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Edward Tufte Essay (Essay Sample)

Instructions:

it is a publicly available geovisualisation on the web (map) and write a critique of it according to the Tufte principles

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Content:
Tufte Principles
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Abstract
In Tufte’s principles, the visual representations of data must tell the truth. He shows a range of graphs that either under or over represent the effects of data to a reader. The six principles of graphical integrity include the representation of numbers, should be proportional to the numerical quantities represented, detailed, clear and thorough labeling to be used so as to avoid the graphical ambiguity and distortion (Tufte 2001).
Introduction
Another principle is that it should show data but not design variation. In time series and of standardized and deflated units of monetary measurements are nearly as always better than the nominal units and the number of information depicted should not exceed the dimensions in the data, complete the principles (Tufte 2001). The above describe the data integrity. In addition, Tufte also touched on data ink, whereby he claims that a clear graphical representation maximizes data ink and removes as much non-data ink as possible. He put five principles of relating to data ink, which include, show data above all else, erase non-data-ink, remove redundant data ink, maximize the data ink ratio and finally revise and edit.
The unnecessary and an excessive use of effects of graphics are called chart junk, which, is one of the principals that he talks explains. He states that the worst graph is self promoting and is used to demonstrate the ability of the designer, instead of displaying the data. The density of data of a graph is the total size of the graph, which shows the data. He insists that data density and matrix should be maximized within reason (Few 2009). An example of achieving this effect is through the shrink principle, which states that most graphs can be reduced without losing the legibility of the information.
Another principle of his is the small multiples whereby it is a series of small graphs that have been repeated in one visual. A well designed small multiple should be multivariate, comparative, based on a large data matrix, effectual in interpretation, shrunken and high density graphics, almost entirely drawn with data ink and narrative content that shows the relationship between variables as the index changes.
Aesthetics and technique designs touch on the elegance of the graphical, which is usually found in the simplicity of design and complexity of data. It also refers to the use of tables, which work well when the representation of data needs many localized comparisons and that they are also the best way to depict numbers, though the entrants can be arranged in a semi-graphical form (Tufte 2001).
Finally, a data graphic that is friendly to the user should possess the following qualities: small messages that explain the data, spelt out words and elaborate encoding avoided, words running from left to right, graphics which attract the viewer and spark curiosity, colors used make sense of the graphics, labels placed on the graphic itself, wordings are in upper and lower case and lastly the type is precise, modest and clear. The final principal that Tufte applies is that of the golden triangle whereby, if the character of the data proposes the graphic shape, then follow it, else, move towards the horizontal graphics almost half wider than the vertical (Ilinsky and Steele 2010).
Tufte’s works tend to address certain issues like the problem matter (Tufte 2001). The Problem is that of putting vast amounts of information in a compact way, adequate for the purpose, accurate and easy to understand. It should be specific to show cause and effect so as to ensure that the right comparisons are made, and achieve the desired valid goals. The importance of the data is also addressed in the principles whereby, graphical and printed information are the driving force behind lives. Therefore, it is not confined anymore to workers in certain areas but impacts almost everyone through the internet use and computing (Ilinsky and Steele 2010). The point to which graphics and symbols have an effect on us is evident by the increase in scores all over that have got information technology knowledge. The likely cause of this is the widespread exposure to symbols, graphics and texts that go hand in hand with the modern life. This is possible because of increase in exposure to information technology by all cultures.
In the application of the principles, some of the information is related to the display of statistical information, but much of it is applicable to any display including basic text. The solution to the problem statement is to develop a consistent approach to the graphics display that increases its dissemination, ease of understanding and accuracy (Few 2009).
Aims and objective of the visualization
In the visualization of a certain maps intended for users, then the issues that should be taken into consideration include the showing out of data. This is whereby the content of the map ought to ensure that the viewer is able to perceive the substance, as opposed to the graphic design.
This should be the case since the map represents a geovisualization of the physical features of a place of which the user ought to interpret. A map also forms an array of graphics and representations that give a close and clear target of gaining focus and high sense of direction.
Some of the maps representations tend to be inaccurate with the representation of figures in an exaggerated manner. According to Tufte a map should encapsulate a standard of truth and integrity. He says that most of the maps present just data that are assigned to people for approval. This data is most of the time boring and mainly has only the data that the people making it decide to capture.
Further, the labeling of the maps presents another factor of choice and understanding that the map brings along. Most of the maps contain a geovisualization that is difficult to evoke. Usually the texts provided by the cartographers in the maps do not quite cover the natural occurrence of the geographical representations. The maps ought to give an explanation to the people on why showing the geovisualization is crucial. The map, according to Tufte has to be a tool of communication and not just a figurative representation (Tufte, 2001). The layout of the map is again another factor of reckon. This is usually one of the six commandments of Tufte design of maps. The layout of the maps commit to a bigger part of design, as opposed to the devotion of the texts. The mere look at the map should enhance the viewer’s ability to interpret it without difficulty.
The map that I will analyze is the Australian map at /aust-veg/veg-map.html. The map provides information about the vegetation around Australia. The map gives in visualization of the various classifications of vegetation in Australia. It thus incorporates a structure of the various systems and forms of vegetation in the area in various terms. The terms of classification include the various dominant plant forms and the various ratios of the cover of foliage of the tallest plant layers.
Basically the map digs in the coverage of foliage as opposed to the canopy cover. The classification that is used in this map is a definition of the use of the trees as the woody plants with a single stem. The tree is found; to be a woody plant in the map that ranges out to a height of about five meters tall. The shrubs are considered to be woody plants that are eight meters tall however, with many stems from the base from which they grow. The map is a fair representation of the vegetation in Australia and follows some of the principles of Tufte in representation.
Critique of the visualization
There are various figurative omissions that have been left out in the geovisualization of the map. In the first place, the map representations create an impression of Australia being a somewhat high extent of shrub land. This is since the visualization is not particularly clear since it seems cluttered with no labels of the exact areas that cover the various vegetative classifications. As such, the map is an adaptation to the year 1977 thus does not clearly show the current facts of vegetation in the land. The visualization thus tends to be somewhat ambiguous and does not directly appear to capture the viewer.
Further the instance of poor labeling according to the Tufte principles is a sheer miss in the map (Tufte, 2001). The labeling is necessary to show the exact locations of the coverage of the vegetation. In essence, a person who views the map for the first time would be set back to understanding it since it is not well labeled. The use of color in the map is another factor of reckon. This is whereby the use of some color can be easily confused by the viewer. The color used to represent the woodland vegetation is somewhat similar to that used to show the scrub and heath. As such, a viewer who has a difficulty in identifying the difference in color would easily misinterpret the facts on the map. The difference would create a poor geovisualization of Australian vegetation as a whole.
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