I created this page in 1994, and have kept the same format ever since.
"Una ragazza e sempre un mistero: non c'e che fidarsi al suo viso e all'ispirazione del proprio cuore."
- E.De Amicis
"The man of science who concerns himself solely with science, who cannot enjoy and be enriched by art, is a mishappen man."
- Lucretius (De Rerum Natura)
Jump to: [Art] [Background] [ColOmbia] [Future Plans] [Special Interests]
I am a Research Scientist working on Human-Centered Computing.
The picture you see above is of my great great grandfather (astonishing resemblance, see my picture below) back in 1860. I discovered this photograph in 1994 in a box in the attic of my father's house. I used some image processing techniques to repair it.
I was born with two hearts (metaphorically!), which sometimes combine their beating into a single coordinated motion. With my first salary I bought a camera (I was 14 so I had to save for a few months). Then I bought my first computer (a Commodore 64). My first photo was not memorable- I cannot remember what it was.
My first computer program
When I bought the computer, I immediately bought a magazine that contained game listings. I did not read the instructions, just plugged it in and spent 4 hours typing in pages of numbers from the magazine. That was my first program. I typed "run" and got a "syntax error.” Then I realized I was supposed to type in a program to interpret the numbers first.
Art and Photography
Buying a camera was a minor event, considering that I spent most of my high school years drawing. In college I then turned to writing, continued drawing, and “seriously” took up photography. My interest in art includes many mediums [Art] and influences my research, which focuses on computer vision, multimedia processing, and interaction (Interactive Media). The two hearts beat in a single coordinated motion…
Park Ranger in The Jungle (not New York)
In 1993 I volunteered as a Park Ranger in the Katios National Park (World Heritage Site) for about two months. Located in an area known as the Darien Gap (very dense tropical rain forest) in Colombia near the Panama border, it is said to be the most eco-diverse system in the world; this park is home to the only bear species and about 40% of all the bird species in South America. In spite of the disastrous environmental consequences it would have, there are plans to build the Pan-American highway through the region. Access to the park is only by boat on the Atrato River (highest water volume in the world) and the closest town to the park is 2 hours away. The park has been closed for several years due to Colombia's internal conflict. I made a photo essay about that experience [Art]. I have been traveling extensively since 1992, and have visited over 40 countries.
From 1990 to 1995 I participated in activities of the Rotaract Bogota-Suba club in Bogota, Colombia. I formed part of a team that represented Colombia and visited Virginia through Rotary's Group Study Exchange program. In New York, as a student I was involved with Metro International’s programs; I attended a couple of conferences on “US Policy in Latin America” and “US Policy Towards Emerging Markets” as an international student delegate. I also organized a conference on Technology and Emerging Markets (NYC 1997). In 2003 I co-founded the Workshop on Technology for Education in Developing Countries. I was one of the grand jury experts for the World Summit Award, an initiative that seeks to narrow the content gap. In this context, I participated in the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis (November 2005). My research activities and co-founding of the IEEE Task Force on Human-Centered Computing aim to contribute to a positive impact on society through computing.
At Columbia I was chair of GSAC, Columbia's sole university-wide student government. In Colombia I worked as a part time English teacher for a few years, and now I am a French student (after Japanese it seems easier, but I am still not a very good student!).
I very much like beer but had no idea there was a pub in Arizona bearing my last name! I should definitely one day visit Jaimes (this link vanished, but here's a much more interesting Jaimes- (also vanished!).
Read more in the [Special Interests] section..
(Foot + Rat!)
Computing acts as the gateway to most of the resources essential for human livelihood (communications, transportation, food, health, etc.) and I believe that we need to radically change the way we think about technology, and in particular the way that we develop algorithms and systems. That radical change should consider human abilities and limitations (e.g., memory, attention, cognitive load, etc.), and social and cultural factors, not only at the interface, but in the design of algorithms and systems from start to finish (think of culture as a set of algorithms!).
Some of my work on HCC has focused on creating new technical approaches for computer-understanding of multimedia content and for human interaction with computers in creative environments (Interactive Media). For most of this work I have developed Computer Vision techniques that use Machine Learning, that involve humans directly, and that are rooted in principles, theories, or techniques from cognitive psychology, the arts, and information sciences, among others.
The future is wide open.
I enjoy all types of adventure sports but I particularly do a lot of hiking. I have hiked in many parts of Colombia. I’ve also hiked in the New York Area (Sierra Club, Columbia University Hiking Club, Appalachian Mountain Club), different areas of the US and Canada, and several countries in South America, Europe, and Asia.
I love art, (specially photography, film, and painting), literature, traveling and exploring different cultures. I have traveled in over 60 countries and there are many places I'd like to visit. Here is a photograph of the sculpture I made one night. It can be viewed in 3D (see my publication on stereoscopic imaging above or my page on 3D imaging). Visit my [art] page.
I am a Green Tortoise alumni!
A few years ago, a friend in Colombia took me paragliding off a mountain 1,500 feet high. He went first and of course, hit a tree. From what he's told me, he usually does when he tries to impress his friends. I had a nice flight though and can't wait to do it again.
Recently, I have taken up Racquetball and hope to continue. Check out the AARA Official Rules and the International Racquetball Tour homepage. (I actually only played a couple of times but now I play tennis in Tokyo!- 2007 update: I only played tennis once. Now I live in Lausanne and will take up skiing. New update. I now live in Madrid and rollerblade!)
Y luego pienso.
Que lo mismo
aqui que alla,
Soy lo que
las gentes llaman
Y como un extranjero
Hasta que aqui
- Clementina Suarez (Honduras)
What is the first thing you do when you meet someone from Colombia? (a) make a joke about drugs; (b) ask if it is really dangerous; (c) comment on Colombian coffee, Juan Valdez, women, or Colombian soccer; (d) say "but you don't look Colombian"; (e) think about all of these and say nothing; (f) ask about any or all of them; (g) run.
(a) Think twice before you make jokes about drugs when you meet someone from Colombia. Thousands of Colombians die every year fighting the war on drugs; drug money pays for terrorism, kidnappings, and a war that seems to be have no end in sight. It's a supply-demand problem; the majority of Colombians do not use or like drugs. (b) Colombia can be really dangerous if you go to the wrong places; New York can be really dangerous if you go to the wrong places. So can Paris. There are many places in Colombia that are safer than the average American city. But there is a war in Colombia so you must be informed. Thousands of people travel there happily every year. (c) Colombian coffee is famous for its taste. The largest producer of coffee, however, is Brazil; many agree Colombian women are beautiful and Colombia has had good soccer teams. (d) what does a Colombian look like? (read below) (e) ASK! you will find that most Colombians are open minded and love to explain issues related to Colombia's drug and violence problems. Not to mention the lighter issues. (f) thank you for your interest in Colombia. You'll be enchanted with the country if you visit it (as most who do are).
Colombia (with an o, not a u) is a magical, mystical place where you will find the most violent, peaceful and enchanting aspects of humanity. It is a land where anything and everything is possible, where boundaries are crossed or non-existent, where life is as meaningful and meaningless as can be. Life flourishes and disappears in the blink of an eye...
Colombia is the second richest country in species in the world after Brazil, which has more species, but in an area seven times larger. In average, one of every 10 species of the world's flora and fauna inhabits Colombia. In relation to terrestrial vertebrates Colombia occupies the third place with 2.890 species of which 1.721 are birds, which constitute 20% of the total world bird species, and 358 mammal species, which represent 7% of the world's total. In relation to reptiles, Colombia possesses 6% of the total number of species and amphibians around 10% of the total. Periodically, new species are reported. If you are interested in these issues, check out the Humbolt Institute.
If only one word were allowed to describe such small and immense land, it would have to be diversity. Diversity in every sense; in ideals, race, culture, life.
It is really fascinating to examine this country more closely. Not only for its rich history but for the complexity of its current social, political and economic problems.
Terrorism is not new in Colombia. Between 1989 and 1993 alone, 544 out of the 801 terrorist bombs placed throughout Colombia exploded. In only two of the explosions in 1989, 167 people died. One bomb was placed in downtown Bogota and another in a commercial airplane. The statistics during the late eighties also include the assassination of more than 1,000 public officials, 12 supreme court judges, one attorney general, an editor of a major newspaper, three presidential candidates and hundreds of civilians. These are acts mostly related to the war on drugs. Terrorism is still common and is funded by the drug trade. Things have changed significantly in the last ~5 or so years (updated 2009), but the drug demand continues to increase in many developed countries and it continues to negatively affect Colombia (estimate of internally displaced persons is between 1.8-3.5 million- 2007, CIA World Fact Book) .
Other very interesting links related to violence in Colombia (English) include: [HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH] (all of the following links have disappeared [Violence in Colombia-Carrigan] [DIRECT DEMOCRACY IN COLOMBIA -Martin Krause] [Women in Colombia: Breaking the silence] [COLOMBIA-CRIME: THE AVENGING ANGELS OF THE STREETS ][Oil Companies Buying Up Colombian Army to Fight Pipeline Violence] [Colombia Support Network][Colombia, The Challenge to Governability])
Now that the topic of violence has been touched (it is a reality and should not be ignored) we can move on.
The weather in Colombia is varied but due to its proximity to the Ecuator, varies only according to altitude (lowest: sea level, highest: about 18,000 ft). Ethnic divisions also show great diversity (mestizo 58%, white 20%, mulatto 14%, black 4%, mixed black-Indian 3%, Indian 1%). As far as geography, Colombia has shores on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, part of the Amazon, deserts, tropical rain forest, snow capped volcanoes and three mountain ranges.
The largest city is Bogota (Population: estimated at about 8 million; altitude: almost 6,000 feet; year-round temperature: ranges from 40 Fahrenheit (nights: 4 Celsius) to about 70 Fahrenheit (days: 22 Celsius))
I have traveled extensively in Colombia. It's an amazing place (in many ways one of the best countries I have traveled in and that includes other countries in South America). Do not be discouraged by the statistics and the image created by the media. Colombia, even with all its problems is really much more than what you see on the news (or films shot in Mexico). Take a minute to read the down-to-earth description at Lonely Planet. I've used this guide, but unfortunately it's outdated (even the new version, which was cut short to about 1/3 of the original one!). Unfortunately, the people at Lonely Planet have spent more time coming up with new guides and make very few efforts to keep their old ones current. Don't use their Cuba guide! As for Colombia, there are now other great travel guides from other publishers (the Colombia Handbook by P. Pollard and B. Box; and Colombia by M. Lessard). Travel to Colombia is very safe as long as you inform yourself and know which areas to avoid. Cartagena is a paradise and one of the safest cities in the Caribbean and Latin America (safer than most US cities).
El Tiempo: Colombia's main newspaper is on line (Spanish).
CIA Fact book: this is the place to go if you want the hard-facts. It's also a short introduction (no photographs, of course). You will see, however, a map of Colombia with the major cities.