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 put together 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
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
The lectures took place Thursday evenings in the Chelsea Art Museum at 556 West 22nd street in Manhattan. They were free with the discounted $3 museum admission, and [did not, really-ed.] start promptly at 6:00 pm on these dates:
Robert Bringhurst, March 31 · Typography and layout
Judith Donath, April 21 · Social computing
Ted Selker, May 12 · Situated devices
Lisa Strausfeld, May 26 · Real-time charting
Bill Buxton, June 16 · Supporting creative analysis
Ron Rensink, June 30 · Visual perception
Tamara Munzner, July 14 · Large data sets
Generous volunteer efforts support Information Esthetics, including high-reliability Web site hosting by Michael Rosenthal and expert audio/video support by Peter Kennard. Please contact i.e. director W. Bradford Paley if you would like to volunteer, be put on the i.e. mailing list, or otherwise participate.
The Information Esthetics site was generously hosted at the time of this series by Walrus Internet.