Infographics: Winds of change

Book Review in the Economist:

  • Data Points: Visualisation That Means Something. By Nathan Yau. Wiley; 300 pages; $32 and £26.99.
  • Facts are Sacred. By Simon Rogers. Faber and Faber; 311 pages; £20.
  • The Infographic History of the World. By James Ball and Valentina D’Efilippo. Collins; 224 pages; £20.

“IN THE late 1700s William Playfair, a Scottish engineer, created the bar chart, pie chart and line graph. These amounted to visual breakthroughs, innovations that allowed people to see patterns in data that they would otherwise have missed if they just stared at long tables of numbers.
Big data, the idea that the world is replete with more information than ever, is now all the rage. And the search for fresh and enlightened ways to help people absorb it is causing a revolution. A new generation of statisticians and designers—often the same person—are working on computer technologies and visual techniques that will depict data at scales and in forms previously unimaginable. The simple line graph and pie chart are being supplemented by things like colourful, animated bubble charts, which can present more variables. Three-dimensional network diagrams show ratios and relationships that were impossible to depict before.