I was all set to attend Edward Tufte's 1-day course in Cincinnati last week (Presenting Data and Information) when.. wouldn't you know it.. a work meeting got bumped back to that day (the meeting was with some folks who's schedules are way less malleable than my own.) So... sorry, ET -- I guess I'll have to catch you next time around!
This has kind of become a sad running joke with me and Tufte -- I've probably tried to see him on at least 4 different occasions through the years, to the point of registering at least twice that I can remember.
But my friend Jason Long was one of several folks from Columbus who made it down for the event, and I liked his trip report so much that I asked him if I could share it here:
I thought it was a good course. Having read one of his books in the past and following the forum on his site, I had some preconceived notions regarding his personality going in (extremely opinionated, gruff, academic, but brilliant). He was definitely these things, but I found him to be a much more eloquent speaker than I had anticipated.
Personally, I was hoping for more on the nuts and bolts of data visualization design (use of color, contrast, small multiples,
reducing 'chartjunk', etc.), but the course was designed more for teaching how to give (and listen to) presentations - "serious"
presentations as he put it. All of his advice was very good, but not completely applicable to me.
There was definitely much to be entertained by: his insight into his role as a NASA consultant during the Columbia investigations, his 400 year old books by Galileo (still can't believe he travels with those), his insistence that "serious" computer work requires huge and/
or multiple high-res displays (agreed! - still trying to convince [my] wife though), his eccentric millionaire-grade "yard art" (that is,
massive steel sculptures all over his apparently enormous wooded lot), and much more.
All in all, I thought it was very enjoyable. Everyone got all four of his books (~$200 worth), so the price of the course was very
Jason, btw, is someone that I really wish would keep a blog. He's a busy guy doing cool stuff in Columbus (design, coding, Rails and fatherhood.) We need more voices like his from the ol' cow-town.