How much is better?

I got my copy of Dona Wong’s “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don’ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures” two weeks ago and it is time to post a comment now …

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures The book is a typical “How to”-book and like many other books (e.g., Graphing Statistics & Data: Creating Better Charts,  Creating More Effective Graphs or The Elements of Graph Design) it tells us what to do and what not to do. This imperative style is definitely well suited for the novice in visualization (it is always good to give those at the beginning of the learning curve clear guidance), but for everybody who has a certain experience in the display of quantitative information, there is this slight discomfort with this style. As Dona Wong is a student of Edward Tufte, the look and feel of her book has not only some remembrance of Tufte’s work, but also lets us compare the two styles. Tufte’s books take us on an adventurous journey and at the end we feel enlightened – “Guide to Information Graphics” is more like a boot camp which we leave like drilled elite soldiers.

In the end, successful visualization has much to do with creativity and Wong’s approach will more support in avoiding worst cases than inspire for genius. Don’t get me wrong; the book is probably the best dos and don’ts book on visualization around – it is just that you need to like that style. If you already own one of the above mentioned books, this one might just not be better enough to get a copy.

There is also a review on junk charts.

One Comment

  1. EllieAsksWhy says:

    I was considering purchase of this book on Amazon, and really appreciated your review! Long ago, in my first year of undergrad stats classes, Tufte came to my school and spoke to a group of 10 of us in a small dining area reserved for the purpose. My academic advisor earned his PhD in Statistics at Harvard (and was such a relaxed and friendly person, no pretense, I was fortunate), and a personal friend of E. Tufte. Tufte was a bit more intense. He gave a memorable presentation during that little lunch. You describe the experience of reading his books on graphical representation of data so well.

    I look forward to following your relocated blog, was referred by the CrisisMaven’s Blog . Though this is rather late (consider that I onl started blogging in Feb 2010) but I will say Welcome to WordPress anyway!

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