The Magicians of Big Data

Beauty & Engineering met to shape a new era for the Internet. In this post I’ll talk about the beautiful side of engineering, and how creativity should be requirement #1 in any product development process, including the Internet of Things.

During my business education in Boston I was taking the HBS’s course Marketing and Innovation and the most important lesson I got was that ‘marketing is not about what you feel about a product but what a product makes you feel about yourself’.

After three intensive years executing product roadmaps in the high tech industry in Silicon Valley, I almost forgot that beauty is the final driver for people to embrace changes. We always require to product makers to include the desire functionality that make the product easy to use and reliable. Functionality is the key for a new product adoption in the market. However, customers are human beings. It is in our nature to get excited about extraordinary things such as atmospheric phenomenon, magic, music, art, stories, special visual effects and technology. We all know that there is a trick behind it, but what we really love is the way that magician, artists and designers create the beautiful illusion that distract us from the reality.

cesar eyeo   eyeo festival

A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a break. I asked in my company some personal time off, I bought a ticket to Minneapolis to attend the famous EyeoFestival (thanks Ali Almossawi for the suggestion). As a product designer and also oil painter in my free time, I felt the need to reconnect with the ‘real world’ and the art of creating beautiful things. What a better way that meeting more than 500 artists, musicians, creative coders and data designers.

eyeofestival 2014 The festival itself was stunning: at the Walker Art Center theater we could attend presentations from practitioners who are shaping the way people understand reality. Cesar Hidalgo provided a great visualization on how communication technologies had influenced our perception of global leaders. His project Pantheon helps us to understand the process of global cultural development. We listened to Paola Antonelli who bravely set new definitions for contemporary art leading MoMA’s acquisition of video games. Sarah Williams presented a very exciting crowdsourcing project in Nairobi to document and build the very first city transportation map. I particularly enjoyed the presentation from Lauren McCarthy who illustrated the ability of technology to mediate social interaction. I’m still thinking about her thought-provoking approach to solve social identity and self-representation challenges using crowdsourcing experiments.

Rafael Maranon paintings

This festival opened my eyes. I’ve been painting since I was 8 years old and I always had special passion for art [see my painting collection]. However, I was shy to identify myself as an artist within the high tech industry. After sharing ideas and experiences with such talented people at Eyeofestival, who seamlessly combine engineering and art, I feel today proud to be both an artist & engineer.

Actually, I already started contributing in this space by sharing during the Eyeoefestival’s Show and Tell a project I’m working on weekends: Like-Art.com is a social ‘on/offline’ platform that allows people to like, share and save for later their favorite panting by ‘waving’ their hand over a sensor. I built this platform based on Raspberry Pi and Django in collaboration with a very talent student from Malaga University Antonio Sanchez.

eyeofestival rafael     eyeo likeart

This solution provides a lot of value for those who are tired of screen time and want to connect with the real world and real people using our primary communication tool: our emotions and gestures.

I really believe the world need to simplify technology interfaces to such extend that we reestablish the magic and the beauty in our lives…. One. Two. Three. Open your eyes now. (Snap finger)

Rafael Maranon
@rafaelmaranon

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