Ann Marion


Introduction

Ann Marion is primarily known for her work on the Vivarium Program, but her work extends before and after those ten years. Prior to working at Apple on Vivarium, she was at HP, Atari, and MIT. After Vivarium she worked with Houghton Mifflin on multi-media projects and also at her own business Marion Works.

Her primary role at the Vivarium Project was as Program Director, the person responsible for budgets and organization of the 10-12 person team: Kim Rose, Lori Weiss, Programmers: Scott Wallace, Ted Kaehler, Larry Yaeger, Jay Fenton, Hardware: Tom Ferrara, School Coordinaor: Dave Mintz.


Main Content


Section 1 - February 13, 2015 interview

Ann Marion is one of HCLE’s Educational Technology Pioneers because of her work on the Vivarium Program, but she’s done more than that. With influences from MIT’s Media Lab, Atari, HP, and her own company, her work has extended over decades.

In 1982, Ann received a Masters in Science (Visual Studies) from MIT’s Media Lab.

Ann spent seven years at MIT, involved in science communication efforts inspired by Dr. Jerome Weisner. She received a Masters Degree in Visual Studies under thesis advisor Ricky Leacock, the documentary filmmaker, in association with Nicholas Negroponte at the Architecture Machine Group (later becoming the media lab). She explored alternate i/o -- forcing collaboration between the biomechanical engineering department where work was on-going in 3D whole body i/o and 3D graphics to propose an interactive theater systems for the Joffrey Ballet. She also worked at MIT CAES (The Center for Continuing Education for Engineers) with John Fitch Science Reporter to produce lecture tape series with the Sloan Foundation grant. Later, she worked with WGBH public television producers on a series based on Lewis Thomas Live’s of a Cell. She realized that this work would be far better produced as computer simulation.

The presentations at Nicholas Negroponte's lab led to Ann and fellow media lab graduate students getting jobs at Atari Research with Alan Kay. Alan had left PARC for Atari Research. While working with Alan Kay at Atari, she came up with the idea of the Vivarium Program.

Alan had also joined Apple’s Computer Research Group, founded the Vivarium program there, and pulled several previous co-workers in for the effort. Ann was brought in as Program Director.

During Atari’s troubles there were substantial layoffs, which led to Ann working at Hewlett Packard in their Educational Publishing Division.

After Alan had joined Apple’s Computer Research Group,he was able to found the Vivarium program there, and pulled several previous co-workers in for the effort. Ann was brought in as Program Director. Ann Marion had long been a champion of novel solutions in educational technology to accomplish the integration of 20th century science and technology subject matter into the curriculum. From 1982 to 1992, she was involved in building authoring tools at Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard Labs, and Atari Research. To teach cybernetics, evolution, eco-systems to children, she invented the Vivarium Program, realized through collaboration with Dr. Alan Kay, where a broad suite of projects explored different novel approaches for bringing integrated curriculum and new technologies into a public school in Los Angeles, one of Apple Computer's model schools. Prototype programming languages enabled students to script animal behavior in ecosystems. She also demonstrated futuristic alternatives that students of 2015 may have on their desktops, such as a 3D version of a flight simulator. This experience underscored the essential requirement for life-long teacher training and the availability of good, robust infrastructures for software help desks. To evolve tools for educators to create new and substantive educational materials also required a long term strategy for evolving through student feedback the courseware, textbooks, and learning modules.

The Vivarium Program’s development was affected by their location in Los Angeles instead of Silicon Valley. By being removed from the central corporate influences they had more room to try things without as much fear of failure. The program had support from John Scully, the CEO, but there were times when they, like any new idea, had frustrations and had to fight upstream.

Steve Jobs’ return and the subsequent change in Apple management brought an end to the Vivarium Program and a dispersion of its employees. Ann moved to the East Coast where she helped develop interactive CDROMs with Bob Stein (another Atari alumni) through Corey and Company Designers. From there she moved on to Houghton Mifflin to develop software for the academic community. Since then, she has been active as the Director of Educational Technology for Brandeis University, and as a distance learning consultant for Dartmouth University.

As of our interview, Ann was working as a private consultant through StonySoft Consulting. Her work is also managed through marionworks.com.

Vivarium’s work has continued, but it has been subsumed into many other things, just like many of the innovations like the mouse, graphical interfaces, and interactive media. While individuals are frequently given credit for specific inventions, most of the innovations she participated in were group efforts. One consequence of the maturation of technology, and educational technology, is that reinvention is now the norm, which also means that pioneers are in a constant state of self or communal education.

Ann’s work typifies the progression through the introduction of computers: from print publishing to personal computers to online; and from passive education to interactive.

Section 2 - Vivarium videos:


Vivarium Equinox (private) not available

Vivarium LaserDisk (Learning About Learning) Side 1 http://youtu.be/eOxH8oUo-AA

Vivarium LaserDisk Side 2 not available

Vivarium Fast Forward not available

Vivarium Creative License https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebdVQr-lVgo

Vivarium PGClass http://youtu.be/PlR1cg1pF8I

Miscellaneous


Additional Biography

Ann’s work typifies the progression through the introduction of computers: from print publishing to personal computers to online; and from passive education to interactive.

CURRENT BIO AT:
http://www.marionworks.com/portfolio/bio.html

Ann Marion is a Producer/Designer of Mediated Learning Environments, currently providing strategic solutions and production management. Her research and development has focused on implementation and testing of prototype authoring tools and languages, computational representations, computer animation, systems integration for end-user customization, and software design processes.

Her work is artifact-based research, investigating issues in learning through design of software languages and/or tools, particularly end-user customization; with special interest in multi-modal [gesture/haptic and motion-based graphic representations]

A Strategic consultant for New England companies in transition to distance learning — addressing community, customer-focused, content, and customer databases, Ann Marion continues to work with Dartmouth University, Hanover, NH where she has been distance learning consultant and webmaster for online courses in role spanning strategic guidance and hands-on implementation. She creates web pages for lecture series at Dartmouth Thayer School of Engineering, addressing Healthcare in the 21st Century, and builds websites for annual seminars. She teams with the course author to develop these survey courses for broader distribution and appeal. and wrote site information architecture report for presentation to government funders.

Ann Marion was recently Lead User Interface Designer for BeingMeta, Boston, MA, a new Start-up that needed its first website and on-line demos. BeingMeta is a spin-off of the MIT Media Lab providing metadata services, technology, and applications for next generation content, information, and knowledge management services. Ann provided analysis, design, and implementation for company website and on-line demonstrations. This included creating a new user interface for BabelVision: a demonstrator of multi-lingual information access applied to image archives, collaborating with software architect/chief scientist to make revisions for improved usability.

Ann Marion was Principal Investigator for Houghton Mifflin College Division, responsible for an ARPA-NSF grant focusing on research and commercializing of next generation instructional titles, and a founding member of the Educational Object Economy. She was a also member of the Strategic Planning Team on Distance Learning. As the product manager responsible for development and customer support of CommonSpace (a software authoring tool supporting peer collaboration) she worked to integrate customer feedback into product development through IT systems. She championed the company wide discussion group on customer and content databases. Such advances in systems integration require inter-industry ePublishing research. These are summarized in the on-line article at JIME, that was requested by Dr. Kirstie Bellman (DARPA). The funding of novel persistence research at CECI and acquisition multi-media java based courseware. Participation in writing the White Paper on Distance Learning for the strategic planning process at the College Division.

Ann Marion founded an entrepreneurial venture, StonySoft Productions, to implement exemplary interactive titles showcasing new technologies. Through Bob Stein at Voyager she produced Marvin Minsky's Society of Mind: The CD-ROM, published for MIT Media Lab's first 10.10. in October 93/Jan 94, was widely hailed as breakthrough, integrating a video talking head with a hyperbook. and received numerous awards. She guided Interval Corporation in applying the same techniques to a CD-ROM venture with Rick Smolan, Passage to Vietnam. Acquired by Corey & Co: Designers gave her the opportunity to work with the best and the brightest and launch new web-sites and digital media initiatives at Pleasant Company for American Girl, Viacom Nickelodeon, Turner Broadcasting, and Harvard.

Ann Marion has long been a champion of novel solutions in educational technology to accomplish the integration of 20th century science and technology subject matter into the curriculum. From 1982 to 1992, she was involved in building authoring tools at Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard Labs, and Atari Research. To teach cybernetics, evolution, eco-systems to children, she invented the Vivarium Program, realized through collaboration with Dr. Alan Kay, where a broad suite of projects explored different novel approaches for bringing integrated curriculum and new technologies into a public school in Los Angeles, one of Apple Computer's model schools. Prototype programming languages enabled students to script animal behavior in ecosystems. She also demonstrated futuristic alternatives that students of 2015 may have on their desktops, such as a 3D version on a flight simulator. This experience underscored the essential requirement for life-long teacher training and the availability of good, robust infrastructures for software help desk. To evolve tools for educators to create new and substantive educational materials also required a long term strategy for evolving through student feedback the courseware, textbooks, and learning modules

Ann spent seven years at MIT, involved in science communication efforts inspired by Dr. Jerome Weisner. She received a Masters Degree in Visual Studies under thesis advisor Ricky Leacock, the documentary filmmaker, in association with Nicholas Negroponte at the Architecture Machine Group (later becoming the media lab). She explored alternate i/o -- forcing collaboration between the biomechanical engineering department where work was on-going in 3D whole body i/o and 3D graphics to propose an interactive theater systems for the Joffrey Ballet. She also worked at MIT CAES (The Center for Continuing Education for Engineers) with John Fitch Science Reporter to produce lecture tape series with the Sloan Foundation grant. Later, she worked with WGBH public television producers on a series based on Lewis Thomas Live’s of a Cell. She realized that this work would be far better produced as computer simulation.

Reunion Panel, 1995

Autobiographical Story for Presentation at Reunion Panel 1995 (with fellow Architecture, Art, & Planning Grads)
The art department was diverse. Jason & Clara Seley were great mentors, revealing ups & downs of fashion in the NY Art Scene – which shockingly seemed to be a direction that might be closed. I studied illustration with Zevi Blum, and from J.O. Mahoney learned renaissance rules for painting 3-dimensions, at that time in low repute that J.O. was reduced to painting trompe d’oi on the walls of department stores, as well as on the walls of Green Dragon coffee shop.

My major was PrintMaking, I liked to sketch people interacting in the Green Dragon.

My sophomore year a number of us lived together at the Risley Interdisciplinary Dormitory for the Arts. There I co-ran the Ice Cream Parlor with Mark Lilien (ILR) & Harvie Branscomb (psycho-acoustics). I illustrated the posters for the Risley Fair, and was recruited by one of engineering students there, Mark Schwartz, to do illustrations for Cornell Engineer Magazine. I found that I had a deep commitment to technology as the subject of art, or “Science Communication”. This has remained essential to me throughout my work. I also found life-long friends across the campus, many who would be doing break-through research later in their lives.

A number of us took the course on Black & White Darkroom Photography with Larry Koplik. This enabled capturing people interacting, as well as light and shadow – and started me on the path towards filmmaking.

Independent Study with Johnson Art Museum Director Tom Leavitt enabled me to design & install my own exhibit of original Albrecht Durer Prints with my own interpretive labels, combining illustration & text explanation. As a print-making student, I found myself analyzing the economy of the master’s half-tones. I was surprised to discover that Durer was an inventor who had transformed his world. This led me to further independent studies with Tom Leavitt to find other creative & technological transformers leading me to the Bauhaus, and provoked my search for a New Bauhaus. When I learned that one of the Bauhaus faculty, Moholy Nagy had a student, Gyorgy Kepes, who was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, running the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, that became a magnet for me.

It was my roommate Jill Lerner, who introduced me to the idea of “Movement through Space”. For her, this was not only a subject for architecture -- in the sense of moving through a building -- , but was embodied in dance as Jill was a student of Ballet. I became so entranced by dance that this became an element of many of my projects since.

Another artist frustrated by the limitations of traditional Fine Arts was my silk screen professor Steve Poleskie, who was secretly engaged in inventing his own new art form using his acrobatic airplane to draw with vertical con-trails in 3 Dimensions over Time. A number of us students got to go up in his airplane to experience this, as Steve explained his frustration with not being able to capture this except with being in the airplane itself. These insights were to haunt me forever, leading to my later actually getting to create work on a flight simulator.

Another wind of new directions was Don Greenberg’s 3D Arts Quadrangle. It seemed that all my roommates and architecture friends were laboriously entering 3D point sets, something I learned was a very concrete, almost stupidly simple-minded idea : X,Y,Z, over and over, but awesome when aggregated. I later took a course in 3D graphics programming at the MIT “Architecture Machine Group”.

After graduation, I moved to Cambridge, where I found a job in the office of the president of MIT, the remarkable Jerry Weisner who had been a graduate student of the man who invented Cybernetics, Norbert Weiner. It turned out that Jerry was the driving force to create a New Bauhaus, raising money, and recruiting talent, including famous documentary filmmaker Ricky Leacock, and Public Television’s Science Reporter, John Fitch. In 6 months, I was enrolled in “ Introduction to Sync-Sound Super-8 Filmmarking” , where I met my future husband. Soon I transferred to work at a production assistant with John Fitch, making “Continuing Education for Engineers” videotapes.

I never looked back. I worked for, and studied with Nicholas Negroponte in the group that later became the Media Lab. My thesis project for a Master’s of Visual Studies was a Feasibility Study for an Interactive Stage Set for the Joffrey Ballet. Choreographer Gerald Arpino came with one of the Joffrey’s principal dancers. We input her movement in one lab, and output the 3D graphics in Negroponte’s lab on the big rear-projection screen.

With hot degrees from MIT, fellow grad students were finding jobs at California computer companies. I was hired by the infamous Alan Kay at Atari Research Labs, for whom I was to work for a decade. Alan Kay was one of the people who had inventing the “dyna-book” -- inspiring the personal computer. Moving to Apple Computer, I was Director of my own R&D group called The Vivarium Program. I managed testing prototypes at a Los Angeles public school. 3rd graders “script”ed the interaction of computer game sprites to build their own models of eco-systems. I also got to create the first animation 3D creatures for Evans & Sutherland flight simulator.

After two kids, it was time to move back east. We set up a mom & pop cd-rom company in the Berkshires with my husband Moe Shore. Our first projects were for Bob Stein’s Voyager Co., in NYC. , who produced “hyper-media” computer books. Bob asked us to add a talking head of the author, Marvin Minsky. I conceived of this as an opportunity to seamlessly integrate the video into the text by creating a 3-dimensional plane extending behind the book on which Marvin could walk in a 3D landscape of technical diagrams. I figured out how to get rid of the stupid box around the outside of the video, and match the color of the page to the color of a chroma-keyed background. The Society of Mind – The CD-Rom was released in January 1994, and became a model for later work. We were then hired by Interval Corporation, to work with publisher Rick Smolan to create a multi-media coffee table book “A Passage to Vietnam”. I conceived of this utilizing cinematic lighting in a range of dramatic painting styles from baroque chiroscura to bright …to match the lighting of different photographers.

Searching for great designers for future work, I found Corey, McPherson, and Nash, in Watertown, MA. But, they acquired us, moved us to back to the Boston area, made us partners, and we became “Dancing Pictures!” doing digital projects for their existing clients. I directed the launch of the website for American Girls in May of 1995, getting to work with the genius Scott Nash, who invented the Nicholodean flexible logo.

Houghton Mifflin recruited me to be Principal Investigator managing a federal grant to research and prototype next-generation instructional tools and titles for online courseware. I was a software product manager for CommonSpace, a word-processing application supporting peer collaboration. This gave me a great opportunity to work with improving the usefulness and integration of databases, then separated between content and customer, and, I became co-writer of the College Division Strategic Plan on Distance Learning.

After the grant ran out, I continued to consult on distance learning. For a year I became project manger for Dynamic Diagrams, in Providence, RI, information architecture services, as their representative for a client in Boston, Student Advantage. Student Advantage were overhauling their on-line services, including creating a series of homework helpers that I was in charge of researching and prototyping.

I then worked 2 years as staff in Brandeis Computer Science Department as Director of Educational Technology Programs, managing the implementation and classroom testing of an internet peer-to-peer educational game.

For a number of years, I have also been webmaster for Dartmouth Thayer School of Engineering survey course on healthcare in the 21st century.


References