By combining science, art and design to develop visualisations, the screeds of data in the world can be made more exciting and less complex, according to Jer Thorp, keynote speaker at New Zealand’s largest technology conference, Microsoft TechEd.
“Data has character – it’s not just numbers. Each set is bespoke and can be used to create a meaningful visual that people can relate to and interact with,” said Jer.
Jer, the New York Times' data artist in residence, delighted the audience at TechEd with his insights into how data can be made more palatable, using examples like the fall of Communism, vanity Tweeting, mapping names onto the September 11 memorial and mapping the streets of London with lightbulbs. He is renowned for his ability to create beautiful data visualisations that put abstract data into a human context, enabling people to understand and more effectively engage with the information surrounding them.
Scott Wylie kicked off the Keynote session stating it is a great time to be in tech. He explained why the next 12 months will be “the biggest year of launches in Microsoft’s history”, with the reimagining of the entire product line and the progression of touch-enabled interactions driven by the cloud.
Paul Thurrott, Microsoft blogger, published author, podcaster and the news editor for Windows IT Pro magazine, took to the stage to give an update on Microsoft’s upcoming key product releases, including Windows 8 and Office 2013, and showcasing some of the soon-to-be-released, slimline touch devices. He also demonstrated the power of the world’s largest multi-touchscreen, the 82 inch Perceptive Pixel. Hon. Amy Adams closed out the session discussing the opportunities for the Government to use data gathered and harness it into something useful and easy to use.
More than two thousand IT professionals and software developers have descended upon Auckland for the three day conference, to listen to more than 140 international and local technology experts, who will present at 169 sessions over the four days.
Other highlights from the conference in the week ahead include: Roborazzi II, the party photographer that takes candid photos of guests, built using Windows and Kinect; Windows Apps Lounge, home to Windows 8 experts and where attendees can talk about app development in the Windows 8 world; exposure to new products Office 13 and Visual Studio 2012; insight into what Microsoft will spend its R&D budgets on in the coming years, and how the impact of changing social/economic patterns will meet technology advances to change the way we interact with technology, the world and each other – by progressively dissolving the boundaries between physical and digital realities; and, of course, the highly anticipated TechFest party for delegates tomorrow night at The Cloud.
Paul Muckleston, Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand, says TechEd is an opportunity to bring the New Zealand technology community together to share insights and ideas, as well as giving them the opportunity to absorb world-class technical content delivered by high-calibre international speakers.
“We are very proud of TechEd as it brings together some of the greatest technology minds from around the world to share best practice and learn about the latest software, and the best ways to create innovative solutions for their businesses and customers.”
“TechEd is an essential part of how we ready our IT professionals to take on the opportunities of our fibre future. It provides continued development of the IT ecosystem by providing critical hands-on learning experiences."
Patrick Squire, a Junior Infrastructure Consultant from Intergen is particularly interested in hearing more about System Center 2012 and Office 365.
“There are plenty of new products to immerse myself in – including Windows Server 2012 being released at TechEd – and there are lots of new technologies to learn about from the best tech-brains out there."
“Being able to network with like-minded people who do what I do is invaluable, as are the Hands on Labs – I get to play with the newest technologies without worrying about setting up an environment. There are also free and heavily discounted Microsoft Cert exams on offer to delegates – I may just sit one, if I can find the time with everything else that’s going on!”
TechEd New Zealand is the largest technology conference in the Southern Hemisphere and is always a well-regarded by the IT community. It is widely supported by sponsors and exhibitors and is held at the SKYCITY Convention Centre. For further information about speakers and sessions visit www.microsoft.co.nz/teched.
This will be the 17th year for TechEd New Zealand, and additions this year include the Microsoft Certification Centre and an on-site Exam Cram room in partnership with Auldhouse, and Hands on Labs Online which will be available for 30 days post event. A selection of TechEd sessions will be available online after the event concludes at www.microsoft.co.nz/teched, for those in the IT field who are unable to attend.
For photos of the Keynote, please visit the TechEd Flickr photostream.