I've finished all the books now, this one was easily as good as his later books. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information offers practical advice and clear examples; I can see how this was the springboard for his later works.
I'm going to end this Tufte series with a quote from the book shown on the right; here Tufte is talking about designs for the display of information, but I think it equally applies well to software development and design:
What is to be sought in the designs for the display of information is the clear portrayal of complexity. Not the complication of the simple; rather the task of the designer is to give visual access to the subtle and the difficult - that is,
the revelation of the complex.
Personally, I think all software development and design boils down to the management of complexity, at some level or other. What I see in Tufte's words is simply:
Manage complexity; avoid making the simple complex.
The second part is always tricky - especially when designing at the keyboard. Turning a simple solution into a complex implementation is obviously undesirable (albeit quite common), to learn that the same is true for information design is not that surprising I guess, and it probably holds true for many other technical fields as well, I'm sure.
I am a little sad that I have finished this series and I will continue to blog about Tufte occasionally and I will also continue to follow his work. I do feel that I've savoured, enjoyed and poured over each book, but I cannot hear soon enough that there is another book coming from Graphics Press on information design.
Finally, my greatest hope is that you've been inspired to take a look at this fascinating field yourself - I would love to hear about your adventures with information design and Tufte, what you have done or plan to do, please drop me a line and share the wealth.