The love puppy is amazing. See more of the Valentine’s Day redesign
Sunday, the first day of the conference, and the only day for Danny and I, ended up being pretty eventful. We checked out of our hotel. Walked across the street, put our stuff in the car, and then down went and saw some people from the Columbus Marathon. I wanted a shiny silver blanket.
We checked in at the InfoVis registration table, and they had our information so that went unexpectedly smoothly. We each received full copies of the proceedings, a conference DVD, and … that was really it. No real swag, I was hoping for a nice conference bag but not this time.
After wandering around the poster presentations for a bit (and deciding that they were all pretty badly designed, but a few had topics that could possibly be interesting) we noticed there was infact a spot for our poster. So we set that up and then decided to head out for lunch.
We ate at North Market which was really nice. I had the indian from Flavors of India (picked mostly based on their nice signage) and it was certainly up to standards. Danny and I finished putting together a few slides, and then went back to the conference.
We saw the art show, and then attended a session on “Visualization for the Masses,” including a Jeff Heer talk (on really old work), a pretty terrible presentation on some sort of circular system for showing poll results, and two good ones, one on museum displays and another entitled VisGets.
The final session of the day was a combination of one-minute intros to each of the posters, a review of the Art Show, curated by Golan Levin of CMU, and the InfoVis contest results. Robert Kosara introduced the InfoVis contest, the MERL dataset (which they thought was interesting), and then our submission, pictured right above this for those of you who forgot. As Danny and I were the ONLY submission to the contest (first place & last place! whatup) we were given a few minutes to talk about what we did, as you can see from the photo above. We also each got an award. And a publication. So I think it was worth it.
After this, Golan invited Danny & I, to dinner with Martin Wattenberg and Frank van Ham of IBM’s Visual Communications Lab. We had some great conversations about the state of IEEE InfoVis Week generally as a conference — including their decision to remove both the Art Show and the contest next year, replacing them with some sort of research showcase type exhibition. Only the future will tell how well that goes. We also talked about, among other things, CMU, our own research, what the ManyEyes team is up to, and the absence of designers at the conference.
That, was our quick trip to Columbus.
The most ridiculous part about this, is that this will almost certainly be up days into June and I will look like a fool. Welcome to the summer.
The website “glitch” is over.
Also, I have a confession to make – it wasn’t a real glitch! Nothing was even broken, I was just hiding the website from you because I wanted to make it whiter. You know?
Alright, so here is a simple white version of the website. It is kinda boring and I am not done, but you see I told you there would be a post everyday in April, and now you can actually read them. So, do that.
I was just thinking, hey maybe a visualization of data on a hard disk would be nice after learning of a bit of a RAID issue that may have occurred with someone’s disks. So then I wondered what these different disk patterns would look like, different configurations of RAID, different volume formats, drobo likely has some crazy pattern. Though when I pictured them, all I could think of was Disk Defragmenter.
And as I installed Vista on the new desktop, I thought I would get Mr. Defrag up and running. Which is when I found this:
Vista Defragmenter seems to have taken all the fun (and intelligence, and usefulness) out of XP Defragmenter. Not only have they taken away the ability to see actual block use on the disk in a visual way, they have also taken away any sort of user control, including the ability to specify which drives it defrags (it seems to do them all).
Worst of all they even dumbed down the progress meter, which is now (as shown) a spinning circle, and a comment saying “This may take from a few minutes to a few hours.” No sense of progress is shown at all, which is weird because Windows loves progress bars that are horribly inaccurate (the installation progress bar for XP strikes me as the best example of awful) and Disk Defragmenter is a place they can acheive perfect accuracy, at least with percentage complete (if not time), and they give the user … nothing. How Microsoft.
Microsoft, while I might rag on them, does occasionally put together good or at least interesting work. One example of this is a document created by Microsoft Research called Being Human (download here) Being Human is the final report based on a forum Microsoft Research hosted a year ago on what HCI (Human Computer Interaction) would be like in the year 2020. The report came out April 2nd, 2008 and has four parts, a brief history, a categorization of how HCI is changing, how the field should move forward, and recommendations for how the field should change.
I will only focus on the second part of the report today, as the history of computing and interaction with computing is pretty silly and not that interesting. Part 2, titled “Transformations in Interaction” deals with five main changes and I will mention each one (long post!) by their deep and frequently foreboding names.
The End of Interface Stability
We can no longer tell if the computers are touching us or we are touching them.
This, one of their better points, strikes close to home as it firmly deals with issues of privacy. Ubiquitous computing is meant to lead to people interacting with thousands of computers by 2020, and while this seems ridiculous, it is only ridiculous for traditional definitions of computer. We can start to take into account intelligent surveillance cameras, RFID readers and tags in our clothing, groceries, physical access devices, cell phones, vending machines, cars, parking meters, music devices, our shoes, our glasses, our jewelry, let alone traditional computers. And the further we push towards injecting technology into our bodies and having better remote sensing capabilities, the more we lose the once clearly defined interface of keyboard, monitor, mouse. Now our fingertips, our movements, our heartbeat, our glances all become inputs to the myriad computers in the room. And better, they all communicate. The question is how much control do we want, should we have, will we be given?
The Growth of Techno-Dependency
You can’t go back.
While I suppose this is in some ways a change, “technology” as a scary pervasive force has been pretty constant for a good two hundred years. And while there are some interesting policy questions brought up here, like what will happen when computers take over all the human jobs, the implications for HCI here seem to be less about developing new technologies, but more on mitigating the damage caused by the crazy-evil robots. (I exaggerate, but when asked “As society grows ever dependent on technology and the interaction underpinning this, who is accountable?” I laugh as if the answer should be: the scientist should never have given us these powers.)
The Growth of Hyper-Connectivity
I am alone in a crowded room, only if the wifi goes down.
My laptop has had a bit of an issue for about three months now, both of the fans have died. This means I simply cannot run certain programs (EVE, Aperture – for very long), and my computer consistently runs at 70degC – CPU temp. But while it is still under warranty that would involve shipping it off to Apple for a week, and I can’t allow that. I need to be with my laptop all the time, because it is connecting me socially to friends around the world, to news, to the tasks and communications that form my workplace, as well as to my source of all media, my photo archives, my music library, my Netflix subscription. Physical boundaries disappear, new social relationships are formed, and it seriously is HCI that is shaping this.
How do you design for global interaction between different languages, cultures, customs, time zones? How do you prove that I am who I say I am when I hide behind my avatar? How do I maintain thousands of digital links but still keep them personal? How long before online dating is seen not only as socially acceptable, but the obvious choice? And seriously, when can all of my friends be digital?
I think twitter has to be the current best example of hyper-connectivity, I read it through a specialized application, but can check it through the web, it ims me my friend’s messages, txts me direct messages. It is on my computer, on the web, on my phone. On my road trip through the middle of nowhere (the central USA) twitter was our reliable source of communication.
The End of the Ephemeral
I thought it was fleeting, but you remembered!
Buckminster Fuller supposedly had the most documented life in the history of history, he wrote down what he was doing every fifteen minutes, for about seventy years. However fifteen minutes is now entire lifetimes of data. Much of what I covered above in the end of interface stability is recorded, and the point here is that the data now exists.
Research I have been working on involves allowing your friends to query your location through a system we have been working on at Carnegie Mellon by the name of PeopleFinder. While it allows my friends to request my current location, one of the side effects of this, is we have a server which is accepting our users locations every minute. Thus as I move around with my phone or laptop running our application, I am building up a relatively precise history of my location. Through twitter, aim logs, blog posts, Facebook statuses, my web history, I add semantic information to these locations. In 2020, with the addition of more RFID readers, more cameras, more sensors, this history becomes even more powerful. Aggregate it all and my whole life story is there, stored on disk, and it is likely I can’t erase it.
The Growth of Creative Engagement
We are all designers, writers, journalists, curators, creators.
My favorite of the changes is this, the intellectual and artistic power that computing has given to every person who touches these technologies. And while sure this has its downsides, reading every Livejournal is a bad idea, listening to every bad techno remix made by a thirteen year old with garageband and some angst is torture, and not everyone is cut out to design a poster, the potential is huge.
Take the huge success of YouTube, millions(?) of actors, directors, scriptwriters, who would never have been able to have an audience or create a film before they could pick up a Flip and post their video five minutes later. And this is a place for HCI researchers to shine: designing tools that people want to use that allow them to access their potential to create. Designing tools that allow scientists to produce science, and the computer can take care of the processing. And speaking of processing giving artists enough tools that they truly hold the creativity and a single suite does not drive the direction of art.
We are just now nearing the precipice of creativity as a species, where more people than ever are taking part in using their ability to think as a way to make something new, something interesting, to discover something yet unknown, to write something not ever dreamt of, and technology needs to support that.
There are five main ways in which our interactions with computers will be transformed as we approach 2020. How we define and think about our relationships with computers is radically changing. How we use them and rely on them is also being transformed. At the same time, we are becoming hyper-connected and our actions, conversations and interactions are being increasingly etched into our digital landscapes. There is more scope than ever before to solve hard problems and allow new forms of engagement and creativity.
And that is where Microsoft leaves us with the changing aspects of computing. The points raised are interesting and relevant for anyone designing software, designing experience, or contributing to the internet in any way. Together we can be aware of where we are going, you know – post web 2.0.
i.e. expect changes.
I have decided to interrupt your daily posting of movies for this destructive site re-arrangment. I know. Very sad.
Update: And by give me a second. I mean give me at least a day. I wasn’t happy with what I saw and am now going to sleep on it. So until then you get some nice blue and gray.
Today things became brown and red and gold (can I call that gold, I really want to) because it is almost February. In less than a week we will be greeted by the second month of 2008 and that makes me feel brown and red and gold all over.
That is a lie, the real reason this changed is because making websites is a stress reliever for me and I needed some of that tonight. Also the last design had been up since November 5th, 2007, and well eighty-one days is enough.
If you are reading this through a feed reader or facebook you cannot see these new colors. You cannot note how perfectly these colors align both with the There Will Be Blood. post and also with the new spinning background image.
Finally that new kaleidoscoped background image. Identify it and win a really super awesome fun prize. I don’t know what the prize is, I don’t even have it yet. But figure out what that is and comment, or contact me, or something. First person correct wins, maybe everyone with the right answer wins. (hint: it’s gonna be hard)
Unfortunately, it is currently a mostly empty portfolio. But it is coming along. And I am going out for coffee.