General Philosophy for Increasing Data Comprehension

Notes based on the work of Edward Tufte.
High density is good: the human eye/brain can select, filter, edit, group, structure, highlight, focus, blend, outline, cluster, itemize, winnow, sort, abstract, smooth, isolate, idealize, summarize, etc. Give people the data so they can exercise their full powers — don’t limit them.
Clutter/confusion are failures of design and not complexity
Information consists of differences that make a difference: so you can “hide” that data which does not make a difference in what you are trying to depict
In showing parallels, only the relevant differences should appear
Value and power of parallelism: once you have seen one element all the others are accessible
Important concepts in good design: separating figure and background (for example, a blurry background often brings the foreground into sharper focus), layering & separation, use of white space (e.g., Chinese landscapes emphasize space, as in the painter known as “one corner Ma”; oriental music is often there to emphasize the silence and not the sound).

Leave a Reply