Book Review: Atlas Of The Invisible

Atlas of the Invisible: Maps and Graphics That Will Change ...

I was not familiar with James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti but now I happily am. Their latest book — Atlas of the Invisible — is a fascinating tour of data representation through mapping and visual graphing, all intended to surface and show – as the title and subtitle (Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You See The World) suggest – the things we don’t see when we first look at a set of data.

Along with some intriguing writing that explains how visualization can offer another view of the stories of our times, the two authors (who worked on the book during the Pandemic) share maps and graphic on a range of topics, from Climate Change (a heat map is both illuminating and alarming); information and transportation flow across global borders, and in the case of airplanes, the pollution flow; the states of mind of people in different countries (indicated by happy to sad faces); the status of bike sharing in the world; and an end section that shows various forms of the maps of Earth, and how each has its positives and biased negatives.

There’s even an interesting textual graphic that breaks down the code of a single Retweet on Twitter, to show how much tracking information is packed inside a single act of retweeting something, and how much a social media company can know about us by gathering and collating the codes of our online activity.

This is a book that I flipped through, and then went back and read the narratives, and then flipped around inside again, and although it is a library book, I can see myself getting a copy for my collection of infographics (I still remember when there was a special collection of Best of Infographics of the Year that I would buy every January, and devour in a single sitting).

Now I am off to see if their last book — Where The Animals Go — is available from our library. (It is. Yeah!)

Peace (at every data point),

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