Taking off the Blindfold: Visualizing Dynamic State

Thu Sep 27 15:30:00 EDT 2012

Imagine a painter who steps up to the easel, ties a blindfold around his eyes, and begins to paint. Every few minutes he peeks under the blindfold, catches a brief glimpse of how the painting compares to the picture in his head, and then tugs the blindfold back down to apply a few more brushstokes.

As programmers, we think of ourselves as producing code, but code is merely the medium, a means to an end. The purpose of code is to manipulate data, and patterns of data are our true product. And as data artists, we work blindfolded, grasping at invisible data structures, imagining them in our heads, occasionally executing our programs for a brief peek at reality before continuing to blindly code.

This talk will demonstrate techniques and environments that make the dynamic state of a program visible and tangible, and encourage programmers to examine and respond to data as part of the coding process. Throw away the blindfold, and dare to see the data while creating the code.



Bret Victor

Bret Victor invents tools that enable people to understand and create. He has designed experimental UI concepts at Apple, interactive data graphics for Al Gore, and musical instruments at Alesis. He is the author of "Magic Ink: Information Software and the Graphical Interface", and recently presented "Inventing on Principle".