Secret Santa: Becky Stern – Books from Princeton Architectural Press

Secret Santa: Becky Stern – Books from Princeton Architectural Press

As I’ve mentioned here before, one of my favorite book publishers is Princeton Architectural Press. Their books are not only interesting and though-provoking in subject-matter, but they’re gorgeous examples of the publisher’s art.

My recent favorite PAP title is Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information (Manuel Lima). I can’t get enough of this book and immediately thought of Becky when I drew her name from the Secret Santa hat. I’ve been wanting to turn everybody onto this title. While this book is wonderful and a worthy gift all by itself, I thought I’d sweeten the pot by including another cool, more hands-on PAP title, Pinhole Cameras: DIY Guide (Chris Keeny).

Becky Stern is an amazing person. Her mind races at a thousand miles an hour, her energy and creativity are boundless, and she is Samurai-sword smart. I figured there was no better way to “feed her head” than Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information. When I got the book, I spent an hour or so browsing through it and I swear I entered some sort of altered state of consciousness. Basically, the book is a bound exhibition of beautiful examples of visualized datasets. It’s network data as art. You turn to a page, say the spread on the activity of the Protein Folding Network or a map of the student discussion threads at ITP. You wrap your head around this one dataset and the gorgeous, ingenious way in which it is rendered. Because of the “success” of this presentation, you really “get it;” you get a deep, dare I say, brain bi-hemispheric appreciation of the data being presented. Then you turn the page. Suddenly, you’re looking at an entirely different dataset (e.g. key words used in the world’s holy books or the linking structure of Wikipedia), and again, you’re taken in by both the beauty and the comprehension of the information. And then you turn the page again. There are many “ah-ha” moments as a you go. Do this for an extended period time and your brain turns to happy jello. So I thought this book would be a perfect candidate for entraining Ms. Stern’s neurons.

Visualizing Lisbon’s traffic

Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names

Becky is also a consummate maker. So I didn’t want her gift to be entirely cerebral. She’s a photographer, so I figured she might appreciate the pinhole camera book. Designed as a spiral bound workbook, it delves into the history of pinhole, has a number of pinhole camera projects, and a gallery of photos done with these most basic of cameras. Even if she doesn’t make one of the projects, I think she’ll appreciate the book as an educational tool and as a lovely book artifact.

Happy Holidays, Becky. And thanks for all of your inspiring work on MAKE and CRAFT!

BTW: You can visit the Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information website here.

See all of our Secret Santa exchanges to date

4 thoughts on “Secret Santa: Becky Stern – Books from Princeton Architectural Press

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi, guys, you know what I have got, be quiet! A portable cell phone jammer come up with the facility to cover larger area like movie theatres, office buildings, restaurants, hospitals and churches to give you free time. From

  2. Secret Santa: Becky Stern – Books from Princeton Architectural Press Becky Stern says:

    Thanks Gareth, they’re just what I wanted! =D

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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