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Books The Almighty Buck News

Edward Tufte's Library Up For Auction 45

Posted by kdawson
from the galileo-meets-picasso dept.
px2 writes "I was poking around Christie's auction house after taking a look at the Apple 1 when I came across this: Beautiful Evidence: The Library of Edward Tufte. He's unloading everything from Galileo and Da Vinci firsts to a rotating Japanese astronomical text from 1801. I guess he didn't conjure his ideas on information design from thin air." Based on Christie's estimates, the collection of 29 artifacts could fetch in excess of two and a quarter million dollars.
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Edward Tufte's Library Up For Auction

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  • by Suki I (1546431) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @06:44PM (#34217844) Homepage Journal
    a genetically modified shark with a laser on its head!
  • by jmcbain (1233044) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @07:45PM (#34218250)

    I took his one-day course in Seattle. The hall was absolutely packed, and I had to sit in the back. He goes through a lot of material that's from his books, and it's all wonderful. Hearing it from him in person is a lot better than reading; for example, the example of the cholera map from London didn't impress me in print as much as it did when he went over its history at the lecture. He also discusses why Powerpoint lends itself to abuse and how you can avoid information overload on slides. And he makes the point that he really, really loves high-density displays. When I took the course in 2008, he was raving about the high-resolution screen of the iPhone and how it's great from a high-density-information point of view.

    The prize of the class is the collection of his four books in a nice cardboard box. They're all terrific reads and look great on one's bookshelf next to Knuth's masterpieces.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2010 @07:49PM (#34218290)

    Has anyone gone to his one day course? Each time I get that mail I'm intrigued by the idea of learning about presenting multivariate data but then decide, not right now. Besides, I don't know where I'd keep those four oversized books.

    Yes, I've gone. Yes, you should too.

    It won't turn you into Tufte, but even a ten-year course couldn't do that for most of us. What it will do is give you a language with which you can describe what's wrong with a poor presentation to a PHB, and in a language that even a PHB can understand. ("Sir, the reason nobody pays attention to our powerpoint presentations is because the technology's fundamentally broken. Nobody pays attention to anyone's powerpoint slides. Write up a couple of paragraphs, and present the data better, and put the pretty picture in the .ppt, and let the audience examine the picture for themselves. As they do so, they'll figure out what you're trying to say, and you can stop wasting time condensing everything into meaningless bullet points and simply indicate the region of the graph that's meaningful. They'll get it. They'll realize that you - because you're the only one presenting anything coherent - are the only guy up there not actively trying to bullshit them with PowerPoint. They'll buy our argument. They might even buy our stuff!")

    This being Tufte, I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was really impressed that we got to actually use the books during the course, rather than just having him scan in a few pages into PowerPoint slides :)

    Anyway, the four oversized books are packaged in a handy cardboard carrying case that's exactly the height of an O'Reilly book. The case therefore fits perfectly on a deep bookshelf. Like everything else Tufte does, it's all about usability.

  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:17PM (#34218542)
    It's sortof a flip remark, since Tufte is pretty effusive with examples and citations. He rarely asserts a design principle a priori, he always goes and shows you how somebody historically did X and he's much more of a descriptive than prescriptive authority.
  • by tsalmark (1265778) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @10:59PM (#34219494) Homepage
    I believe that would be Euclid’s Elements. A copy of which seems to be listed (lot 11) with an estimate of $4-600, I'm guessing that is not an original.

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