Edward Tufte Visualization Seminar in Houston January 2006

Edwardtuftehoustonjan200602Edward 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 EdwardtuftesparklineeconomicI 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"

On sparklines:

"No more tinker toy graphics.  We finally have graphics worthy of the resolution of the human mind eye resolution; sparklines."

Other quotables:

"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)

Edwardtuftesparklines_1The 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!


Offshore Technology Conference Event Marketing Seminar

Clare Sullivan CSEP

Sullivan Group

Thu 2-Feb-06 2:00 PM to Thu 2-Feb-06 5:00 PM


Social vs Attention networks, fans, and graphing Tools

First a great post on apophenia about the problems with "friend" connections in social networks and the definition of fan.  I agree, anyone can be a fan and perhaps even a silent fan.

Attention Networks vs. Social Networks

Network analysts often speak about (un)directed graphs. In essence, this refers to whether or not someone you know knows you. If reciprocity is required by the system, it’s an undirected graph. The vast majority of online social networking tools assume that users are modeling friendship and thus if you’re friends with someone, they better damn well be friends with you. As such, they use undirected graphs and you are required to confirm that they are indeed your friend.

Well, what about fandom? Orkut actually put the concept of fan into their system, but in order to be someone’s fan, you had to be their friend first. Baroo?


Of course, the computation needed for directed graphs is much greater than for undirected graphs. Is that the main reason that most services require reciprocity? Even when it’s not the best mechanism for the system? Or are there other reasons why folks are obsessed with undirected graphs?

Regarding Danah’s post I wish she mentioned the rival problem in social networks.  How do you measure your relation to a rival?  Certainly not by inviting them to be a friend, rather you probably function as a stalker (flickr would have this data, repeat views of a non-friend when sets have a high duplication percent…)

Second is a rehash of some interesting graphing tools:

Softmaint Google Graphing Directory
Graphiz  (image to the left is from graphiz gallery)

None of which I have time to mess with right now.  Writing on public relations, OPML files and social interaction in the software are taking the majority of time currently.  Soon though, very soon.