Notes from 'The Visual Display of Quantitative Information'

13 Jun 2016

Visualization Tools and Resources

No matter where you do most of your work in data science – in a classroom or in a boardroom – the field is changing so much, that you really must customize your data science journey with as much self study as you can. I personally, just finished Edward Tufte’s book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. This book is filled with cover to cover insights on the history and fundamentals of data visualization, and I highly recommend getting a copy for yourself.

For the TL;DRers in the audience, I’m posting the notes I took while making my way through this brilliantly analytical book here. I took these notes with the GoodNotes iOS app, and I only have good things to say about it. On rare occasions I find an app that introduces use cases into my workflow that I didn’t even know I needed, and this was one of those occasions. But whatever your preferred study setup is, I have a few pieces of advice to keep your self studies moving forward.

  1. Take notes for yourself to referrence later, whether it’s with pen and paper or with an app like the one I mentioned already. For me, this provides some kind of accountability that I fully understand the topics at hand because I’m creating a document that will have a future audience (even if that future audience is just me).
  2. Try to spend at least a small amount of time on your self study each day. There are countly task tracking apps out there for keeping the study streak going, but a paper calendar works, too.
  3. In the same vein, block out some time to review the notes you’ve taken previously in step 1. One of the best habits I had in college was arriving at class early to review the previous lecture’s notes. Just refreshing your memory on a topic once or twice does amazing things for retention.
  4. Do some research before picking what book or resource to take on next. You’re going to be potentially investing a lot of time into this resource, so make sure it’s worthwhile to you and your goals.
  5. Dive in. Don’t spend too much time on Step 4. Some people would gladly spend all of their time in that preparatory phase without getting down to the real work of studying. In the end, if you’re reading something related to your field of interest, it’ll pay off.
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