Passing along a call for the ACM Creativity & Cognition 2009. Sadly I’m overbooked and won’t be able to participate this year, but I attended in 2007 and found it a much more personal alternative to the more enormous ACM conferences (CHI, SIGGRAPH) without losing quality.
Everyday Creativity: Shared Languages and Collective Action
October 27-30, 2009, Berkeley Art Museum, CA, USA
Sponsored by ACM SIGCHI, in co-operation with SIGMM/ SIGART [pending approval]
Professor of Psychology & Management, Claremont Graduate University, USA
Director, Allosphere Research Laboratory, California Nanosystems Institute, USA
Professor of Interdisciplinary Computing, Goldsmiths University of London, UK
Call for Participation
Full Papers, Art Exhibition, Live Performances, Demonstrations, Posters, Workshops, Tutorials, Graduate Symposium
Submission deadline: April 24, 2009
For more information and submission process see: www.creativityandcognition09.org
Creativity is present in all we do. The 7th Creativity and Cognition Conference (CC09) embraces the broad theme of Everyday Creativity. This year the conference will be held at the Berkeley Art Museum (CA, USA), and asks: How do we enable everyone to enjoy their creative potential? How do our creative activities differ? What do they have in common? What languages can we use to talk to each other? How do shared languages support collective action? How can we incubate innovation? How do we enrich the creative experience? What encourages participation in everyday creativity?
The Creativity and Cognition Conference series started in 1993 and is sponsored by ACM SIGCHI. The conference provides a forum for lively interdisciplinary debate exploring methods and tools to support creativity at the intersection of art and technology. We welcome submissions from academics and practitioners, makers and scientists, artists and theoreticians. This year’s broad theme of Everyday Creativity reflects the new forms of creativity emerging in everyday life, and includes topics of:
- Collective creativity and creative communities
- Shared languages and Participatory creativity
- Incubating creativity and supporting Innovation
- DIY and folk creativity
- Democratising creativity
- New materials for creativity
- Enriching the collaborative experience
We welcome the following forms of submission:
- Empirical evaluations by quantitative and qualitative methods
- In-depth case studies and ethnographic analyses
- Reflective and theoretical accounts of individual and collaborative practice
- Principles of interaction design and requirements for creativity support tools
- Educational and training methods
- Interdisciplinary methods, and models of creativity and collaboration
- Analyses of the role of technology in supporting everyday creativity
The Berkeley Art Museum should be a great venue too.
And is disease history stored in a dustbin, for that matter?
Researchers at Dana-Farber may have found influenza’s weak spot, which could lead to a vaccine:
Yearly vaccination is currently needed because different strains of the virus circulate around the world regularly, owing to the germs’ rapidly changing genetic makeup. But the researchers reported yesterday that they had found one pocket of the virus that appears to remain static in multiple strains, making it an attractive target for a vaccine, as well as drugs.
And instead of fighting the primary part virus head on, you figure out a way to attack a portion that does not mutate in the weaker part and neutralize it:
Most vaccines work by revving up the body’s disease-fighting cells, helping them to recognize and rapidly neutralize invading germs. The researchers realized that the disease fighters generated by existing flu vaccines – which contain killed or weakened whole viruses – head straight toward the biggest target, the globular head. It is, in effect, a Trojan horse that prevents the body’s immune system from directing more of its firepower toward the stalk of the [virus], where the scientists found the pocket that was so static. That site contains machinery that lets the virus penetrate human cells.
A vaccine is a way off, but they say it should be possible to make a drug that helps the body create antibodies to fight off the flu sooner than that. Incredible work.
This month’s pirate reference comes to us by way of the theory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The theory was first introduced in an open letter from Bobby Henderson to the Kansas State Board of Education after deciding that creationism must be taught alongside the theory of evolution. I had disregarded the Spaghetti Monster as a heavy-handed response to the hard-headed, but had missed this important bit of context:
You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.
A stunning find! And like an overly literal translation of the bible, so accurate — except when it’s not. The horizontal scale, as Edward Tufte would say, “repays careful study.”
I wrote about my excitement over the rumor that Google was going under back in April, but now it has officially happened — the Ocean has arrived as part of Google Earth:
Look at those trenches! And now you can use the Google Earth software to fly through the area in the middle of the Atlantic where some god has decided to begin peeling the globe like an orange.
I’m waiting for the day (presumably a few years from now) that this feature includes other major bodies of water, revealing the hidden shapes beneath the surface of lakes or rivers that you know well from above. The physical relief version, that is. I’ll pass on the underwater Google Street View with their privacy-invading minisubs sticking their nose in everyone’s business.
From an announcement email sent this week by the folks behind the UCSC Genome Browser project:
We are pleased to announce the release of a new Conservation track based on the human (hg18) assembly. This track shows multiple alignments of 44 vertebrate species and measurements of evolutionary conservation using two methods (phastCons and phyloP) from the PHAST package, for all species (vertebrate) and two subsets (primate and placental mammal). The multiple alignments were generated using multiz and other tools in the UCSC/Penn State Bioinformatics comparative genomics alignment pipeline. Conserved elements identified by phastCons are also displayed in this track. For more details, please visit the track description page…
It’s the comparative genomics equivalent of “Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades,” an editorial penned by James M. Kilts (President and CEO of Gillette) for The Onion. Kilts writes:
Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That’s three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I’m telling you what happened—the bastards went to four blades. Now we’re standing around … selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we’re the chumps. Well, fuck it. We’re going to five blades.
Conservation tracks in the human genome are simply additional lines of annotation shown alongside the human DNA sequence. The lines show identical areas of near-similar DNA found in other species (in this case 44 vertebrates). In the past we might have looked at two, three, seven, maybe a dozen different species in a row. UCSC had actually been up to 27 different species at a time before they took the extra push over the cliff to 44.
As it turns out, just sequencing the human genome isn’t all that interesting. It only starts to get interesting in the context of other genomes from other species. With multiple species, the data can be compared and evolutionary trees drawn. We can take an organism that we know a lot about — say the fruitfly — and compare its genes (which have been studied extensively) to the genetic code of humans (who have been studied less), and we can look for similar regions. For instance, the HOX family of genes is involved in structure and limb development. A similar region can be found in humans, insects, and many things in between. How cool is that?
Further, how about all that “junk” DNA? A particular portion of DNA might have no known function, but if you find an area where the data matches (is conserved) with another species, then it might not be quite as irrelevant as previously thought (and for the record, the term junk is only used in the media). If you see that it’s highly conserved (a large percentage is identical) across many different species, then you’re probably onto something, and it’s time to start digging further.
Spending time with data like this really highlights the silliness of anti-evolution claims. It’s tough to argue with being able to see it. Unfortunately most of the work I’ve done in this area isn’t documented properly, though you can see human/chimp/dog/mouse alignments in this genome browser, a dozen mammals aligned in this illustration, or humans and chimps in this piece.
As an aside, a few months after the Onion article, Gillette really did go to five blades with their Fusion razor. And happily, the (real) CEO speaks with the same bravado as the earlier editorial:
“The Schick launch has nothing to do with this, it’s like comparing a Ferrari to a Volkswagen as far as we’re concerned,” Chairman, President and Chief Executive James Kilts, told Reuters.
And why isn’t that guy doing their ads instead of those other namby-pambies?
Beneath a pile of 1099s, I found myself distracted still thinking about the logo colors and proportions seen in the previous post. This led to a diversion to extract the colors from the Super Bowl logos and depict them according to their usage. The colors are counted up and laid out using a Treemap.
The result for all 43 Super Bowl logos, using the same layout as the previous image:
A few of the typical pairs, starting with 2001:
See all of the pairings here. Some notes about what’s mildly clever, and the less so:
- The empty space (white areas or transparent background) is subtracted from the logo, and the code tries to size the Treemap according to the aspect ratio of the original image, so that when seen adjacent the logo, things look balanced (kinda).
- The code is a simple adaptation of the Treemap project in Chapter 7 of Visualizing Data.
- Unfortunately, I could not find vector images (for all of the games, at least), which means the colors in the original images are not pure. For instance, edges of a solid blue color will have light blue edges because of smoothing (anti-aliasing). This makes it difficult to accurately figure out what’s a real color and what isn’t. Sometimes the fuzzy edge colors are correctly removed, other times not so much. Even worse, it may even remove legitimate colors that are used in less than 4-5% of the image.
- The color quantization isn’t good. On a few, it’s bad, and causes a few similar colors to disappear.
- All the above could be fixed, but taxes are more important than non-representational art. (That’s not a blanket statement — just for me this evening.)
And finally, I don’t honestly think there’s any relationship between a software algorithm for data visualization and the work of an artist like Piet Mondrian. But I do love the idea of a Dutch painter from the De Stijl movement making his way through the turnstiles at Raymond Jones Stadium.
From The New York Times, a collection of all 43 logos used to advertise the Super Bowl:
The original article cites how the logos reflect the evolution and growth of the league. Which makes sense, you can see that it was more than fifteen years before it moved from just a logotype to a fully branded extravaganza. Or that in its first year it wasn’t the Super Bowl at all, and instead billed as “The First World Championship Game of the American Football Conference versus the National Football Conference,” a title that sounds great in a late-60s broadcaster voice (try it, you’ll like it), but was still shortened to the neanderthal “First World World Championship Game AFC vs NFC” for the logo, before it was renamed the “Super Bowl” the following year. (You can stop repeating the name in the broadcaster voice now, your officemates are getting annoyed.)
The similarities in the coloring are perhaps more interesting than the differences, though the general Americana obsession of the constant blue/red coloring is unsurprising, especially when you recall that some of the biggest perennial ad buyers (Coke, Pepsi, Budweiser) also share red, white, and blue labels. I’m guessing that the heavy use of yellow in the earlier logos had more to do with yellow looking good against a background when used for broadcast.
Or maybe not — like any good collection, there’s plenty to speculate about and many hypotheses to be drawn — and the investigation is more interesting for the exercise.
I’m often asked about sonification—instead of visualization, turning data into audio—but I’ve never pursued it because there are other things that I’m more curious about. The bigger issue is that I was concerned that audio would require even more of a trained ear than a visualization (according to some) requires a trained eye.
But now, Johannes Kreidler, with the help of Microsoft Songsmith, has proven me wrong:
Johannes, time to book your ticket to IEEE InfoVis.
My opinion of Songsmith is shifting — while it’s generally presented as a laughingstock, catastrophic failure, or if nothing else, a complete embarrassment (especially for its developers slash infomercial actors), it’s really caught the imagination of a lot of people who are creating new things, even if all of them subvert the original intent of the project. (Where the original intent was to… create a tool that would help write a jingle for glow in the dark towels?)
At any rate, I think it’s achieved another kind of success, and web memes aside, I’m curious to see what actual utility comes from derivatives of the project, now that the music idea is firmly planted in peoples’ heads.
And if you stopped the video halfway through because it got a little tedious, you missed some of the good bits toward the end.
(Thanks to Moiz Syed for the link.)