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November 30, 2008

Finally Reading Edward Tufte's Book

Posts to here to Dimen Designs have been sparse lately, partly from work and a re-evaluation of my blogging habits. Dimen Designs isn't dying but microblogging via Twitter and my An Expat in Lonon blog via Tumblr have taken over (http://anExpatInLondon.tumblr.com).

Regardless a few thoughts with sharing as I've been sick, uninspired, and diverting my energies to reading, which is a close substitute to not creating something yourself. Finished reading Neil Stephenson's 'Anathem' today and started Edward Tufte's seminal work, 'The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.' Tufte is a Yale professor who is famous for, among other things, being one of the earliest to decry that PowerPoint makes us stupid.

Here are his important takeaways, by chapter, as I'm 2/3 of the way through so far:

Graphical Excellence

  1. It is the well designed presentation of of interesting data
  2. Excellence consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision, & efficiency
  3. It gives the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with lest ink in the smallest space
  4. Requires always telling the truth about the data


Ask yourself, how often does information or data get communicated, whether in PowerPoint, Keynote or in regular presentations, that meets the standards above for Graphical Excellence?

From personal experience, maybe 10-15% of the time. Data and information presented clearly and powerfully is how knowledge and insight is generated and remembered. More Tufte conclusions coming this week.

Finaly Reading Edward Tufte's Book

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