2005.03.23

Information Esthetics (i.e.)

Lecture Series One: March–July, 2005

If I was in New York this spring, I'd definitely check out some of these lectures. Looks excellent, and these topics and critical as unfathomable amounts of information continue to be made available to the world.

Making data meaningful—this phrase could describe what dozens of professions strive for: Wall Street systems designers, fine artists, advertising creatives, computer interface researchers, and many others. Occasionally something important happens in these practices: a data representation is created that reveals the subject's nature with such clarity and grace that it both informs and moves the viewer. We both understand and care. This is the focus of Information Esthetics.

Information Esthetics, a recently formed not-for-profit organization, has organized a lecture series dedicated to helping this happen more often. World leaders in seven different aspects of sense-making have been invited to speak on topics from typography to visual perception, from charting to electro-mechanical engineering. The goal: to help expose the beauty experts see in their databases, better engaging their whole minds in interpretation; to help inspire art that's not just decorated with data but makes the data readable, satisfying viewers' minds as much as their eyes and hearts.

The format of the talks lets us explore more deeply than a typical panel or academic paper presentation. Each speaker will talk for a full hour, we'll break for a half hour of fine spirits and snacks, then sit down again for an interview/chat led by series organizer and interaction designer W. Bradford Paley. The intent throughout is to delve into the implications these profound ideas have for human communication in general—but also to share some simple techniques that people can immediately put to use in their own projects.

The lectures will take place Thursday evenings in the Chelsea Art Museum at 565 West 22nd street in Manhattan. They are free with the discounted $3 museum admission, and start promptly at 6:00pm on these dates:

  • Robert Bringhurst, March 31 · Typography and layout

    The distinguished Mr. Bringhurst is perhaps the most recognized typographer, a published poet, and the author of the fundamental contemporary work on typography: “Elements of Typographic Style.” http://www.typebooks.org/i-r_bringhurst.htm

  • Judith Donath, April 21 · Social computing

    Dr. Donath's group at the MIT Media Lab studies intriguing social interactions and produces some of the loveliest and clearest visual representations of these complex systems. She is a well-read and careful observer of fine art. http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith

  • Ted Selker, May 12 · Situated devices

    Dr. Selker focuses on putting intelligence into everyday objects: his invention of the eraser-like IBM Trackpoint device transformed laptop keyboards throughout the industry. His MIT media Lab group continues to expand those explorations. http://web.media.mit.edu/~selker

  • Lisa Strausfeld, May 26 · Real-time charting

    Ms. Strausfeld is a partner in Pentagram, the respected New York design firm. Her dense, readable information displays are well structured, visually rich, and intellectually satisfying. http://www.pentagram.com/people-strausfeld.htm

  • Bill Buxton, June 16 · Supporting creative analysis

    Mr. Buxton is a musician, mountain climber, and interaction designer; former Chief Scientist of Silicon Graphics; and a well-known and controversial computer interface expert. He owns an art gallery in Toronto with his wife and has been developing user interfaces explicitly for designers for over a decade. http://www.billbuxton.com

  • Ron Rensink, June 30 · Visual perception

    Dr. Rensink is one of the world's experts on “Change Blindness” a feature of the human visual system that allows major changes to happen unnoticed right in front of one's eyes, allowing (among other things) magic performances to work. He studies human perception, discovering and sharing principles useful in design. http://www.psych.ubc.ca/~rensink

  • Tamara Munzner, July 14 · Large data sets

    Dr. Munzner specializes in information visualization: showing complexities in subjects that range from genetically-determined phylogenetic evolutionary trees to environmental sustainability. Her work is informed by an eye developed under her art-teacher father, and often reveals structure more clearly as a result. http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~tmm

This lecture series is an Information Esthetics production, made possible by a project of Digital Image Design Incorporated. The talks are presented by The Project Room at Chelsea Art Museum by producer/curator Nina Colosi, and are supported in part by the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University.

Generous volunteer efforts support Information Esthetics, including high-reliability Web site hosting by Michael Rosenthal, Web site supervision by Perry Metzger, and (soon) graphic design by Warren Kemp. Please contact i.e.director W. Bradford Paley if you would like to volunteer, be put on our mailing list, or otherwise participate.

If you go, please point me to your notes!

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 23, 2005 at 12:00 PM in Design, Events, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Knowledge & Content Management, Location: New York City, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Networking and Community | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.03.16

Yahoo! Research Labs Buzz Game

Yahoo! Research Labs and O'Reilly Media Collaborate to Introduce Tech Buzz Game, Inviting Participants to Predict Future Technology Trends Based on Popularity of Yahoo! Search Terms

The Tech Buzz Game is a fantasy prediction market for high-tech products, concepts, and trends. As a player, your goal is to predict how popular various technologies will be in the future. Popularity or buzz is measured by Yahoo! Search frequency over time. Predictions are made by buying virtual stock in the products or technologies you believe will succeed, and selling stock in the technologies you think will flop. In other words, you "put your play money where your mouth is.

At the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference today, Yahoo's principal scientist Dr Gary Flake announced, among other things, the Tech Buzz Game, which "leverages search query volume and frequency on Yahoo! Search" and puts that "buzz" in play in a stock market model. Using the 10,000 in play money that you get with a free game username, you can buy and sell shares of technology concepts like "bittorrent", "podcasting", "Macintosh Tiger", "yahoo photos" and other things. Things terms are broken down into markets, which as each zero-sum-game distinct markets "Browser Wars", "Mobile Development Environments ", and "Rumor Mill".

Check out this and more at the new Yahoo Research Labs site that launched in conjunction with the ETech conference. You can also read up on this year's ETech Conference, or read the Tech Buzz Game's press release.

(By the way, as of this writing I'm in 9th place on the game's leaderboard - out of 697 currently. We'll see if my beginner's luck holds out.)

buzz-game-2005031601-9th

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 16, 2005 at 01:24 AM in Blogging, RSS, Events, Layered Semantic Markup, Pop Culture, Sandbox Stuff, Ugly Experiments, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Networking and Community, Yahoo! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.03.06

Aliens of the Deep

"Aliens of the Deep" brings some of the deepest-ever (3,500 meters, or more than 2 miles) underwater exploration to completely amazing and mind-blowing hard-core 3D IMAX film. This film has been playing at the Metreon movie theater downtown (San Francisco) for about the last two months, and literally several times a week I've talked about going to see it. Aimee and I planned on it first, then with Derek. Well, Derek and I finally went to see it yesterday, and it was worth every penny ($10).

First of all, the concept is fascinating. At these depths, life exists completely without photosynthesis -- sunlight has never touched these areas. At these depths, the environment is as unwelcoming as imaginable: incomprehensible extremes of pressure, darkness, temperature. It would be easy to imagine that zero life exists in these environments, and yet it thrives. For the people who look to space, these environments are quite similar to what may be encountered on distant planets and moons. These environments are also quite similar to the earliest days of Earth. And so, to find life in these areas -- massive amounts are down these -- is to realize that oceans under the deep ice of Jupiter's moon Europa, or the surface or core of an ancient Mars may have identical conditions. As they say a few times in the movie, exploring [life at the] the awesome depths of the oceans is the best experience to prepare for exploring [life in] outer space.

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Second, the movie is the best possible eye candy. IMAX screens are already a treat, and 3D put it way over the edge. I don't remember ever being to a modern 3D movie, but I highly recommend it. It works. It's great. Whomever's working on this stuff has nailed it. After a few seconds, your eyes calibrate and you're in for a treat. In addition to all the underwater sequences, there are several other sequences that totally max out the visual experience. One is an exploration of earth's life forms. An elephants trunk comes right out of the screen and touches you in your seat. In another, animation brings you from 10 light years distant, in through our atmosphere, through the ocean, down to the thermal ridges where the newest ocean-bottom crust is formed. It's probably a 60 second sequence, and one of the treats of the movie. I could almost feel the smoke coming out of my ears as my brain cranked overtime to process the scale, orientation, detail and 3D-ness of it all. Totally fun.

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But of course the most amazing part of the movie is the underwater photography we came to see. One sequence gets centimeters away from a giant 10-foot bizzaro jellyfish creature. One of the most amazing creatures, the film is so high quality that you can see the incredibly fine network of cells that give it shape. You seem to see it nearly pulsing with energy, and it's translucent skin reveals internal organs moving around beautifully. Truly alien. Other animals life in the volcanic plumes of 750-degree superheated water that the earth's center vents through ocean-bottom chimneys along the central-ocean spine. In these areas, new crust is continually formed, representing some of the most primitive geology observable. Massive amounts of animals live in the boundaries between this awesomely-hot gassy water, and the awesomely-cold deep-ocean water.

Academy Award®-winning director James Cameron combines his talents as a filmmaker with his passion for exploration in all forms in "Aliens of the Deep," an Earthship Production presented in IMAX® 3-D by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. Inspired by concepts from the field of astrobiology-the study of life on other worlds-Cameron explores the idea that the bizarre creatures living in the extreme environments found on the ocean floor might provide a blueprint for what life is like elsewhere in the universe. The director is joined in the journey by a team of young marine biologists and NASA researchers who share his interests and excitement as they consider the correlation between life under water and the life we may one day find in outer space.

"Aliens of the Deep" presents the dramatic and visually stunning highlights of a series of expeditions to deep-ocean hydrothermal vents, where super-heated, mineral-charged water gives life to some of the strangest animals on Earth-6-foot-tall worms with blood-red plumes, blind white crabs, and an astonishing biomass of white shrimp, all competing to find just the right location in the flow of near-boiling water. This adventure brings the audience face to face with what it might be like to travel far into space and encounter life on other worlds.

I wish Hollywood made more of these. Bringing exploration, understanding, big questions, and inspirational science to the big screen is good for the world. I think everybody in the audience left inspired. I'd go see a movie like this at least once a month, and I'd probably even pay 3 times as much. Nothing but the biggest props to James Cameron for putting his money into something besides his Hollywood mansion. Keep it up.

Go see it while you can. (It's only 48 minutes -- you could even check it out during your lunch break.)

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 6, 2005 at 02:06 PM in Events, Location: Madison, Wisconsin, My life..., Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.03.03

Yahoo!'s Ten!


yahoo@10-17
Originally uploaded by natekoechley.

Yahoo! celebrated it's 10th birthday today (well, i guess it's yesterday now: March 2nd).

It was a big party - Yahoo has always known how to throw a big party. It started out with open bar (beer, wine), and a well-made video history. After the video, Terry, Sue, Dan R, and the founders Filo and Jerry each gave talks.

Dan brought a few groups of users on stage. First were two cute old women, who played cards on Yahoo Games. Second and third were two mothers who recounted how Yahoo Groups provided critical health information that enabled them to better care for their children, each of whom was afflicted with horrible, rare diseases. The last group was a local couple who met on Yahoo Persons. Of course, he dropped to one knee and proposed on stage.

In addition to being on stage, all the proceedings were carried live in all the yahoo offices around campus and around the world, and also broadcast online. (She said Yes.)

After the user's were on stage, Dan and Sue presented awards of service to those that had been at yahoo for more than 9 years of service./p>

"Sugar Ray" was the band for the day.

The usual big spread of food (sushi, carving stations, appetizers) and then, of course, birthday cake and ice cream.... And the beer/wine kept flowing.

Happy Birthday Yahoo!


Posted by Nate Koechley on March 3, 2005 at 12:59 AM in Events, My life..., Photos, Yahoo! | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.02.12

Cooking Thai


cooking-thai-04
Originally uploaded by natekoechley.
On Thursday night, Aimee invited a bunch of her friends over for dinner. The dinner was multi-purpose: celebrating her that-day completion of the last application to grad school; a housewarming party for her friends who hadn't seen our home; and a going away party, as she's leaving Monday night for about a month in South East Asia.

13 photos in Flickr set


Posted by Nate Koechley on February 12, 2005 at 01:06 PM in Events, Food, Location: San Francisco, My life..., Travel [1] | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.01.22

Arch Bishop Don Magic Juan's B-Day Pictures

Don Magic Juan's Birthday Photos

Great photo album from Don Magic Juan's birthday soiree. Photos by Will Okun. (via Frank151)

Posted by Nate Koechley on January 22, 2005 at 02:38 PM in Events, Music [1], Other, Photos, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.01.20

SF Sketchfest

The Onion's coming to San Francisco

My brother is coming to town next week from Brooklyn. He's a writer for The Onion. He's on a panel as part of SF Sketchfest, a sketch comedy festival.

He's joined on the panel by two other Onion writers (of six total) and the editor, as well as Dave Eggers. They go 8pm, Monday January 24th, at Cobb's Comedy Club in SF.

Posted by Nate Koechley on January 20, 2005 at 01:26 PM in Events, Humor, Location: San Francisco, My life... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2004.11.16

Event - Film Screening: See The Elephant!

SEE THE ELEPHANT! - A Political Video Installation about the 2004 Republican National Convention
Created by Ryan Junell - Music by Lesser

About the movie:

"See the Elephant!" is an immerse four-screen video installation with surround sound audio that features convergent viewpoints during the 2004 Republican National Convention. The four video trajectories take place inside the RNC, outside the venue with the authorities, in the streets with the demonstrators, and at arms-length with mass media. Content for the projected piece includes natural sound, impromptu interviews, and overlapping content.

After touring with the video through the swing states in the weeks before the recent election, creator Ryan Junell brings this hour long political experience to his homebase of San Francisco. Proceeds from the screenings go directly to the creation of the interactive dvd of the installation. "See the Elephant!" dvds will be available for pre-order. See http://www.seetheelephant.org for more details about the installation.

Details:

Friday, November 26th
Saturday, November 27th

Seatings at 8pm and 9:30pm
$5 or $10 w/drink or $20 w/dvd
(tho the broke are warmly welcomed)

Studio 1-2-3
401 Alabama Street (@ 17th)
San Francisco

http://www.seetheelephant.org

If you'd like to attend any of these showings, please RSVP in the comments sections below.

In ryan's email to me, he included the following quote

I know revisiting political stuff right now is kinda sensitive... but f%#k it. We witnessed so much crazy stuff that the mass media just didn't want to describe. Half a million people showed up in the streets of NYC to protest the policies of the president and his administration. The Republican machine used their power of authority to suppress political dissent by arresting thousands of demonstrators. Meanwhile, oil men, fundamentalists, and actors took the stage inside Madison Square Garden to rally the conservative base on a platform of fear and war. This event is worth remembering.
ryan junell

Posted by Nate Koechley on November 16, 2004 at 10:33 AM in Events, Location: San Francisco, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2004.11.02

Vote!

The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets.
Abraham Lincoln
The average man votes below himself; he votes with half a mind or a hundredth part of one. A man ought to vote with the whole of himself, as he worships or gets married. A man ought to vote with his head and heart, his soul and stomach, his eye for faces and his ear for music; also (when sufficiently provoked) with his hands and feet. If he has ever seen a fine sunset, the crimson colour of it should creep into his vote...The question is not so much whether only a minority of the electorate votes. The point is that only a minority of the voter votes.
G. K. Chesterton

Posted by Nate Koechley on November 2, 2004 at 08:33 AM in Events, My life..., Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2004.10.22

Douglas Bowman's presentation from Web Essentials 2004 in Sydney

Doug Bowman, of Stopdesign and adaptive path, famous for the Blogger and Wired News redesigns, posts his great presentation Pushing Your Limits (And Other Secrets of Designing with CSS) from the Web Essentials 2004 conference in Sydney.

It's a great presentation, and beautiful too. Whether you know your CSS or not, it's well worth a click-through.

Posted by Nate Koechley on October 22, 2004 at 04:01 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, Design, Events, HOWTO's and Tutorials, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Layered Semantic Markup, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack