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Edward Tufte's Library Up For Auction

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the galileo-meets-picasso dept.

Books 45

px2 writes "I was poking around Christie's auction house after taking a look at the Apple 1 when I came across this: Beautiful Evidence: The Library of Edward Tufte. He's unloading everything from Galileo and Da Vinci firsts to a rotating Japanese astronomical text from 1801. I guess he didn't conjure his ideas on information design from thin air." Based on Christie's estimates, the collection of 29 artifacts could fetch in excess of two and a quarter million dollars.

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45 comments

First Bid (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34217698)

I'll take 'em all. Do you take PayPal?

Re:First Bid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34217954)

I like niggers. I like niggers so much I think everybody should have at least two or three of them.

Why does everyone think this guys is so great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34218692)

Because of those books he wrote? They seem to be not of huge impact except among possibly non-scientists.

I wonder (4, Insightful)

MoarInternets (1759018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34217712)

If the auction catalog will be up to his standards!

Re:I wonder (3, Interesting)

boustrophedon (139901) | more than 3 years ago | (#34217826)

The online auction catalog [christies.com] is beautiful.

Christie's is conducting another interesting auction a week later: The Year of the Rabbit: The Playboy Collection. This online auction catalog [christies.com] is NSFW.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34217924)

I got this message when trying to view the Playboy Collection: Flash player update is required to load the Viewer.

If you work at Apple, it's NSFW!

Re:I wonder (1)

(Score.5, Interestin (865513) | more than 3 years ago | (#34219880)

The online auction catalog is beautiful.

What, you mean this:



Flash player update is required to load the Viewer.
Please download it by clicking here, then click to continue.




It has a certain spartan minimalism, granted, but I was really expecting a bit more than that.

Reference Materials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34217732)

College Professors make more money than I thought.

Re:Reference Materials (-1, Troll)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#34217746)

They make a lot more, if they take bribes to ensure a good grade. And suddenly the light clicks on. Oh, that's how he graduated from Yale. [eduinreview.com]

So, what, he's fleeing the country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34217780)

Figuring out what went wrong with the Challenger shuttle finally catching up with him?

Does this mean.... (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 3 years ago | (#34217802)

...I won't be receiving any more diagrams in the mail of Napoleon's march in and out of Russia?

Re:Does this mean.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34217968)

Has anyone gone to his one day course? Each time I get that mail I'm intrigued by the idea of learning about presenting multivariate data but then decide, not right now. Besides, I don't know where I'd keep those four oversized books.

Re:Does this mean.... (4, Informative)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34218250)

I took his one-day course in Seattle. The hall was absolutely packed, and I had to sit in the back. He goes through a lot of material that's from his books, and it's all wonderful. Hearing it from him in person is a lot better than reading; for example, the example of the cholera map from London didn't impress me in print as much as it did when he went over its history at the lecture. He also discusses why Powerpoint lends itself to abuse and how you can avoid information overload on slides. And he makes the point that he really, really loves high-density displays. When I took the course in 2008, he was raving about the high-resolution screen of the iPhone and how it's great from a high-density-information point of view.

The prize of the class is the collection of his four books in a nice cardboard box. They're all terrific reads and look great on one's bookshelf next to Knuth's masterpieces.

Re:Does this mean.... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34229124)

When I took the course in 2008, he was raving about the high-resolution screen of the iPhone and how it's great from a high-density-information point of view

It might be high-resolution but it's still too small to convey much information.

Re:Does this mean.... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34218290)

Has anyone gone to his one day course? Each time I get that mail I'm intrigued by the idea of learning about presenting multivariate data but then decide, not right now. Besides, I don't know where I'd keep those four oversized books.

Yes, I've gone. Yes, you should too.

It won't turn you into Tufte, but even a ten-year course couldn't do that for most of us. What it will do is give you a language with which you can describe what's wrong with a poor presentation to a PHB, and in a language that even a PHB can understand. ("Sir, the reason nobody pays attention to our powerpoint presentations is because the technology's fundamentally broken. Nobody pays attention to anyone's powerpoint slides. Write up a couple of paragraphs, and present the data better, and put the pretty picture in the .ppt, and let the audience examine the picture for themselves. As they do so, they'll figure out what you're trying to say, and you can stop wasting time condensing everything into meaningless bullet points and simply indicate the region of the graph that's meaningful. They'll get it. They'll realize that you - because you're the only one presenting anything coherent - are the only guy up there not actively trying to bullshit them with PowerPoint. They'll buy our argument. They might even buy our stuff!")

This being Tufte, I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was really impressed that we got to actually use the books during the course, rather than just having him scan in a few pages into PowerPoint slides :)

Anyway, the four oversized books are packaged in a handy cardboard carrying case that's exactly the height of an O'Reilly book. The case therefore fits perfectly on a deep bookshelf. Like everything else Tufte does, it's all about usability.

Re:Does this mean.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34218936)

Thanks to everyone who responded. That certainly takes care of whether its worth $350 or whatever to get it from the horses mouth. Maybe next year...

-2P

Re:Does this mean.... (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34220164)

It won't turn you into Tufte, but even a ten-year course couldn't do that for most of us.

Jesus, get a room already.

Re:Does this mean.... (1)

watanabe (27967) | more than 3 years ago | (#34223370)

What nobody has mentioned so far is the intense physical pressure you experience at a Tufte presentation. It's like you're being pushed in on all sides, pressed incredibly strongly... by his ego.

There is no US auditorium large enough for you and Tufte's ego.

The ego is self-referential, and almost certainly will compare Tufte's books to Galileo's at some point, and also smarmy, self-confident and smug.

All that said, I loved going -- GO! You'll learn a lot. But then, I'm fascinated by huge egos, so whenever I got bored hearing a rant, I could switch over and admire the size and quality of the ego.

Re:Does this mean.... (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 3 years ago | (#34218816)

Years ago (must have been 1997 or so), right before Visual Explanations was published, if I remember correctly (you went, got the first two books, and received Visual Explanations later).

It was terrific. And he had a few items from his library on hand to use as examples, which was pretty cool. One of the really great things about the course was his ability to put things in context and provide a vast array of examples of all different sorts.

Re:Does this mean.... (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34224276)

Dude, if that's the kind of spam you get, I have like no sympathy for you whatsoever. Deal with it.

$2.5M? That's almost enough for (2, Informative)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34217844)

a genetically modified shark with a laser on its head!

Re:$2.5M? That's almost enough for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34218808)

A genetically engineered laser shark? That must be the most ridiculous idea I've seen in a while.

Everybody knows that when it comes to energy weapons, plasma is the way to go.

Re:$2.5M? That's almost enough for (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34219118)

a genetically modified shark with a laser on its head!

I'd go with irritable sea bass.
There's a lot less paperwork.

Re:$2.5M? That's almost enough for (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34278490)

a genetically modified shark with a laser on its head!

I'd go with irritable sea bass. There's a lot less paperwork.

Oh, the shark effect is worth the paperwork. :)

Warning: Pirated materials! (4, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34217920)

I was flicking through stuff at random when I saw GALILEI, Galileo. Sidereus nuncius. Frankfurt: Poltheanus, 1610. [christies.com] which has the description:

"Pirated edition of Galileo's work containing "some of the most important discoveries in scientific literature" (PMM), published the same year as the first edition. This the the first publication of any of Galileo's works outside of Italy. ..."

Re:Warning: Pirated materials! (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34217982)

I'm pretty sure the copyright has expired on this work. You're safe, trust me.

Re:Warning: Pirated materials! (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34218318)

As rabid as the industries are now, don't be so sure about that.

Re:Warning: Pirated materials! (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34220942)

This the the first publication of any of Galileo's works outside of Italy. ..."

Of course it is! Italians never read pirated works willingly, they find it too hard to pronounce "Arr, Arr" :)

I didn't read the auction (1)

timbudtwo (782174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34217996)

But can someone explain the line "I guess he didn't conjure his ideas on information design from thin air."

Re:I didn't read the auction (4, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34218542)

It's sortof a flip remark, since Tufte is pretty effusive with examples and citations. He rarely asserts a design principle a priori, he always goes and shows you how somebody historically did X and he's much more of a descriptive than prescriptive authority.

Re:I didn't read the auction (1)

timbudtwo (782174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34219414)

Thank you, I could tell there was sarcasm in the remark, but being totally unfamiliar with the guy I wasn't following. Makes sense now

Re:I didn't read the auction (1)

px2 (321882) | more than 3 years ago | (#34224478)

Sorry to give that impression. It wasn't sarcasm. It doesn't really mean anything. These are not the droids you're looking for.

Re:I didn't read the auction (1)

px2 (321882) | more than 3 years ago | (#34224660)

It was an attempt at humor by stating something so completely obvious (that Tufte is steeped in the history of how to convey information visually) that my supposed surprise at discovering this would be funny. Since his books are chock full of this history, I didn't consider that I might be taken seriously on that point.

Wonderful books. I'd like to see him lecture.

Does he have sharks with frickin laser beams ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34218162)

Hmmmm ??

2million in the hole (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34218894)

All I can think of is how paypal will take a big chunk of the payment, plus the cost of selling something on e-bay, and then the taxes involved... Yeah, he's better off just selling it over on craigslist so long as he hires bodyguards. http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/nation/craigslist-murder-in-washington-is-a-cautionary-tale-for-internet-users [newjerseynewsroom.com]

I saw one of his library books once (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34218984)

Back in the early 90s, I took a short course on visualization with Ed Tufte prior to a conference in Montreal. I remember him showing a book he had in his collection from a century I don't recall, that contained paper pop-ups to display three-dimensional geometric figures. It was awesome. I wonder if it's in the lot for auction...

Re:I saw one of his library books once (2, Informative)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34219494)

I believe that would be Euclid’s Elements. A copy of which seems to be listed (lot 11) with an estimate of $4-600, I'm guessing that is not an original.

Re:I saw one of his library books once (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34219526)

I believe that would be Euclid’s Elements. A copy of which seems to be listed (lot 11) with an estimate of $4-600, I'm guessing that is not an original.

Thanks. I think you're right that it's not an original. :-)

Re:I saw one of his library books once (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34229096)

I remember him showing a book he had in his collection from a century I don't recall, that contained paper pop-ups to display three-dimensional geometric figures. It was awesome

My five year old's got a pop up Dora the Explorer's Fairytale Adventure book, the dragon is especially awesome.

I am corrupted... (2, Funny)

VendettaMF (629699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34219524)

Finally someone has created a genuine and effective reason for me to desire to be a millionaire...

Re:I am corrupted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34223368)

You don't have a lot of time before that reason gets spread out among a lot of people.

For ICP (2, Funny)

VendettaMF (629699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34219536)

>> RIDLEY, Mark (1560-1624). A Short Treatise of
>> Magneticall Bodies and Motions. London: Nicholas
>> Okes, 1613.

Translation :
Magneticall Bodies : How Theye doth Fornicating Function.

Never heard of him (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34229074)

But judging by the gushing stream of non-information in this thread he's some sort of cult hero because he doesn't like Powerpoint much.

Re:Never heard of him (1)

tangent (3677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34237104)

He was a cult hero long before he began bashing on Powerpoint. That's just the thing he happens to be known for best now, probably because more people have to build Powerpoint presentations than have to design infographics.
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