Monday, May 16, 2011

Edward Tufte: Information Sage/Graphics Guru

From the Washington Monthly article "The Information Sage: Meet Edward Tufte, The Graphics Guru to the Power Elite Who Is Revolutionizing How We See Data":

"Edward Tufte occupies a revered and solitary place in the world of graphic design. Over the last three decades, he has become a kind of oracle in the growing field of data visualization—the practice of taking the sprawling, messy universe of information that makes up the quantitative backbone of everyday life and turning it into an understandable story. His four books on the subject have sold almost two million copies, and in his crusade against euphemism and gloss, he casts a shadow over the world of graphs and charts similar to the specter of George Orwell over essay and argument.

Tufte is a philosopher king who reigns over his field largely because he invented it. For years, graphic designers were regarded as decorators, whose primary job was to dress up facts with pretty pictures. Tufte introduced a reverence for math and science to the discipline and, in turn, codified the rules that would create a new one, which has come to be called, alternatively, information design or analytical design. His is often the authoritative word on what makes a good chart or graph, and over the years his influence has changed the way places like the Wall Street Journal and NASA display data.

Tufte is equal parts historian, critic, and traveling revival preacher. For a few days each month, he goes on the road to teach a course called “Presenting Data and Information” in hotel ballrooms and convention centers."

MP: I'm registered for his class this Wednesday in Arlington, VA. 


At 5/16/2011 10:50 AM, Blogger Doug Klippert said...

The best!
I've attended three times.

At 5/16/2011 10:33 PM, Blogger linsee said...

I went to one of his seminars in Denver, a few years ago; it was phenomenal.

And if anyone ever tries to tell you that lecturing is not an effective way of engaging students, all I can say is that they've never experienced a first-class lecture presentation like this one, which kept several hundred people rapt for five or six hours.

At 5/21/2011 6:17 PM, Blogger Rich said...

I was fortunate to have Ed as my thesis advisor as an undergrad at Princeton; it was the highlight of my experience there and we co-authored a paper disproving the bellwether county concept. His books are must reads for numerates.


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