Monday, December 13, 2010

Exciting Lecture!

Ben Shneiderman, one of the epic founding fathers of HCI, came to Wellesley last week! He talked about some really exciting things regarding data visualization and his current works. 
I was very inspired by what he said during lunch the day of his visit. He believes very strongly in conducting research and create projects that will have a positive impact/benefit for the community as a whole. One of the projects that he spent several minutes on was the Children's Books Online: the Rosetta Project, where a team of volunteers translated and made the largest collection of children's books available to everyone on the internet for free. 
He also talked about many interesting topics during the meal, such as virtual reality (specifically Second Life), and mentioned online games such as Farmville and World of Warcraft, which I thought was awesome!
But yeah, onto the main topic of his lecture. 

I'm quite inexperienced when it comes to the field of data visualization. There was some exposure to this topic when I worked on the GnomeSurfer (blast, expression, etc), but I feel like I barely scratched the surface. So when Ben Shneiderman started talking about data visualization and showed us some of the projects he's been helping with, I was quite awed. Honestly, I've never seen a heat map used in the way he showed on his presentation before! It was one of the coolest things I saw that week. 

A heat map showing stock market information.
It's so important to have effective visualization for large data sets. How an application render data can either make or break it.  

Overall, I really enjoyed and learned a lot from the lecture. 

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