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Beautiful Evidence Hardcover – July 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Graphics Pr; 1St Edition edition (July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0961392177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0961392178
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

"Science and art," according to Tufte, "have in common intense seeing, the wide-eyed observing that generates empirical information." This book is about how that seeing turns into showing. Tufte, professor emeritus at Yale University and author of three previous widely praised books on visual evidence, displays outstanding examples of the genre. One of the most arresting is Galileo's series of hand-drawn images of sunspots. A colleague of Galileo, the author tells us, said that the astronomer's drawings "delight both by the wonder of the spectacle and the accuracy of expression." That, Tufte says, is beautiful evidence.

Editors of Scientific American

Review

"Edward Tufte's Beautiful Evidence is a masterpiece from a pioneer in the field of data visualization. His book in brilliant. The Galileo of graphics has done it again. It's not often an iconoclast comes along, trashes the old ways, and replaces them with an irresistible new interpretation. By teasing out the sublime from the seemingly mundane world of charts, graphs, and tables, Tufte has proven to a generation of graphic designers that great thinking begets great presentation. In Beautiful Evidence, his fourth work on analytical design, Tufte digs more deeply into art and science to reveal very old connections between truth and beauty -- all the way from Galileo to Google." -- Business Week, Best Innovation and Design Books for 2006

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Customer Reviews

Consequently, I looked forward to receiving Tufte's fourth major book on information design, Beautiful Evidence.
Zen Faulkes
Unfortunately so much of the material in "Beautiful Evidence" has previously appeared in Tufte's other books, that I really didn't enjoy this one.
Jerry Saperstein
He really does try to convince the reader that this topic is of high moral concern - not just sometimes, but in general.
dan farmer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

763 of 790 people found the following review helpful By dan farmer on July 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I finished tufte last night... what a disaster, or perhaps sunk with high expectations.

I'm a huge fan of dr. tufte's very influential writing on information visualization - as far as I know he's done the best work in the field. But this book - while simply physically and visually stunning - is a real disappointment.

In this work I read about 20% insight, 40% recycled material and preaching to what is probably the choir (this includes an overly repetitious chapter-long discussion of minard's lovely march to moscow graphic & his previously available power point piece), and 40% filler & drek. I don't find his comments on art, writing styles, baseball, and the like to be terribly compelling, and are certainly done better in many other works - and indeed, his thoughts on these ended up as being pretty grating and condescending, if not just wrong.

And that the book ends with several pages of photos (a few of really poor quality, I might add) his own outdoor artwork (which are of passable quality, but what the *bleep* does this have to do with evidence as defined at the front of the book?) only throws salt on the wounds.

This thing is maddeningly inconsistent. I wish I could simply dismiss the work, but it's full of beauty and joy as well as the bad. Sparklines are fun, but could be improved on. Words + images combined inline, some great stuff there. But while some of the really lovely things, like the translations of galileo, are wonderful and exciting to any science-loving person, they really are pretty pointless to the conversation at hand. He has gone straight down since his first major book - a 5+ star effort, the 2nd, 4.5-5 stars, 3rd, 3 stars, and this is about a 2 star one (2.5+ if you haven't read the others.
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199 of 219 people found the following review helpful By Philip Greenspun on June 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Out of all of the great ideas that are in this book, I am going to concentrate on the ones that relate to "what can be done with high-resolution display devices," such as 1200 dpi printers. An increasing amount of contemporary design is done for low-resolution displays, such as television and computer monitors. If we get a 1200 dpi version of one of these designs, as is easily possible with an inexpensive laser printer, we are not getting much benefit from that increased resolution. A lot of the ideas in Beautiful Evidence can be used today with Web scripts that generate PDF files to be printed. The rest of the ideas will be waiting for designers 20 years from now when computer monitors finally catch up to paper.

dea 1: Sparklines (there are examples on the author's Web site). Tufte points out that nothing stops the modern printer from including small graphs right in-line with text or tables and that these graphs make comparisons much easier. Baseball fans will enjoy Tufte's depiction of a baseball season, first for one team and then for all teams. Tufte argues convincingly that showing history in a "sparkline" reduces "recency bias, the persistent and widespread over-weighting of recent events in making decisions."

Idea 2: Forcing people to write English sentences instead of PowerPoint bullets results in a lot more clarity, especially with respect to causality.

Idea 3: If you're running a business, figure out how to pack a huge amount of information, including sparklines, onto a single 11×17″ sheet of paper and print it out on a laserprinter, then give it to decision makers. With that one sheet of paper, they will have as much information as 15 computer screenfuls or 300 PowerPoint slides.

A thought-provoking book that will reward repeat scrutiny.
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117 of 129 people found the following review helpful By John Duncan on July 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth of Edward Tufte's books on the graphical display of information, and one might fear that he might be stretching the point too far and running out of ideas. One would be wrong, however, because this is a wonderful book, and is possibly the best of the four. It is a must-have, must-read, must-understand, must-apply sort of book. No one who is seriously interested in preparing illustrations for conveying information can afford to be unfamiliar with Tufte's ideas.

Inevitably there is some overlap with the earlier books, but this is deliberate policy, not carelessness. As Tufte makes clear, it is better to repeat information than to expect readers to hunt for it somewhere else. Many potentially useful books have been rendered much more difficult to use than they ought to be, at worst by gathering together the artwork in one place, far away from the text that it relates to, or, slightly less bad, by failing to ensure that it appears on the same double-page spread as its accompanying text. Tufte doesn't even believe in referring to tables and figures by numbers, because he considers that any illustration can just be introduced with "here" or "in this example", etc., if it is properly placed. This is what he practises himself, but the technical demands of commercial publishers will make it difficult advice to follow, unfortunately. However, with modern computer-based publishing it ought to become easy in the future if enough pressure is put on publishers. If Galileo could integrate all of his diagrams into his text, why can we not do that now, with far more technical aids at our disposal than were available to him?
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