"SCRUZIA" ... a very infrequently updated weblog ...


Sparklines and Edward Tufte

Out of the blue, I was thinking Friday today about those little word-sized graphics that I read about many months or years ago. Had some vague recollection that it related to that guy who "wrote the book" about visualization. Napoleon's march to Moscow -- that guy. Well ... it took more google-power than I thought it would to restore the name "Edward Tufte" to my mind, and even then it took some time to track past that to confirm that my vague recollection was correct -- it was indeed Tufte who wrote about what he calls "Sparklines" or "Wordgraphs". It's related to my weblog table of contents ideas from last year ... which in turn were inspired by the outstandingly unobtrusive navigation system exemplified by Textism's http://www.textism.com/writing/ Evolution of Writing, where what looks like a decorative row of dots along the top is really a navigation mechanism. For weblogs, what I wanted to do is make it a row of dots and bars, like for example .....|.||||.||....|||||....||..|||| where
each bar indicates a day with entries, and each dot is an empty day. That way you get an instant visual clue about how active the weblog has been, in a very small screen-space. And the bars are direct links to the entries, and they should have tooltips that consist of the titles of those entries. Anyway, more experimentation is needed. I think it was the little graph at Mind Hacks today http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2005/01/spike_activity.html that triggered this minor mindstorm. (Posted via email; I'll go back and fix the URLs later.) (Or not. The post-by-email attempt got a weird error message returned from bloggers postfix email processor.)


scruzia said...

The sparklines discussion on Tufte's site has one or two examples of ASCII sparklines. Like, ._,-^~`~^-,-. although it'll look different in different fonts. And it has about a dozen suggestions for other words for these word-sized mini-graphics. My favorite one was "graphectives".

scruzia said...

Oops, I forgot to link to Tufte's page about sparklines:

ET said...

The updated link for Edward Tufte's sparklines is: