Information Graphics, written by Sandra Rendgen and edited by Julius Wiedemann, is a survey of data visualisation, published last month by Taschen. It's the best book I've read this year. This extra-large volume has hundreds of full-page, colour illustrations. It also includes the poster Infographia, designed with typical clarity by Nigel Holmes, illustrating the taxonomy and concise history of information graphics.
The book begins with essays that present an overview of the development of information design. This section contains an impressive range of historical illustrations, in chronological order, creating a comprehensive visual history of maps, charts, and diagrams. Fascinating examples from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Age of Enlightenment are included, and there are no significant omissions.
Historical highlights include Alfred H Barr's Cubism & Abstract Art (which was updated by Daniel Feral last year), the amusing Periodic Table Of Swearing by Modern Toss, and Eugene Pick's epic timeline of civilisation, Tableau De L'Histoire Universelle. [Time magazine produced a similar timeline recently, just a few weeks before Information Graphics was published.]
Providing a wide survey of contemporary information graphics, the book includes over 400 illustrated examples, ranging from art to journalism. The featured graphics are divided thematically into four brightly colour-coded categories: cartography, chronology, taxonomy, and hierarchy.
The selection of contemporary infographics includes ambitious visualisations of the internet (Web Trend Map, by Information Architects) and warfare (Everyone Ever In The World, by Peter Crnokrak). My favourite is the Digital Nostalgia series (by Paul Butt), which traces the evolution of consumer technology formats.