Note to Self, continued.

It’s about 10:30 p.m. here, and I’m just finishing up some stuff. Like the powerpoint presentation for my classes at CKU this weekend. Powerpoint. Bleh. I only did 4 slides and I feel like all the life has been sucked out of me.

Speaking of which, did you ever read this really excellent article by Edward Tufte on the corruptive nature of Powerpoint? Hilarious. Here is a version of it from Wired Magazine    from a couple of years ago. He has an entire (and incredibly interesting) essay he calls The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint, that talks about the idea that the way we use PowerPoint actually makes us dumber. It’s to that effect, anyway…

Here’s a cool Wikipedia article on Powerpoint that includes some of Tufte’s arguments. He’s a Yale statistics professor who has written some truly groundbreaking books about information design, and specifically about the visual display of information. It is AMAZING stuff. I own his first three books:

  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information in which he describes a Japanese train schedule with all the love of a doting parent. This book changed the way I think about the design of data.
  • Envisioning Information, in which he gives great examples of both good and bad information design, and describes the underlying principles. If you have to decide which Tufte book  to get, get this one first. 
  • Visual Explanations: Images, Quantities, Evidence, and Narrative, I think this one is thought-provoking, an amazing book. It goes into more detail on “inferential statistics” - how we solve problems using visual, graphical information, and what designers can do to help that.

Note to self: Buy his new book. 

See what I mean about tangents? Now I have to go get out my Tufte books for a re-read.

But back to notes to self.

Perhaps you’ve seen the web site called Future Me.  In which you can write a note to your future self, and then schedule it to be delivered by email to you at some date in the future.

We are going to do a challenge or online class around this, because it’s awesome. I have tried it a few times, and of coruse I forget about it in between - then I’m surprised to get an email from MYSELF from 3 months or 6 months ago, and it’s full of hope for my own future, and full of desire to make things better.

Go write your future self a note. Set it for 3 months from now. In 3 months, when you get your surprise email, come post here or send me an email. I would love to hear about it.

I am leaving in the morning for my first CKU. I’ve never been a student at one, and suddenly I’m a teacher at one. Hopefully people remember their laptops. Hopefully we don’t have any catastrophic technology failures, or I rip the butt out of my pants, or forget to pack my underwear (and in fact, I just went to check on that. One can never be too careful there). And more importantly, hopefully everyone has a great time and even learns a little bit. Now THAT will be cool. :)

I’ll try to post during the event, but who knows? I’m launching off into a thing I’ve never done before, with high hope and low expectation. ;)

Okay, go write that note. Set it for July 17, 2007. We’ll all gather back together in 3 months and see what happened. :)