Friday, August 31, 2018

Bret Victor

worry dream

I wasn't aware of Bret Victor but have looked at Seymour Papert and Alan Kay in some depth previously. I've now read a few of BV articles and looked at a few videos and see that he continues and develops in that tradition. I'll be promoting his material with enthusiam.

For those not familiar with this lineage perhaps Bret Victor's article about the hand would be a good place to start since that correlates well with the Engel's essay on the hand which would be familiar to those who follow Marx: A Brief Rant On The Future Of Interaction Design

From a digital world behind a screen we are emerging into tangible, haptic or physical computing with more varied human inputs and interactions becoming available. Bret Victor's examples of a more intuitive user interface for programmers are breathtaking. eg. Inventing on Principle

(Historical aside: Seymour Papert co-authored logo programming / turtle geometry as a way to make powerful maths ideas more accessible to those who found them difficult).

Following some technical wizardry at 35:40 of that video he begins to explain his motivation to his audience of software engineers:
"Ideas are very precious to me and when I see ideas dying it hurts. I see a tragedy. It feels like a moral wrong, an injustice. If there is something I can about it then it feels like a responsibility for me to do so. Not an opportunity but a responsibility"
The computer is now emerging from being a relatively expensive, large closed box and transforming into a miniature capable of interacting with a variety of sensors to create the internet of things. BV goes beyond the predictable and usually mundane commercial hype (Apple watch etc.) and informs us how a more intuitive user interface (“One of the greatest user interface design minds in the world today.” — Alan Kay) can promote creativity. ie. he explains how creativity can be enhanced, not just uses it as a nebulous hype word. The principle he argues for is immediate connection between the creative process and its visualisation or appearance. He has the skill and knowledge to implement that principle, as part of a team, in the real world.

I've been developing a curriculum around the BBC micro:bit and was looking for a theorist who continues to develop the Papert / Kay tradition. Bret Victor may be that theorist.

I'm also impressed by the Yin / Yang sidebar of his Bio.

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