Went to see Edward Tufte speak last night. Sigh, it's disappointing when your heroes don't put on the show you hoped for. It was was pretty disappointing to see Tufte spit a prewritten about the principles from Beautiful Evidence, he was definitely most engaging when he went off-piste and ad-libbed. The crazy 3-D research he's doing sounded much more interesting.
There were a couple of points that I found interesting. As always:
- That we spend a lot of time looking at representations of real things on screens and what this does to our perceptions
- Real life is about wayfinding, screen life is about unnatural deep analysis of stuff
- "Images are cosmopolitan and forever, words are local and parochial". Looks like I've put my eggs in the wrong basket.
- That good web design should be invisible, i.e. "users don't notice it because they're too busy going about their business, the readon they came to the site in the first place"
- Trust users optical capacity. Tufte's formula for the perfect website is 9o+ percent being content. The web design folklore of 7 choices per page is fallacy - although I'd have to challenge this dependent on the reason why someone would visit a site...
- We should be explanation driven when providing evidence ('whatever it takes to explain something', asking bigger questions) rather than process driven (sticking to the familiar, formulas, 'driven by data of convenience')
- There was a nice idea about offering all your data sets up online so that people can check if you've been guilty of cherry-picking facts or outright data-lies in order to prove your point.
- What we live by: "Serious presentations stand or fall on the the quality, relevance and integrity of content"
- One of my favourite things about Tufte is his insistence that words and pictures shouldn't be seperate. It's a hard habit to get out of (recent IPA paper is a case in point), but I do agree that graphics shouldn't be a 'special occasion'
There was quite a bit in there. But just read Beautiful Evidence and you'll be alright.