"Envisioning Information" Book Writeup

December 05, 2010

Envisioning Information Book Cover Envisioning Information Edward Tufte ISBN: 0961392118

What’s the point? The book is an exploration of how to best present visual information in a variety of mediums. The book covers six main topics and presents examples of each idea. I chose to read this book because I thought it could be helpful in thinking about graphs and visualizations in a new way.

How was it? I found it to be kind of a letdown. The book is very highly regarded and considered a “classic” so my expectations were high and maybe that was the problem. The book was definitely interesting and the examples are really cool, but I don’t feel like I was able to take away that much information that can be used in software.

The section Layering and Separation was most useful, as it demonstrated solutions to making grid-based information easier to parse and interpret. I also liked the discussion of negative margins and how 1+1=3 or more. Some of the other sections (like the map/cartography related ones) were certainly interesting, but I didn’t really take away anything that useful.

Who should read it? The book is skewed more towards designers, but it is a quick read (lots of pictures and under 200 pages). I would recommend it to a developer with an interest in design or information visualization. Make sure you read it in print though, since I don’t think the images would work as well in a digital format.

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