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Techne: The Key to Data Empowerment

Making everything better...

Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

(A Presentation for the Data Empowerment Series, iLab*, University of Calgary)

Public Annoucment for the Speech

In this talk, you will learn how to make everything better. The speaker is a middle-aged bald man with few redeeming qualities and no plans to address any of his glaring inadequacies. Fortunately, what he says actually works, so if you manage to endure the session you will leave with something useful. He provides relevant examples and avoids jargon, though not for sake of clarity, but because jargon is so ridiculous it makes him laugh out loud if he tries to say it with a straight face. During the session, most people will hear his ideas, immediately intuit their utility, discuss their applicability as they depart the room, then resume working the same way they always have. Out of respect for the importance of visual acuity among those working in the Data Empowerment group, the speaker promises to bring slides with pretty pictures to distract from his generally off-putting appearance and reduce the chance of retinal damage that looking directly at him for long periods of time will almost certainly cause. The speaker has spent his entire life (and this dude is getting really old) studying how people and systems can work better with less effort. He will be speaking to people with a track record of doing important work (the only reason he ever agrees to stop working in blissful isolation to stand in front of people while making noises with his mouth), so he will do his best to help because that is what an academic is supposed to do. He will talk for a while, take a few questions, then leave as quickly as possible so he can get back to work. He does this a lot, and people keep asking him to do it, so there’s that. It will be awkward.

What sucks: I was incredibly excited to do this talk in the iLab. My colleague Owen Brierley came along to help me try and capture this video (they keep recordings of the talks in their archives). When I did the setup for our cameras I ran the mic through my iPhone but forgot to turn the phone on "airplane" mode, so my phone rang during the talk allowing me the dubious distinction of perhaps the first person ever to interupt his own speech...

* The iLab is one of my favorite places on earth. It is one of the top data visualization and Human Computer Interaction labs in the world, and the people that work there inspire me.

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