Tufte's "Beautiful Evidence" Looks Great, Lacks Filling

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Tufte's "Beautiful Evidence" Looks Great, Lacks Filling

Aug 13, 2006 by [Larry O'Brien]{.reviewer .fn} "Beautiful Evidence," by Edward Tufte

????? There's a sad irony in this book: Tufte is the guru of information density but his latest book contributes little to his previous work, focusing on topics that he's covered before (chartjunk, the cognitive style of PowerPoint, sparklines) while revisiting examples that are wearing thin through use (Galileo's in-line drawings of Saturn's rings and Jupiter's moons, Minard's chart-map of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, bad presentations from NASA regarding shuttle safety). Then, this book ends with an essay on pedestal sculptures, the point of which I cannot begin to fathom (Tufte himself is a sculptor and a cynic might feel that the essay's point is to provide an excuse for plates of Tufte's work). Of course, the book itself is beautifully produced and filled with attractive images, and I can imagine it sitting as a signifier of taste and intellect on many a coffee-table. But his previous efforts (particularly the truly classic Visual Display of Quantitative Information ) were not just attractive, but inspiring and practical. I suppose those not already convinced that PowerPoint's bulletpoints are perverse might be swayed by Tufte's extended essay here (which is, if not identical to, a trivial rehash of his essay "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint"). Buy Beautiful Evidence from Amazon. :::

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