30 April 2012

"Envisioning Information" by Edward R. Tufte

I truly love Tufte (someday I will own his books and will no longer need to share them with the library). Where Visual Explanations was about using images to explain data, Envisioning Information focuses on conveying information in a way that allows views to quickly process data sets.

Interesting tidbit: Many techniques of data presentation have degraded tremendously as data presentation tools have entered the main stream. For example, think of how many times 3D bar charts are used in a way that makes it difficult actually compare difference of numbers.

28 April 2012

"Visual Explanations" by Edward R. Tufte

This book is full of ideas and concepts about displaying information in a visual manner. Tufte includes ideas on displaying data over time in a single composite, multiple steps and tracking data over time including general methods and techniques for presenting information in such a way as to remove the need for narrative.

Interesting tidbit: At the start of the book, Tufte rips into the space shuttle Challenger accident and the horrible data presentation. He wrote an entire follow up essay on the sinful nature of PowerPoint and how poorly it communicates information.

27 April 2012

The Grand Canyon (and other places)

Your attention please! The Ithamar Limited presents a trip to the Grand Canyon through Las Vegas, Mesa Verde and Hovenweep.

(I was trying to evoke the sensation of the Disneyland Limited and, for fun, the recording about the Grand Canyon.)

Grand Canyon (and other places)


26 April 2012

"The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" by Edward R. Tufte


In making data presentations, it is all too easy to make them overly complicated while not communicating any data of real value. Much like How to Lie With Maps, this books serves to try to reduce presentation error. Tufte admonishes designers to steer away from cute but inaccurate graphics, removing "chart junk" (styles or designs that distract from the data by making it more difficult to read) and killing "ducks" (which he describes as "when the data measures and structures become Design Elements, when the overall design purveys Graphical Style rather than quantitative information"). The book has a series of solid graphic design principles that can help reduce "ducks" and present data in clear, more readable layouts.

Interesting tidbit: Tufte is a strong advocate of altering line shape (mostly widths) on maps to communicate additional information rather than create new data sets. A prime example is Minard's map of Napoleon's march where the line angle is the path of travel, width is the size of his army and color is the direction of travel (brown is advancing and black is retreating).

25 April 2012

Edward R. Tufte Readings

Of all of the design books that I have read (which are a few), Tufte's are the best. I love his analysis of display, presentation and layout. I do not know when I first read a Tufte book, but I think his works have had a more profound effect on my skills, rather my application of those skills, than any other author or class I have ever taken.

As I have been posting my Reading to this blog I took it for granted that everyone has read and enjoyed Tufte books. Then, one day, it dawned on me that I should stop assuming that Tufte is a household name (though I have been surprised the contexts in which I have heard his name) and share my readings of his works too. I have prepared several Reading posts about his books.

20 April 2012

"The Essential Calvin and Hobbes" by Bill Watterson

It is Calvin and Hobbes. How much better can life get than curling up under a warm blanket or lounging under the sun reading the imaginative adventures of a young boy?

19 April 2012

"Information is Beautiful" by David McCandless

Information is Beautiful is one of few books that I can check out over and over again. In fact, I know exactly where it is shelved in the university library (which is almost sad to say). The surprising bit, for me at least, is that the book is made entirely of infographics. There is no dialogue, monologue or "logue" of any sort. Instead, the book is a pure description of random information collected from various source.

Interesting tidbit: The human eyes process about tens times as much data as the tactile senses.

17 April 2012

"The Art of Looking Sideways" by Alan Fletcher

A delightful collection of visually intriguing ideas and concepts. The book is rich in images collected from a wide variety of places, each with some insight about concept and application accompanying it. It is not just a good table piece, but also a fun way learn new ways of looking at the world.

Interesting tidbit: Pacific Islanders used shells, rocks and sticks into their fishing nets that they used as a map of the islands, currents and winds.

14 April 2012

"Pentagram Book Five" by Pentagram Design

A collection of fifty case studies in brief of advertising and design work preformed by Pentagram Design. The book is a bit more than most advertising book that merely through a serious of their "best" ads at the reader. Instead, they go into depth about the theory and principles behind the way they designed, including some analysis about what worked and what did not. This is not a book that one would sit down and read, rather it is a book to flip through and stow away the images with an increase in knowledge about good design.

Interesting tidbit: Pentagram Design was responsible for the Celebration, Florida. The special city built and maintained by Disney.

12 April 2012

Done as Done can be (almost)

After scrapping through another semester, it is my pleasure to enjoy the fact that it was my last semester (until a Masters, but that can wait a little while). Now, I get to enjoy the splendors of Eastern Idaho in the summer (truly one on my favorite place the summer; indeed, it is why I put up with the snow). Rest assured, I will not be just playing: I will continue to work (that 'job' thing), work on projects (also known as: unpaid work), hopefully write more often (I am a little scared that I can no longer blame school for a lack of writing, I guess I need to find a new excuse) and enjoying the wonders of the mountains (I hope to find more caves).

02 April 2012

"Adaptive value of ambling gaits in primates and other mammals" by Daniel Schmitt, et al

A fun research article that analyzes the walking styles (also known as "gaits") of various animals. The article especially focuses on the gait differences between primates and other mammals.

The article can be found here http://jeb.biologists.org/content/209/11/2042.full.