Tufte Talk

I spent yesterday at a class by information design guru Edward Tufte. The guy is brilliant, I recommend checking out his website if you’re interested in learning about effective quantitiative communication or especially in presentations.

I can’t especially recommend his presentation, though. The seminar was a good introduction to his philosophy, but I didn’t come away with many specifics about how to implement his approach in my own work. Instead of demonstrating his brilliant techniques by using them to teach us, he spent most of the day having us turn to a certain page in one of the three and a half of his books we were given and follow along on the page as he monologued.

I understand this style is consistent with his rants against Powerpoint and its inherent cognitive style (or lack thereof), but show us something better! The all-day-lecture format (flashback to big college chemistry class) and being underground all day (we were in “Crystal City” – subterranean mall/hell near the Pentagon) felt a bit oppressive. Overall, it was an educational day. But I did some math, and I think Tufte’s making about $10,000 a day (~500 people x $200 registration). You’d think he could do a little more than give us in-person Cliff Notes to his books.

1 thought on “Tufte Talk

  1. That’s a real bummer — he’s one of the authorities in the visual information/thinking field ..

    If you’re looking for some visual thinking practical tips, I highly recommend any Nancy Margulies has written. She as a great workbook: Visual Thinking: Tools for Mapping Your Ideas.” Tony Buzan is also another good resource – How To Mind Map. Finally, Gene Zelazny, who was the director of visual information for Mckinsey wrote a book a few years back called “Say it With Charts” — has some good tip for visual diplay of data for impact.

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