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Posts Tagged ‘David McCandless

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time…”*


 click here for larger version of full infographic

From our old friend David McCandless and his ever-illuminating Information is Beautiful, a look at length… The image above is the beginning of a fascinating infographic in which he compares the relative length (code base size) of applications, devices, and (considering DNA to be “code”) organisms.  There are some surprises (Mac OSX 10.4 is bigger than the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System; the software in a modern high-end car is bigger than both); and– as one sees when one scrolls all the way to the bottom, a poignant relevancy:  the Healthcare.gov website (according to most-recently released figures) is much, much bigger still– over 8 times the size of Facebook’s code base, almost 4 times as large as the genome of a mouse.

*Blaise Pascal (often attributed to Mark Twain, who did also say it)


As we contemplate complexity, we might send efficiently-printed birthday greetings to Johann Alois Senefelder; he was born on this date in 1771.  A playwright and actor who’d fallen into debt over printing problems with one of his plays, Senefelder began to experiment with cheaper ways of bringing his works to market– a less expensive and more efficient printing alternative to relief printed hand set type or etched plates.  His invention, lithography, was the biggest revolution in the printing industry since Johannes Gutenberg’s movable type.

The principle is simple: an image is drawn with greasy crayon (traditionally, on Bavarian limestone) and chemically treated/fixed; the image areas of the stone accept oil-based ink and undrawn areas reject it. Today, photo lithography is the primary technique used to print magazines and books; but Senefelder’s original process of drawing by hand on litho stones is still in use in the fine arts.



Color me _____ …

Feeling  _____?  About to head out for a night on the town in _____?  Then dress in _____!

From Zoho:Lab, an interactive version of (R)D favorite David McCandless’ “Colours of Cultures“…

click the image above, or here, for full-screen interactive version

And for a grid version, click here.

As we reorganize our sock drawers, we might recall that on this date in 1896 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that color mattered in a different kind of way: it ruled that separate-but-equal facilities were constitutional on intrastate railroads.  For half a century thereafter, the Plessy v. Ferguson decision upheld the principle of racial segregation in the U.S., across which laws mandated separate accommodations on buses and trains, and in hotels, theaters, and schools.  While the Court’s majority opinion denied that legalized segregation connoted inferiority, a dissenting opinion from Justice John Marshall Harlan argued that segregation in public facilities smacked of servitude and abridged the principle of equality under the law.

At a Rome, Georgia bus station, 1949 (source)

So many books, so little time!…

Readers will remember David McCandless (e.g., here), proprietor of Information is Beautiful, champion of elegant, effective infographics, and (with Miriam Quick and Matt Hancock) creator of “Books Everyone Should Read,” as featured in his Guardian column:

click the image above, or here, for the full chart

Do Top 100 Books polls and charts agree on a set of classics?  I scraped the results of over 15 notable book polls, readers surveys and top 100’s. Both popular and high-brow. They included all Pulitzer Prize winners, Desert Island Discs choices from recent years, Oprah’s Bookclub list, and, of course, The Guardian’s Top 100 Books of All Time. A  simple frequency analysis on the gathered titles gives us a neat ‘consensus cloud’ visualisation of the most mentioned books titles across the polls. Do you agree with the consensus?

Check the data and analysis here: bit.ly/BooksEveryone


As we reorder our reading piles, we might recall that it was on this date in 1987 that Jim Bakker, beset by scandals both financial and sexual, resigned his stewardship of The PTL Club, a television, publishing, and theme-park empire that he had founded in 1975 with his (then) wife, Tammy Faye Bakker.  In an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to avoid a “hostile takeover” that Bakker feared would expose his intimate (and allegedly coercive) relations with PTL employee Jessica Hahn, he arranged for PTL to be taken over by fellow evangelist Jerry Falwell.

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker (source)



Achy, Breaky Hearts…


Brace yourselves, Dear Readers, for heavy weather on the seas of romance: today– the first Monday in December– is the likeliest day in the year for a break-up.

Lee Byron, collaborator with the oft-featured David McCandless (e.g., here and here) elaborates:

Did you know that the most likely day of the year to be broken up with is the first Monday in December? Perhaps some combination of seasonal affect disorder and a case of the Mondays has warped the idea of you meeting their family over the holidays into something horrid. Consequently, Christmas Day is the least likely day of breakups. If you make it through spring cleaning, watch out for April. April fools, we’re breaking up! No, really…

Peruse his “Breakups – The Visual Miscellaneum” for looks not just at when, but also at how and why…

(TotH to Robert Krulwich)

As we spare those daisies, we might recall that this is the anniversary of a romance between two young sheep herders that lasted two decades (and earned eight Academy Award nominations); it was on this date in 2005 that Brokeback Mountain premiered.

It had to be ewe… (source)

1 picture, 1000 words, and all that…

Readers will recall David McCandless and his site, Information is Beautiful, on which he reminds us, day in day out, that good design is “beauty that works”– in his case more specifically, that gorgeous graphics can also be powerful communicators about issues that matter.  Consider his recent depiction of relative personnel commitments in Afghanistan:

click here for accompanying graphics

As we cherish perspective, we might recall that it was on this date in 1791 that Mozart’s blissful Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) premiered in Vienna.

Librettist Emanuel Schikaneder performing in the role of Papageno


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Deja vu all over again…

Further to “Pardon me, but do you have the time?…,” an epic effort from David McCandless and InformationIsBeautiful.net:

As for his next project, McCandless is recruiting: “So who wants to work with me on the Dr Who one? I’m serious. Email me.”

As we check our watches, we might recall that it was this date in 1998 that Scholastic published the first book in the Harry Potter saga, re-titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for consumption in the United States. The changes went beyond the title (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the original UK incarnation): illustrations were added to the start of each chapter, and British spelling, punctuation, grammar, and vocabulary were “translated” into American English. The first print run was 50,000 copies. (The initial UK run was 500 copies, which occasioned an extraordinary scramble at the printers…)

Scholastic was behaving in a time-honored way, recognizing that (as Wilde or Shaw or Churchill; it’s variously attributed) observed, “England and America are two people divided by a common language.”  When Samuel Goldwyn was preparing the U.S. release the film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s wonderful play, The Madness of George III, he insisted that the title be changed to The Madness of King George.  Goldwyn was concerned that American audiences might take the original title to mean that the film was a sequel.

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