Edward Tufte talks about himself

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Edward Tufte, the “DaVinci of data,” stopped by Stanford yesterday to talk about his very interesting life as an academic. At turns a statistician, political scientist, guru of information design, and sculptor, ET highlighted three turning points in his career:

  • Realizing that learning in the academy came from personal relationships with a few faculty members, rather than the contents of his classes.
  • Deciding to “try to play in the big leagues… creating ‘forever knowledge’ rather than stuff with a shelf life.”
  • Gambling on self publishing: with outside publishers, “the author always loses, the question is how gracefully.” [Tufte claims to have sold 1.5M self-published books, and done $80M in sales. He quit Yale when it represented “only 10% of my income, but 30% of my headaches.”]

His sculptures are landscape pieces with tons and tons of stainless steel. I suspect he’s been to the Dia Beacon more than a few times.
An extremely impressive man, and an interesting presentation from this (self-described!) “formidable scholar.” Nice work if you can get it.

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