Posts Tagged ‘ Informatics

What is Informatics?

Finally, a 5-minute YouTube video that explains the Informatics program @ UW. This is for all those iSchoolers out there who’ve received a blank stare or a quick change of topic when you’ve mentioned your major to family and friends.

Props to the iSchool for putting it together, it’s pretty well done!

Now if only I could’ve sent this link out with my college graduation announcements…

Tufte Nerd Out

“…the nature or matter of the Milky Way itself, which, with the aid of the spyglass, may be observed so well that all the disputes that for so many generations have vexed philosophers are destroyed by visible certainty, and we are liberated from wordy arguments.”

Galileo Galilei, Sidereus Nuncius (Venice, 1610).

As mentioned earlier, I attended a one-day course taught by Edward Tufte on Tuesday. I had been signed up for this training a few months in advance, but for some reason, it wasn’t until I arrived to the event that I began to realize he was one of those “Informatics-celebrities” I had read about in college. The course was titled “Presenting Data and Information” and it was hardly what I expected, but in the best sort of way.

The course emphasized the importance in visualizing data in its ability to reveal truth. This is the type of stuff I get excited about. (Well, information dissemination in general, really.) This is why I like usabilty in how it enables users the get information they want, why I tear out cool charts from magazines, or why I love learning about a new way someone’s conveyed information visually (think tag cloud, sparklines, etc.). Essentially, this is what makes me an INFO-nerd.

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Capstone Presentation @ UW

So tonight I went to this year’s Informatics Senior Capstone Presentation @ UW with Trevor, Ryan, David, Kevin, Darrin, and Sean. And I must say, it was a pretty fun evening. First it was just my usual joy at seeing familiar faces (including Tho To) and the usual suspects of the iSchool. As the program began, I spotted David M. from Atlas who I work with in Client Services and sat next to him and Trevor for the rest of the program. Later, I had the privilage to introduce David M. to some of the iSchool characters, geek out with Dowell about X-Men, scope out some projects, and welcome the two graduating seniors who will be joining Atlas this summer. That, and gab a lot. It felt much like wading in Informatics and reminded me of why I’m proud to have been a part of the program. It is not without its faults to be sure, but I really did enjoy my time in it and still enjoy being part of the extended iSchool community. In any case, it was a flurry of usability-this, interaction design-that, and many attempts of filling the “information gap”. Afterward, a handful of us went out to Ivar’s for Happy Hour, just like we did after our own Capstone Presentation.

How To Save A LifeCurrently Listening to:
How To Save A Life
By The Fray

Capstone

I learned some fun facts last night. Like how the Odegaard Copy Center is closed at 4am-4:45am and how the sprinklers in the Quad go off at 4:30am. Not bad lessons to learn at the completion of one’s senior Capstone project, if you ask me.

Today at noon, Trevor, Rufino and I presented our final system recommendations to our client and handed in our ninety-seven page bound report. Our client even brought food and invited the organization’s director and staff members to attend the presentation. It was great to finally present our work to an organization, in contrast to the usual class presentations I’m accustomed to. The presentation and susbsequent discussion lasted a little over an hour. There was a lot to cover, but it went over really well. So what exactly was our capstone project about? For those of you who haven’t had the delight of sitting through our in-process presentations in INFO 490:

Abstract:

The value of online content management and successful user interface design is important in its ability to convey information and enable broad audiences to better access it. Additionally, streamlining information management processes within an organization are of high interest in its ability to improve the efficiency of an organization’s operations, thereby allowing its members to focus more of their energies towards accomplishing organizational goals. The Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education (CIRGE) was administered a four-week needs assessment which found areas for improvement in regards to these matters. After a seven week engagement in design and evaluation methodologies for system design, it was possible to devise recommended solutions and implement systems to serve the information needs of CIRGE. The project is significant in that it addresses major issues in information management such as self-sustainability of systems without staff member technical expertise, user-centric design of online content, and the centralization of information to facilitate more efficient operations.

Clear as day! So there you have it. I am done with Capstone and thus my time in the Informatics program. Yesterday was another 22-hour day wrapping the project up and one final late night session in the TE lab. As I sat there, listening to the banter of a group of INFO fifthies in the Group Room studying for their CSE final, couldn’t help but think of all the crazy good times they have ahead together as a cohort—as an INFO crew and couldn’t help but count my lucky stars for the experience of these last five quarters (yes, terribly meow meow, I know). INFO fo’ life. But for now, time to switch gears to begin studying for Friday’s final. And with that: <econ>

Today

Rewind. These last forty-eight hours have been a flurry. Spent nearly nine hours yesterday editing all seventy-five pages of our final Capstone report, spending 5PM-1AM in the company of the INFO crew (minus the Koalafire folks) in the lab, followed by nearly three hours of prepping the course deliverables (i.e. printing). Ended the night off around 4AM after we finished running through our presentation slides, grateful for the upcoming three hours sleep.

Right around here would be a good spot for me to reflect on our last late night crunch in the TE lab with the INFO crew and the completion of this final epic INFO group project. You know, ponder the finality of it and reflect on all the fond memories I have of crazy crazy nights like these. But I don’t think I can muster the brainpower at the the moment. Insert nostalgia + exhaustion + intense conflicting desire to sleep and go out for pancakes.

But since I blog to chronicle these adventures for my own archival purposes, I’m gonna slap a read more tag here and call it cake. What? Did I really write that? Haha

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Untitled #7

Weather’s been perfect lately. After class yesterday, went out with Capstone Team KDK, Trevor, Sean, and Ryan for lunch at Agua Verde. Not so into the food, a little to veggie-cetric para mi, but I dig eating outside in the little park area by the water. So it was cool to spend time outside away from the usual Ave/HUB lunch routine out by the water. Hung out and fed chips to the ducks and sparrows before walking back to campus.

Yesterday IUGA hosted our second faculty lead workshop. As with anytime you invite a speaker to present, turnout becomes a large concern. But turnout was good. The topic was data mining and it was interesting stuff. Looks like people who are taking Advanced Databases next quarter are in for a treat.

Later that night, caught the bus up to the Hill for Susan’s surprise birthday dinner. We had sushi at Hana’s. Didn’t think we could fit a party of twenty-one in that tiny place but found out there’s upstairs area, just large enough for the table, haha.

Susan's Birthday

Good times were had. It was awesome to see Susan’s face when she showed up to see us all there. The food was pretty good. Ryan and I split a boat of sushi and some chicken teriyaki and katsu. (Ah I could use a roll right now.) Afterward we ended up waiting for a while for the bus ride back, but no worries. Had fun hanging out and repelling Tho’s attempts to ninja attack me when I wasn’t looking. (Tho–I pwn your FACE).

Wrapping up Capstone now. Next week: our final presentation and report due for class. The following week: the deliverables for our client (website, prototypes, system recommendations) and giving that final presentation to the usual staff and their director who has been out of the country for the entirety of our project. A lot ahead. It feels weird to come to the end of the quarter.