The Ladder of Abstraction

Even with my relatively strict link curation, I’d have been comfortable linking pretty much any of Bret Victor’s talks or essays here. All in due time, I suppose. I’d call him an interaction designer, if I wanted to embarrass myself. He’s very and diversely competent, and he’s ambitious. His goals, in his own words: “Revolutionize how people learn, understand, and create. Give scientists the tools to diagnose and cure the world’s ills, and artists the tools to create and share beauty in ways currently impossible.” And that’s just in the short term. Someone to watch, at the very least.

Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction: A Systematic Approach to Interactive Visualization looks kind of like it’s about the Manipulate[] function in Mathematica. It’s way more important, though. “To design” as the author uses it is arguably more “to think” than “to draw,” and “designer” is closer to “human” than to “one who professionally works with data visualizations.” (And the process he describes is especially important for scientists in both contexts.)

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