Some little birds told me that they received their "coming soon" notifications from Amazon about Visualize This. Exciting. (Thanks, pre-orderees :). I just got the PDF of the book not too long ago, but I can't wait to get the physical copy resting in my hands. Paper! In anticipation of the upcoming release, I've posted some previews of what you can expect.
There are pictures on just about every page, so you'll be able to follow along easily as you work through and learn from examples. There are only a handful of spots in the book where there are actually two whole pages in a row without a figure in it. And it's all in color. So the visual aspect definitely dominates.
When I was first figuring out what an outline of the book would look like, I knew I wanted straightforward, working examples that let you get your hands dirty with different tools. One route could've been tool-centric where a chapter might be on static data graphics and another might be on interactive ones.
That's not how I (or those I've worked with) really go about things though. Scratch that.
You don't find a tool, and then go look for data that you can plug in. It's the other way around. You get your data, decide what you initially want to know about it, and then pick the tool that's right for the job.
In other words, you let the data guide you.
So the chapters are organized by data type (time series or spatial, for example) and what you're looking for (like outliers or relationships). Rather than trying to cover every tool for every single data type, the book starts with Illustrator and simple one-liners in R, and progresses to more advanced programming. While each technique is presented in the context of a specific data type, you'll gain the logic that applies to any of your data, and you'll be able to tell your own data stories. The logic and flow is the important bit. After that, the rest is just syntax.
Check out the new site for Visualize This, and of course the previews are there, too. More to come.