Thing Explainer: A New Book By Randall Munroe of xkcd

What if you had to explain something very complex, like a rocket, and only use drawings and the 1000 most-used words in the English language?  

That's the constraint that Randall Munroe made famous a while back when he explained a Saturn V rocket. For example, because the word "rocket" is not in the 1000 words, he called it an "up-goer" and that became the informal name for this kind of communication. You might remember a guest post by Sally James on this blog about the idea.

Mr. Munroe, whose work you may have seen on the web comic xkcd, is set to publish an entire book called Thing Explainer that explains "Complicated Stuff Using Simple Words". In fact, it's only drawings and the 1000 most-used words. I think this kind of constraint is a brilliant idea. It simply eliminates jargon and provides a new (and often hilarious) way to think about complex ideas.

Explore computer buildings (datacenters), the flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates), the things you use to steer a plane (airliner cockpit controls), and the little bags of water you're made of (cells).

Here's an example of the Mars Rover:

Mars Rover Randall Munroe - Thing Explainer

Want to test your skills in using the 1000 words? Try it here.

Here's the cover:

Thing Explainer Book


Find out more about the book.

Thanks to Kottke.