The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge

Overview

Our critically acclaimed bestseller Visual Complexity was the first in-depth examination of the burgeoning field of information visualization. Particularly noteworthy are the numerous historical examples of past efforts to make sense of complex systems of information. In this new companion volume, The Book of Trees, data viz expert Manuel Lima examines the more than eight hundred year history of the tree diagram, from its roots in the illuminated manuscripts of medieval monasteries to its current resurgence as an...

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Overview

Our critically acclaimed bestseller Visual Complexity was the first in-depth examination of the burgeoning field of information visualization. Particularly noteworthy are the numerous historical examples of past efforts to make sense of complex systems of information. In this new companion volume, The Book of Trees, data viz expert Manuel Lima examines the more than eight hundred year history of the tree diagram, from its roots in the illuminated manuscripts of medieval monasteries to its current resurgence as an elegant means of visualization. Lima presents two hundred intricately detailed tree diagram illustrations on a remarkable variety of subjects—from some of the earliest known examples from ancient Mesopotamia to the manuscripts of medieval monasteries to contributions by leading contemporary designers. A timeline of capsule biographies on key figures in the development of the tree diagram rounds out this one-of-a-kind visual compendium.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/17/2014
“The veneration of trees, known as dendrology,” states Lima, “often is expressed by the axis mundi (world axis), world tree, or arbor vitae (tree of life). These motifs, common in mythology and folklore from around the world, have held cultural and religious significance for social groups through history—and indeed still do.” This genre-bending collection of tree maps, “an extended introduction” to designer and researcher Lima’s previous book Visual Complexity, demonstrates the usefulness of branching and rooting images to visualize and absorb complex information and the painstakingly beautiful delineations of cosmologies, genealogies, and taxonomies that generations of artist/scientists have been moved to create. Most remarkably, the book also shows the ancient lineage of the navigational and visualization tools that pervade our digital lives today. Juxtaposing such diverse manifestations as 16th-century illumination, a Tibetan thanka, and an equally exquisite 1855 New York and Erie Railroad organizational chart, or the branching of a 1060 biblical genealogy with a 2006 website graph, Lima demonstrates that “the work of these ancient visualization pioneers, in their use of the tree metaphor, epitomizes the same curiosity, drive, and ambition guiding most contemporary projects.” Sure to appeal to a diverse group of readers, the book beautifully combines art and science, as well as ancient and contemporary worldviews. 135 color, 60 b&w illus. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"From studying the bible to visualising computer storage, Manuel Lima's sumptuous The Book of Trees explores the tree diagram's appeal for showing information." -NewScientist magazine

"What an amazing and beautiful book! The most important analysis of visualization since Tufte, The Book of Trees reveals the origins and evolution of the branches we use to structure knowledge. These are the cultural and logical foundations crucial to any digital designer, as well as anyone who wants to be able to think critically about the visual world." -Douglas Rushkoff, author, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

"Sure to appeal to a diverse group of readers, the book beautifully combines art and science, as well as ancient and contemporary worldviews." -Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616892180
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 160,174
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lima was named one of the "fifty most creative and influential minds of 2009" by Creativity magazine. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the New York–based design lead for Codeacademy.com.

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