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Nebraska Digital Designer Featured in Wired Magazine

Congrats to designer Doug Marx, whose work on the Vangobot was featured in the January 2013 issue of Wired Magazine.

The article was part of a report Wired did on robots beginning to take over jobs once done by humans.  Prior to coming to Nebraska Digital, Doug, a Lincoln artist and inventor,  helped design the Vangobot, a robot that paints unique works of art. The robot was named after artist Vincent Van Gogh and is much more than a high end inkjet printer.

The robot uses 18 brushes to paint its own interpretations of the images supplied to it. Even more artificial intelligence could be added if the robot were to be programmed to filter through Google images and pinpoint trends in the art world that could then be interpreted with unique works, Doug said.

You can read more about  the Vangobot here.

Doug said he was impressed with the amount of time the reporter and fact checker put into the interview for the brief piece.

“The phone interview lasted over 45 minutes and I had two lengthy short answer fact-checking questionnaires from a research editor,” he said. “Then came a request for hi-res images of the robot and some of the artwork it had produced from an editor in the art department.”

Given all the attention, it was hard to know what to expect when the article came out. He was hoping the project would get a little more ink than it did.

“I was stoked,” he said. “I delayed a Kickstarter project I have been planning for several months so the launch would coincide with the article. I even redesigned my personal website after neglecting it for years.”

So what happen when the January issue finally came out?

“My wife, Kate, came home Saturday excited that she had bought the new issue of Wired — I was excited too. There it was on the cover: “Robots Take Over” —  this was going to be huge!” he said.

“I thumbed through the magazine and there it was in a sidebar … a few measly paragraphs with some inaccurate information. Traffic  on my website has remained the same  … three to five people a day as it’s been for the last decade.”

So what else did Doug learn from the experience?

  • “You can’t click on print.”
  • “My Mom thought the (cover and inside) photos of Jimmy Fallon were nice ….”

Our take at Nebraska Digital? We’re not surprised that the very human reporter and fact checker at Wired got some of it wrong.

Ironically, much of the journalism now done by flesh and blood reporters is expected to be automated someday and these “autojournalists”  are already churning out financial stories and simple sports reports based on box scores.

In the meantime, flesh and blood journalists make their own judgments about each story and don’t always get it right.

They are, after all, only human :-) .



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