I attended a seminar at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Union Square. Holiday shoppers abound as Macy’s is brightly wrapped inside electronic wreaths. Shoppers use umbrellas to duel with rain as I, and 650 other lucky people, crammed inside the basement of the Grand Hyatt, two escalators down. We’d come to hear Edward Tufte, an information architect par excellence who teaches “by the book,” that is, by all his remarkable books, sharing case studies, visuals, analysis, and scholarship.
He even brought along his personal 430 year-old copy of Euclid’s Geometry signed by Ben Jonson. The Fox. An assistant thumbed through pages wearing latex gloves. Only if I had been sitting aisle side so I could’ve seen the poet’s signature. Instead, I listened to Tufte talk about bulleted lists and how PowerPoint presentations corrupt thought by making us substitute strategic for generic thinking, excising narrative from text. Tufte described how low-resolution devices, our small screen world, is causing us to become stupid, removing richness from thought.
Since I spend most of my time in front of one of these devices, what will this make me in the next 10 years? I can’t wait to spend time with his gorgeous books and keep the man talking inside my ear to help ward off inevitable idiocy.
Oh, for a heavy ceramic cup of tea.
on the surface
of the steel-and-glass table