Tufte ch. 3

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Tufte's best example of layering and separation is the comparison of maps on pg. 58.

He explains that when elements of a map/representation/etc are "at the same visual level with equal values, equal texture, equal color, and even nearly equal shape"...."an undifferentiated, unlayered surface results."

This quote demonstrates the results of a lack of layering and separation. Differentiation is necessary to avoid jumbling information and causing the message to disappear among the clutter.

Layering and Seperation

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Visual activation of negative areas of white spaces... that illustrates the endlessly contextual and interactive nature of visual elements (pg. 61). Tufte is talking about the two step logic of 1+1=3 and how if you draw two black lines then you get a third image of the white space in the middle. I think Tufte means that creating paths and forming shapes can be made with using lines because of the white space in the middle.


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As Tufte explains, the "layering of data, often achieved by felicitous subtraction of weight, enhances representation of both data dimensionality and density on flatland" (60). I interpret this to mean that layering both adds and subtracts. Layering adds dimensionality to data that is otherwise dull, thus making the info more appealing to the reader. Layering subtracts from the heaviness of data, which makes the information less exhausting to read. It all comes down to how the info is organized.

Tufts Layering

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The main point of Tufte’s strategy for layering information is about connecting the details by bringing different dimensions to create an effective web design. Tuft describes layering as "felicitous subtraction of weight, enhances representation of both data dimensionality and density on flatland (59).” Through layers, information graphics can come to life enhancing its form of communication to the user.

Layering and Separation

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In Chapter 3 Tufte discusses layering as a “polyphony of voices [that] weave together” to produce meaning (56). In this context, layering is the inclusion of multiple streams of data that work together to make meaning. Polyphony refers to the disparate nature of the data—each stream is saying something different than the others. Yet a good designer can take these separate meanings and combine them into a larger unified whole through effective layering.