[thelist] is Tufte worth buying?

Bob Easton bob at eleaston.com
Sat Sep 11 06:18:00 CDT 2004

Joel D Canfield wrote:

> I'm working on more and more complex web generated tables from various
> data stores. My users are generally satisfied with the visual
> presentation of the data, but I'd like to move from 'good enough' to
> 'excellent.'
> The reviews of Tufte's books at Amazon.com seem to be 90% worship, 10%
> cursing. Are the 90% blinded, or are the 10% just misguided?
> If the company would spring for the fifty bucks, is reading Tufte going
> to help me hone my skills in visual presentation of data via web tools?
> > 
First, Tufte is not a web designer.  So, if you're hoping to glean 
general web design tips from his books, stop hoping.

If your goal is effective presentation of complex data, then Tufte's 
your man. His books will encourage you to see your data in new ways.  I 
can't suggest which of the three books might be most appropriate for 
your data sets. The first, "Visual Display of Quantatative 
Informaition," is a fine foundation for traditional informaiton display. 
The second, "Envisioning Information," is characterized by "Escaping 
flatland," seeking other ways to represent information, from small 
multiples, to story telling. The third, "Visual Explanations" explores 
other media, some of it for computer screens, but much of toward motion 

Bob Easton

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