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Bret Victor – WorryDream

The Bret Victor website, is the most fascinating gathering of technology centric material and ideas I have seen. Think of this website as a new medium. The website is currently broken into four main chapters, plus some other fun explorations.

I first found this website in the early 2010s. Let me be clear. If you are looking for inspiration, ideas on how to think about things, and how to implement the future, spend time here. A lot of time.

The tag line is “purveyor of impossible dreams”. Except there is a roadmap on how to implement those impossible dreams. How we think about the future, our vision of it, matters. Money quote:

This matters, because visions matter. Visions give people a direction and inspire people to act, and a group of inspired people is the most powerful force in the world. If you’re a young person setting off to realize a vision, or an old person setting off to fund one, I really want it to be something worthwhile. Something that genuinely improves how we interact.

A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design

A Kick Start

Here are a couple of examples to start. I’ve found that much of Chapter 3, “Toward a humane medium for seeing, understanding, and creating systems” has stayed with me for at least 10 years.

The first example is “Seeing Spaces”. There’s a great poster on the worrydream website that accompanies the talk. The talk is 15 minutes long, and gives detailed insight into what a maker/creative space should be when building machines. I still want one of the rooms he describes. How can 15 minutes change how you think about things? Watch this, find out.

The second example is “Media for Thinking the Unthinkable” which is from a talk at MIT Media Lab. This talks presents the idea of using computers to help us explore ideas. For example, how do you explain an algorithm visually? Explore behaviors of electronic circuits? Create representations?

The Right Way To Think

Here’s another money quote:

“One of the big barriers with computers today is certainly the physical interface, but this isn’t a technology problem. The bigger part of it is just in finding the right ways of thinking, finding the right representations of abstractions, so people can think thoughts that they couldn’t think before.

The example I like to give is back in the days of Roman numerals, basic multiplication was considered this incredibly technical concept that only official mathematicians could handle. But then once Arabic numerals came around, you could actually do arithmetic on paper, and we found that 7-year-olds can understand multiplication. It’s not that multiplication itself was difficult. It was just that the representation of numbers — the interface — was wrong.

From a Bret Victor interview, “The Utopian UI Architect” by John Pavlus

It might be a coincidence that the main conclusion from one of the JetsonHacks Newsletters made a similar point about ChatGPT and Jetson software.

Go! Deep Dive

For the amount of time that you might spend looking for ideas, it’s rather embarrassing to find one place with so many. Many of the ideas require a change in perspective. Some of the ideas are tantalizingly just out of reach. Others are “Why aren’t we doing this now?” Well worth taking the time to visit.

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