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am 16. Mai 1997
Edward Tufte set high standards for himself with his previous books. Consequently the weaknesses of his newest stand out more than they would have otherwise. As usual, his bad examples have more impact than any amount of instruction or philosophizing, especially the "hyped Venus" animation from the Magellan probe. Other topics get a bit confusing.
Tufte's criticism of Richard Feynman's O-ring "experiment" makes sense only because both Tufte and Feynman imprecisely called it that and not what it really was: a demonstration. Was Feynman supposed to do in two minutes what all prior researchers had not?
Tufte goes from critiquing illustrations of magic tricks to equating a lecture with a magic show. His advice to keep things short and sweet, leave the audience wanting more, and the like are off-topic.
The author may be reaching for a grand theory of visual communication, and more power to him. However, the word "confection" is an unfortunate choice. It stinks too much of the disparaging phrase "eye candy" to be taken seriously. I would have preferred a term that might imply a connection with an electronic communications buzzword like "worldbuilding." Calvino's literary archeology, even live theater or filmmaking might have yielded preferable analogies.
Quibbles aside, this is a bargain at any price. It offers much better advice to interface designers than any overlarded, pseudo-psychedelic coffee table book I've seen so far on Website building
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am 11. Juli 2000
Oh my - Mr. Tufte just carries on producing one fine piece of work after another.
This third book in the triology on "information presentation" is as splendid as the previous two books. In this volume the emphasis is, as the title suggests, on methods for creating powerful illustrations and graphics that could help you present your knowledge in a non-disputable way.
The most intriguing section in this book without doubt the chapter on the Challenger disaster in 1986. The rocket engineers back then had worries about the launch on Jan 28. However they were not at all able to communicate their worries to NASA and so it ended... In a worrying few number of pages, Mr. Tufte, dissects the data presented to NASA by the engineers and creates a information redesign which makes it clear to anyone that the launch should have been postponed.
I still belive that book 2, "Envisioning Information" is the most required. Buy that book and if you love is (as I do), then buy the other two books as well.
The layout of this book is fully in thread with the others in the series. Beautiful, engaging, ingenious, etc. The print quality is second to none - you really have a feeling that the crew behind these books have been nursing their babies.
So Mr. Tufte - where is number four in the series?
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am 29. April 2000
This masterpiece contains explanations of "magic" and illusions, displays of scientific charts, graphs, and maps as well as analysis of photographs and historical drawings. Tuft illustrates the need to present information in alternate formats taking in to account a variety of contexts and perspectives in which it will be consumed. Numerous examples, illustrations and descriptions are included which detail the importance and methods used to encode information in a pictorial medium, enabling an audience to identify critical relevant details of that which is depicted, including relative size, amount, scale, and time, whichever may be appropriate for a given subject. An interesting and well documented commentary is presented about the Space Shuttle tragedy, which illustrates just how important information design can be, and the dramatic effects, which may result down the line if not proper consideration is not given to such a basic issue.
The methods and subjects covered are applicable to a variety of media, and subject matter including, marketing and promotional materials, web design and information presentation, the presentation of scientific data, and general photography. No matter what your occupation or ambition, if it involves conveying information in a graphical format, this book will provide insight and examples that will help you get your point across more effectively, and enhance the end user experience.
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am 5. August 1997
Tufte's third book concentrates on the communication of notions of
change and difference, such as an explaination of processes or sequences of
events.

One of the many delighful aspects of this book is the diverse and intriging sources of examples, ranging from 19th
century bookplates and 20th century art to information kiosks and
scientific visualisation. For me the most memorable section was
his contrasting the visual displays presented to NASA advising them to
abort the disasterous Challanger launch with Frost's investigation into the
colera epidemic in 19th-century London. It might sound vague hand waving,
but Tufte presents his ideas with incredible clarity and insight and his
conclusions are applicable to a wide range of fields, from computer user
interface designs to powerpoint presentations and scientific analysis of
data.

You can probably guess I really enjoyed this book; as well as being
engaging and informative it is beautifully written and stunningly designed.
It's philisophic approach will not immediately appeal to everyone, but I
enthusiasticly
recommend it as essential reading for anyone who needs to communicate
complex ideas visually.

For those of you interested in this subject area, I also recommend
"Information Architects", edited by Richard Saul Wurman, which although
more graphic design oriented has numerous excellent examples of the design
processes behind good visual communication
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am 26. Juni 2000
As an extension of his observations described in his earlier book, "Envisioning Information", Tufte's third installment of the trilogy turns the discussion to the display of dynamic information. Again, Tufte draws from numerous examples throughout history to illustrate his points. The chapter on 'Visual and Statistical Thinking' contains some of the most poignant arguments in the book, including an engaging visual narrative of the 1854 Cholera Epidemic and a study on the Challenger space-shuttle tragedy.
This book may not for everyone, however. It does not contain ready-to-use concepts nor does it present a comprehensive solution for displaying dynamic information. What it does contain, are keen observations and commentary on past attempts at dynamic information display. The relation of each chapter to the next is not readily apparent and is quite precarious in fact. What results, is a book that reads better if each chapter is taken independently. In short, this book will be more rewarding to those willing to spend time to ponder over Tufte's observations. Conversely, the book will appear to have a lack of focus to those in a rush to find solutions.
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am 8. Februar 1999
In the spring of 1998, I participated in a semester-long class taught by Edward Tufte.
The subject was information design and his three books, Visual Explanations, Envisioning Information and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, were the core reading materials of the seminar.
Had I only read the books and not participated in the class, I might have missed some underlying core themes that Tufte conveyed through his passionate presentation of the material.
Beyond just putting the right mark on a piece of paper or on a computer screen, these books are about truth-telling, about removing all impediments to understanding between the communicator and the receiver, and about being selfless in one's representation of the truth.
Similar books just catalog graphical techniques. Tufte's books will leave most readers with an indelible sense of obligation to communicate transparently, selflessly and truthfully.
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am 29. August 1997
Dear Dr. Tufte,

Your books are sensory and intellectual marvels. I was doing my thing at amazon.com (trying to spice up the Updike story) when I came across a
review of Visual Explanations. I was so intrigued that I splurged my book money for the month and ordered it and its two predecessors sight unseen.
I began at the beginning and just finished reading the last confection.

I own no books that are as well-conceived as yours: the luscious heft and texture of the paper, the elegant placement of the unique, well- chosen
illustrations, their accompanying complete and careful references in the margins, the clear intelligence of the text reflected in the precise
language, the overall feel that there is not one wasted word or image. These books are the best examples of how-to-really-make-a-book that I have
ever seen. Please accept my compliments on a job exceedingly well done.
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am 11. April 1997
Oh, lovely! For those who know Tufte's earlier books, all I need to say is "he's written another."

It looks like he publishes one every seven years ("The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" in 1983, "Envisioning Information" in 1990) so I
think I'm going to budget $0.02 per day
and get them all.

Perhaps the most significant chapter is
his analysis of how bad graphic presentation contributed to the loss of the space shuttle "Challenger." Basically, he believes that data were available which could and should have led to a decision to cancel the launch, but that the engineers failed to communicate it to the decision-makers. And he shows exactly how and why they failed.

Left brain? right brain? Tufte shows us visual elegance in the service of quantitative thinking.
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am 24. November 1998
Tufte uses beautiful, old examples to show timeless good design. When I need a "brainbooster" in my work as a multimedia designer, I gravitate to his book(s) and just flip pages. There is always something there that strikes a spark and gets me moving again. Chapter 4: "The Smallest Effective Difference" especially helps me remember to scale down graphic contrivances and let the content shine through. I wouldn't recommend this book for a solid cover-to-cover read, but as an addition to a designer's bookshelf it is definately high on my list.
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am 23. Juli 1999
the examples are incredible. this book is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read both for its content and execution. The advice Tufte gives with regard to the presentation of information will only become more important in the future. Whether reading the newspaper or writing a technical report, the proper display of quantitative information is an invaluable skill. this book helps you to think clearly and concisely. one of the best books of all time.
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