Thursday, May 14, 2009

Inaugural Post: Mr Beck's Underground Map

Still glowing from a recent trip to Great Britain in late March, visiting London and Oxford...

At a visit to the London Transport Museum, I bought Mr Beck's Underground Map: A History by Ken Garland (link).

It tells the story of Henry C Beck, an engineering draughtsman (British spelling) for the Underground Group, who in 1931, completely redefined the map's design.

His simple diagram, based on the horizontal, vertical, and 45-degree lines of electronic circuit schematics, elegantly cut through the confusion of earlier versions. Before Beck, Underground lines were shown with surface features or followed the literal geography of each line. The result was an overload of unnecessary information.

Beck's design made a complex system cognitively digestible -- something we can get our minds around. The power of simplicity -- Absolutely brilliant!

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