Data is being generated today at an unprecedented scale, and its potential as a tool for innovation is only beginning to be realized. Uptake is a technology startup that harnesses data science and predictive analytics to empower companies to optimize their performance. Pentagram designed Uptake: Changing Lives, Reimagining Machines, Improving Cities, Revolutionizing Industries and Shaping the Future Right Before Your Eyes, a book that explores the power and beauty of predictive data.
The Pentagram team worked closely with Uptake co-founder and CEO Brad Keywell, on the development of the book. With the project, Uptake wanted to showcase data in an exciting new way, demystify the subject of predictive analytics and demonstrate its own know-how in the field. The format of the book was chosen precisely because it stood in contrast to the digital ephemerality of data and felt special, significant and accessible to the company’s target market of CEOs and managers. The finished volume’s monumental form––the oversized hardcover is 424 pages and comes complete with slipcase––helps convey the importance of data and has an eye-catching design that makes it feel more like an art book than a treatise, like something that should be kept and looked at again and again.
The book's content was developed in collaboration with Superscript, who helped investigate key areas and frame the book in a narrative style. Data is often perceived as dry and dense, a series of facts and figures disconnected from their source. The challenge was to create a context with depth and a distinct point of view that would capture the imagination of readers and show how the subject is inherently interesting and empowering.
Case studies look at a wide range of scenarios, from how data was used to predict the spread of Zika in Florida, to the way scientists are understanding aging through computational analysis, to creative speculation about the size of the devil according to mentions in Dante's Inferno. Each section opens with a gatefold that announces the theme in an overview. To engage readers, the case studies are framed by questions that open each chapter: “Where Will the Next Refugee Crisis Be?,” “What Is the First Sign of Disease?,” “How Big is Dante’s Hell?.” Different voices are presented in small book-like inserts of commentary from scientists at Uptake and the world at large, acting as dialogues within the subject.
The team developed almost 100 new charts, diagrams and other infographics for the book, as well as a set of custom icons that are utilized throughout. These include the graphic motif of an eye, which first appears closed on the exterior slipcase, then opens in a pattern debossed on the cover of the book. The symbol nicely conveys the idea that data offers enlightenment, and variations on the eye accompany each thematic section. The custom icons complement the existing Uptake logo, which is used as an imprint on the spine.