Posts Tagged ‘tufte’

Microsoft to patent Tufte’s sparklines?! (Kottke)

Friday, November 20th, 2009

tufte_sparklines

[Editor’s note: This is total bullsh*t, the US Patent office should not be granting Microsoft patents for basic concepts that are already out in the market place as prior art and in fact invented / popularized by someone else, namely Edward Tufte. Shame on Microsoft and boo on lazy patent clerks! Thanks Melissa.]

Republished from Kottke and Tufte.

In an absurd twist, on their own Microsof blog, Tufte is credited as inventor:

For Excel 2010 we’ve implemented sparklines, “intense, simple, word-sized graphics”, as their inventor Edward Tufte describes them in his book Beautiful Evidence.

Another way to read their patent application is regarding not just placement of a sparkline in an Excel spreadsheet but any digital document. Also a bizarre claim since other tools already do that as add ins, and you can even hack this work now in Google Docs with the charting API.

Someone should start a free the sparkline petition ;)

Sparkmaps? (Cartogrammar)

Monday, June 1st, 2009

lynch_imageelements

Andy Woodruff has a neat post over at Cartogrammar about Sparkmaps, a riff on Tufte’s sparkline concept (1, 2).In essence: “Tiny, non-intrusive supplemental maps … As a sparkline provides at a glance a reasonably clear picture of numerical data, so can a small map provide context and clarify otherwise confusing or vague text.” We’ve started to include small Google Maps mashups in the sidebar of some Washington Post articles the last month. We occationally use another tool that allows a Google Maps mashup to appear on hover of a hyperlinked placename. Less discoverable, so effective only when the geography is completely anciliary to the story.

Read his post at Cartogrammar . . .

Is Color Always Better? Maybe Not (Kelso)

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

[Editor’s note: This beautiful example of strong graphic story telling printed grayscale in The Washington Post on January 12, 2009. The strong contrasts in tones of black ink were very successful. Sometimes we rush to colorize graphics unnecessarily. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we must. This is a follow-up to my earlier post last year. I quote from there:

“Color graphics can fall into the trap of treating every category as equal. Doing so can create graphics without any focus or visual contrast. Often one category is more important than the other. Or colors used to symbolize nominal or ratio choropleth categories are so close together they are indistinguishable and create little or no visual appeal. There are also legibility problems associated with impaired color vision.”

In the color version (below) that was converted for the web, color-blind compatible blue, orange, and red hues, but I think this and many other grayscale graphics that already exhibit strong figure-ground contrast could stay grayscale when posted on the web.]

Republished from The Washington Post Monday January 12, 2009 (A01).

Bush Econ: A Legacy of Little Growth (view original).

How growth in jobs, in gross domestic product and in disposable income have fared during the Bush administration and those of his 10 most recent predecessors.

By Brenna Maloney and Todd Lindeman – The Washington Post – January 12, 2009

Color version:

Related article: By Neil Irwin and Dan Eggen
Economy Made Few Gains in Bush Years, Eight-Year Period Is Weakest in Decades

President Bush has presided over the weakest eight-year span for the U.S. economy in decades, according to an analysis of key data, and economists across the ideological spectrum increasingly view his two terms as a time of little progress on the nation’s thorniest fiscal challenges.

The number of jobs in the nation increased by about 2 percent during Bush’s tenure, the most tepid growth over any eight-year span since data collection began seven decades ago. Gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic output, grew at the slowest pace for a period of that length since the Truman administration. And Americans’ incomes grew more slowly than in any presidency since the 1960s, other than that of Bush’s father.

Bush and his aides are quick to point out that they oversaw 52 straight months of job growth in the middle of this decade, and that the economy expanded at a steady clip from 2003 to 2007. But economists, including some former advisers to Bush, say it increasingly looks as if the nation’s economic expansion was driven to a large degree by the interrelated booms in the housing market, consumer spending and financial markets. Those booms, which the Bush administration encouraged with the idea of an “ownership society,” have proved unsustainable.

“The expansion was a continuation of the way the U.S. has grown for too long, which was a consumer-led expansion that was heavily concentrated in housing,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a onetime Bush White House staffer and one of Sen. John McCain‘s top economic advisers for his presidential campaign. “There was very little of the kind of saving and export-led growth that would be more sustainable.”

“For a group that claims it wants to be judged by history, there is no evidence on the economic policy front that that was the view,” Holtz-Eakin said. “It was all Band-Aids.”

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Great Information Design Book: The Back of the Napkin (Kelso)

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I got a great xmas gift from my friend Curt this year, a little book called The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam. If you like Edward Tufte, you’ll like Dan Roam. This book was rated #5 Business Book on Amazon.com last year, but really he talks about informational graphic storytelling, so don’t let that throw you.

As it advertises in the introduction, I was able to read thru the book on my DC to LA flight but I quickly discovered there are enough gems for many returns. Here are the basics:

Dan Roam has a great website with animations, movies, and other resources. He also puts on events and keeps current with a blog. The following images are from his website.

1. Visual Thinking Toolbox

2. The Codex

3. The SQVID

4. The <6><6> Rule

From Amazon.com (below). Buy it there.

From Publishers Weekly
The premise behind Roam’s book is simple: anybody with a pen and a scrap of paper can use visual thinking to work through complex business ideas. Management consultant and lecturer Roam begins with a watershed moment: asked, at the last minute, to give a talk to top government officials, he sketched a diagram on a napkin. The clarity and power of that image allowed him to communicate directly with his audience. From this starting point, Roam has developed a remarkably comprehensive system of ideas. Everything in the book is broken down into steps, providing the reader with tools and rules to facilitate picture making. There are the four steps of visual thinking, the six ways of seeing and the SQVID– a clumsy acronym for a full brain visual work out designed to focus ideas. Roam occasionally overcomplicates; an extended case study takes up a full third of the book and contains an overload of images that belie the book’s central message of simplicity. Nonetheless, for forward-thinking management types, there is enough content in these pages to drive many a brainstorming session. Illus. (Mar 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review
“The premise behind Roam’s book is simple: anybody with a pen and a scrap of paper can use visual thinking to work through complex business ideas. Management consultant and lecturer Roam begins with a “watershed moment”: asked, at the last minute, to give a talk to top government officials, he sketched a diagram on a napkin. The clarity and power of that image allowed him to communicate directly with his audience. From this starting point, Roam has developed a remarkably comprehensive system of ideas. Everything in the book is broken down into steps, providing the reader with “tools and rules” to facilitate picture making. There are the four steps of visual thinking, the six ways of seeing and the “SQVID”– a clumsy acronym for a “full brain visual work out” designed to focus ideas. Roam occasionally overcomplicates; an extended case study takes up a full third of the book and contains an overload of images that belie the book’s central message of simplicity. Nonetheless, for forward-thinking management types, there is enough content in these pages to drive many a brainstorming session. Illus.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“As painful as it is for any writer to admit, a picture *is* sometimes worth a thousand words. That’s why I learned so much from this book. With style and wit, Dan Roam has provided a smart, practical primer on the power of visual thinking.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind

“Inspiring! It teaches you a new way of thinking in a few hours — what more could you ask from a book?”
—Dan Heath, author of Made to Stick

“This book is a must read for managers and business leaders. Visual thinking frees your mind to solve problems in unique and effective ways.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

“If you observe the way people read or listen to things in the early 21st century, you realize that there aren’t many of us left with a linear attention span. Visual information is much more interesting than verbal information. So if you want to make a point, do it with images, pictures or graphics. . . . Dan Roam is the first visual consultant for businesses that I’ve worked with. His approach is faster for the customer. And the message sticks.”
—Roger Black, Media design leader, Author of Websites That Work

“Simplicity. This is Dan Roam’s message in The Back Of The Napkin. We all dread business meetings with their mountains of documents and the endless bulleted power points. Roam cuts through all that to demonstrate how the use of simple drawings — executed while the audience watches — communicate infinitely better than those complex presentations. Is a picture truly worth a thousand words? Having told us how to communicate with pictures, Roam rounds out his message by explaining that “We don’t show an insight-inspiring picture because it saves a thousand words; we show it because it elicits the thousand words that make the greatest difference.” And that is communication that works.”
—Bill Yenne, author of Guinness: The 250 Year Quest for the Perfect Pint

World Airline Traffic Visualization (?)

Monday, December 8th, 2008

[Editor’s note: Continuing my theme of traffic flow visualization (1 | 2), here’s a video by FlightSuite, NHAW, Technorama, and NASA showing animated world flight patterns in a 24 hour period as colored yellow dots traveling from city to city. I’d tell you more but I can’t dig up any other information about this visualization. Tufte has a neat section on this topic. Thanks Seba!]

YouTube version that is SMALL first. View larger.

Different video that is US centric:

Interface design and the iPhone (Tufte)

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

From edwardtufte.com. View original. Thanks Curt!

The iPhone platform elegantly solves the design problem of small screens by greatly
intensifying the information resolution of each displayed page. Small screens, as on
traditional cell phones, show very little information per screen, which in turn leads
to deep hierarchies of stacked-up thin information–too often leaving users with
“Where am I?” puzzles. Better to have users looking over material adjacent in space
rather than stacked in time.

To do so requires increasing the information resolution of the screen by the hardware
(higher resolution screens) and by screen design (eliminating screen-hogging
computer administrative debris, and distributing information adjacent in space).

This video shows some of the resolution-enhancing methods of the iPhone, along
with a few places for improvements in resolution.

(This is a 56mb file; it might take a while to load.
The video is essential to the essay as is the still-land material below.)

… View video … (opens new window with original Tufte post)

In 1994-1995 I [Tufte] designed (while consulting for IBM) screen mock-ups for navigating
through the National Gallery via information kiosks. (The National Gallery had the
good sense not to adopt the proposal.) For several years these screen designs were
handouts in the one-day course in my discussion of interface design, and were then
published in my book Visual Explanations (1997).

The design ideas here include high-resolution touch-screens; minimizing computer
admin debris; spatial distribution of information rather than temporal stacking;
complete integration of text, images, and live video; a flat non-hierarchical
interface; and replacing spacious icons with tight words. The metaphor for the
interface is the information. Thus the iPhone got it mostly right.

Here are pages 146-150 from Visual Explanations (1997):

Continue reading at Tufte.com . . .

Data Visualisation Blogs You Might Not Know About

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

This list is lifted straight from Tom Carden’s blog earlier this month (visit his post). Thanks Peter!

 

Is Color Always Better?

Monday, January 7th, 2008

pak ethnic breakdown legendIn my final year of university I started clipping maps from the San Francisco Chronicle. I was fascinated with how these mostly black-and-white graphics used effective figure-ground contrast “against the rules” to focus reader attention on the most important content. The darkest element on the map was often not the most important.

Instead, these maps “highlight” important content by “shading” the focus country white. Surrounding countries were light gray and water a darker gray. The only pure “black” elements in these graphics were nouns: the text labeling feature names. By virtue of being white, the focus country allowed for black labels placed within to “pop”.

(more…)