It's quite good, especially for the NYT-philes out there.
The best thing was this quote - towards the end of the book, which comes as a bit of a shock after the general celebration of visual reasoning.
The book details a panel discussion. The chairperson says "a good friend of mine told me ... a picture's worth a thousand words but it takes words to say that".
I thought that was an excellent quote.
There is a stack of interest (about time) in what visual information can do. Lots of people are getting very excited. Coffee table books are even coming out. The game is afoot.
There is a challenge for information designers to know when to let prose communicate.
It is a challenge to designers to write better (or write).
It is a challenge to all designers to integrate with all parts of their business better - and not just do the 'pictures'.
Or - to do the pictures but to realise that other modes of communication are as important and indeed complimentary to what they are doing.
In print media, where no sound is available, visual articulation of data can sell a complex idea that may be secreted in the text, retrievable only after a satisfying read.
At a conference last year, I chatted to Hans Rosling and when I asked about causation and correlation in information visualisation, he got happily irate. He said "graphics and data-vis will show you the overview - they will show you where to investigate further - but they will not do all the work required of understanding a subject".
Designers sometimes lock themselves away from the client - especially in the bustle of editorial set-ups where draughtsmanship requires some quiet. But don't do it. The readers need a multimodal way of understanding the story.
Research into Information graphics we did at BBC News after 9/11 indicated that the simple graphics were popular. The ones that had a map to show where. A photo for some colour and actuality. A basic diagram to show detail of what had happened. These were much more effective that the map-photo-diagram-3d hybrids that tried too hard but couldn't do any of the jobs required.
So back to text.
Should designers understand their place in a predominantly text based culture?
Should we be the best behaved people at that party if we want to keep getting invited?
Or should we listen to those who say rock the boat and rebel?
I'd say if you do want to shout from the barricades, try using some words and not just pictures.