© 2010 Ugur Akinci
I once attended a presentation by information design guru Edward Tufte during which an assistant with white cotton gloves walked among the isles, holding up high a priceless manuscript by Leonardo Da Vinci. The roughly 450-year old masterpiece about geometry had actually paper fold-out sections that stood up in 3-D when you opened certain pages. That’s when I decided Tufte was a man who took his passion of information design very seriously indeed. I still have 3 of his marvelous books in my library, all autographed of course.
That’s why I was very pleased to hear this past week that President Barack Obama announced that he would be appointing Edward Tufte to the independent panel that advises the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.
Chalk one up for all technical communicators, and for information designers in particular. That’s cool, appropriate and radical. I love it.
Who is Tufte?
In short: “After receiving a B.A. and M.S. in statistics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale, the Beverly Hills native launched his academic career by signing on to teach courses in political economy and data analysis at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs.
Over time, he became increasingly interested in information design—charts, graphs, diagrams—and in 1982 he took out a second mortgage on his home in order to self-publish his first book on the subject, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. It redefined the field and was later named one of Amazon’s 100 best books of the century.”
If you’d like to express your ideas better visually, if you’d like to express complicated ideas in ways that would reduce the information overload and increase both comprehension and retention, I strongly recommend the following masterworks by Tufte: