Dimensionality

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The principle that I picked up on from Chapter One was dimensionality. Tufte discusses the difficulty information designers encounter when trying to accurately portray a multi-dimensional world on a print or digital plane. At the beginning of the chapter, I was thinking dimensionality as strictly 3-D, like the pyramid model from Euclid. The sunspots confused me, but then I got to the train tables and everything started to make sense. Tufte's discussion of dimensionality encompasses more than just the binary of 2-D and 3-D. The train table includes multiple dimensions--distance of the track, town locations, times, topography. By the time I got to the Gotti chart I had definitely shifted my thinking. I love what Tufte says about how that chart overcame the "linear, non-reversible, one-dimensional sequencing of talk talk talk" (31).

I think this chapter is a great reminder that as information designers we need to make the best use of our space. The examples cited by Tufte are pretty full of information. Many are also beautiful. However, sacrificing functionality to beauty results in nothing but chartjunk. This chapter also shows how creative the designer needs to be when representing a complex world. The Japanese weather map is a great example of a creative solution to a complex data problem.

My one concern with Tufte is information overload. How do we creatively portray vast amounts of complex information while keeping things understandable? Some of the examples in Chapter One seem to straddle that line. . . . (I'm looking at you, train table!)

(I stared for what seemed like hours at the stereopair on page 17. I think I saw what I was supposed to see, but it was a little fuzzy?)

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