EYEO Festival Day 3

Better late than never, here’s my write-up from my last day at Eyeo. It feels little more patchy than the other days, but perhaps that’s because of the juggling around that happened towards the end of the day because of some changes in speaker line up.

See also: Workshop | Day 1 | Day 2

 

Lauren McCarthy – You, Me and My Computer

Lauren McCarthy
lauren-mccarthy.com
@laurmccarthy

I’m not really aware of Lauren’s work, although she’s clearly a fixture in the Eyeo circuit. She came across as delightfully self-effacing, which makes sense, since much of her work focuses on what she sees as her own social awkwardness. She’s produced a wide body of research and design probes and prototypes which are consistently engaging, and are often pushing her to examine her own capacity for engaging with others.

The Happiness Hat, for example, jabs her in the back of the head with a sharp pointy thing if she isn’t smiling:

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Eyeo Festival Day 2

Day two of the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis. To recap, this is an event that focuses on the intersection between art, technology and design, with a strong emphasis on data.

See also: Workshop | Day 1 | Day 3

Kim Rees – The Data Future

Kim Rees
periscopic.com
@krees

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Kim works for Periscopic, a data visualization agency whose work I really admire (see, particularly, their gun murders work). I had high hopes for this talk but, to be honest, I came away quite disappointed. Kim set aside her work, and kept her presentation very simple – just a few slides with a few words – which is quite refreshing in this visuals-intensive event.

Instead she decided to focus on the future of data and the internet of things, particularly. Again, this can be great, but she unfortunately failed to really carry me along with a carefully crafted argument for how things that have not yet come will be. Instead, what followed was a bit of a diatribe, filled with a lot of buzz words and worry around nano-tech, around sensors thrown in the air, around userless interfaces and so on. It didn’t paint a big picture (again, for me) and instead came across as a bit naive, which I think is doing both her and her company a disservice.

 

Paola Antonelli – The Art of Our Time

Paola Antonelli
moma.org
@curiousoctopus

I’ve seen Paola talk in the past, and through her relationship with the RCA, and the great exhibitions she curates at the MOMA, she feels like a familiar presence, on the edge of my network, while never being tiring to listen to . She speaks without breathing, like a contestant in Just a Minute, while remaining easy to understand, peppering her talks with subtle little jokes and digs.

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Eyeo Festival Day 1

Here are my very rushed notes from some of the talks on day 1 of the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis, where “artists, designers and coders build and bend technology and give us a glimpse into what’s possible, into what’s next. Ones and zeros float all around us just waiting to deliver the next new interaction. The Eyeo Festival brings together the most intriguing and exciting people in these arenas today.”

I’m enjoying learning to navigate the elevated system of tunnels (the Skyway) in the city, which seem to get as much use in the summer as they do in what I understand are some cold winter months. The Walker Arts centre is a great venue, and I keep on finding new corners that the festival has spread into. I feel a little sorry for the regular museum visitors, surrounded by designers and coders, when all they want is some quite time with Edward Hopper.

See also: Workshop | Day 2 | Day 3

 

Mike Bostock – Visualizing Algorithms

Mike Bostock
bost.ocks.org/mike
d3js.org
@mbostock

Mike Bostock is a visualization luminary working at the New York Times and author of D3.js, a Javascript library that a lot of people use for putting together complex, performant visualizations. His talk focused on the use of data visualizations as a way of better understanding and testing the inner workings of an algorithm.

He used a set of classic algorithms for sampling,  sorting, shuffling and maze creation as a way of showing the value and pitfalls of the use of visualizations, how they can both better express what’s going on in the machine while also potentially misleading if not carefully crafted. A geeky talk that somehow felt like it had broader meaning when it comes to understanding the value of showing data visually.

His argument here was that visualizing the inner working of algorithms was useful for a number of reasons including teaching code, debugging and simply entertaining.

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Stefanie Posavec @ Eyeo

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I’m in Minneapolis at the annual Eyeo Festival. Like Resonate, it is focussed on data visualization in all of its forms, on the intersection between “art, interaction and information”.

See also: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

 

Analog Algorithms with Stefanie Posavec

Today is workshop day, and I’ve been lucky enough to sit in a half day session with Stefanie Posavec, who ran a class called “Analog Algorithms”, focussed on developing ideas for data visualizations on paper. Stefanie has history with Microsoft Research Cambridge, having worked a number of years ago on a visualization of changes made by Charles Darwin to the Origin of Species. This is work she did with Greg McInerny, which ended up on display at MOMA in New York, as part of the excellent Talk To Me exhibition.

Today’s workshop took place on the 9th floor of the Walker Art Centre. We sat four to a table, with large sheets of paper in front of us, and many pens and pencils also arrayed. Definitely set up for something hands on.

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Stefanie started by going over her background and portfolio. She articulated the purpose of data visualizations as giving “meaning and connection”, “subtle insight” and “truth and honesty”, and argued that by drawing on paper you exploited a “tacit knowledge” and a physicality in representation that you don’t get by jumping straight to data and code.

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Research Through Design 2015

We’re proud to be hosting the Research Through Design 2015 conference between July the 25th and 27th next year at Microsoft Research Cambridge, UK. RTD2013 was a definite highlight for me last year (see my previous posts). It manages to straddle design and academia very well, with an emphasis on submitting short papers, so not a huge amount of writing, along with an artefact which is both exhibited at the conference and then forms the centrepiece of discussion in each of the breakout sessions. This makes the conference really design friendly, and conversations happen in a round-table style that makes them very open and democratic.

I’d encourage anyone in design, either in or on the edges of academia, in the creative disciplines or in HCI, to consider submitting something to this great conference. The more diverse a mix of designers and practitioners it can get, the more the conversations get interesting.

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Favorite Photos of 2013

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It’s taken me a while to put together my favorite shots on Flickr that I posted in 2013. This is an annual tradition that I’ve had going for a decade now, which I guess makes Flickr one of the longer-running services that I still use.

I’m not sure what I can learn last year’s photos. I only took 4,788 shots, which compared to 2012’s high of 7,472 doesn’t seem that impressive. But 2012 was the year of the Olympics. 2013 did feel a little more sporadic, though, in terms of my photo taking, and in terms of my photo posting. I lost track a little of what I’d posted throughout the year. I’m not sure why. I’ve already taken 1,982 shots this year, so maybe I’m rectifying that, although many of those are of the after-effects of flooding. Those are still about preserving memory, but perhaps not in the same uplifting way that last year’s shots of our family reunion are.

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The personal blog of Richard Banks. Combines both home and work life.