Obama Hires Internet's Favorite Pretty Chart Guy

Barack Obama has appointed designer and statistician Edward Tufte to the stimulus-monitoring Recovery Independent Advisory Panel. To a certain segment of the internet, this is like learning that Admiral Ackbar is the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Tufte is the legendary charts-and-graphs guru whose books basically give Information is Beautiful data-visualizing types a huge, color-coded, high-resolution boner. The design-obsessed Internet basically worships Tufte as a god—if you've laughed at funny charts about pop music or admired a well-produced charticle in the Times you have his Visual Display of Quantitative Information to thank.

Having a guy who makes complicated data easily graspable—and who demands that representations of data be above all truthful—is basically unprecedented in the federal government, where everything is bullet lists, PowerPoint, intentionally misleading pie charts, and design by committee.

And, of course, Tufte ended up in the Obama administration because of a webmaster. The stimulus has a website where you can track the money. The webmaster wanted Tufte's help designing that site. And now Tufte will be an official part of Obama administration's sales pitch to the American people—at least until Glenn Beck finds out about this and comes up with some reason to call him a communist Nazi.