Posted by effervescentlibrarian on April 28, 2011
I was lucky enough to attend an Edward Tufte workshop last month,and had a meeting today with one of the archivists at my library to discuss it. It reminded me about several things that were great about it.
- Sparklines are probably the number one best takeaway. They are basically graphic images that get embedded into the text. You have probably seen more of these than you think–for example, they are used in this financial report from Yahoo. So, instead of having one data point, you basically have a whole lot of information coming to you at once, so you can put one data point into context. Apparently, there is now a TrueType font available, but I haven’t tried it. Doing a Google Image search for sparklines yields a lot of interesting examples.
- One of the most beautiful examples of design dates way back to Saturn images in Galileo’s text .
- The books! Edward Tufte’s books are beautiful.
- Never do powerpoint again. Do written reports that get handed out ahead of time. Tufte has an interesting article on Lousy PowerPoint presentations. Also, he has done work on conveying technical information in powerpoints, and how NASA had relied heavily on powerpoints during the Challenger days. This is fascinating, and sad days in scientific communication.
- Tufte has an amazing book collection. At one point he pulled out a personal copy of Euclid’s Geometry (1570) He noted that his copy was previously owned by Shakespeare’s contemporaneous playwright, Ben Jonson. This is the oldest pop-up book I have ever seen: three flaps of triangular paper come together in a 3-D point, to form a tiny pyramid. Tufte reprints an identical pop-up over 400 years later in Envisioning Information, on page 16.
It has been a beautiful data kind of day! I just ran across a story in Computerworld that has a great listing of 22 free tools for data visualization. And, Lauren Meyers, in our archive, just sent me this cool link to Victorian Infographics!
So, we are brainstorming around the library about how to make beautiful data, and mining the archives for some lovely examples of 3-D design in Euclid books, and old maps. We’ll let you know what we find!
Additonal note 5/5/2011: I had forgotten to mention anything about the Galileo sunspot animation. Tufte showed a film that one of his students had produced. In a similar effort, Rice’s Galileo Project had done short animations of the daily sunspot observations that Galileo had done in 1612. Really brilliant.
Posted in dataliteracy, HistoryofScience | 1 Comment »
Posted by effervescentlibrarian on April 20, 2011
This summer I will start to design the first experience with my new UX hat. I plan on doing a K-12 Experience, largely because this is one area that my university has deemed important. In a recent town hall meeting that our university president gave, three or four slides were dedicated to the K-12 outreach being done on campus.
Does this mean giving tours to 120 students? Maybe; but that is not the intention of my design. I want my library to put together an experience that is wonderful for the students. And, consistently wonderful–we will plan whom they will interact with, what they see, have suggestions to the teachers for assignments, and have handouts that are age-appropriate. Additionally, this puts the library in the mind of those on campus that are already interacting with K-12 groups. I want them to know that we are a resource in their efforts too.
Why would a university library go to such measures? Well, for a lot of reasons.
Many school libraries in Texas are closing; mostly for money reasons. This means, over time, that a large number of students will come to my university perhaps lacking in the fundamental value that libraries are a crucial part of their academic success. I want to make sure that while they are still in their K-12 world that they understand the incredible role that a library can play not only in their academic success, but in their lifelong learning.
As academic libraries think about K-12, we help to ensure the continuity of library values across generations. And, I am happy that I get to be a small part of that process.
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Posted by effervescentlibrarian on April 19, 2011
I am currently in the middle of a small-scale ethnographic study to find information that will inform a discovery tool purchasing decision committee. Additionally, I just held the first team meeting of a group of librarians that will do a study of how researchers find, manage, cite, and publish their research this summer.
So, I was very lucky when I happened to read a tweet written by an anthopology graduate student last week talking about Sharon Traweek. Gosh, I wish I would have discovered her 10 years ago! Beamtimes and lifetimes: the world of high energy physicists, written in 1988, captures the world of SLAC, and their labs, and really kind of reads like history of science now. Another book, Doing Science + Culture, edited by Roddey Reid and Sharon Traweek is a series of essays about how “cultural and interdisciplinary studies are changing the way we look at science and medicine.”
The discovery of these two books has me on a great literature search to discovery more ethnography of the discliplines that academic libraries support–these should be required reading in library school! Even if you are not doing a research project where you need to understand your subjects a bit more, it provides a powerful context for what your users experience in the lab and their world; this understanding can lead to better service design.
Posted in ethnographicstudy, ethnology, HistoryofScience | Leave a Comment »
Posted by effervescentlibrarian on April 1, 2011
The March issue of Architectural Record has a cover photo that is focused on looking at Libraries in a Digital Age.
An investigation of libraries, and how the increase of digital resources must influence the design of space. Worldwide examples are included, some public, some academic. The lead article points out that many libraries still “prominently feature the book as a design element.” The article is a call for architects to help libraries make a transition to an “increasingly digital world.” I love the last line, “The library’s future rests with its ability to be a comfortable space where people come together to tell their own stories and discover new ones.”
Images of libraries ranging from Tokyo to Peoria show the range of design decisions that architects have made about “what to do with the books.”
I love that Architectural Record is thinking about this, and encouraging architects to work with communities, and the librarians to create user-centered design for a digital age.
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