I’ve been a fan of interface and software designer Bret Victor’s work since Craig (one of our designers) tipped me off about him. Bret made a splash a while back with his Magic Ink paper. Now Fast Company has profiled him and his Kill Math series. “Kill Math” is all about using smartly designed interfaces to make math tangible and playful, something you can experience instead of just think about.
Have you ever tried multiplying roman numerals? It’s incredibly, ridiculously difficult. That’s why, before the 14th century, everyone thought that multiplication was an incredibly difficult concept, and only for the mathematical elite. Then arabic numerals came along, with their nice place values, and we discovered that even seven-year-olds can handle multiplication just fine. There was nothing difficult about the concept of multiplication—the problem was that numbers, at the time, had a bad user interface.
It’s a nice piece (I only wish it was longer) and Bret surely deserves your attention if you are a fan of innovative UI design.