Sparklines Hit All Tendenci Sites – Massive Amounts of Data in a Little-Itty-Bitty Space

Sparklines, like this one Sparkline

, were created by Edward Tufte.  Sparklines have gone live on all Tendenci association web sites. The image below is a crop from an articles management report, but the actual sparkline is visible to all visitors to any site.  The idea is to accept the fact that the visitor is intelligent and would also like to see the performance of an article among other readers.


The above is an screen shot image, but you can read the articles here, here and here respectively.

One trend visible on other sites with much content locked down for members only is a huge reduction in views of restricted content. This is intuitively obvious.The sparklines help make the case by hitting you over the head with obvious visualization of what the users are doing.

People do not like to be hassled.  They don’t want to go to your site, login and search when they can go to google and search across multiple sites faster.  The result is locking down your content causes it to go unseen for the most part.  Don’t blame the sparklines – they are just telling you the facts.

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