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Tufteism and Design Influencers

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#1
JB Krygier

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Great work on that Voyager map.


Thanks!

One interesting thing about the Voyager map is that the design was shaped
by Tufte's first book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, which
came out a few years earlier. David DiBiase mentioned the book and I
read it and pulled out a handful of "Tufteisms" (appended below; at the
time I actually had them typed up and posted over my desk).

Working on the design of the Voyager map was quite seminal to my style
of map design - a mix of Tufte and DiBiase. At some point I became a
bit grumpy about Tufte, in that he had the right attitude, and was
inspirational, but did not provide many specific means to get to his
graphical excellence. I also found myself (in the cartographic lab) faced
with rather boring, univariate, simple data and projects: Tufte seemed to
suggest that I should seek out more exciting, multivariate, complex
projects - not quite possible (no, boss, I won't make that map - too
boring).

But the Voyager project did meet all those criteria, and really shaped
the design of every map I made after it.

I am curious if anyone else cares to share where they think their map
design style came from?

The Tufteisms are below...


john k.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tufteisms from The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Graphical excellence is the well-designed presentation of interesting data - a
matter of substance, of statistics, and of design.

Graphical excellence consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity,
precision, and efficiency.

Graphical excellence is that which gives to the viewer the greatest number of
ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.

Graphical excellence is nearly always multivariate.

The revelation of the complex.


Graphical excellence requires telling the truth about data.

Graphics must not quote data out of context.

Above all else, show the data.


Clear, detailed, and thorough labeling should be used to defeat graphical
distortion and ambiguity.

Write out explanations of the data on the graphic itself. Label important events
in the data.


The number of graphic dimensions depicted should not exceed the number of data
dimensions.

Forgo chartjunk.

Maximize the data-ink ratio.

Erase non-data and redundant-data ink.


Revise and edit.

#2
frax

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perhaps a discussion on tufte and on one's style's origin should be split into different a thread(s)... ?
Hugo Ahlenius
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#3
Nick Springer

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I was thinking the same thing myself... so here you go.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#4
frax

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Hmm, influencing my style... I haven't been doing mapping for real for that long -- off and on for 5 years, but then mostly in GIS, only some real publications in the last 6 months. Currently my style is very influenced by the informal standards set in my organization, set by our main cartographer (Phillippe Rekacewicz at UNEP/GRID-Arendal and Le Mode Diplomatique).

(my work is almost exclusively thematic and interactive maps, by the way)

But I try to break out of the pastels a little bit sometimes, and I have recently started experimenting with some more advanced Illustrator effects (I am learning the software) to get more life in to the maps.

On Tufte -- yes he is quite a big inspiration too, but I am also a little bit into Jakob Nielsen (web usability designer). For a lot of the work I do, the map needs to communicate the message very clearly and quite fast - and I think peoples attention span are much shorter today than it was when Tufte published "The visual display..." in 1983.
Hugo Ahlenius
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#5
Martin Gamache

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Having Worked for Martin von Wyss for three years at a formative time in my career had the biggest influence I'm sure and he was a big Tufte advocate. In that sense I was very lucky to work with a good mentor. We both attended a Tufte day seminar at the end of the time we worked together and both left a little bit dissapointed and thinking Tufte was soundind like a broken record when going on about Power Point and his sculptures (spring 2004). No doubt these seminars are designed for folks who've never been exposed to many of his ideas and thus have a different experience

I've sought to be influenced by the work of Swiss cartographers such as Imhof, and Spiess. Whether is has taken or not? Other influences range from graphic and typographic artists like We work for them, Chris Ware and Swiss Poster artists Josef Muller Brockmann, some of the contemporary cartographers whom I've had a chance to meet such as Pat Dunlavey, Tom Patterson and Stuart Allan. Modern artists like Mark Rothko, and more and more these days by both classical oil and watercolor artists.

I think that Tufte makes for a great critic but he's never made a map as far as I know. His books are beautiful and full of his very informed opinions but I cant help think that his followers (myself included) verge on the cultish. I think that his approach has become a little more theoretical than practical in his later work. I'd love to have him critique major works I would produce, it would surely be an insightful process.

mg

#6
Dennis McClendon

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I'm a devotee of Tufte, but another important influence on me was the redesign Richard Saul Wurman did for Pacific Bell Yellow Pages in the early 90s. Among other things, he created some locator maps that reduced the Southern California freeway network to a 45-90 degree grid, in the manner of Harry Beck's wonderful London Underground diagram. Maps in his Access Guides also were probably the strongest influence in my preference for white streets in a neutral ground, rather than the double-line street maps that were so prevalent 15 years ago. My distaste for casings probably also stems from this look.

I have only recently come across an adage that nicely encapsulates my design philosophy, usually accredited to Antoine de Saint-Exupery: "Perfection in anything at all is attained not when nothing more can be added, but when nothing more can be taken away."
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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