Computers purchased today often cost less than the display that they use to present information. The presentation of information is at least as important to most people as the computation itself. The nsider shows one way the display technology can be augmented to create a new type of information space. The immediate impact of this presentation will be to cause people to think of more spatial displays for organizing spatial information. A more subtle effect will be to cause people to consider the multiple possible views into a space and using a spatial metaphor to access these non-spatial multiple perspectives.


The Aesthetics and Computation group at the MIT Media Lab researches new visual forms that expose various computational processes, information structures, and cognitive spaces. Tom White, Jared Schiffman, and Casey Reas work as graduate students in the group and share an interest in rethinking the process of constructing computer programs with new visual interfaces.

The nsider is an interesting offshoot of the research of the ACG that was born from thinking about creating a new type of display space for presenting multidimensional information across many perspectives. By playing with people's everyday experience of viewing objects from multiple directions, deeply layered information spaces can be presented as actual slices across four distinct perspectives. Thus three-dimensional space is not used to present the illusion of a real world object, but as a way of orienting a person through a complicated information model which may or may not be three dimensional in nature.

Interestingly, the underlying technology of the exhibit itself is not particularly striking. In our current prototype, the display is composed of four inexpensive LCD monitors and one consumer grade Macintosh. Rather the innovation is the configuration of this equipment into a new interactive display space that provides a different type of information presentation.

Nsider display showing two abstract views of a head model

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