Monday, June 11, 2007

Birds of a Feather

What better way to get over the lackluster Jobs keynote (yes I'm an Apple fan -- so what?) than to stumble on this article in New York Mag on Edward Tufte? While I never took his class at Yale (although friends did), I did see him give his seminar at BNL, where we paid a grand total of $25 for the full-day of his time and his (at the time) full set of three books (worth $100+ on Amazon, and almost $400 if you do the seminar+books today). And while I don't have rimless glasses (I went back to thick plastic recently), I too have Minard's graphic of Napoleon's march on Moscow on my office door. So consider me a fan.

It's hard to express just how influential Tufte has been on the way I look at, and present, scientific data. I can really see the difference in my talks and plots before and after that summer day in 2000, and I've tried my best to evangelize (with occasional success) to my colleagues as we put together useful figures to represent the interesting things we've learned at RHIC.

And it's also neat to hear him express his admiration for Apple, and to read how they paid him back in that iPhone ad. What they don't mention is that Google analytics (which I use to track readership of this website) already uses "sparklines" everywhere, and they do exactly what he says they do. Neat stuff, both the short article and his books, and worth a look by scientists and non-scientists alike.

1 comment:

Corey said...

Here's an interesting map for you: