Date: October 1, 1998
Craig Hickman — University of Oregon
Craig Hickman, author of Kid Pix, will speak about the design of software and design for children.

Where do ideas for software come from? When it comes to software design, do simplicity and clarity always fight against whimsy and wit? Can programming be art? Can software design be beautiful? These are some of the questions I will deal with in my talk, and the development of my program Kid Pix will be used as my case example.

I will trace the development of my ideas about software design from my early experiences with a mainframe to today where most of my work involves the internet. I will talk about children’s software which seems so simple on the surface but is often extremely hard to do well. Having a background as an artist and being self taught as a programmer provides me a unique perspective regarding what constitutes an idea for what a piece of software can be.

This talk will be profusely illustrated and peppered with examples. It might also be a little humorous.

Craig Hickman, associate professor of visual design, created world-famous Kid Pix, published by Broderbund Software. It is sold around the world and has received many awards and exceptional reviews. It is often mentioned as having one of the finest user interfaces of any program and of setting the standard for children’s software. In 1991, the year it was released, it won the Software Publishers Association award for the best user interface of a new program. In the summer of 1998 Craig was named by SIGGRAPH as a Pioneering Computer Artist at its National Conference.

Professor Hickman is starting his 15th year on the faculty of the University of Oregon. He teaches courses in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts which focus on digital technology. He has worked with countless students who are now making significant creative contributions to the field.

Craig is also an active artist and fine art photographer; recently completing a semi-autobiographical CD ROM of his images titled “The Box in the Basement.” Over 20 years ago he helped found Portland’s Blue Sky Photography Gallery which has added significantly to the cultural richness of the area.

Craig is actively exploring the possibilities inherent in web-based publishing. His experimental site,, contains the results of his explorations, including “Algorithmic Image Toys,” The Eugene Web Cam, access to his Artist Books, and a few pages dedicated to Kid Pix.