Tufte (Envisioning Information) Micro-macrocosm

COVID-19 has been the main topic around the world for almost nine months. Despite many reported confirmed cases, as well as deaths, it is still on the rise in certain regions of the world.
WHO, micro-macrocosm data representation on Coronavirus is a very refine achievement on how one should use Tufte’s theory to represent data on a large scale. For example, the below Fig-1 is representing confirmed cases in different regions of the world, which also goes to show how a refined combination of micro can have an accurate statistical representation in a biologically diverse population over a period of time. This also allows a better understanding of the epidemiological catastrophic of coronavirus from when it first emerged up to November 11th 2020.

Fig-1 (confirmed case by region)

Once all data has been gathered, WHO puts together a daily report which over time it became a large useful piece of information for those that need to better comprehend the virus spread over time. However, to represent such to the members of the public, they had to follow a simple rule of combing the micro in a way that once completed, both micro and macro are coordinated as well as understood as organisms that correspond with each other.

For further elaboration, the below Fig-2 is a daily confirmed case that started at the micro-level by representing how coronavirus have been spreading on daily basis at a large scale around the world.

Fig-2 – a close up of the daily confirmed cases (“micro”)

It is worth mentioning that when principles of design replicate principles of thought, the act of arranging information becomes an act of insight (Tufte, 1942).


Covid19.who.int. 2020. WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard. [online] Available at: <https://covid19.who.int/> [Accessed 16 November 2020].

Tufte. E.R., 1997. Envisioning Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. . Cheshire, Connecticut: Graphics Press. P.9

Tufte. E.R., 1990. Envisioning Information. Cheshire, Connecticut: Graphics Press.

Tufte. E.R., 1990. Envisioning Information. Cheshire, Connecticut: Graphics Press. (pp. 81-93). https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51768274

Zachry, M. and Thralls, C., 2004. An Interview with Edward R. Tufte. Technical Communication Quarterly. [Online], 13(4), pp. 447–462. Available at: http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/s15427625tcq1304_5.pdf [Accessed 7 March 2016].

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About the Author

Aury Silva

I am a Front End Developer from Hull, United Kingdom. With just over five years of experience, I carry a robust digital design set of skills within Adobe Suite as well as a good understanding of CRMs such as Marketo, HubSpot, Adestra and many more.

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