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Beautiful Evidence

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,380 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Book annotation not available for this title...Title: .Beautiful Evidence..Author: .Tufte, Edward R...Publisher: .Graphics Pr..Publication Date: .2006/07/01..Number of Pages: .213..Binding Type: .HARDCOVER..Library of Congress: .2006282688
Hardcover, 213 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Graphics Pr
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Austin Kleon
The fourth of Tufte’s books, contains his devastating pamphlet on Powerpoint, which should be required reading for everyone. Come to think of it, all of his books should be required reading — in the age of pictures and words, they could take the place of freshmam composition...

My map of the book:

Mind-map of Edward Tufte's Beautiful Evidence
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Roger Wood
The book led was one of the most enlightening books that I've every read. I've always had a penchant for using numbers, images, and heuristics to explain, and began taking Edward Tufte's courses when the opportunity arose, starting in 1998. He held them in hotel ballrooms throughout the United States, and his followers attended with cult-like repetition, sometimes registering for the same course 6 times in one year.

Edward Tufte is one of the most elegant designers of information alive today, the
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Lars
Having finished all of Tufte's books now, I would rate them as follows:

1) Visual Explanations
2) The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
3) Envisioning Information
4) Beautiful Evidence

"Visual Display" is the one everyone knows about, but I thought "Visual Explanations" had a far higher didactic value and was more courteous to the reader's interests. It is really the one I would recommend to people who are interested in Tufte's work.

"Beautiful Evidence" is by far the worst; it is a muddled,
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Martyn Lovell
In this work, Tufte focusses as usual on great visual design, and relates it closely to how design can provide solid, reliable, uncorrupted information.

As always this is a great book, perhaps better than the others except his first (Visual Display of Quantitative...). I especially liked the detailed analyses of bad examples, and of good ones. He gives concrete advice, and in this book actually introduces a visual innovation (sparklines) which have turned out to be very useful in the real world.

H
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Dave Emmett
Tufte really doesn't like PowerPoint.

I thought it was really sad that this book, like Visual Explanations, features a story about how a failure to accurately present information caused a disaster at NASA. In Visual Explanations it was the Challenger, and in this book it was Columbia. Sad that even years later NASA hadn't taken the lessons learned from the Challenger disaster and applied a more rigorous investigation of the evidence before concluding that Columbia was safe to re-enter.

One of my
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Zach A.
Nov 16, 2007 Zach A. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: die-hard Tufte fans only
Tufte is one of my intellectual heroes, so it's a little sad to see a book from him that I can't really recommend. It's as beautiful as ever, but the ideas don't cohere into a marvelously orchestrated framework as they do in Visual Displays of Quantitative Information.

Still, his brilliance and wit shine through in places, and for a Tufte fan it's still a worthy read. "Making a presentation is a moral act as well as an intellectual activity."

What Tufte has in common with other intellectuals I ad
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Elizabeth
Sep 08, 2010 Elizabeth rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like typography, design, staticians, scientists...
Shelves: design-books
"Design cannot rescue failed content."


If you hate meetings that include PowerPoint presentations ("chartjunk") and know there must be a better way to present information- read this book. Though not his best, the chapter on PowerPoint alone is worth the read. I first heard about Tufte in a college statistics class and came across his name recently in an article for Wired magazine. This year Tufte was appointed to the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel to assist in providing transparency in the
...more
Todd Stockslager
Tufte's fourth in a series on visual data and its representation, following:

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition
Envisioning Information
Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative

The topic of the forthcoming fifth in the series ("walking, seeing, and constructing" ) is foreshadowed in the pictures of Tufte's landscape sculptures at the end of beautiful evidence.

If you are familiar with Tufte's other books, you already know the treat in store when you
...more
Keith McCormick
This book is beautiful to look at. I think even the strongest critics would agree. For the record, I am glad I own this book.

The question regards practicality and truth in advertising. The author certainly does not deliberately mislead, but many readers of his books (or those who know his reputation), will be expecting a book focusing primarily on the display of data in graphics. Fully two thirds of the book addresses that topic. However, many readers will be surprised to find discussions of dan
...more
Tom
I read this book because of all the buzz on sparklines a few years ago.

I liked the emphasis on the power of the human vision system to process large amounts of data quickly. The focus here, then, is on high information density with as much context as possible. Tufte really likes figures right next to related text, or even within the text. He likes scales on pictures, or perhaps well-known objects for context. Also, information to convey statistical significance is also considered important, and
...more
Gregory Peterson
No one knows information design like Edward Tufte, Yale professor and author of several extraordinary books. The New York Times called him: “The Leonardo da Vinci of data,” and that moniker may not be far from the truth.

In the wake of his three eminently successful and influential books on information design, the bar for "Beautiful Evidence" was high, indeed. As more than a few thoughtful reviewers have noted, "Beautiful Evidence" recapitulates some of those previous books' themes -- and so it m
...more
Greg
What I enjoy most about Tufte’s books is his wide use of graphical material to present his subject. Take away the text, and the reader is left with an interesting art book that holds its own on any coffee table. However, on closer inspection, this book, like all of Tufte’s publications, is a statement on the effective presentation on data, and one of the more helpful business books around.

This book is interesting because the principles are distilled further. Show trends in the data in beautiful
...more
Graham Herrli
It's been a while since I read this book, but I find myself often referencing one of its chapters, "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within," so I decided it would be worthwhile to write a summary here. That chapter tells about a formal audit of communication within NASA after the 2003 Columbia disaster. The auditors determined that overuse of PowerPoint in lieu of whitepapers was largely culpable for the failure to respond to damage incurred by the shuttle during launch, ...more
Stephen Wong
I made explicit use of the sparklines approach in analysing and presenting multi-layered time-series data. While I consider the outcome less elegant than what can be produced by a graphics package, just putting the picture of the numbers together was powerful. In later discussing what Beautiful Evidence can do for tamping down on speculative methods of analysis and easing on the conflicts that arise from where the problems lie, it also became apparent that what was produced was a snapshot of dat ...more
Cale
Wow. I don't know the last time I read an author I disliked as much as Mr. Tufte. He manages to be arrogant, self-aggrandizing, and a blowhard all at once. This book must be titled ironically, because there is little to no beauty in it. Some of the examples of 'beautiful evidence' do meet the criteria, but others seem utterly unsupportive of the topic. And the content is ugly as well; it is disjointed, tangential, and not at all what I was led to believe the book was going to be about. There are ...more
lia
"Science & art have in common intense seeing, the wide eyed observing that generates empirical information. Beautiful Evidence is about how seeing turns in to showing, how impirical observations turn into explanations and evidence...evidence presentations are seen here from both sides: how to produce them and how to consume them."

Edward Tufte has written, designed and self published four books (this one in 2006) and he says to expect "at least a quintet". It's no wonder that they are self pu
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Eric
Much of what Tufte says, either in person at his seminars or in this book, feels groundbreaking. You feel like he's on to something, like he's got it all figured out where everyone else has it wrong. Just as you're coming around, however, he gets distracted. He got distracted halfway through his seminar, and all the sudden we were flipping through books from 1600 and talking about Richard Feynman, again. So too does Tufte get distracted in this book. Ironically, a little bit of outlining, heck, ...more
Christine Theberge Rafal
This isn't a book to read like a novel. I read parts that interested me most and will consider it more like a reference book. It also could be well used to teach critical thinking to students. They will learn how to present and interpret data displays. Is the display rich enough to serve the data? Is the data sufficient to the claims and interpretations made? How much is lost? Is the display misleadingly too rich for thin data? What else does the display say about the story of the data? I love h ...more
Smitty
ET (as he refers to himself) clearly has great insights on conveying information. Much of the content here--sparklines, multivariate charts, the necessity of hierarchy--is revelatory. However, the book is repetitive, discontinuous, polemical, and self-indulgent. What's his beef with star charts? What do sculpture pedestals have to do with anything? The snarky tone that sneaks in periodically ("PowerPoint Phluff") is neither funny nor appropriate in context. And for a book designed by a designer, ...more
Jake
Aug 06, 2009 Jake rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: design
Another beautiful book about information design from one of the smartest guys in the field. Tufte continues to practice what he preaches in the design of the book— it looks, feels, and even smells like a book designed by someone with an incredible attention to every detail. As for the subject matter, much will be familiar to readers of his previous three books. There are some new illustrations, but more than a few have been used before. The essays are somewhat uneven-- I really enjoyed the chapt ...more
Manolo Frias
From this book I probably liked the most the brilliant explanation of the principles of analytical design. The Minard data-map of the French invasion of Russia in 1812 is the base for that description.

The attack against the way communication is done with powerpoint is just brutal. He defends a tool for improving presentations: the use sentences. "Written sentences forces the presenter to be smarter" he writes.

I also liked the chapter about combining words, numbers and images. He describes the pr
...more
Kerri
Apr 12, 2008 Kerri rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Designers, researchers, anyone interested in the truth and fallacy of data
Shelves: design-and-art
This is the first book of Tufte's that I have read.


Beautifully executed book by one of the foremost experts in information design. Didn't realize someone could make me so enthusiastic about an idea like inline data charting ("sparklines"), or that someone could really shake my philosophy on "less is more." There was a bit the went over my head when he went into specifics on statistical data, equations, etc, but overall, it was a passionate and interesting read.

I was a little thrown by the last c
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Tom
A truly beautiful book describing how to present information. It includes many examples of excellent representations of information, along with critiques of many quite common methods. It goes beyond the actual representations to include the responsibilities of presenters and audience in ensuring the integrity of the information before they use it (to create the presentation or to make decisions based o it). I really enjoyed the examples and the discussions that he included on the examples.. That ...more
Tracy
The last two sections of this book either were redundant (I'd read the Cognitive Style of PowerPoint before) or seemed tangential to the rest of the book (what do sculpture pedestals have to do with evidence, exactly?), but the remainder of the book provided a useful and occasionally witty take on practices for good evidence presentations. Tufte emphasizes the ethical aspects of both creating and consuming evidence presentations throughout his discussions of various evidence styles, analyzing bo ...more
Hank Richardson
Once again Edward Tufte proves as he suggests: "that making an evidence presentation is a moral act as well as an intellectual activity." Beautiful Evidence is about looking, seeing from statistical data and how that seeing might turn into a theater of showing and questioning... as he says upfront as you might look at Galileo's hand drawings of sunspots they will delight you and give rise to wonder... as the designer Eric Gill once said, If you first look after truth and goodness, then Beauty lo ...more
kelly
Jun 30, 2014 kelly marked it as to-read
note to self: read chapter on "The famous analysis of PowerPoint, second edition. How computer slideware for presentations corrupts content and reasoning."
Shauna
This was a really informative book and one that I will refer back to again and again. It explicitly states a lot of good design and research principles that mutually and necessarily reinforce each other. I liked his argument of evidence as evidence (integration of modes: text, image, etc) in response to the reigning paradigm, segregation of modes (and domination of text). This was not obvious to me, especially in the context of research.

I loved the examples shown in the book and Tufte's critica
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Ambrose
He has good ideas, but as many have pointed out, he’s biased. But then as Ravelli points out, there’s an intrinsic subjectivity in objectivity so in essence everyone is biased. So it’s more accurate to say that he’s not aware of his own bias.

In effect, if he really believed in what he says and if everyone really could agree to it, then it’d be trivial to tear down various deeply-ingrained but flawed theories that have been serving as overarching frameworks of mainstream biology and physics. As i
...more
Michael
Always good to be reminded of the team for though in presenting information
Leonard Houx
I love reading Tufte because you get it all: elegant prose, beautiful illustrations, historical insight, and helpful, practical advice – all in a beautifully typeset book. Envisioning Information gave me my first and best high, but still Beautiful Evidence is still a gorgeous, perfect book.

As an aside, it occurred to me how much Friedrich Kittler has in common with Tufte. Indeed, I think Kittler shares more in common with Tufte than McLuhan even. Whereas McLuhan was similarly poetic, Kittler an
...more
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Edward Rolf Tufte (born 1942 in Kansas City, Missouri to Virginia and Edward E. Tufte), a professor emeritus of statistics, graphic design, and political economy at Yale University has been described by The New York Times as "the Leonardo da Vinci of Data". He is an expert in the presentation of informational graphics such as charts and diagrams, and is a fellow of the American Statistical Associa ...more
More about Edward R. Tufte...
Envisioning Information The Visual Display of Quantitative Information Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within Visual and Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Making Decisions

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“PowerPoint is like being trapped in the style of early Egyptian flatland cartoons rather than using the more effective tools of Renaissance visual representation.” 8 likes
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