“Above all else, always show comparisons” – Edward Tufte

Minard Map of Napoleon's March by Charles Joseph Minard

This is the “Minard Map” made famous by Edward Tufte. It illustrates the futile march of Napoleon into Russia and back. The main line shows the ever decreasing size of Napoleon’s army as they encounter obstacles and the ever hardening environmental changes.

Tufte uses this map to re-enforce one of his main tenets by highlighting the far left of the map:

“it is there, at the beginning and at the end of the campaign, where we have a small but poignant example of the first grand principle of analytical design: above all else, always show comparisons.”

Between Bret Victor’s notion that we should “follow a principle and not a dream” and Tufte’s “above all else, always show comparisons” that seems to be a pretty decent launch pad for the design of our kids coding tools.

Teaching Children Algorithms: Update February 3rd 2013

The past weekend I decided to start teaching my four year old daughter algorithms. I astonished how quickly she picked up the concept. So much so that it go me thinking of Tufte again in terms of writing a small algorithm app in the LOGO vein. As we talked about it, it was obvious that the way she was relating to the idea was through what she loves, painting. And that this was also a great way for her to ‘test’ her algorithms so she could “see the comparisons”. It’s a great boost for returning to LOGO and in particular, seeing if we can provide a simple HTML5 version.

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