The SF Bay Area chapter of the ACM's Computer and Human Interfaces group (BayCHI) invited me to give a talk tomorrow night in Palo Alto, CA. The topic will be: "The Back of the Napkin: How to solve complex problems with simple pictures."
If you're interested in seeing one of my napkin-sketching presentations and you're in the bay area, please join me at 7:30pm, Tuesday, July 14 (a date that will figure prominently later in this post*) at PARC's George E. Pake Auditorium, 3333 Coyote Hill Road, Palo Alto, CA. (map here)
From a technical perspective, this show will be different than usual. Normally I present from my tablet PC, drawing directly on the screen and projecting the pictures live. This time I'm going to try someting else.
Several months ago, I got a call from the creators of a digital pen system called PaperShow. I was dubious about the need for yet another clunky digital product to solve the "problem" of pen and paper, so I gave them a polite 'No'. (What that problem is will be a much longer discussion another time.) But after their fourth equally polite call I relented and agreed to meet product manager Giulia Carla Giovanelli and VP Bob Toth for a demo.
I'm glad I did. Not necessarily because their digital pen is wonderful (that's what you and I will be testing tomorrow night in my talk; nothing like a technical trial-by-fire in front of a couple hundred people, right?) but because I learned about the history of Canson, the world's oldest art paper-maker. As a one-time art student and an all-time sketcher, I knew that Canson was French and made wonderful paper and artist's materials, but what I didn't know was the derivation of the Canson logo.
It turns out to be a balloon.
Canson was founded in 1557 by the Canson and Montgolfier families in Annonay, France. Anyone who knows art knows Canson, and anyone who knows flying knows Montgolfier, but what I never knew was the connection. The short story is that the two families founded the paper mill together, made lots of money and had big families, and sponsored lots of local and scientific events.
Among those events was providing the paper that two sons of the Montgolfier familiy needed to test this crazy idea they had about building a big bag that they could fill with hot air and make fly! (Clearly wackos; they even drew out their plans!)
When the Mongolfier balloon flew on November 21, 1783 carrying Pilâtre de Rozier and Marquis d'Arlandes it was the first time humans ever flew. After a 25 minute flight, they landed successfully and toasted their flight with a bottle of Champagne.
I'm happy and honored that the company that provided the materials for humanity's first flight would ask me to demo their latest project.
I hope to see you tomorrow night, and let's see how well PaperShow flies.
* July 14 is Bastille Day, the French national holiday. How appropriate, n'est-ce pas?