Bret Victor from Communications Design Group shares his list of favourite books

Bret Victor is an interface designer, computer scientist, and electrical engineer. He works as a researcher at the Communications Design Group. We dive into the books that impacted his life and thought process.
A People's History of the United States
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A People's History of the United States

by Howard Zinn

About the book:  A classic since its original landmark publication in 1980, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States is the first scholarly work to tell America's story from the bottom up-from the point of view of, and in the words of, America's women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant labourers. From Columbus to the Revolution to slavery and the Civil War-from World War II to the election of George W. Bush and the "War on Terror"-A People's History of the United States is an important and necessary contribution to a complete and balanced understanding of American history.

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Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs - 2nd Edition
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Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs - 2nd Edition

by Harold Abelson,Gerald Jay Sussman

About the book:  Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License.

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Gödel, Escher, Bach
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Gödel, Escher, Bach

by Douglas R. Hofstadter

About the book:  'What is a self and how can a self come out of inanimate matter?' This is the riddle that drove Douglas Hofstadter to write this extraordinary book. In order to impart his original and personal view on the core mystery of human existence - our intangible sensation of 'I'-ness - Hofstadter defines the playful yet seemingly paradoxical notion of 'strange loop', and explicates this idea using analogies from many disciplines.

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The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
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The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

by Edward R. Tufte

About the book:  Graphical practice. Theory of data graphics.

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Beautiful Evidence
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Beautiful Evidence

by Edward R. Tufte

About the book:  Science and art have in common intense seeing, the wide-eyed observing that generates empirical information. Beautiful Evidence is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence presentations. The book identifies excellent and effective methods for presenting information, suggests new designs, and provides tools for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations.Here we will see many close readings of serious evidence presentations-ranging through evolutionary trees and rocket science to economics, art history, and sculpture. Insistent application of the principles of analytical thinking helps both insiders and outsiders assess the credibility of evidence.

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Envisioning Information
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Envisioning Information

by Edward R. Tufte

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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

by Thomas S. Kuhn

About the book:  A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were—and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age. This new edition of Kuhn’s essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn’s ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking’s introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.

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Dumbing Us Down
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Dumbing Us Down

by John Taylor Gatto

About the book:  A new look for a radical bestseller!

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Fables
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Fables

by Bill Willingham

About the book:  The Fables prepare for battle as the threat of the Adversary looms closer.

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Watchmen
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Watchmen

by Alan Moore

About the book:  As former members of a disbanded group of superheroes called the Crimebusters start turning up dead, the remaining members of the group try to discover the identity of the murderer before they, too, are killed.

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How Children Fail
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How Children Fail

by John Holt

About the book:  Drawing from his experiences as an elementary school teacher, the author discusses ways in which today's schools inhibit the child's personality development and learning potentials

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Guns, Germs And Steel
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Guns, Germs And Steel

by Jared M. Diamond

About the book:  **WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE** Over One Million Copies Sold Why has human history unfolded so differently across the globe? Jared Diamond puts the case that geography and biogeography, not race, moulded the contrasting fates of Europeans, Asians, Native Americans, sub-Saharan Africans, and aboriginal Australians. An ambitious synthesis of history, biology, ecology and linguistics, Guns, Germs and Steel is a ground-breaking and humane work of popular science.

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Lies My Teacher Told Me
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Lies My Teacher Told Me

by James W. Loewen

About the book:  Winner of the 1996 American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship Americans have lost touch with their history, and in this thought-provoking book, Professor James Loewen shows why. After surveying twelve leading high school American history texts, he has concluded that not one does a decent job of making history interesting or memorable. Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past. In ten powerful chapters, Loewen reveals that: The United States dropped three times as many tons of explosives in Vietman as it dropped in all theaters of World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki Ponce de Leon went to Florida mainly to capture Native Americans as slaves for Hispaniola, not to find the mythical fountain of youth Woodrow Wilson, known as a progressive leader, was in fact a white supremacist who personally vetoed a clause on racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations The first colony to legalize slavery was not Virginia but Massachusetts From the truth about Columbus's historic voyages to an honest evaluation of our national leaders, Loewen revives our history, restoring to it the vitality and relevance it truly possesses.

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Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind
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Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind

by Hayao Miyazaki

About the book:  Book by Miyazaki, Hayao

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Understanding Comics
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Understanding Comics

by Scott McCloud

About the book:  Traces the 3,000 year history of storytelling through pictures, discussing the language and images used.

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Reinventing Comics
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Reinventing Comics

by Scott McCloud

About the book:  In 1993, Scott McCloud tore down the wall between high and low culture with the acclaimed international hit Understanding Comics, a massive comic book that explored the inner workings of the worlds most misunderstood art form. Now, McCloud takes comics to te next leavle, charting twelve different revolutions in how comics are created, read, and preceived today, and how they're poised to conquer the new millennium. Part One of this fascinating and in-depth book includes: The life of comics as an art form and as literture The battle for creators' rights Reinventing the business of comics The volatile and shifting public percptions of comics Sexual and ethnic representation on comics Then in Part Two, McCloud paints a brethtaling picture of comics' digital revolutions, including: The intricacies of digital production The exploding world of online delivery The ultimate challenges of the infinite digital canvas

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Making Comics
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Making Comics

by Scott McCloud

About the book:  Scott McCloud tore down the wall between high and low culture in 1993 with Understanding Comics, a massive comic book about comics, linking the medium to such diverse fields as media theory, movie criticism, and web design. In Reinventing Comics, McCloud took this to the next level, charting twelve different revolutions in how comics are generated, read, and perceived today. Now, in Making Comics, McCloud focuses his analysis on the art form itself, exploring the creation of comics, from the broadest principles to the sharpest details (like how to accentuate a character's facial muscles in order to form the emotion of disgust rather than the emotion of surprise.) And he does all of it in his inimitable voice and through his cartoon stand–in narrator, mixing dry humor and legitimate instruction. McCloud shows his reader how to master the human condition through word and image in a brilliantly minimalistic way. Comic book devotees as well as the most uninitiated will marvel at this journey into a once–underappreciated art form.

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Meggs' History of Graphic Design
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Meggs' History of Graphic Design

by Philip B. Meggs,Alston W. Purvis

About the book:  The bestselling graphic design reference, updated for the digital age Meggs' History of Graphic Design is the industry's unparalleled, award-winning reference. With over 1,400 high-quality images throughout, this visually stunning text guides you through a saga of artistic innovators, breakthrough technologies, and groundbreaking developments that define the graphic design field. The initial publication of this book was heralded as a publishing landmark, and author Philip B. Meggs is credited with significantly shaping the academic field of graphic design. Meggs presents compelling, comprehensive information enclosed in an exquisite visual format. The text includes classic topics such as the invention of writing and alphabets, the origins of printing and typography, and the advent of postmodern design. This new sixth edition has also been updated to provide: The latest key developments in web, multimedia, and interactive design Expanded coverage of design in Asia and the Middle East Emerging design trends and technologies Timelines framed in a broader historical context to help you better understand the evolution of contemporary graphic design Extensive ancillary materials including an instructor's manual, expanded image identification banks, flashcards, and quizzes You can't master a field without knowing the history. Meggs' History of Graphic Design presents an all-inclusive, visually spectacular arrangement of graphic design knowledge for students and professionals. Learn the milestones, developments, and pioneers of the trade so that you can shape the future. 

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The Elements of Graphing Data
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The Elements of Graphing Data

by William S. Cleveland

About the book:  Visualization methods in science andtechnology. Many new ideas and methods;many not widely known before. Excellentmethodological resource for researchworkers.

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The Design of Everyday Things
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The Design of Everyday Things

by Don Norman

About the book:  Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious—even liberating—book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time.In this entertaining and insightful analysis, cognitive scientist Donald A. Norman hails excellence of design as the most important key to regaining the competitive edge in influencing consumer behavior. Now fully expanded and updated, with a new introduction by the author, The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how—and why—some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

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