Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Edward Tufte

(NOTE: Edward Tufte is in New York this week teaching his 1 day course. August 23-25)

Edward Tufte was on NPR recently discussing his new book, Beautiful Evidence.

From Wikipedia:
Tufte's work is important in such fields as information design and visual literacy, which deal with the visual communication of information. He coined the term "chartjunk" to refer to useless, non-informative, or information-obscuring elements of information displays; Tufte's work argues strongly against the inclusion of any decoration in visual presentations of information, and claims that ink should only be used to convey significant data and aid its interpretation. Tufte also developed sparklines- simple, condensed way to present trends and variation, associated with a measurement such as average temperature or stock market activity.

I've taken Tufte's 1 day course and highly recommend it. Tufte is a deeply passionate man and an engaging, entertaining presenter.

The 8 principles of analytical design that he covers in the course will instantly change the way you "see" information design. They are the kind of insightful distictions that can be put into practice immediately.

1. Show comparisons.
2. Show causality, process, dynamics, and mechanisms.
3. Show multi-variant examples (more than 1 or 2 variables)
4. Completely integrate word, number, and image; it is all evidence.
5. Document everything and tell people about it.
6. Presentations stand or fall on the quality, relevance and integrity of the content.
7. Show information adjacent in space rather than stacked in time.
8. Use small multiples.

In his new book he discusses the use "sparklines", short, in-text graphics used to present trend information against averagdeviancece. Here is a link to the excerpts on his site.

Link to Edward Tufte's web site.

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