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  1. #1
    LaterBloomer's Avatar
    LaterBloomer is offline Duke / Duchess
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    Default Edward Tufte and Data

    I was going to write that if you’re at all interested in the presentation of data, attend a lecture by Edward Tufte. The thing is, he’s so fascinating that anyone would enjoy his lectures, not just those interested in data. He’s a former professor at Yale, and I expected him to be a bit pretentious, or for him to present as a snob/elitist. None of that came through. Okay, he is brilliant, and that came through, but not in a rub-your-nose-in-it sort of way. (Okay, he was dismissive of Leslie Gore’s music genre. Really, Mr. Tufte? You’re dismissive of Ms. Gore, but you have a blurb on your books likening your work to that of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s? Puh-leeese. FLW was a pompous con artist who needed to have his over-inflated ego pricked so that he’d leak as much as his houses did. LG, on the other hand, had keen insight into the angst of teen-aged girls. Her understanding of their need for revenge was frighteningly profound. Is there anything sweeter than “Now It‘s Judy‘s Turn to Cry“? I think not.) Mr. Tufte, to my mind, is like Michelangelo in that he sees what the data is trying to show, and he chips away until what it is, is. He invented...sparkines, I think that's what they're called. They're so obvious, it's like these things were invented? Weren't they there when the earth was created? They're just that obvious. Don't get me wrong. He doesn't dumb things down. He’s all about presenting the content in the cleanest manner possible. He’s like an Arts & Craft craftsman that way. He lets the data speak for itself. His books on data are so beautiful that they could be put on the coffee table, but they’re so intriguing that you’ll actually look at them. Do an Internet search of his name. Don’t be surprised when you come to a site with art. ET’s quite catholic (small ”c”) in his interests. He’s got articles on his site about data; I can’t wait to read them. CLEP 101, you might find Minard’s map of Napoleon’s Russian campaign enlightening. ET has a copy in one of books, and he sells a copy on his web site. I’m in awe of how much information could be presented in such a clear and concise manner. It’s a perfect example of ET’s point about letting the data speak for itself. You’re first struck by the horrific story of the campaign, and it isn’t until you look more closely at it that you’re amazed at how complex in its simplicity is the manner in which the story is told. I've got a cold and my mind is more clouded than usual. So, to make sure I get my point across. Edward Tufte + data = good. (P/S You may hate this thread all you like, but NO liking allowed.)
    Last edited by LaterBloomer; 11-11-2011 at 08:38 AM.
    CLEP: Col. Comp., Hum., Math., A&I, Am. Gvt., Soc. Sci. and Hist., Prin. of Mgmt., Nat. Sci. Prin. of Mkting.DSST: Intro. to Comp., Intro. to Wor. Rel., Ethics in Am., Intro. to Bus., Prin. of Sup., Bus. Ethics., MIS, Money & Banking (That's right, I passed it!)Courses from B&M: Bus. Com.; Elem. Speech Com., Intro. to Psy., Intro. to Bus. and Mgmt, Trans. Math. Macro- & Microecon., Prin. of Acct. 1 & 2, Phil. of West 1., Appl. Bus. Math, Bus. Law Penn Foster: Train. Con., Fin.l Mgmt., Con. Beh., Comp. Mgmt., and Lab. Rel.

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  2. #2
    dcan is offline Grand Duke / Duchess
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    Default

    Just noticed this thread here. My wife got me three of Tufte's books (Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, and Visual Explanations) as a gift a few years ago. Blew me away.

    Yes, he invented sparklines, which can pack tens of thousands of data points into only a few inches on paper or the screen. Because of him I can't stand looking at chartjunk anymore, it almost makes my skin crawl.

    You may like his cheap pamphlet (really, that's what it is, but it's fantastic) The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint (hint: there isn't any). I believe he made the point that the excessive use of Powerpoint at NASA dumbed down thinking and over-simplified thinking about complex problems and as a result directly contributed to the Columbia disaster.

    For another example of why Powerpoint is so bad, see one of our greatest speakers deliver his message.

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