From The Past

Edward Tufte started a thread in his columns about warning signs, their semiotics, and the explicit messages they bear. He teases and provokes as usual, and draws on some well-known phrases to illustrate his points. Sometimes he incorporates the originators of the phrases in the titles of his prints — hence, Stevie Smith, Not Waving But Drowning — but other times not; presumably, the titles without authors’ names suggest that the attribution may be apocryphal, or public-domain proverbial, or perhapps that Tufte isn’t quite certain he has the attribution correct.
 
Friends with long memories, or battle-scarred former students of mine, will recognise with appreciation one of the ‘philosophical warning signs’ he prepared:
 
It's More Complicated Than That warning sign
 
Tufte assigns this image neither title nor source. While it’s virtually certain that someone said it before me, I’d just like to put down a flag here to say that I was applauding Doc Searls’s use of a more verbose version back in 2002, on the basis of long-standing use of my more lapidary ‘It’s more complicated than that’ in lectures from the beginning of my teaching work in 1990. So let the record show that the short form of the ‘complicated’ axiom goes back at least to me, if not further.
 

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