12 Forbes Terrace
Pittsburgh, PA 15217












Wednesday, August 27, 2003


What you think you know about data is wrong. Or at least, incomplete. That's what we learned in Seminar today, which started with our professor, Dick Buchanan, tossing a metal wrench onto the table with a loud clang.

What is data? It's the evidence of a relationship between two things. We tend to confuse data with fact. Data alone has no meaning. The number 4683 is an example of data. Without knowing anything else, the data is meaningless. Datas are the simples of existance; simple in that they are uninterpreted.

Fact is the interpretation of data. Or, to put it another way, data in context. Facts have meaning. If data are nouns, facts are whole sentences. Only in interpreting and connecting do we find out what is meaningful.

However, when we think we know what the facts are, we tend to limit our world. "If your eyes are too closed, you'll fail to see the possibilities." We can become trapped. We must avoid this at all costs. We need to be conscious and self-conscious about data.

Different people can look at the same set of data and make different interpretations. Be careful of interpretations: they block what we see. When viewing an object, try not to be sophisticated. This will make you very sophisticated. Data can help us focus on an object.

Dick introduced the concepts of Given and Taken. What is given to us is the infinitely rich field of immediate perception. What is taken is a selection of data from that field.

Physical features are not the only, not even the primary, form of data. Data can come from four "realms:" Cosmos (ideas and approximations of things), Environment (function, how it works and in what context), Personal Persepctive (signs and frames of reference), and Things (materials, physical properties). What you feel matters: it's part of the data! In interaction design, what people feel matters.

If you're feeling lost right about now and not entirely understanding this entry, don't worry, you're not alone. It's a lot to absorb. This whole seminar is going to be a lot to absorb. It'll probably take several weeks before it all sinks in and begins to makes sense. At least, that's what I'm hoping. I'm not used to feeling this stupid.

posted at 09:48 PM in big ideas | comments (0) | trackback (0)


‹‹ preceding entries




3D (2)
alumni (3)
assistantships (3)
big ideas (23)
classes (16)
classmates (17)
cmu (12)
cognition (1)
cpid program (3)
design 101 (25)
design theory (20)
extracurricular (11)
faculty (8)
field trips (5)
hci program (4)
info design (3)
interface design (6)
meta (6)
money (5)
papers (4)
photography (5)
preparation (6)
projects (43)
readings (29)
software (8)
special guest stars (10)
student life (16)
teaching (1)
techniques (12)
thesis paper (4)
thesis project (1)
typography (7)
visualization (8)


Week of Mar 14, 2004
Week of Feb 29, 2004
Week of Feb 22, 2004
Week of Feb 15, 2004
Week of Feb 8, 2004
Week of Feb 1, 2004
Week of Jan 25, 2004
Week of Jan 18, 2004
Week of Jan 11, 2004
Week of Jan 4, 2004
Week of Dec 7, 2003
Week of Nov 30, 2003
Week of Nov 23, 2003
Week of Nov 16, 2003
Week of Nov 9, 2003
Week of Nov 2, 2003
Week of Oct 26, 2003
Week of Oct 19, 2003
Week of Oct 12, 2003
Week of Oct 5, 2003
Week of Sep 28, 2003
Week of Sep 21, 2003
Week of Sep 14, 2003
Week of Sep 7, 2003
Week of Aug 31, 2003
Week of Aug 24, 2003
Week of Aug 17, 2003
Week of Aug 3, 2003
Week of Jul 27, 2003
Week of Jul 20, 2003
Week of Jul 13, 2003
Week of Jul 6, 2003
Week of Jun 29, 2003
Week of Jun 22, 2003
Week of Jun 8, 2003
Week of Jun 1, 2003
Week of May 25, 2003
Week of May 18, 2003
Week of May 11, 2003


Full Entries


Want more spam? Sign up to receive this blog via email:


All straight lines circle sometime. - The Weakerthans