Talk:Edward Tufte

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Became well-known because of PowerPoint essay??[edit]

Tufte became well-known by publishing his harsh criticism of Microsoft PowerPoint.

I am certain that he was extremely well-known, even revered, in the graphic design community well before his PowerPoint essay. I believe it was The Visual Display of Quantitative Information that put him on the map. Anyone know for sure? If not, I'll do some research. -- Worrydream 06:10, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes, VDQI is what really put him on the map, though, to be clear, he was a tenured professor at Princeton by 32. He was successful before VDQI. Niels Olson (talk) 18:31, 7 June 2012 (UTC)

VDQI was certainly a lot more commercially successful that his earlier work on Political Economy, which was very good, BTW. The criticism of the low standard of graphics facilitated by the ubiquity of Powerpoint, besides being valid, had the effect of bringing a whole new potential readership to his wonderful books. I think the article doesn't need have any hard-to-verify material about what did or did not make his reputation in any audience. DCDuring 14:22, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

  • It's hard to imagine that the step from statistics to VDQI could compare to a later step. Ads for it in the NYT Book Review reproduced the stunning retreat-from-Moscow graph, which i studied there and which led me to inquire after the book at the pub lib and (IIRC) their purchasing it.
    --Jerzyt 21:54, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
His 1990 book, Envisioning Information, was what split the universe open and most designers joined the cult. Tufte is God. --Knulclunk 22:58, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Pronunciation[edit]

Can someone who knows put information about how to pronounce "Tufte" on the page? Capybara 08:07, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I have added in IPA the pronunciation /ˈtʌf.ti/, my inexpert and RP-biased interpretation of Tufte's answer "TUFF-tee". I have used the standard entities. -- merriam 03:18, 2005 Mar 5 (UTC)

Right Guggenheim Foundation?[edit]

From the article:

He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences.

Here "Guggenheim Foundation" links to Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. I guess what was really meant is the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. — Tobias Bergemann 14:08, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

So fix it. WP:BOLD Sbwoodside 19:25, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
You could have fixed it, sbwoodside. Because, you didn't, I did. DCDuring 14:25, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Criticism of PowerPoint[edit]

There's a certain irony in the fact that bulleted text is used to convey the nature of Tufte's critique of PowerPoint, isn't there?--Ggbroad 01:09, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Yes, that's cute. Although to be fair, as used here this application may be one of the least arguable... Baccyak4H (Yak!) 20:10, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Tufte's criticism of PowerPoint has been skewered by Don Norman -- http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/in_defense_of_p.html —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.244.5.30 (talk) 18:12, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

I removed the following sentence:

However, Hubert Knoblauch has argued that this practice reduces a rich communicative setting to mere slides.[1]
  1. ^ Knoblauch, Hubert (2008). "The Performance of Knowledge: Pointing and Knowledge in PowerPoint Presentations". Cultural Sociology. pp. 75–97. Retrieved September 2, 2010.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

because it makes no sense. If Tufte's prescribed practice is followed, the setting is not reduced to mere slides. Knoblauch must have written something else, or been misunderstood by the editor who added the reference. The cited paper is not available to me (behind a paywall), so I cannot correct the sentence, so move it here so that someone who has access to it might check what it actually says. MayerG (talk) 07:08, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Removed misrepresentation of Tufte's POV[edit]

The quote from the article "Tufte argues strongly against the inclusion of any decoration in visual presentations of information" is a misrepresentation of his POV. In the citation request: Edward Tufte. "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information". Graphics Press, 2001. ISBN 0961392142. Chapters 5 and 6 in particular was provided as the source.

On page 13 of the book, one of the bullet items under "Graphical displays should" list "Serve a reasonably clear purpose: descriptions, exploration, tabulation, or decoration." On page 59 "Sometimes decoration can help editorialize about the substance of the graphic".

There needs to be a real quote here if someone wants to piggyback a controversial POV on the name of Edward Tufte. Oicumayberight 03:24, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

It seems that the bias of wikipedia editors have crept back into this section with this statement: "He claims that ink should only be used to convey and display significant data." This is why we need an actual quote. Particular use of the word "only" in this statement means exclusively and is contrary to an actual Edward Tufte quote from the book: "Sometimes decorations can help editorialize about the substance of the graphic." Unless someone finds an actual quote from Edward Tufte that shows that he meant "only" or "exclusively", the statement should be removed. Oicumayberight (talk) 17:49, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Reg: "It has unhelpfully simplistic tables and charts, resulting from the low resolution of computer displays; " This really needs to be reworded: Tufte's use of the word "resolution" is in regards to the amount of information percieved by the audience and in the spirit of a picture being worth a thousand words; not the "resolution of computer displays", which is pixels, dots per inch, and screen width, resulting in a poor electronic display. A picture of what happens to a passenger not wearing a seatbelt during an accident has a higher resolution of information than a billboard that says "buckle up" and shows a picture of just a seat belt. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.7.13.194 (talk) 05:01, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Still at Yale?[edit]

His Yale personal page is now simply a lk to [http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/ his publishing house, i guess.
--Jerzyt 21:48, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Sparklines[edit]

The sparklines are rather difficult to see -- unless you know what you're looking for, the sparklines appear to be absent at first. I'll look at his site for another example, though I'm fairly sure he usually favors gray for sparklines anyway. Seijihyouronka (talk) 20:30, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

I updated the sparklines as well as the associated table. The line itself was made clearer by thickening it with a dark gray color rather than black (even though Tufte doesn't "prefer" gray as far as I can tell). Also added were color-coded data elements for the opening/high/low points. The table was updated to reflect changes to the line and new data elements. The sparkline and table now closer reflect Tufte's examples in Beautiful Evidence (p. 50). For those who don't have the book, a draft of the sparkline content is found in a sparkline thread at Tufte's site. Arsinventi (talk) 21:43, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I removed the sparklines table. While a masterwork of novel wikiformatting, its outsize visual presence overstates the significance of sparklines in a long and varied career. It is a recency bias gone too far. Niels Olson (talk) 23:10, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

This article is written like an advertisement[edit]

Probably by himself and his followers. After all Mr. Tufte seems to be good in presenting - himself. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 195.176.0.55 (talkcontribs)

So fix it. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 19:46, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
I partly agree with this initial comment, and I fixed some of it. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 20:08, 2 September 2009 (UTC)


I know Professor Tufte reasonably well. I am quite certain he has never touched the page for fear of exactly OP's complaint, and has expressed some concern over how it is written. Niels Olson (talk) 18:29, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
Doesn't make it sound like less of one. --130.132.173.45 (talk) 20:33, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
I know him slightly. While he is not particularly modest, he's modest enough not to write cr*p like, "His work habits are forward-looking and he is intensely critical in the self-editing process…" This reads like the work of an acolyte. However, I don't like to start revert wars so I'm not deleting the offending section. 67.173.10.34 (talk) 08:04, 3 February 2014 (UTC)Larry Siegel

BS or BA[edit]

His résumé says BS. Wikipedia says BA. Wikipedia's always wrong. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.59.79.70 (talk) 02:01, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

There are sources out there saying both, and even some saying he got an MA.[1] But I agree his resume is probably reliable here. I've corrected it, and cited the White House as a source. --Avenue (talk) 13:11, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Review of his class[edit]

Yug (talk) 03:06, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Statements at Aaron Swartz memorial service[edit]

Democracy Now has video of Aaron Swartz's memorial service,[2] at which Edward Tufte made a couple of claims which may or may not be noteworthy (or true):

  1. In the early 1960s, he was one of the first phone pheakers.
  2. When caught by AT&T, he and AT&T resolved the dispute amicably, without legal action.
  3. He recently related this story in an email to JSTOR co-founder William G. Bowen.
  4. Bowen then "did the right thing" and got JSTOR to seek an amicable, extralegal resolution of its dispute with Swartz.

A commenter on a blog post about Tufte's statements at the memorial service disputes the validity of the first claim. Without confirmation, I don't think it'd be appropriate to report these any of these things in the article just yet. But it might be something to keep an eye out for. If it is reported further, with any confirmation from AT&T, Bowen or JSTOR, it could probably be added. —mjb (talk) 23:48, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Morton Thiokol and O-Rings[edit]

He's mentioned in the wiki article about the Challenger disaster, and he's centered in a controversy regarding the assignment of the responsibility for the failure to stop the launch due to cold weather and the danger that presented to the rocket booster's o-rings. Effectively, he's blaming the engineers from Morton Thiokol, and they are saying Tufte is lying. I'm inclined to believe this as well. In any case, he's centered on the worst US space disaster in history, and some mention ought to be included in the article here. Jonny Quick (talk) 08:02, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Citations? 50.179.252.14 (talk) 02:11, 23 March 2016 (UTC)

For those with any knowledge of clade presentations[edit]

Could you have a look at this effort, here, to use clade diagrams to summarize pharma business acquisitions. My take at present is that the images created are devoid of standard quantitative meaning—nothing is captured by vertical and horizontal line lengths, as far as I can tell—and so they are a misapplication of this maths/graphic presentation method. Moreover, I argue that they are misleading (presenting a time axis, but not making spacing of events proportionate to the historical time differences), much harder to maintain (consider adding entries to a std Table versus this graphic), more likely to diminish article quality (in their ambiguity of content, again, over a std Table with clear headings), and therefore practically amenable to decay as a result. I would add to this, in this esteemed context, that they would make those who trained us, and other purists in methodology and meaning (and ET more generally), turn in their graves/beds. After having a look at the User page and at a couple of pages linked on that sandbox page, leave your opinion here, regarding the overall effort? Thanks for your opinion. Cheers. Le Prof Leprof 7272 (talk) 01:37, 23 March 2016 (UTC)

Edit-warring to remove book over image[edit]

Visual Explanations cover An editor clearly unfamiliar with our policies against edit-warring is repeatedly removing the book cover image: [3] [4]

This is NFC, it meets NFCC. If it doesn't work well enough for some editors, then we can work to fix that. Tufte is not known for his own appearance, but for his work and particularly this series of books. Presenting one of those covers, the cover of a book about the design of books is well within the scope of NFCC. Andy Dingley (talk) 17:01, 15 February 2017 (UTC)

The only editor here who is "clearly unfamiliar" with applicable policy is you. This is an obvious NFCC violation. The annotation to WP:NFCI#1 states quite clearly that the rationale for inclusion of a book cover generally does not apply "when the work is described in other articles, such as articles about the author". Nonfree images are generally not allowed to illustrate entries in a list, which is way WP:NFC#UUI#2 prohibits the use of "An album cover as part of a discography", and exactly the same policy considerations and analysis apply to the use of a nonfree book cover in a bibliography, or a nonfree movie poster in a filmography, etc. Even if the cover were to arguably fall within a recognized category of permitted nonfree image uses, all suchg categories require, per, for example, WP:NFCI#1, a context of critical commentary of that item, and the article includes not one word of sourced commentary, critical, descriptive, or otherwise, concerning the book cover. Indeed, the nonfree use rationale makes no mention of critical commentary; it says the purpose of use is only "Showing the cover of one of Tufte's influential books". That's a patently invalid nonfree use rationale. And removing obvious NFCC violations is an exception to 3RR/edit warring limits. The Big Bad Wolfowitz (aka Hullaballoo). Treated like dirt by many administrators since 2006. (talk) 17:38, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
This is not merely an article about the author, it also contains an analysis of his published book topics: the visual display of quantitative information. The cover of Visual Explanations conveys this, as would The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (but would not be visible at this small size). Envisioning Information would not give such an illustration, nor would Beautiful Evidence (which has some sort of abstract dog).
The cover image of VE is relevant and illuminating to the reader. If meets all of our NFCC criteria, because it represents the key theme of his career, more so than merely one book. If you think that the level of analysis presented is insufficient, then that's a separate question and there's certainly scope to expand it considerably. Andy Dingley (talk) 22:17, 15 February 2017 (UTC)