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## Reading Tufte

### _The Visual Display of Quantitative Information_

Today I read 178 out of the 190 pages of Tufte's _Visual Display_. It was  While I have recently been writing copious notes while I read, today I simply read without taking any notes, despite of course, this adorable note:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">My girlfriend&#39;s cat hates it when graphics get order but not magnitude right. He&#39;s a big <a href="https://twitter.com/EdwardTufte?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EdwardTufte</a> fan <a href="https://t.co/aSGoFp9CPk">pic.twitter.com/aSGoFp9CPk</a></p>&mdash; Steven Krouse (@stevekrouse) <a href="https://twitter.com/stevekrouse/status/951540951624966145?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 11, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

It was interesting reading. When I turned the page and found the beginning of the next chapter, I would intend to take a break, but figured I might as well read first read the first few lines of the next chapter just out of curiosity. But then my curiosity would be so piqued that I'd find myself going chapters at a time without breaks. It was a good 4 hours of Tufte today.

Given that I don't have any immediate concrete, practical use for these skills, I'm not sure how useful it felt. As a study in where ideas come from, it was interesting to see many Bret Victor ideas I'm familiar with in their original context. For example, I recognized sparklines, a Tufte invention, from BV's work (although in a quick web search, I am unable to find an example of this...) This speaks to the question of pre-loading vs just-in-time learning. I feel like most of the value in my reading today will be in knowing where the answers to questions about data visualization will likely be found -- and that there are answers here at all -- rather than the actual rules or techniques that I read given that I am likely soon to forget them in the absence of applying them anytime soon.

### Steve's Search for Meaning

Recently I've been talking a lot about meaning, asking questions about the value of earning money, status anxiety, and company mission statements. Given that this is not the first time my brain has wadded its way into this territory, I am suspect that these concerns are "real" concerns, in that I don't actually care about the answers to these questions. I feel that it's much more likely that I am feeling unsettled for some external reasons (such as having less contact with people given all the reading I'm doing, or having less structure in my life), and am then looking for logical questions to focus my and others' attention on to explain away my unsettled internal state.

When I shift my attention away from these questions, and back to my current plan of pickling myself in ideas, I feel much less anxiety: as long as I read a lot, and reflect on my reading, I'm following the plan. Another thing that abates my worries: the books and essays on my to-do list are first-class. In fact, it's difficult to find any to remove, and sometimes feels impossible to prioritize. My disquiet disappers entirely if I simply focus on enjoying the pinacle of pleasure that I have the luxury to enjoy by simply being allotted the time to dive into books that are interesting and potentially useful to me. That is, if I stop justifying, and simply enjoy.
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stevekrouse committed Jan 11, 2018
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