Mr. Tufte Goes to Washington

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

On Friday, the White House crowned its latest czar: Edward Tufte was named to the newly created Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, making him the Obama administration’s unofficial data visualization guru, at least for all things stimulus-related. That’s exciting news for graphics and data geeks, who generally revere Tufte as an evangelist of clean yet complex information design, the inventor of sparklines, and the sworn enemy of chartjunk and slideware. For non-geeks who need a translation: He’s good at drawing charts. Plus, Tufte has some experience cutting through visual bureaucracy: He did risk-assessment work for NASA following the Challenger and Columbia explosions, concluding that the agency’s unthinking reliance on bullet points and PowerPoint helped bring down the Space Shuttles. So what can E.T. (as the faithful call him) do for an administration that, for all its messaging failures, is pretty good at tooting its horn in chart form? His advisory panel is tasked with explaining the use and abuse recovery funds. On his website, Tufte is vague, saying that “I’m doing this because I like accountability and transparency.” At the very least, let’s hope Tufte uses his time in D.C. to drum up some support for bipartisan chart reform so we never again have to see an abomination like this:

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate