In the last year or so I have become a big fan of data/info visualization which is a fitting extension of my geeky tendencies. I'm drawn to this field because of how it helps to cope with the mass of information that our modern world generates and I see it as the logical solution to making decisions in the future.
Even more so, infoviz is kind of like the Flaming Lips of design/programming. It manages to push boundaries/be experimental while still being beautiful and functional. I am overcome with awe when infoviz is used as an art form to capture and explore our emotions like twistori and i want you to want me does.
As I've been exploring this field of study and subsequently becoming more passionate about it I've been trying to find ways to make a career within it or at least contribute to it.
Not always an easy task.
My background in the liberal arts (degree in Organizational Communications) has prepared me to ask questions but left me without the technical skills to answer them.
To do so I ordered a couple of books from Amazon.com recently and when I mean a couple I mean a stack.
At the top of the stack is Learning Processing by Daniel Shiffman and Visualizing Data by Ben Fry. I have chosen to focus on Processing because it is a great first language to learn and the projects that I see/like are coded with it.
So far Learning Processing has been amazing for teaching me how to think like a programmer and Visualizing Data has been great for getting me excited about programming. Together I feel that they dovetail with each other and will take me to a point where I will be ready for more advanced studies.
In teaching myself I thought I could start with a more advanced language but as I tried I found that the skills I developed in high school/freshman year of University had atrophied to the point that it would be best to start at square one. As a little background, I switched my major (so long ago) because I found the CS program at Shippensburg to be dull and focused around raw computing; to me the exciting part is how humans interact with computing and exploring new ways of shaping that experience.
Perhaps I should have held off on purchasing the rest of the stack; Physical Computing by Tom Igoe and Dan O'Sullivan, Making Things Talk by Tom Igoe and Getting Started with Arduino by Massimo Banzi but then what would I do with my new soldering iron? No really, as a nice dovetail, the programming side of these books use Processing as their programming language and they should turn out to be a blast.
Collectively these books add up to the first semester (probably) at the ITP graduate program within the Tisch School of Arts at NYU. Amongst the book authors three are professors at ITP and so as I work my way through them I will be checking myself and asking: "Is graduate school really worth it, can I get the same knowledge without going?"
I'm not sure of the answers yet but hey who cares, I'm having fun!
The best way to predict the future is to implement it.