Edward Tufte, ""the man" when it comes to visualization" as one client referred to him, was in Houston the last two days for visualization seminars. Attending with four others, it was a great presentation and included three of his books and the infamous Minard poster showing Napleon’s March.
In particular I enjoyed Mr. Tufte’s presentation and verbal description of Sparklines – small inline graphs of meaningful and relevant data associated with the word.
Like many great public speakers, almost everything he said was "obvious". Multivariate graphs are difficult to display in "flatland" and there are known ways to attack the problem. His books are a constant reference during the presentation because of the increased resolution.
Example – Tufte on Presentations:
"They did not come to see your amateur design efforts. They came to see your professional content"
"No more tinker toy graphics. We finally have graphics worthy of the resolution of the human mind eye resolution; sparklines."
"The most embarrassing words in web design are "skip intro""
"Graphical design recapitulates hierarchy"
"Pitching out corrupts within" (on the evil of convincing PPTs for everything external)
The last image is from the Tufte site where he has the chapter on sparklines in draft form in its entirety available. Worthy of a visit.
He finished the presentation going over presentation rights and wrongs and the essay "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint". The short version is that PPT encourages crappy writing. Certainly there is more to it than that, but I suspect he would agree with that summary.
So now, as I prepare my deck for tomorrow’s presentation, I am somehow a bit more concerned than I usually am before public speaking!