Computational Information Design

Thursday, December 11, 2008 - 7:00pm
Ben Fry
Ben Fry
The ability to collect and store data continues to increase, but our ability to understand it remains unchanged. In an attempt to gain better understanding of data, fields such as information visualization, data mining and graphic design are employed, each solving an isolated part of the specific problem, but failing in a broader sense: there are still too many unsolved data visualization problems. As a solution, I propose "Computational Information Design", which brings the individual fields together as part of a single process. I'll be showing examples of work developed as part of my Ph.D. dissertation at the MIT Media Laboratory, as a postdoc at the Eli & Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard, and more recently as a designer and consultant. The work ranges from illustrations of data for magazines and journals to software tools used by geneticists to gesture-controlled interfaces for large data sets. We'll also briefly cover Processing (a programming environment co-developed with Casey Reas of UCLA), which helps enable this type of work. This is a joint meeting of the GBC/ACM and Boston/Central New England Chapter of the IEEE Computer Society. For more information contact Peter Mager (p.mager at
Ben Fry received his doctoral degree from the Aesthetics + Computation Group at the MIT Media Laboratory, where his research focused on combining fields such as Computer Science, Statistics, Graphic Design, and Data Visualization as a means for understanding complex data. After completing his thesis, he spent time developing tools for visualization of genetic data as a postdoc with Eric Lander at the Eli & Edythe L. Broad Insitute of MIT & Harvard. During the 2006-2007 school year, Ben was the Nierenberg Chair of Design for the the Carnegie Mellon School of Design. At the end of 2007, he finished Visualizing Data for O'Reilly