The best class I took at the MIT Media Lab was Principles of Visual Interface Design with John Maeda. It was an odd class, we did abstract graphic design exercises by writing Java applets. Writing code that made art. It was a huge stretch for me since I have no design background. But John's a great teacher and I learned a huge amount in that class. I still enjoy looking back at my class portfolio.
Java in 1997 was a rough medium for doing design work. Over time John and some of his students have worked to develop better environments for digital design. The most influential has been Processing by Casey Reas and Ben Fry. It's a great environment, a sketchbook and IDE that clears away all the nonsense of programming Java and gets you right into interactive graphic design.

For fun today I downloaded Processing and whipped out a little design exercise, playing with what a field of ovals looked like. Such a pleasure doing something like this in a refined tool. Processing gets you results quickly and makes it easy to iterate and tinker and try out various ideas. You can try out my applet yourself or just look at the source code. Of course there are lots more Processing examples online.

And congratulations to John Maeda on becoming President of RISD!

  2007-12-23 19:39 Z