Later in the day, at 5 p.m. in Lilly Library’s Main Gallery, Agüera y Arcas will speak on “Reinventing Gutenberg.” The topic is directly related to research he conducted while an applied math graduate student at Princeton University, working with Paul Needham, a world authority on Gutenberg and the curator of the Scheide Library at Princeton.
Using high-resolution imaging and shape clustering, Agüera y Arcas and Needham applied modern analytic methods to Gutenberg’s surviving output, casting doubt on Gutenberg’s role as the father of movable type.
“While he was indeed a great inventor, he did not invent the technologies that have been ascribed to him,” Agüera y Arcas wrote in an abstract for the talk. Instead, “the early evolution of printing technology was much more complex than had been thought.”
Agüera y Arcas went to work for Microsoft in 2006 when the company purchased Seadragon, a data navigation technology he developed and that later led to the creation of Photosynth. That software used digital photographs to create 3-D environments called “synths.” His 2007 TED Talk presentation on Seadragon and Photosynth remains rated as one of TED’s “most jaw-dropping.”
In December 2013, Agüera y Arcas announced he would leave Microsoft to join Google, where he will work on machine learning projects.