Sackler Colloquia creativity banner

Sackler Colloquia creativity banner

Creativity and Collaboration: Revisiting Cybernetic Serendipity

This colloquium was held March 13-14 2018 in Washington, DC
Organized by Ben Shneiderman, Maneesh Agrawala, Alyssa Goodman, Youngmoo Kim, and Roger Malina

Our ambition is to redirect the history of ideas, restoring the Leonardo-like close linkage between art/design and science/engineering/medicine.  We believe that internet-enabled collaborations can make more people more creative more of the time.

Links to more info:


Speaker Abstracts

Background for the Colloquium

Studio International review written by Allie Biswas

Computing Review Association summary by Khari Douglas

Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the Arts

18th Annual Sackler Lecture presented by David Skorton, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution Video


Tuesday March 13, 2018
Opening: Marcia McNutt, President NAS
Introduction: Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland, Rock the Research: Embrace Design, Rediscover Visual, and Go Social
Opening Talk: Jasia Reichardt, Cybernetic Serendipity Exhibit Organizer, In Anticipation of the Sixties

Session 1: Revisiting Cybernetic Serendipity:  A Catalyst for Research Breakthroughs
The 1968 Cybernetics Serendipity exhibit proved to be generative of art/design and research directions that were fruitful and beneficial for science/engineering/medicine. This session provides an historical perspective while speculating about which directions and exemplars hold promise for the coming decades.

Session Chair: Roger Malina, University of Texas, Dallas

Sara Diamond, OCAD University, Modeling New Knowledges – An Inclusive STEAM + D Imperative

Curtis Wong, Microsoft, Inc.,  Leonardo da Vinci: Art/Science as the Virtuous Cycle of Rendering and Understanding Natural World

Patrick McCray, University of California, Santa Barbara, All Watched Over and Watching Machines of Loving, Sometimes Terrifying, Grace

Session 2: Information Visualization, Data Art/Design, Data Journalism: Revealing Hidden Worlds
Visualization exposes surprising patterns in data, influences the direction of research, and produces unexpected insights. How does interactive, immersive, and large-data visualizations enhance exploration, discovery, and presentation of research results?  Visualization clarifies thinking for researchers and policy makers.

Session 2a: Chair: Alyssa Goodman, Harvard University

Maneesh Agrawala, Stanford University, Deconstructing Charts and Graphs

Jeff Heer, University of Washington, Constructing Charts and Graphs

Alyssa Goodman, Harvard, Smithsonian, The Road from Explanation to Exploration, and Back

Session 2b:  Chair: Maneesh Agrawala, Stanford University

Katy Borner, Indiana University, Data Visualization Literacy: Research and Tools that Advance Public Understanding of Scientific Data

Fernanda Viegas, Google, Inc.,

Jonathan Corum, New York Times, Revealing Hidden Worlds: Visualizing Science at The New York Times

Annual Sackler Lecture

             Introduction by Marcia McNutt, President, National Academy of Sciences
             David Skorton, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, Branches from the Same Tree

Wednesday March 14, 2018

Session 3: Integrating Art & Design Education with Science, Engineering & Medicine

Breakthroughs are increasingly through collaborative efforts spanning multiple disciplines. This session explores integrations of art and design with science, engineering, and medicine. Does such integration have the potential for developing researchers and professionals better prepared to incorporate multiple perspectives, accept new ideas, with greater capacity to work with diverse team members?

Panel Discussion and Reflections with Report Committee Members Integrating Higher Education in the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: A consensus report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Board on Higher Education and Workforce

  - David Skorton, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution

  - Tom Rudin, Director, NRC Board on Higher Education and Workforce

  - Pamela Jennings, Construkts

  - Laurie Baefsky, Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities

  - Youngmoo Kim (moderator), Drexel University

Suzanne Bonamici, Congresswoman, Oregon (Invited)
     The Congressional STEAM Caucus

Session 3b: Session Chair: Youngmoo Kim, Drexel University

Robert Root-Bernstein, Michigan State University, How Arts, Crafts and Design Training Benefit STEMM Professionals: The Evidence and It's Limitations

John Maeda, Global Head of Computational Design + Inclusion, Automattic (Invited), Design, Technology, and Inclusion for Advancing Learning

Robert Semper, Exploratorium, Art as a Way of Knowing: Lessons from the Exploratorium Experience Integrating Art into STEM educ

Session 4: Social Media, Citizen Science & Team Research

How to harness the power of collaboration, participation & teamwork to accelerate research? In the past, individual “heroes” were celebrated, but today, evidence powerfully supports collaborative projects which bring together diverse talents. This session presents effective strategies for communication and collaboration in two-person partnerships, small and large teams, and massive citizen science projects.

Session 4a Chair: Jennifer Preece, University of Maryland

Jennifer Preece, University of Maryland, Citizen Science Speaks to Research: New Paradigms, New Agendas and Broader Impacts

Laura Trouille, Adler Planetarium & Zooniverse Project, Tales from the Zooniverse: Enabling Serendipity and Creativity through Citizen Science

Julia K Parrish, University of Washington, The Promise of Citizen Science: Scale, Technology, Agency and Saving the World

Session 4b: Session Chair: Alyssa Goodman, Harvard University

Niki Kittur, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Scaling Up Serendipity: Augmenting Analogical Innovation with Crowds and AI

Zeynep Tufekci, University of North Carolina, New York Times contributor, The New Information Infrastructure: Reconfiguring the Production of Knowledge, Authority and Networks

Thursday March 15, 2018
D.C. Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) featuring Jasia Reichardt, Art Critic, Curator, Writer, England; Curator of the 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
In conversation with Klaus Ottmann, Deputy Director for Curatorial and Academic Affairs, The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

This unique interdisciplinary experience also includes the Student Symposium on March 12 and the Colloquium on March 13-14.

//// Role/Play: Collaborative Creativity and Creative Collaborations Student Fellows Symposium

March 12, 2018, Washington D.C.
Supported by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities and Google, Inc.
Organized by Liese Liann Zahabi and Molly Morin

50 North American graduate students enrolled in masters and doctoral programs across all disciplines were selected to participate in the Monday, March 12 Student Fellows Symposium and attend the following Sackler Colloquium.  

Scientists thinking like artists—artists thinking like scientists. When these traditionally defined roles mix together, how is the process of making work or conducting research altered? Does the play between disciplines benefit a designer’s practice, an engineer’s output, or a scientist’s data? What are the hazards and opportunities?

Student Fellow Symposium Agenda

Awards included registration for all three days for all awardees (includes some meals during the conference). West coast students received $800 in travel subsidy, students traveling from the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast received $600 in travel subsidy. Local students in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia will receive registration for all three days, but no travel support.

Major support for the student symposium has been provided by the Dame Jillian and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, which also supports the colloquium series; and Google, Inc.


Additional support for the colloquium has been provided by Science Sandbox – a Simons Foundation initiative, Studio International, Leonardo/ISAST, University of Maryland Human-Computer Interaction Lab, ACM Creativity & Cognition and MedStar Institute for Innovation.



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