Hidden Systems is about asking simple questions about three systems that surround us —  the internet, the electric grid, and water systems — and using comics to explore the complex answers.

What other people have said about Hidden Systems: 

★ “The true power of comics is on display here, with complex, difficult-to-comprehend structures presented both through a variety of metaphors and by placing those metaphors in context with simplified renditions of their real physical appearance.”

Booklist, starred review

"...thoughtfully highlights how some of the most intricate structures that keep our society moving—like water, the electrical grid, and the internet—came to be. Complete with graphs, maps, and diagrams, this nonfiction graphic novel written and illustrated by Dan Nott explores hidden systems’ impacts on the environment, the structural inequities they magnify, and the changes we must all embrace now in order to improve our future."

-National Book Award 

An "illuminating graphic novel debut....A necessary introductory approach to everyday systems that briefly interrogates the bias and inequalities imbedded within them."

- Publisher's Weekly

"Hidden Systems is the book I’ll use to teach my kids how the internet works"

- Sean Hollister, The Verge

Hidden Systems is fascinating, thought-provoking, engaging, and accessible. If you've ever wondered how the world around you works—at both the human and the planetary scale—this book is a wonderful way to find out.” 

– Ryan North,  How to Take Over the World and How to Invent Everything

"Nott reveals the underlying systems that go unnoticed in strikingly easily digestible comic pages. I absolutely devoured this, my brain lighting up with educational delight!"

Box Brown, Andrew the Giant, Life and Legend

“Dan Nott takes one of the most innocuous and seemingly boring subjects — infrastructure — and demonstrates just how fascinating and vital it can be. Subtleties, entrenched inequalities, dis-functions, and outmoded processes are laid bare in a way that is awesome and interesting to read!”

- Justin Colussy-Estes, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA

“This graphic novel will hook all kinds of readers with an interest in how technology came to be. Even fiction readers will be able to gain a love for this story of our internet history.”

- Kaliisha Cole, Whitelam Books, Reading, MA 


“It’s a fascinating and important book that tells the true stories behind how humans’ most important infrastructures actually work and were created, including the racist and colonial motivations that still create inequities today.”

- Rebekah Shoaf, Boogie Down Books, Bronx, NY

“A fascinating and educational read for youth and adults alike, this book makes learning about the hidden systems of our world fun and engaging. It also seamlessly exposes the ways that the hidden systems making our modern lives possible are built in inherently unequal ways, illuminating their role in maintaining the kyriarchy (the systems of power and oppression that keep privilege in place). A well-rounded and well-drawn book we all need!”

- Emily Autenrieth, A Seat at the Table Books, Elk Grove, CA

"In Hidden systems, writer and cartoonist Dan Nott sheds light on three critical systems we so take for granted we barely see them even though they are all around us and often in plain sight. He skillfully weaves together history, science, technology and ecology to build pictures of the internet, the evolution of electricity and the crucial infrastructure developed to bring us water. In revealing the impact of these systems on humans and vice versa, he reminds us of the pleasures of paying attention to both miraculous and mundane aspects of the world around us as well the consequences of not doing so.

This is a compelling and thoroughly entertaining display of intellect and empathy brilliantly communicated through page after page of masterfully designed and drawn cartoon panels.   Every panel, simple or complex, deserves a closer look and as in all the best graphic literary work, each word is carefully chosen and each phrase precisely placed to lead us on a thoroughly rewarding journey."

David Macaulay,  The Way Things Work

Selections: Indie Next List, Indies Introduce, Junior Library Guild selection