Word on the street is that a literary confection is “an assembly of many visual elements, selected from various Streams of Story, then brought together and juxtaposed on the still flatland of paper” (Tufte 121).
And here I thought he would at least touch on the confections we all know and love:
(Picture compliments of Dawn’s Bakery, who apparently makes wicked lovely-looking petit fours….oOo, I should not be looking at this when hungry…)
But no matter. Visual confections are how we present complex concepts. Best case scenario? The visuals enhance the writing. Worst case scenario? The visuals just make life miserable and harder to understand.
My favorite confection from the reading? I have one. It is a beautiful drawing by Christopher Scheiner: in Rosa Ursina, he compares himself and his research to bears and their activities. The three bears are each individually sequestered into pod-holes in the underground house, and the holes are two-dimensionally divided (in the drawing) by roses and the occasional grass snake.
I can’t find a copy of the bear etching online, but I found a different drawing by Scheiner elsewhere. Please don’t hit the shopping cart button and buy it unless you really want the image…
The point is, Tufte wants readers to realize that there is a method to how visuals can enhance and detract from information. Another drawing includes itty-bitty numbers hidden in drawings of churches. Tufte has to enlarge the image and take away some of the drawing just so the “landmark numbering” is apparent.
This, in my opinion, is a wonderful example of a visual confection:
Thanks to cnobleza’s blog, a fellow WordPress user, for the above picture. (She seems to have a similar assignment to me, documenting her learning through a blog, but she’s doing a teaching degree instead. Interesting.)
See how useful that picture is? To the point, and it shows how the rain comes down and evaporates and all that other coolness. Definitely useful.
This is all anyone wants in a diagram. Whatever you call them, visual confections/diagrams make learning easier when they are designed well and are not too abstract.