I recently had the pleasure of attending Edward Tufte’s “See, Think, Design, Produce” one-day lecture series (along with some other Dropbox Design comrades), featuring excellent lectures from Jonathan Corum, Bret Victor, Mike Bostock, and—of course—Edward Tufte himself. All pioneers in the realm of data visualisation, it was a marvellous experience indeed to witness these talented gentlemen deliver firsthand accounts of their forays in the industry.

One thing in particular stood out to me, that Tufte had mentioned outright. He said that the presentations of his guests were bringing to light a very interesting change in the Design industry; “Today, Code is Design. Code is Design, and Design is Code.”

I rarely take notes at these sorts of things, but the wealth of information was just too much to turn down. Here is a spattering of phrases and notes I hurridly scribbled down during the day, in no particular order:

  • Practice until your eyes can see it.
  • Find something your brain recognises.
  • Design for someone else.
  • Don’t be your own audience.
  • “My work is more translation than design.”
  • Show change.
  • Don’t collect trivia. Collections should add up.
  • Point and annotate.
  • Anticipate confusion.
  • Ruthlessly apply common sense.
  • Animations are the pie charts of interactive visualisations. Don’t employ static animations.
  • Get fresh eyes frequently. Invite criticism.
  • You are too close to critique your own work well.
  • Branches give you a safe place to try bad ideas.
  • Prototypes should emphasis speed over polish.
  • Delete code as you go. Be ruthless.
  • Accelerate the use of parts from your previous projects.
  • Try bad ideas deliberately.
  • Design is chaotic.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail.
  • “Code is Design, and Design is Code.”
  • Get on with it.
  • Producing is what makes a good idea a great idea.
  • Negative space is just as real and solid as mass.
  • See now. Words later.
  • Stay in the immediate optical experience for as long as possible.
  • “It is the nature of things to be seen only once.” — John Ashbery
  • Serenity; a condition under which all brainpower is devoted to The Thinking Eye.
  • Words guide deformed seeing.
  • Shut up and look.
  • Focus on something intently and it becomes something different than what it ordinarily is.
  • Do forever knowledge.
  • Clutter and confusion are not attributes of information; they are failures of design.
  • Always ask “How do you know?”