Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop




I'm off to see the Wizard!

Posted 16 July, 2007 at 11:38pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Life, Web 2.0)

photo_tufte.jpgWell, not really the Wizard (of Oz) but the Wizard of Data Visualization. Tomorrow I get to attend a full day course taught by Edward Tufte. The first time I heard of Tufte was three years ago when someone posted on Cooking For Engineers that the recipe summary tables were Tuftian. I was a bit confused by that remark until I read a little about Edward Tufte - it was a compliment! Tufte teaches about information design, clarifying complexity, interface design, and more. I've heard that people who have taken classes from him have found themselves looking at the world differently - I'm not even hoping for that much of an impact, but that would be cool.

One nice thing about the course is that it comes with all four of his books (The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, and Beautiful Evidence) which (believe it or not) should be really interesting reading.

I'm both excited and dreading going to tomorrow's class. It's been a long time since I've sat in a classroom to learn anything, and since I've left college I've found that I can only stay awake in a course if I'm heavily engaged (that is, yelling questions at the instructor). I'm not sure what the situation will be tomorrow and if that's going to be frowned upon. Sometimes speakers are so engaging that you're jazzed up and on a high for the rest of the day. I hope Tufte is one of those speakers. Also, during the last several weeks I've been finding myself unmotivated after work. I always intend on writing another article for Cooking For Engineers or working on some side projects in Ruby on Rails, but I haven't gotten around to doing anything of real consequence. It's one thing to decide that this weekend you won't do anything and just relax, it's something completely different when you know you want to accomplish X but end up just watching reality TV and playing lame computer games. Anyway, I'm hoping that by the time I go to the class tomorrow, I'll be out of my funk (or maybe the class with really rev me up and get me eager to being productive again).