I was originally going to send all of you to look at the Bush Malaria Dance and related mashups. I even tried my hand at editing my own version with iMovie but the results weren’t great, so I have moved on to something more interesting (I can only take look at Bush for so long, no matter how amusing the footage).
I had a number of positive comments about my last Friday Fillip on computer bags and Squidoo. Most people are now expecting a follow-up post about shoes. But instead of alligator skin, let’s look at Alligator Eggs! which I found courtesy of my favourite video podcast, Rocketboom (May 10, 2007).
Alligator Eggs! is a puzzle game about alligator families and hungry alligators. There are rules about families, rules about alligators eating each other and each other’s eggs, rules about alligators of different colours interacting with one another, and even what happens to old alligators (yes, at some point they die).
It all seems so very, very complicated. It is described as “Lambda calculus for eight-year olds” by creator Bret Victor. I was trying to imagine myself at age eight how I would have liked it. I think perhaps I had more of a mathematician’s mind at eight, which I lost about the time I tried to tackle engineering calculus in my first year of undergrad. Something like this would have definitely given my thinking a boost at that time, that is for sure! And here is the back story of why he created it.
Bret Victor is better known for his expertise in programming and information design. His website worrydream.com is a fascinating place bringing together his wide-ranging projects and interests. He works on a lot of high-minded things, but I just love how he is concerned about the end user and making everything accessible, so his work itself is largely accessible.
For example, have a look at clickshirt, in beta test, a place to create your own T-shirt graphics for the purpose of loading and making them available on CafePress. I played with that a bit last night and was asked to submit comments about the experience which I did.
I would be remiss if I did not also point you to Bret Victor’s amazing research paper called Magic Ink: Information Software and the Graphical Interface (draft, March 15, 2006). Just paging through to see all the graphics he used to explain his ideas on interface design for use with information is fascinating stuff. He shows typical design we see on the web, and then gives examples on how we could better redesign to make the information more readable, more useful, more accessible. I also found this review of his paper at the Usability Institute.
Since Bret Victor works in the area of interface, design, and information, this is definitely someone I am going to keep an eye on. In between figuring out how to play Alligator Eggs! that is.
Happy Friday, everyone!