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Classics

Hans Rosling: Doctor, Professor, and Presenter Extraordinaire

Eulogy by the master of preso on the master of stats.

“The Zen Master of data visualization has died. I am sorry to have to report that Dr. Hans Rosling passed away today in Uppsala, Sweden. He was just 68. A profoundly mournful day for anyone who knew Professor Rosling, obviously. But it’s also a sad day for all of us in the greater TED community or data visualization/business intelligence communities as well. Dr. Rosling’s work was seen by millions and will continue to be seen by millions worldwide. It is incalculable just how many professionals Hans inspired over the years. His presentations, always delivered with honesty, integrity, and clarity, were aided by clear visuals of both the digital and analog variety. He was a master statistician, physician, and academic, but also a superb presenter and storyteller. (…) Let us all remember Professor’s Rosling’s contributions and continue to keep the dream of a more fact-based, rational worldview alive.”

Garr Reynolds a.k.a. /garr-reynolds | @presentationzen

The interface of Kai Krause’s software

Know your classics. Skeumorphism avant-la-lettre.

“Kai Krause was born 1957 in Dortmund. He came to California in 1976 with two friends. He worked as a musician for Disney Sound Effects. In fact Kai won a Clio Award for his sound effects in a Star Wars radio spot. Emerson, Lake & Powell bought sound systems from him and he is still working with Peter Gabriel today in order to fulfill his vision of visualized music as 3D sculptures.”

Matthias Müller-Prove a.k.a. /mprove | @mprove

Design thinking origin story plus some of the people who made it all happen

Allways know where you’re coming from.

“Design thinking has an amalgamation of approaches, this is still quite unique — which is why sometimes — design thinking is applied as more of an umbrella term that catches multi-disciplinary, human-centered projects that involve research and rapid ideation. Most recently it has begun to monitor and measure itself in a quantified way, a trick its leant from the business and economics sectors.”

Jo Szczepanska a.k.a. /joszczepanska | @szczpanks

The Post-Mac Interface

HCI giants on whose shoulders we stand.

“In 1996 Don Gentner and Jakob Nielsen published a thought experiment, The Anti-Mac Interface. It’s worth a read. By violating the design principles of the entrenched Mac desktop interface, G and N propose that more powerful interfaces could exceed the aging model and define the Internet desktop. It’s been almost 20 years since the Anti-Mac design principles were proposed, and almost 30 since the original Apple Human Interface Guidelines were published. Did the Anti-Mac principles supersede those of the Mac? Here I reflect on the Mac design principles of 1986, the Anti-Mac design principles of 1996, and what I observe as apparent (and cheekily named) Post-Mac design principles of 2016… er, 2015.”

Adam Baker a.k.a. @twomonthsoff

How cybernetics connects computing, counterculture, and design

Some really deep and historical thinking on design and systems.

“Beginning in the decade before World War II and accelerating through the war and after, scientists designed increasingly sophisticated mechanical and electrical systems that acted as if they had a purpose. This work intersected other work on cognition in animals as well as early work on computing. What emerged was a new way of looking at systems – not just mechanical and electrical systems, but also biological and social systems: a unifying theory of systems and their relation to their environment. This turn toward ‘whole systems’ and ‘systems thinking’ became known as cybernetics. Cybernetics frames the world in terms of systems and their goals. This approach led to unexpected outcomes.”

Hugh Dubberly a.k.a. /hughdubberly ~ Dubberly Design Office

Tracing the Dynabook: A study of technocultural transformations

Know thy history!

“This work is a historical study of the Dynabook project and vision, which began as a blue-sky project to define personal and educational computing at Xerox PARC in the 1970s. It traces the idea through the three intervening decades, noting the transformations which occur as the vision and its artifacts meet varying contexts. The dissertation was for a PhD in education; the focus of this work is mostly educational, though I’ve tried to do justice to the technology throughout. I defended it successfully before a committee of profs from education and compsci on Halloween 2006.”

John W. Maxwell a.k.a. @jmaxsfu (courtesy of @worrydream)

From the vault: Watching (and re-watching) The Mother of All Demos

On giants and shoulders.

“To give an idea of the scope of the demo, Engelbart demonstrated an early look at word processing, windowing, hypertext, and dynamic file linking, as well as using graphics in a computer program. It was also the first time many of the attendees had seen a mouse, although work on the mouse began in 1963.”

(Megan Geuss a.k.a. @MeganGeuss ~ Ars Technica)

The future of the Web is 100 years old

The ideas are not new, the implementations are.

In the debate between structure and openness, 19th-century ideas are making a comeback ~ “The web has played such a powerful role in shaping our world that it can sometimes seem like a fait accompli – the inevitable result of progress and enlightened thinking. A deeper look into the historical record, though, reveals a different story: The web in its current state was by no means inevitable. Not only were there competing visions for how a global knowledge network might work, divided along cultural and philosophical lines, but some of those discarded hypotheses are coming back into focus as researchers start to envision the possibilities of a more structured, less volatile web.”

(Alex Wright a.k.a. @alexgrantwright ~ Nautilus Issue 21)

Episode 149: Of Mice and Men

Never too much attention for one of our giants: Douglas Engelbart.

“If you are looking at a computer screen, your right hand is probably resting on a mouse. To the left of that mouse (or above, if you’re on a laptop) is your keyboard. As you work on the computer, your right hand moves back and forth from keyboard to mouse. You can’t do everything you need to do on a computer without constantly moving between input devices. There is another way.”

(Roman Mars a.k.a. @romanmars ~ 99%invisible)

Cascading Style Sheets: Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor Philosophiœ

Always go to the source to read the real intensions.

“The topic of this thesis is style sheet languages for structured documents on the web. Due to characteristics of the web – including a screen-centric publishing model, a multitude of output devices, uncertain delivery, strong user preferences, and the possibility for later binding between content and style – the hypothesis is that the web calls for different style sheet languages than does traditional electronic publishing. Style sheet languages that were developed and used prior to the web are analyzed and compared with style sheet proposals for the web between 1993-1996. The dissertation describes the design of a web-centric style sheet language known as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). CSS has several notable features including: cascading, pseudo-classes and pseudo-elements, forward-compatible parsing rules, support for different media types, and a strong emphasis on selectors. Problems in CSS are analyzed, and recommended future research is described.”

(Håkon Wium Lie, 1994-2005)

The man who envisioned the internet before computers, without computers

Alex’ book really works as a catalyst for our giant Paul Otlet.

“But then there’s the story of Paul Otlet. Born long enough ago that he lived in an imperial Belgium, the problems Otlet, a visionary and entrepreneur, hacked away on are the same we deal with today: nationalism, war, and information overload. The solutions Otlet worked for also resonate today, perhaps nowhere more surprisingly than the means by which you’re reading this very article.”

(Ben Richmond a.k.a. a_ben_richmond ~ Motherboard)

Transclusion: A term coined by hypertext pioneer Ted Nelson

Document thinking is still alive and kicking.

“In computer science, transclusion is the inclusion of a document or part of a document into another document by reference. Rather than copying the included data and storing it in two places, a transclusion embodies modular design, by allowing it to be stored only once (and perhaps corrected and updated if the link type supported that) and viewed in different contexts.”

(Hacker Trips)

The secret history of hypertext: The conventional history of computing leaves out some key thinkers

Great to see this article appear in the publication where it all started, according to US history. Finally, some historical truth being added.

“Historians of technology often cite Bush’s essay as the conceptual forerunner of the Web. And hypertext pioneers like Douglas Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee have all acknowledged their debt to Bush’s vision. But for all his lasting influence, Bush was not the first person to imagine something like the Web. (…) For all his remarkable prescience, Bush never predicted anything like the Internet. That credit rightly goes to Otlet.”

(Alex Wright a.k.a. @alexgrantwright ~ The Atlantic)

Organizing the world: How hypermedia looked in 1934

So pleased with this information graphics from Paula and her team.

“Sharing the dream of Paul Otlet about Mundaneum – a kind of hypermedia system that allowed the management and sharing of all human knowledge in the 30’s. (…) Systems, principles and machines created by Otlet and La Fontaine to organize the huge documents and index cards in the RBU. The creation of a highly flexible language management system for databases: The Universal Decimal Classification (UCD), the first modern faceted classification system, in opposition of Melvil Dewey’s Decimal Classification.”

(Paula Azevedo Macedo a.k.a. @paulamacedo, Seth Pérez, and Larissa Braga)

The woman behind Apple’s first icons

Honoring our historical roots is what makes us more mature as a relevant domain in world history. Even though is still three decades old, sort of.

“Thirty years ago, as tech titans battled for real estate in the personal computer market, an inconspicuous young artist gave the Macintosh a smile. Susan Kare was the type of kid who always loved art. As a child, she lost herself in drawings, paintings, and crafts; as a young woman, she dove into art history and had grandeur dreams of being a world-renowned fine artist.”

(Zachary Crockett a.k.a. @zzcrockett ~ Priceonomics)