September 21st, 2023
The Wayback Machine, explained
If you like data visualization, you might know Edward Tufte. You might have read a book by him. Or…you might have visited his one-day course. Tufte has given almost 500 of them in the last 15 years, in many US cities: New York City (45 workshops), San Francisco (60 workshops), Arlington (70), Boston (40), and more. We can read on his website that next Tuesday and Wednesday, he will teach in Seattle. Two days later, in Portland. Four days after that, in Denver. (In my humble opinion, giving that many workshops is crazy.)
On Tuesday, we announced the Data Vis Book Club, in which we’ll read Tufte’s book “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information”. (You’re welcome to join!) So I thought, why not spend a little bit more time with Tufte? If you’ve been to his workshop, you’ll very likely find yourself on this map:
You can find the almost 500 individual dates in this Google Spreadsheet. Feel free to re-use the data!
The chart is a simple symbol map, so not much to talk about here. But you might wonder where I got the data from. Tufte’s website just shows the future dates of his course. So how did I get the past dates?
That’s the perfect use case for the Wayback Machine by the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive saves whole websites periodically, since 1996. And the Wayback Machine is the interface to this archive: You can see how a website looked like a month ago, or five years ago, or ten years ago. For the course site on Tufte’s website, you can find the previous versions here. You can click on a date to time-travel back to it and see how the website looked like for visitors on that date.
I did that and copy & pasted the upcoming course dates in a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, I can’t promise that this data is complete – maybe courses got canceled, or spontaneously added. Maybe Tufte gives private courses that he doesn’t put on his website. But I think it gives us a good estimate of the general scope of Tufte’s traveling. (Have I mentioned that I think it’s crazy?)
If you want to learn why Tufte is so important in the data vis scene, join the Data Vis Book Club! You can see who else will read him in these notes. Or follow @datavisclub for a massive number of retweets. I’ll see you next week!