Re: Help w/TW skills

Subject: Re: Help w/TW skills
From: "Once more into the breach, dear friends..." <engstromdd -at- PHIBRED -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 1996 12:52:10 -0600

Lynn Beene asked:

BTW, what do you think of Tufte's two books on graphics? Worth
the money for students to have?

I just finished reading Edward Tufte's "Envisioning Information." And
yes, absolutely, worth every nickel, unless you can get it at a college or
corporate library. And even then, you may want to own it as a reference.

Tufte addresses the problems of presenting multi-dimensional data on the
"flatland" of the computer screen or printed page with sensitivity, clarity
and depth. He illustrates with excellent examples, and lays his major
points out in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-remember format. If
nothing else, it's a good "meta-example" of how technical writing should be

Another of Tufte's excellent teachings, or "meta-teachings," if you will,
involves respect for the user. He works from a model of information users
as intelligent, curious people with information needs, who are willing to
invest some effort to meet those needs--provided writers and illustrators
don't waste their time with "chartjunk." In a field where it's too easy
to slip into thinking of your user community as "those idiots on the other
side of the screen," Tufte's viewpoint is both refreshing and needed.

My only complaint is that he often counsels extravagance. He's fond of
things like complex, muted colors and fancy effects that are expensive and
difficult to achieve with today's equipment. But, the tools to achieve
those effects get cheaper every day, and reading this book increases the
odds that you'll use them intelligently when they fall into your hands.


Doug "And it grew wondrous cold..."
ENGSTROMDD -at- phibred -dot- com
-- Samuel Coleridge

The preceding opinions and positions are mine alone, and are only
coincidentally related to those of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

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