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Comment: Inspired by Edward Tufte (Score 1) 193

by dougbaker (#15966705) Attached to: Edward Tufte Talks information Design
I ran across Edward Tufte via another webzine, it as excellent in its own way as slashdot proves itself to be
daily.
For years as a network traffic analysis tools creator I had been depending on the coding by my collegues for
the visualization of the data I collected and transformed via various numerical methods. The results were almost
exclusively somehow disappointing, and thus not to put to fine a point on it a constant source of internal
tension as we pushed and pulled on each other over 'how to graph time series and event data'.
For me a deeper understanding was the result of the purchase of the first three books. As neither long nor
difficult reads I quickly finished the trio and was inspired to strike out on my own to see is Perl /w GD would
be something I could accomplish. First and foremost using a concept of less is more quickly resulted in a
functional module from which I could experiment.
While I am far from 'priding myself' or suggesting I have produced a superior solution I have succeeded in
a Perl CGI (GD based) GUI which allows the analysts to dynamically select horizontal and vertical scaling,
n-scaling of the vertical (scaling) to allow very small and large values to be displayed w/o either
suppressing the other while allowing for the 'mid-section' its 'equal share' of the vertical space, with a
variety of numerical measuremenets (avg, median, trend (least square best fit line), min, max, (1st) std,
1st/3rd quartile, etc), presented as scatter, line, bar, and fill with active map regions allowing 'drilldown'.
While not for everyone the inspiration that I have recieved from Edward Tufte has provided me with the
motivation to investigate my understanding of his ideas using my data in a dynamic way that allows me to
adjust the visualization to the data. One key section for me was the discussion of the method used to represent
the effect of temperature on seals used on the space shuttle and how an altrnative visualization would have
clearly led to a more cautious conclusion that that which resulted in the Challenger disaster. That, as do
all of Edward Tufte's examples, has had a profound and lasting impression on me and my visualization coding.
I can therefore recommend Edward Tufte's books w/o reservation and sincerely hope that you will be inspired
as I have been.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming

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