The idea that “every opportunity to spread through additional information over an already-available dimension must be cherished” resonated with me. The author stated this when discussing the train schedule mapping on pages 24-25. This reminds me of something I read in Donald Norman’s book, The Design of Everyday Things. Norman discusses the confusion that a panel of light switches can cause in a large space where there are many lights in all parts of the space that are operated by different switches. One solution to this was based on the idea that Tufte suggests: the designers utilized the already available dimensions and built a light switch panel that was an exact mapping of the layout of the light fixtures in the space. Instead of being mounted on the wall, they created a small platform almost parallel to the ceiling so that it was easier to understand which switch pertained to which fixture.
I really enjoyed this text and it gave me a different perspective on communicating through data. I loved the idea that “if the numbers are boring, then you’ve got the wrong numbers”, being that the depiction of data should relate directly to the data as opposed to making a purely visual non-representation of the data just for the sake of visual appeal.
Things That Make us Smart:
The biggest takeaway I have from this reading is that there is a huge importance in how information is organized and represented, which varies due to who the users are, what goals or tasks need to be accomplished with the information, and how the information is meant to be understood. When possible, the information should be easy to comprehend with little effort, but as noted in the flight departure and arrival example, ease of use cannot always take priority in the design.
I’m glad the Tufte article resonated with you! It’s a great perspective on information design and we will be using elements of design specified by this text in class this semester.