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"Words Are Obsolete": Explaining and Understanding in the Dynamic Medium

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Please join us for a fascinating exploration of teaching, learning, communication, and the media we use:

Words Are Obsolete: Explaining and Understanding in the Dynamic Medium

Bret Victor (BSEE '99), Director of Research at the Communications Design Group, San Francisco

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Noon – 1:00 PM

Location: Beckman Institute Auditorium


The means by which scientists think about their work and communicate understanding to others is much the same as it has been for centuries -- words, notations, drawings, plots. These are all representations that were designed for the medium of paper. The computer has improved our efficiency in finding and making these representations, but hasn't much affected the static nature of the representations themselves. We are computer users thinking paper thoughts.

This talk will present examples of "papers" that take advantage of the dynamic "show and tell" ability of the computer medium, where the reader develops understanding and trust in the results by actively exploring working models instead of being lectured at. This talk will also present research on tools for authoring and thinking with such dynamic material.

Bret Victor (BSEE '99) is Director of Research at The Communications Design Group in San Francisco, where his group invents "tools for thought" -- computational interfaces for understanding and working with systems in science, engineering, and human affairs.   Previously, he designed experimental UI concepts at Apple, interactive data graphics for Al Gore, and musical instruments at Alesis.  He's responsible for "Inventing on Principle", "Media for Thinking the Unthinkable", and everything else at

Lunch Provided RSVP Here

For more information, please email [email protected]






For more information, please contact Leslie Rico by phone at ext. 8427 or by email at [email protected] or visit Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach 2016 Winter Seminar.