorable impression...

So, what is your take on the value of this book? Is there any danger in this sort of coffee table books filled with potentially life-changing illustrative "facts" that might withhold any sensemaking, yet are a marvel to browse through?

To make up your opinion, you can browse through some high-rez examples below (click on the images for large versions), download a book preview here, or buy the book or its little sister The Little Book of Shocking Eco Facts.

Via Fastcodesign and Design Boom.

UPDATE: Felton posted a redesign of the top 20 carbon emitters world map. Any links to other redesigns can always be posted below.







Thanks for posting Andrew. Picked up on this yesterday via Visual Loop. As I've suggested here, I believe that top pie chart is the single worst graph ever produced: http://www.visualisingdata.com/index.php/2010/07/worst-graph-design-ever/

Wed 14 Jul 2010 at 10:45 PM

Life is too short to look at more than the three examples you provide - where are the aesthetics police when you need them? Awful.

Thu 15 Jul 2010 at 1:30 AM

Given that the book is intended to convey information about 'shocking global facts,' surely the disjointed aesthetic contributes to the message. If it was overly aesthetic, it would not jilt or jolt our perceptions! The fact it does so may be very clever indeed.

However, as you rightly observe, the most problematic aspect is the lack of source information given.

Anyway, this was my immediate reaction upon viewing the examples above (not so much the old tirade of the medium is the message, but substance and form certainly colliding)!

Thu 15 Jul 2010 at 1:55 AM
Lucky Clov

It's quite obvious that the author of this book did not spend too much time researching his numbers, e.g. the iraqi casualties 'graph' is totally misleading, if not to suggest made up. If those authors actually did a hunch of research, like visiting http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ they would have realized that the number one cause of death in Iraq are IEDs. That is currently the most serious challenge for both U.S. troops, police and most importantly civilians.

Thu 15 Jul 2010 at 2:12 AM
Ralph Lengler

Although I like the graphical design (but not info-graphical design) of the last three graphics, the amount of information presented in them is practically nil. The last two just contain two numbers. In the last one, the numbers don't even have anything to do with each other. I don't find the facts shocking either.

Thu 15 Jul 2010 at 3:59 AM
Ryan Miller

The best of both worlds: ugly and uninformative.

Thu 15 Jul 2010 at 6:33 AM

Sad, really, because these were obviously created by a graphic designer with some skill. It's unfortunate that the designer didn't know better. How do we fix this?

Thu 15 Jul 2010 at 7:18 AM

Misinformed. Not ugly.

Thu 15 Jul 2010 at 6:45 PM

They completely overlooked the most shocking fact from the first graphic, which is that only _one_ country controls almost 2/3 of the World Bank! At first glance.

Sat 30 Oct 2010 at 7:01 AM
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