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Three visual perspectives on the debut of the Creative Technology Network

February 1st, 2012 · Uncategorized

I always enjoy creating illustrated notes alongside other visual synthesizers. Three of us joined forces last week at the Carnegie Museum of Art at the debut of the Creative Technology Network, an initiative of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

The event showcased 6 innovative Pittsburgh based companies ranging from medical device makers, Body Media, to experience design firm, MAYA, to roboticists (who make stuff for parents and babies) 4moms.

There is something brewing in Pittsburgh. With it’s myriad universities, and its burgeoning medical, robotics, design, media, and technology sectors, new companies are coalescing and creating better products and services. The recipe for creativity in Pittsburgh combines “Hyper-intelligence with a blue collar work ethic,” according to Tim Fletcher of Daedalus.

Below are notes by Leah Silverman, Emily Marko, and myself, capturing different facets of the event.

Leah Silverman--Creative Clash Visual Synthesis
Visual notes by Leah Silverman

Creative Clash Charts-jonny1
Illustrated notes by Jonny Goldstein

Creative Clash-Emily Marko Visual Notes
Illustrated notes by Emily Marko

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Envizualize at Pecha Kucha Pittsburgh, Student/Faculty Edition

January 31st, 2012 · envizualize, information design, Information Visualization, presentation design, public speaking, storytelling

Where: AVA Lounge, 5972 Baum Blvd. Map
Tickets: $5 at the door

I am looking forward to giving a picture talk at Pecha Kucha Pittsburgh 10, Student/Faculty edition. This episode of Pecha Kucha is for students and faculty of any university. Undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty from multiple universities pulse their intellectual energies throughout the Pittsburgh metro region: Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne, Point Park, Robert Morris, Washington and Jefferson, Chatham, Carlow University, are just a few of the Pittsburgh area colleges. Even though I teach at a university in Philadelphia, they graciously slid me into the lineup.

If you haven’t been to a Pecha Kucha event, the format is simple: speakers give brief talks accompanied by 20 slides, timed at 20 seconds per slide. It’s a kind of speed reading of the world of ideas and experience, interwoven with imbibing tasty beverages and informal chitchat. I will be speaking about the unique perception of power one develops as a global nomad. I gave this talk at TEDxPittsburgh a couple of months ago. If you can’t make it to Pecha Kucha, you can see my talk the video above.

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Envizualizing The Future of Creativity, Technology and a New Innovation Community in Pittsburgh at Creative Clash

January 25th, 2012 · graphic recording, Information Visualization, large scale visual notes

I’m looking forward to creating real-time Envizualization at Creative Clash! along with fellow Pittsburgh based visualizers Leah Silverman and Emily Marko.

The event will focus on the intersection of art, entertainment, and technology in Pittsburgh. Here’s the official blurb:

Creative Clash! The Future of Creativity, Technology and a New Innovation Community in Pittsburgh
Thursday, January 26, 2012

5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: The Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh 15213-4080
Pittsburgh is a city rich with creativity and innovation. Now, how do we take our success to the next level? Heralding the Council’s new Creative Technology Network, and presented in partnership with the Carnegie Museum of Art, Creative Clash! will explore Pittsburgh’s history and future as a key innovator at the intersection of art and technology. Today, industries including design, gaming, filmmaking, advertising, education, fine-art, production, robotics, digital media – and much more – are coalescing to make Pittsburgh home to a thriving creative technology community. Join us, and join the conversation, as we examine what it takes to sustain and grow this exciting community!

Creative Clash! will show you some of the great things that are happening around our city right now, and will open discussions as to what more we can do to elevate this community to the next level of success. Event moderator Lynn Zelevansky, Director of the Carnegie Museum of Art, will ask the big questions to a diverse panel of industry leaders, including:

MK Haley, Associate Executive Producer at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, and Manager of Internal Communications, Disney Research Labs

Gregg Behr, Executive Director of the Grable Foundation, and founder of Pittsburgh Kids &Creativity

Carl Kurlander, Executive Producer of Steeltown Entertainment, and film/television screenwriter and producer

Tim Fletcher, Business Development Manager, Daedalus, and US Government Liaison Officer, Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)

Rob Deaner,Partner at Market Street Sound,and Vice President of the Pittsburgh Advertising Federation.

Plus, special presentations by Schell Games, Animal Studios, MAYA Design, 4 Moms, Firehouse Creative and BodyMedia!

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Envizualize at TEDxPittsburgh

January 4th, 2012 · envizualize, information design, Information Visualization, storytelling, visual sensemaking

It was a pleasure and honor to be invited to speak at TEDx LeadershipPittsburgh a few weeks ago. The conference theme was “Power” in all it’s permutations. This video shows my talk “A Nomads View of Power.”

You can see videos of all the excellent talks here, assembled by the good folks at Leadership Pittsburgh.

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Art and Code: DIY 3D Visualization and Sensing

October 23rd, 2011 · edtech, envizualize, graphic recording, Information Visualization

See the complete set of graphic recordings I did at Art and Code: DIY Sensing and Visualization here.

The conference, orchestrated by Golan Levin, explored the fascinating world of do it yourself 3D sensing and visualization with artists, hackers, and designers from all over the world. The Microsoft Kinect recently changed this field drastically by providing powerful, low cost 3D sensing to a mass market.

Chase No Face / BELL from zach lieberman on Vimeo.

Here is an example of what a group of artists did with a Kinect to make a music video. From the description: “Visuals by Zach Lieberman, Francisco Zamorano, Andy Wallace, and Michelle Calabro. (note: no post-production effects were used in this video. everything on the face is happening in real-time, via hacked Kinect, laptop and LED projector. It’s built using FaceTracker code from Jason Saragih)”

Thanks to Golan Levin, and Drue Miller for having me at the event, and Microsoft for making the conference possible.

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IFVP Conference 2012: Connecting Art, Technology, and Business in the City of Bridges

October 19th, 2011 · business, edtech, entrepreneurship, envizualize, graphic facilitation, graphic recording, information design, Information Visualization, large scale visual notes, npTech, partnerships, storytelling, technology, visual sensemaking, vizsales vizmarketing vizpersuasion, workshops

I am thrilled that the International Forum of Visual Practitioners 2012 conference will be happening in my current hometown, Pittsburgh, the City of Bridges. Pittsburgh holds the world record for number of bridges, edging out Venice by four bridges. I think this is very appropriate to the IFVP conference, as we help our clients connect to their best vision and to visual plans to execute their goals to achieve their vision. The conference themes are art, techology, and business. We want to help visual practitioners build bridges to new skills, ideas, and relationships to help them increase their impact and success. And we want to help people from the business, government, and nonprofit sectors learn more about how visual practice can help them.

I created the video above to help spread the word about IFVP 2012. Pittsburgh is an amazing city to hold this conference. It is within a days drive or a short flight from 50% of the population of North America. It is gorgeous—surrounded by wooded hills and renewed by three major rivers. Pittsburgh successfully bridged an industrial past to a knowledge industry present. Pittsburgh pivoted from steel to education, technology, healthcare, banking, and robotics, capitalizing on its 7 universities, including Carnegie Mellon University which has the top ranked computer science program in the USA, and the University of Pittsburgh, with its spin-off UPMC medical system, which has grown to an international health care provider (need an organ transplant in Sicily? UPMC manages that.)

Graphic Recorders in Pittsburgh
Plus Pittsburgh has a core of dedicated visual practitioners who are excited about hosting what is going to be an amazing event. Look forward to seeing you in late July 2012 in Pittsburgh. Stay tuned for final dates in the next couple of weeks. And when you come, be sure to have a few of these Pierogies, a Pittsburgh specialty.

Neuvo Pierogis

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Want more kids to grow up to be Steve Jobs? Provide more art education for our kids

October 6th, 2011 · edtech

Japanese Calligraphy
Photo by San Jose Library (CC BY-SA 2.0)
What made Steve Jobs great? It wasn’t any one thing: it was a combination of traits and skillsets. I would argue his most important trait was, to quote Joe Nocera of the NYTimes:

…an astonishing aesthetic sense, which businesspeople almost always lack.

Now an astonishing aesthetic sense does not just happen. Here in Jobs’ own words from his 2005 commencement address at Stanford, is one way he cultivated his aesthetic muscles:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

OK, yes, he dropped out. But if this class had not been available to Jobs, would he have developed into the powerhouse that he became? I don’t know. I do know that he thought this was a turning point in his life.

I firmly believe that arts education is a critical component to our economic success. My guess is that the lessons that Jobs learned doing calligraphy carried over to his ability to orchestrate new products, to visualize new opportunities, and to create market-moving presentations.

Jobs certainly had other things that helped him—an affinity to technology, an ability to hire the best people (and fire them and rehire them over and over), exposure to Silicon Valley as a youth, and on and on. But without his aesthetic sense, what would he have accomplished?

If we want more kids to grow up like Steve Jobs, we need to provide provide quality arts learning opportunities to more of our young people. Everybody should be able to noodle out a tune on a piano, draw a realistic picture from observation, write simple calligraphy, write a powerful poem, dance a vital swing step, and act out a character with verve. And these skills are all teachable.

I know people who are researching the impact of the arts on other learning, and the preliminary data are powerful: studying the arts enriches achievement in other areas. Is that any surprise? Creating art requires perception, analysis, and synthesis, to create a product that evokes passionate response from others. The kind of passion that millions of Apple uses feel for the works of their maestro, Steve Jobs.

If we want to succeed in a global economy, we need quality arts education more than ever. I am emphasizing children as the focus of this post, but for you grownups, it’s not too late to take some guitar lessons, a drawing class, or maybe even calligraphy.

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