"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Make the Invisible Visible

We must make the invisible visible. We must make the vastness perceptible. We must make the alien familiar. We must make the implausible plausible. We have no other choice.


Alastair said...

The world you are living in completely artificial!
The real world is much more horrible.
Parents eating children because of starvation due to climate change is only one instance of the REAL world.

Michael Tobis said...

I am pleased to confirm your opinion that I don't believe anything like that is happening. Indeed, the way you phrase it I don't think it describes behavior that occurs in our species.

If things are as bad as you say, my point stands. If you cannot change it, your ethical response is to strive to make it visible.

Dol said...

Amen. Did you also see the TED video re. filming glacier retreat? -


Your first link (timelase skies) is incredible: it really drives home that I can *think* I know the Earth spins and the stars are fixed, but when I see it, and get an actual sense of the Earth spinning, it turns out I just thought I knew that.

Anonymous said...

I liked the "vastness perceptible" link (and the others) and want to recommend this one as well, which deals well with both sides of the the "vastness" issue.

Michael Tobis said...

Although more polished than the link I provided and more complete, I don't like the Nikon app nearly as much because the user control is much clumsier, the sound track is gratuitous, and design trumps information. (See Edward Tufte). In fact, it's a great example of non-informative "ink".

It doesn't hurt to tell the same story more than once, though, and it's a very interesting comparison. Thanks!

Still looking for more examples, so I can help put together a good story.

Anna Haynes said...

> "We must make the invisible visible. We must make the vastness perceptible. We must make the alien familiar. We must make the implausible plausible."

That sounds like good advice, but could someone give a 1-sentence gist of each video link, for those of us with slow connections and little patience?

Michael Tobis said...

Short answer: nope, not really.

Slightly longer answer: you need more bandwidth to get the various messages. The whole point is that we have a new medium to work with, and there's always hope associated with a new medium.

David B. Benson said...

Off-topic, maybe, but the economists get the wrong.
Rather seriously wrong...

Dol said...

Re the Nikon thing: I agree - the difference is in the control you have over it. *Getting* the scale requires one to be able to move it about as the mind tries to get a hook into it. Interactive control works much better.