Data in our Creative Lives

 S. Joy Mountford, Osher Fellow at Exploratorium


Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University May 14, 2010
, 12:50pm, Gates B01

The lines between art, design, and information are dissolving as we experience new places and objects. Consider, for example, the organic flow of air traffic over North America at daybreak, the bursts of search query memes spreading around the globe, and the pointillist surge of mobile phone usage on New Year’s Eve. Using the new techniques of generative data visualization, a new generation of artist/designers/engineer/scientists are creating gorgeous, dynamic experiences driven by massive sets of data about our own lives. Their work comes to life in architectural spaces, on walls of wood and metal and light and shimmering glass clouds suspended overhead. Of course it must be touched to be appreciated and engaged with, simple gestures launch a thousand images and possibilities. Many of these projects have received international recognition. They are primarily 3D applications that can run in real time, but really can only be appreciated by watching them, as movies. These data movies aim to make information easier to understand while being enjoyable to watch. Surprising insights surface through looking at our ’data life’ in new ways, and may compel us to design in different, even better ways.


S. Joy Mountford has been designing and managing interface design efforts for over 25 years. Currently she is an Osher Fellow at the Exploratorium, where she is working on data visualisations for the new Exploratorium Pier building. Her experience encompasses a range of innovative and pioneering interface developments on various user systems, including airplanes, PCs, toys, consumer electronics and the Internet. At Yahoo! she was recently V.P. of User Experience and Design and was invited to start an Innovation Team in San Francisco. Her responsibilities included managing UED for Front Doors, where Y! front page is the most visited page on the Internet, and the popular Yahoo Mail, Messenger, Photos, Groups and 360. At Interval Research Corporation she led a series of musical development projects both in hardware and software for musicians and non-musicians to jam. She was the creator and manager of the highly-acclaimed Human Interface Group at Apple Computer for nearly eight years. Joy has worked at MCC, an A.I. computer consortium, and she designed advanced user interfaces for military avionics systems at Honeywell. She started and is still managing the highly leveraged University Design Expo with multiple sponsors, which has now been running for over 20 years. Its legacy members hold influential positions across many design industries.

The talks are open to the public. They are in the Gates Building, Room B01 in the basement. The nearest public parking is in the structure at Campus Drive and Roth Way.

View this talk on line at CS547 on Stanford OnLine.

Titles and abstracts for previous years are available by year and by speaker.