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Infographics Win! Obama Appoints Data-Viz Demigod to Chart the Stimulus

Edward Tufte is the newest guru on the panel advising the White House on the $787 billion economic stimulus.

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Edward Tufte

Not too long ago, we were bemoaning the fact that the president still lectures at his State of the Union–rather than illustrating his points, like any good communicator, with some handy infographics. And we pointed out that infographics could sway politics mightily, given their unsurpassed power to convey messages that people remember.

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Obama’s coming around: He’s just appointed the father of modern data visualization, Edward Tufte, to the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel. That’s the group of people that confer with the White House about the $787 Billion stimulus fund.

Presumably, Tufte will be using his expertise to find charts that
illustrate how the stimulus is being used, and what effect its having
on the economy. That’s brilliant news, for anyone overwhelmed by the
blather surrounding political debates.

And it’s not just a token appointment. Tufte says that he’ll be going to Washington several days a month, and teleworking regularly.

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Edward Tufte

It’s worth noting that Obama’s administration seems to already be tinkering with infographics, to sell their politics. Witness this chart, which basically says, “I inherited this mess, but it’s getting better.”

Related: Click here to see what Tufte calls the greatest stats graphic ever made.

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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