“The Age of Smart Information” – talk @Visualized 2014


World premiere of my talk “The Age of Smart Information” @ VISUALIZED 2014 conference in NYC on February 7th.

Very well received – thank you! Had a blast at the conference.

Watch the video


Careful what you wish for… We’re almost to that place in the history of software and storytelling where visual content has completely surpassed “chrome” and affordances as the most important thing on whatever screen we are currently using. But, in our haste to elevate information over functional elements, our focus has shifted far too often toward beauty over clarity, and coolness over efficiency.

As we use high concept and stunning print layout techniques make our visualizations stand out as novel, clear and beautiful, are we also spending as much effort applying principled interaction design to provide a deeply satisfying engagement model for the content itself? Are we designing a visualization’s interface deliberately or as an afterthought? Is our content’s behavior predictable? Can we have a conversation with it?

Regardless of our individual answers to those questions, there’s a thrilling new language of content interaction being formed by all of us together, each day, intentionally or not. As a community, it’s time to take stock, understand what patterns are effective, see where this is headed next, and most importantly try to teach each other more about how to leverage this emerging behavioral language to be even greater interactive storytellers moving forward.

The demos and heart of the talk challenge the audience to reflect on their own approach to creating interactive visualizations and smart information, and consider how forming and leveraging a principled set of interactions and complementary visual language could help achieve the goal of being clear + beautiful + useful, without compromising the thrill of newness.