• Rey

“He Can Read Your Mind…Maybe” : A Weird Interview with Mike Horn

Rey: How would you describe your research to your grandpa?

Mike: I am interested in interaction design and learning. So interaction design is how we create a digital system that interacts with people and then how we can craft interaction between people and digital systems and people and other people, and how we can shape learning.

In that area, there are two sub themes I’m interested in: One is, tangible interaction. The simplest definition of tangible interaction is interacting with a computer beyond the computer screen and a mouse, like using your body with Kinect control [like PS2]. So, the idea is that you can embed digital interaction in the everyday world in interesting ways. You can make physical objects or spaces and environments or even people’s bodies that could interact with those digital systems in cool ways [like a digital pen or virtual reality].

The other theme is informal learning, I’m really interested in how people learn in informal settings, unstructured, you don’t have a teacher, a curriculum. People are there voluntarily and we’re thinking about how can we give structure to informal learning and collaboration between people when you don’t have a teacher and school. We want people to have experiences that are interesting and self-directed and voluntary but also meaningful.

This goes back to the idea of tangible interaction in a way we cue people subtly to move in a certain way…like board games that are also slightly digital and that’s  a good way to shape the way, for example, a family plays and interacts together.

Moving to our weird interview…what fiction book do you wish you’ve written?

I really love science-fiction, it expands your worldview, I really like Arthur C. Clarke’s, sci-fi that starts with a hypothesis about technology that is not too hard to imagine and putting that into the real world to imagine what would happen around that.

Or The Dispossessed, by Ursula Laguin, probably my all time favorite science fiction author. There are two worlds that are close together in the same solar system, one is very spartan and utilitarian society and she imagines the life of this man who goes to this society…they sorta live on this desert world, you know communal…and he goes to this lush and capitalist world…I love her work because it seems like she knows the Sociology of the alien world!

Which band would you want to be in?

Lyle Lovett! He’s a weird country singer and His Large Band. I think that would be a really fun band to be in!

What would you play if you could play whatever instrument?

I think maybe the bass.

What Superpower would you like to have?

I think everyone would say flying. Flying would be a great superpower to have but you know in the end I don’t think that would actually be all that much…you go quickly from place to place, you can see things from a different angle…but not so sure…emmm being able to read people’s minds would be interesting but I’m not sure if I’d want to read people’s mind.

But it’s a pretty cool superpower!

It IS a cool superpower…

Well, you can switch it on and off.

yeah! Oh, you know who…well she’s not a superhero, she’s a villain, but Poison Ivy is a very interesting character because she dislikes humanity because they destroyed the natural world and she has the ability to grow plants and create nature but she’s very toxic to people.

If there was one movie you could remove from the world, what would it be?

Hehhehe…well there are a lot of movies that I think shouldn’t have been made but I wouldn’t go as far as saying no one is allowed to watch them!  

Just a really annoying movie…

Ohh jeez…We were just talking about Wall Street. It is this movie from the 80s with Michael Douglas in it…just you watch it and you want to take a shower, you feel dirty afterward. That’s a movie I think we could have lived without!

Thanks Mike!

I asked Mike what his favorite thing in the office was: “That camera was my grandfather’s.  He didn’t have much of formal education and wealthy background and he moved from someone who worked in a cafeteria to become the vice president of food services at Kodak.”

Learn more about Mike’s work here.

#scienceoutreach #interview #tangibleinteraction #academia #ScienceCommunication #weirdinterview #northwestern #learning


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