I just spent a day at Edward Tufte’s course on information design at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront. I’ve always known his work, I’ve talked about it in design classes, I’ve told students to read his books, but not once have I heard him speak. Now I can confidently say that his captions speak louder than words. Snicker.
That’s not to say he wasn’t insightful. The books have always been a nice translation of classic design principles into static visual information design, but most of the course was simply him parroting his own words. What made it unbearable was that he spoke them with the lifeless apathy of a statistics professor. Oh wait, he was one.
Aside from his lack of spark, there were a number of nice things about the day. I got a box full of his books; I got a refresher on visual information design; I had a chance to think more about forms of dissemination for my research (I tire of limiting my influence to academic publications). It was also a nice calm before my early May storm of deadlines.