characters ¶ E-book, or Kindle E-pub ✓ Edward R. TufteWhen I started secondary school I was mildly apprehensive about physics an unfamiliar
*word that elicited an actual shudder from my mother Fortunately my elderly teacherthat elicited an actual shudder from my mother Fortunately my elderly teacher elicited an actual shudder from my mother Fortunately my elderly teacher an infectious affection for his subject I emember that he noticed me examining the monthly night sky chart pinned to the classroom door
and thereafter would print off an extra copy specially and wordlesslythereafter would print off an extra copy specially and wordlessly it to me if he saw me in the corridor never in class not wishing to embarrass me Our first lessons tried to tell us what the subject was all about and a poetic but confusing article telling me that it was about among other things not being able to push a blade of grass into the trunk of an oak tree demonstrated clearly that some things are better learned by seeing and doing than by eadinghe needn t have worried evidence of my geekiness was not in short supplyOne of our early experiments was The One With The Pendulum turns out that in the UK this is an A level practical I guess in those days secondary school wasn t all OMG exam in 5 years PANIC and our homework was to write it up When I had finished it I must have shown my Dad as he asked why there was no graph We weren t told to draw a graph I eplied But graphs are wonderful he said Let s draw one anyway and he showed me how Our graph which is probably still in my parents attic somewhere plotted length of pendulum against swing time which unfortunately yields an exponential curve that s hard to work with You can when you do the experiment at A level linearise the graph s euation by plotting the suare of the time period and then the gradient tells us little g the strength of the Earth s gravitational field Neat ehI have taught science for a few years now and I could not have failed to notice that many kids hate graphs and graph drawing It is unuestionably hard work and needs an understanding of numbers and design logic I m lucky that I got an undeserved merit for drawing an unsolicited graph in my first month of high school because since that day I ve been totally freaky for a nice chart these two pictures are from my own lab book not the text This eview is dedicated to my Dad Tufte eally loves data This book has an informative accurate but kinda DRY title I would have called itSHOW US THE DATAuhhhh uhhhh I ve made a mistake Tufte says thinking data is boring leads to bad lying graphs If your data is boring why are you even presenting it He is crisply derisive of the idea that data needs graphically sexing up to be understood As Freire tells usTRUST YOUR AUDIENCETufte bemoans that graphs are designed and drawn by folks trained as artists ather than folks trained in the elevant mathematics Graphical competence demands three uite different skills the substantive statistical and artistic Allowing artist illustrators to control the design and content of statistical graphics is almost like allowing typographers to control the content style and editing of prose Don t decorate the data REVEAL ITBad graphics also lack integrity Intead of SHOWING THE DATA they distort it usually for some political end There are LOTS of examplesAnd here is a modern example I couldn t Not Handsome Enough resist adding XDHowever the concern with graphical integrity has often not helped It tends to encourage the general dislike of graphs and the tendency for publications to dumb them down Tufte points out that while graphical sophistication is usually low in news publications journals and text books the text sophistication is high sometimeseuiring expert knowledgeMany data sets are better presented in a well organised table than in a drawing Tufte follows this principle in presenting data on graphical sophistication and data density and in showing his commissioned designs One super table is far better than a hundred little bar chartsOh and for the love of all that is good follow da Vinci and put the damn chart next to the text or better nested cosily inside None of this see fig 2 Tufte adically edesigns the histogram and the scatter plot to Busy Park remove distractions and non data ink moving towards clarity data density and design grace I won t spoil As for the pie keep it in the kitchen and put pumpkin in it pie charts should never be used There is plenty of graph porn for us chart junkies as opposed to chart junk which is definitely out Tufte s favourite is Charles Joseph Minard s extremely famous infographic of Napoleon s army attempting to invade Russia in 1812 1813 He loves it so much it seprin. The classic book on statistical graphics charts tables Theory and practice in the design of data graphics 250 illustrations of the best and a few of the worst statistical graphics with detailed analysis of how to display data for precise effective uick analysis Design of the high esolution. .
Ted four timesBut there are all sorts of lovely maps and charts for your graphical delectationDebunking the junk is what Ed is here for and the pleasure of the text is in the ARID humour he deploys and the way he trusts the *reader to be a fellow smarty pants In of a folks are smart way not an elitist *to be a fellow smarty pants In of a folks are smart way not an elitist and me are smart way I was laughing When a uoted designer says he s all about conveying the essential spirit of the data Tufte has got me primed Fool NO Show me the DATA not its essence and not its spirit If you work with data if you draw graphics if you look at graphics if you e interested in politics economics geography or science if you like maths art design truth beauty loveread this Edward Tufte is brilliant His books including this one are artwork disguised as a textbook The purpose of all three is to explain both good and bad ways of explaining information but they are so much than that There is a GIS and Fr�uleins: The German-American Encounter in 1950s West Germany rich history interwoven in the books pages The examples are so interesting that I found myself learning than just how to convey information For example one of the best graphics for conveying information ever made is a chartmap tracking Napoleon Bonaparte s army s march across Europe which is so impressive it s difficult to describe The graph includes information about army size location and timeline in a veryeadable straightforwd and yet still beautiful way I was fortunate enough to attend one of his seminars after I was already a fan my work paid for it and I got to keep the books which delves into all of his texts I highly The Confederate Privateers recommend it because he synthesizes the information beautifully and succinctly and you get all of his books and publications in print If you can t make the seminar no I do not get any kickbacks promise the books areather complex but they are absolutely stunning and make fascinating Big Bad Detective Agency reading People have told me toead this book for years and I ve always been impressed by the strength of their The Placer recommendationsHowever oneading this book I was initially underwhelmed I felt like Tufte was just Otto Freundlich: Cosmic Communism rehashing common sense about graphs Iead through it and found myself saying yeah yeah I get it On The Tattooist of Auschwitz (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, reflection a week after finishing Iealized this book is genius Tufte concisely and clearly articulates principles which should be common sense so well that they have appearance to be common sense This is a book about graphsHow you ask could anyone write a book about graphs let alone Profiles in Leadership: Historians on the Elusive Quality of Greatness read one Surely you ve never found the sex appeal of a bar chart the seductiveness of a scatterplot Well my friend you simply have neverealized the power of a well designed graph Tufte took on the challenge of making visual information interesting decades ago and it s still considered one of the top 100 books of the 20th century He shows examples of what the best displays and worst displays are in the first part of the book In the second he breaks down graphs piece by piece as the eader learns how to construct a useful and informative graph chart table or whathaveyou The best graphs etc aren t flashy You don t need any fancy computers to make them in fact Tufte particularly disdains computer programs for making everything busy and excessive As is true of most things in life
idea behind a is far important and interesting than how it looks A good display conveys that information almost instinctively and makes elationships clear A poor display hides non ideas behind graphicsThe Idea Behind A
and labels A terrible display actually distorts information and to Tufte these are inexcusable lies Even though thelabels A terrible display actually distorts information and to Tufte these are inexcusable lies Even though the of me making a chart in the near future is slim I was surprised by how much thought it takes to develop a good display I also think it made me a better display Other People's Property: A Shadow History of Hip-Hop in White America reader something that comes in handy wheneading the paper or watching the Colbet Report Above all this book einforces the primary ule of communication start with a good idea and edit it down until only what s necessary emains Although originally published in 1983 when professional graphics artists prepared most of the charts and graphs used in presentations and official publications this book emains useful for anyone who wishes to convey information clearly and concisely I can emember a job early in my career when all presentations had to be approved by two levels of management then submitted to the graphics shop at least a week before they were to be used and what came back was an inter office envelope full of transpa. Displays small multiples Editing and improving graphics The data ink atio Time series elational graphics data maps multivariate designs Detection of graphical deception design variation vs data variation Sources of deception Aesthetics and data graphical displays This is the second editi. Rencies to be shown on an overhead projector We have come a long way since then but powerful graphics software has not necessarily improved our ability to get the message across in an understandable and informative wayTufte starts with some history of the statistical graph It took a long time for people to make the conceptual leap from a uantity to an abstract visual epresentation of that uantity as a line or a bar positioned between several axes The first charts were derived from maps but maps had existed for five thousand years before charts and graphs appeared in the 1700sBy the 20th century newspapers magazines and business and government *Publications All Included Graphics But They Were Often Done Ineptly *all included graphics but they were often done ineptly they were created by artists not the people who understood the data At the core of the preoccupation with deceptive graphics was the assumption that data graphics were mainly devices for showing the obvious to the ignorant p *53 THE BOOK HAS MANY EGREGIOUSLY BAD EXAMPLES SOME *The book has many egregiously bad examples some which appeared to be deliberately deceptive such as hiding a business loss by making the y axis start below zero and some just incompetently done apparently by graphics artists who wanted to make a pretty picture without
least understanding of the data meant Inept graphics also flourish because many graphic artists believe that statistics are boring and tedious It then follows that decorated graphics must pep up animate and all too often exaggerate what evidence there is in the data p 79The book s value comes from the fact that Tufte has a number of specific ecommendations for how to present data and he cites good examples as well as bad The defining graphic in the book is Charles Joseph Minard s 1861 graph showing the fate of Napoleon s army in Russia It is a powerful image telling the dramatic story of an army withering away on the march to and from Moscow It manages to plot multiple variables on a two dimensional page the size of the army its location in Russia the direction of the army s movement dates of specific events and temperatures along the oute of Letters to Rollins retreat Once seen the graph is unforgettableThere is also another brilliant example a graph by EJ Marey showing train schedules from Paris to Lyon in the 1880s At first it looks like a jumble of broken diagonal lines but then itesolves itself The slope of the line indicates the speed of the train the horizontal breaks show where the train is stopped at a station the x axis shows the time of the trip at start finish and points along the way and the y axis the towns the train passes through A great deal of information is packed into a simple easy to ead image The train schedules put out by Amtrak today are far less intuitive and informativeTufte s ecommendations boil down one word simplify He coined the word chartjunk and Scotland Yard recommends paring everything down to its essentials His fundamental precepts areFive principles in the theory of data graphics produce substantial changes in graphical design The principles apply to many graphics and yield a series of design options through cycles of graphicalevision and editingAbove all else show the dataMaximize the data ink atioErase non data inkErase edundant data inkRevise and editp 105Somewhere along the way in my career I came to internalize some of Tufte s ideas without knowing I was doing so Whenever I saw a presentation filled with clipart with animated dancing whatevers with unnecessary three dimensional charts and distracting bright colors I concluded that the presenter was either an idiot or was actively trying to hide something the viewer wasn t supposed to notice Subseuent events usually proved me Unverified: A Novel rightIf there is one thing that Tufte hates above all else it is the pie chart the only worse design than a pie chart is several of them for then the viewer is asked to compare uantities located in spatial disarray both within and between pies p178 Since they only display a small number of data points anyway you are better off making a simple number chartThis book is wortheading and will make you think about how to best present your information Some of the examples he provides are old including a couple that were certainly created on ancient dot matrix printers but his advice emains excellent For those interested in his additional ideas about graphics presentation he also wrote Envisioning Information 1990 and Visual Explanations Images and uantities Evidence and Narrative 1997. On of The Visual Display of uantitative Information Recently published this new edition provides excellent color eproductions of the many graphics of William Playfair adds color to other images and includes all the changes and corrections accumulated during 17 printings of the first editio. .The Least Understanding Of
Edward R. Tufte