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Edward Tufte's iPhone Bonus
January 11, 2007 2:12 AM   Subscribe

Edward Tufte bought an ad (for his wonderful new book) on the front page of NYTimes.com, which ran for 24 hours on 26th November. Imagine how pleased he was when Steve Jobs used that day's paper to demo the iPhone.
posted by tombola (44 comments total)

 
Cool. However, I think most people who saw the iPhone demo and subsequent photos will not make the connection.

Wow, cool phone. Wait, what is that blurry dog all about?

Does it say anywhere that this has led to more sales for Tufte?
posted by chillmost at 2:21 AM on January 11, 2007


Uhh, judging by this post, it's already working.
posted by banished at 2:46 AM on January 11, 2007


Imagine how pleased he was when Steve Jobs used that day's paper to demo the iPhone.

"We're thrilled." - Edward Tufte (1st link)
posted by pruner at 3:08 AM on January 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's assuming it's a coincidence...
posted by fairmettle at 3:08 AM on January 11, 2007


His ad ran for 24 hours on the 26th of November you say? Is there some other time frame for a newspaper ad which one can purchase?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:21 AM on January 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


^^^ NYTimes.com

(I agree that "edition" should have been used instead of "paper" in the post's last sentence. Of course, "edition" is also more of a traditional publishing kind of word...)
posted by BaxterG4 at 3:27 AM on January 11, 2007


Lets see a sparkline of his booksales. On an iPhone.
posted by srboisvert at 3:29 AM on January 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh I see. My scroller was busted. Fixed.
posted by chillmost at 3:39 AM on January 11, 2007


best of teh web
posted by quonsar at 4:13 AM on January 11, 2007


His ad ran for 24 hours on the 26th of November you say? Is there some other time frame for a newspaper ad which one can purchase?

Actually, his ad was on the page for 24 hours, after which it mysteriously vanished from every copy on the planet.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:15 AM on January 11, 2007


This might be a stupid question but is there an obvious connection between Edward Tufte and Apple/ Jobs (other than that Tufte writes about nice design)?

If not, it just seems like a lucky but not particularly remarkable coincidence to me. After all, someone had to buy the ad.

If I'm being an idiot, I apologise in advance.
posted by rhymer at 4:16 AM on January 11, 2007


If I'm being an idiot, I apologise in advance.

If only every idiot here at MeFi was so polite....

I think the real idiots are the people who try to read the newspaper (play games, watch movies, etc.) on their cell phones, whether it's an iPhone or not.
posted by LeLiLo at 4:28 AM on January 11, 2007


That's true. As they say, the killer app for mobiles is voice. And SMS is kind of nice too.
posted by rhymer at 4:39 AM on January 11, 2007


His exploration of the Challenger disaster is a must-read for any responsible professional...
posted by sporb at 4:41 AM on January 11, 2007


Oh come on, what possible use is that? I would never have known that was an advert for a Tufte book from that tiny screenshot.
posted by chrismear at 4:51 AM on January 11, 2007


I think the real idiots are the people who try to read the newspaper (play games, watch movies, etc.) on their cell phones, whether it's an iPhone or not.

Care to expand on this? I frequently spend otherwise wasted time catching up on news and commentary from my favourite newspaper's website on my phone, and it's a pleasant enough experience. Not sure how that makes me an idiot.
posted by chrismear at 4:53 AM on January 11, 2007


I think the real idiots are the people who try to read the newspaper (play games, watch movies, etc.) on their cell phones, whether it's an iPhone or not.

No, real idiots assume that their experiences mimic those of others.

Games are good time-killers when you travel via public transportation, or if you have to sit and wait somewhere for another reason. For lots of people, ten minutes of Tetris on a cell phone does the trick. How is this idiotic?

Reading the newspaper and watching movies on cell phones (including devices like the Treo) is an awful experience, currently. The iPhone is designed to change that, and it appears as though it just might make reading sites and watching movies on a "phone" pretty nice.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:53 AM on January 11, 2007


God how many posts are we going to have about this stupid phone? Btw, the iPhone won't let you run your own programs, you're stuck with what they give you, making the fact it runs OS-X completly irrelevant. This this is just a pointlessly crippled PDA with phone functionality and a slow data link (when not on wifi).
posted by delmoi at 5:34 AM on January 11, 2007


I'm confused. Aside from a nice bit of serendipity, is there something else going on here? I assume there is since this made a post that should be considered the best of the web, but I think I need someone to explain it to me.
posted by OmieWise at 5:58 AM on January 11, 2007


Most people like phones to be small - too small to watch movies and read very much on - because they want them to fit in pockets. So, for most people (please note italics) a phone is unlikely to ever be a particularly useful movie watching / reading device until technology offers us something that changes that form limitation.

Also, buttons are currently far more pleasant than touch screens.
posted by rhymer at 6:03 AM on January 11, 2007


delmoi: I don't get where he said that. Jobs specifically said that all you need to know to develop for the iphone is html, css and javascript.

Now, you may not be able to get to a command line from it, but that's not the same as saying there won't be third party apps available for it.

Besides, I'm sure someone will crack it fairly soon.
posted by empath at 6:23 AM on January 11, 2007


We are digressing hard here. Could we get to the point, which is: is there a point?
posted by rhymer at 6:26 AM on January 11, 2007


His exploration of the Challenger disaster is a must-read for any responsible professional...
posted by sporb at 7:41 AM EST on January 11 [+]


Exactly right. Tufte is a god as far as I'm concerned. His explanation of the Challenger disaster and the thinking that led to it, rates right up there with the author who wrote about how group think led to the American fiasco at Pearl Harbor. Fascinating stuff.
posted by etaoin at 6:31 AM on January 11, 2007


Wow, Tufte didn't even have to pay for this ad appearing for >24 hours on the front page of MetaFilter!

I'm making a kind of vague connection in that Gore used Apple-ish designers employing Tufte-ish principles for his film. All those people are in bed together anyway. (And I mean so literally--I've always pictured a kind of quarterly design orgy at Apple in which old hippies slather themselves with baby oil and smoke weed and come up with typefaces and clickwheel interfaces (hint: nipple action), with occasional bastard children like Mac Cube, and often featuring a dominatrix named Miss Lisa. Of course, baby oil might have fallen out of favor, unless the iPhone touch screen is perfectly smudgeproof.)
posted by troybob at 6:41 AM on January 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


delmoi: I don't get where he said that.

I didn't say he said it in the presentation, but that's what the enadget article said. The fact that it's running OSX doesn't really matter if all you can do is run web apps anyway
posted by delmoi at 6:54 AM on January 11, 2007


is there a point?

Not much of one. I don't see how this could possibly affect sales, although it is a bit of a vigorish for Tufte fans. Now, if Jobs had used a screenshot of June 2, 2005, that would have been some kind of geek trifecta.
posted by dhartung at 7:01 AM on January 11, 2007


Who in their right mind thought that Apple was going to come out with an OSX phone a la a linux phone with a tiny little command prompt, a tiny little emacs & a tiny little x server? That it runs OSX is an interesting architectural choice. It speaks to how Apple develops for the phone, it speaks to how they got Safari on it & it speaks to future developments at Apple.

The general purpose, open OS is not the end-all be-all. It comes with costs in terms of reliability, maintenance, complexity. If a TINY percentage of folks with extensible smartphones actually do extend them, then someone's bound to say "what benefits can I get from removing extensibility (or even better restricting extensibility in such a way that more people will actually do it a la 'widgets'"?)

It's interesting that some folks think this phone does too much, others are livid that it doesn't have enough PDA or OS features. Personally, I hate Cingular & damn, it's expensive but it's certainly cute. (Wasn't there briefly a $600 ipod before?)
posted by Wood at 7:12 AM on January 11, 2007


Microsoft tried very hard to keep "hackers" out of the xbox, and basically failed. I fully expect to be able to install a decent ssh client on the iPhone, and I fully expect that I will be unable to do so in any sanctioned way. I also expect that Apple won't care a great deal how I "hack" my iPhone, as long as they don't have to support me.

hmm... come to think of it, the second thing I'll install on it will be asterisk... the third some SIP phone software...
posted by DreamerFi at 7:51 AM on January 11, 2007


Just curious: does restriction on how much you can do with the phone (hacking, programming, etc) have to do with FCC regulations? For instance, is there concern about (or even potential ability for) defeating cell phone tracking or to hack billing or some other untrackable terroristic kinds of things that are held in check by limiting access to the programming insides?
posted by troybob at 8:03 AM on January 11, 2007


It's appropriate that you can't read the ad on the phone's screen, considering Tufte's oft-stated preference for the higher resolution of paper versus electronic displays.
posted by designbot at 8:42 AM on January 11, 2007


Two points:
1. OS X ≠ Mac OS X.
2. There will be third-party applications on the iPhone at some point. I guarantee it. Just because Apple hasn't released an API for a device which doesn't come out for 6 months doesn't mean no one is going to be able to hack it. I'd be very surprised if the code for iPhone Widgets is significantly different from the code used for Dashboard widgets on the Mac.
posted by designbot at 8:46 AM on January 11, 2007


I think the real idiots are the people who try to read the newspaper (play games, watch movies, etc.) on their cell phones

Oh, ferchrissakes, don't be a jerk.

Using Opera Mini, Wikipedia does a decent job of rendering on my phone at just a few k/page. Just yesterday, I prevented a friend from throwing away $40 dollars on a hoodia-based diet aid placebo by getting the skinny (ha!) on it right there in the grocery aisle.

My favorite dive bars all have MySpace sites, and on any given weekend I can quickly see what who is playing where from the sidewalk.

For quick and dirty info-gathering, it keeps me from being an idiot.
posted by sourwookie at 8:53 AM on January 11, 2007


Lets see a sparkline of his booksales.

This actually brings up a joke I've had with a friend about Tufte. We'd love a book of his that's just graphs and charts of his income since he took to making books about graphs and charts.
posted by Peter H at 8:58 AM on January 11, 2007


OK, since we're already mostly off-topic, can someone answer this question? Will Cingular be charging per-KB download prices to surf the web on the iPhone, or is the web application entirely separate from the Cingular network? Because looking at the NYTimes at all will cost you like 5 bucks.
(and will there be a way to do the crossword puzzle on the phone??)
posted by simonemarie at 9:04 AM on January 11, 2007


I only posted it because I thought it was "a nice bit of serendipity" - not a conspiracy, or a remarkable sales ploy. And because I'm a complete Tufte fanboy.
posted by tombola at 9:07 AM on January 11, 2007


simonemarie: The iPhone will autodetect any WiFi connections present and use those to get NYT.com. This should be free of charge. If no WiFi is present, then it'll default to the Cingular data service, which will accrue the usual charges. If you happen to have an unlimited Cingular data plan, then the "usual charges" will simply be the flat monthly rate, rather than byte-by-byte or something.
posted by speedo at 9:15 AM on January 11, 2007


I'm a complete Tufte fanboy.

I am too - all jokes in my comment above aside. Sincere respect to him, all that. And I love his first three books. He's quite an evangelist of the pie chart, though.
posted by Peter H at 9:24 AM on January 11, 2007


That;s weird. OS X strikes me as something that Tufte would really hate.
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on January 11, 2007


Oh yeah, nothing againt Tufte. I haven't gotten the books, but I want them, though I have no graphic/info design talent/pursuits/etc. I just needed an excuse to share my Apple graphic-designer-orgy vision.
posted by troybob at 10:05 AM on January 11, 2007


Hey guys what's going on in this hijacked MeFi post?
posted by bobot at 10:50 AM on January 11, 2007


Microsoft tried very hard to keep "hackers" out of the xbox, and basically failed.

But it should be alot easier with the iPhone, as with the Xbox it's pretty easy to open the box and start poking around, the components in the iPhone, by necessity will be much smaller, and much harder to physically hack. Software, maybe.
posted by drezdn at 11:27 AM on January 11, 2007


Just curious: does restriction on how much you can do with the phone (hacking, programming, etc) have to do with FCC regulations?

Other phone platforms allow you to program for them. You can go to the nokia site and grab SDKs, emulators and documentation for Symbian OS, for example.
posted by markr at 4:06 PM on January 11, 2007


Slightly offtopic (but what comment in this thread isn't?), but Tufte's latest book is easily his worst. He cobbled together a bunch of chapters from his old books, pasted in his Cognitive Style of Powerpoint pamphlet and wrote a chapter on sparklines, which has been freely available online for well over a year. Oh yeah, he added some photos of his crap sculptures and his blurry dog too. Quite a ripoff if you own his other books.
posted by krunk at 4:10 PM on January 11, 2007


He's quite an evangelist of the pie chart, though.

Surely you mean against.
posted by grouse at 11:13 AM on January 14, 2007


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