Dublin, Feb-4, 2012. The forth day of Interaction 12 – actually the third day with a regular conference program in the Conference Center Dublin. BTW_ The CCD reminds me of a database drum, much like the architecture at Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood, CA, just a little bit tilted.
Interaction’s workshops were held on Wednesday, which I did not attend because I conducted “my own” VDI workshops with my engineering colleagues at Oracle in Dublin.
The most beautiful presentation – both visual and by content – was given by Pete Denman. Pete argued that typical business charts only express very simplified aspects of data sets. To demonstrate the flaws of pie-charts he compared the famous illustration of Napoleon’s war against Russia 1812-13, made popular by Edward Tufte, with a typical modern pie-chart: 95% French men fucked, 5% kind of fucked (see slide 5 and 6 below).
Pete found inspiration in nature to better represent huge data sets on screen. He developed an app for iPad to display medical data. The photos on slide 9-14 can only give a faint idea of the beauty of animated flowers of data. Very well done. And hopefully an example that encourages other to go into the same direction as well.
In anticipation of the conference, core77’s interview with Pete.
Restoring a Sense of Wonder
Too slow to be really good was Michael Smyth’ Critical Design: Restoring a Sense of Wonder in Interaction Design. He presented a series of examples how design and (street) art and urban installations shift the perspective of the observer. Indeed, yet another reference to McLuhan. I liked most the project digitalAntiques (slides 20-22) where antique statues were projected on the walls of Split during the night.
The closing keynote by Genevieve Bell was an entertaining Rage Against the Machines – Designing our futures with computing. She joined Intel in 1998 with a fresh PhD in anthropology. Her boss told her to do research for Intel on two questions:
- Women – half of the population on earth!
- ROW – rest of world – in the sense of “everything outside of the USA”!
Well, others complain about more restrictive research agendas… As said, a very amusing talk.
She continued to provide an short overview on the history of mechanical automata, like the Digesting Duck by Jacques de Vaucanson (1739) and the Mechanical Turk by Freiherr von Kempelen, that eventually lead to a meetup of generations between Furby and Siri:
Mrs. Bell lost me when she indicated that it was Joe Weizenbaum’s intention to pass the Turing Test with his Doctor Script for Eliza. In my opinion it is irritating to bend history just to make it fit into a story line. When such things happen, I start to mistrust other facts and conclusions drawn by the presenter as well. A missed opportunity for a good closing keynote at Interaction 12 in Dublin.