Archive for 'Thoughts'

Starting sketches

Written by on 15th September 2011 in Sketches, Thoughts with 0 Comments

Here’s a few sketches that hopefully sort of better explain some of the ideas for initial starting points below. They sort of range from interface/software, software/hardware, hardware/environment.

I understand the benefit of doing more writing at the beginning, but for me sketches and diagrams tend to act as an extension of writing and it’s hard for me to think about things without drawing some thing. I also find it easier to make sure other people are sort of envisioning the same things I am. Also, I just really enjoy drawing these little comics to explain ideas, and I would love to incorporate this sort of thing throughout the process.

The Zombie-mail thing is this sort of weird little idea that’s been nagging at me since I was in Colorado this summer @ the Personal Geographies workshop with Jonathan Harris. During one of his talks he sort of passingly said someone else once said “answering emails is like killing zombies, they just keep coming back” and I thought it was brilliant. And then later that night (while enjoying some margaritas with my fellow classmates at a Mexican restaurant in Aspen) I remembered this cheesy old game called Typing of the Dead and thought, why can’t answering emails be JUST AS FUN as killing zombies? And it’s sort of been sitting in my brain for a few months. I’ve talked to my friend Sean (from the workshop) about the idea a bit and think it would be fun to collaborate with him on it since he has a game design background. But I haven’t talked to many other people about it yet, and I sort feel like I need to ask around to see if the idea has legs. But at the same time, I sort of just want to make it regardless!

High-level hack-crafts: I would really like to just generate a lot of different tutorials for making things with technology that doesn’t involve having to learn how to read a resistor. We already have so many powerful computing devices and tons of apps developed by other people. Why not just take advantage of what they already have to offer? I think a really interesting experiment for me was our early Telesecret project which took advantage of a remote webcam viewing app and creating a physical “case” that was tailored to how we wanted to use the app in the real world. I don’t know if it even matters that much what the end things are but I feel like a collection of various projects might as a whole be part of the greater idea. Howtoons sort of gets at the idea of empowering kids to craft things together, but it’s generally not taking advantage of any technology. And while things like Fashioning Technology are cool for integrating craft and tech, I’m starting to get a little bored of LEDs sewn into different things. Also a little turned off by the cost of getting into hobby electronics. I think for most people it takes up both too much time and money. If we’re using more readily available (and reusable) electronic “brains” then maybe it would be more approachable.

Computer Arcade? This last one I feel hasn’t incubated for quite as long in my head but I do have a general interest in working with larger-scale spaces that involve technology. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a fully responsive gigantic interactive architectural facade. What if we scale it back to the most boring place to possibly use a computer. Why are computer labs so awful and assembly line like? I imagine it mostly has to do with budget and the fact that they are set up by IT folk who generally prefer order and uniformity across the system for “fairness”. But if we’re interested in getting different people inspired to create interesting things with computers maybe it would be helpful to not make it seem like working with a computer means having to be droid in a computing factory. Instead of us conforming our bodies to  machine-like order and repetition, why not free the machines (and ourselves) to enjoy more human-like randomness & discovery? I’m especially interested in labs because it’s a place where people who don’t already have access to their own machines would go. I’m not terribly interested in making Starbucks a better place for your laptop.

 

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Thesis abstract (version 0.1)

Written by on 14th September 2011 in "Official" Papers, Thoughts with 0 Comments

Concepts

Instead of only constantly aiming for progress in the form of newer, bigger, and faster how can we add life to the existing nooks and crannies of the world around us? By reconsidering these overlooked spaces, in both the physical and digital sense, I hope to also encourage others, from a diverse background, to find their own personally meaningful experiences. The modern world is ripe with opportunity to expose and create platforms that encourage creativity within those voids, regardless of the end form.

Some possible starting points include:

  • Zombie-mail: Email interface as a passive but social zombie-killing game (because answering emails is like killing zombies, they just keep coming) which questions both our attitudes and priorities towards “work”. Can a digital “non space” as ubiquitous as email be more like “tending a garden” and less about “getting things done”? Can taking action on email be fun? Instead of just being a solitary chore, can an email interface create community by being a social game with bragging rights? This is most directly inspired my experiences from this past summer but, I believe, also loosely tied to my prior project on the normally banal experience of customer service phone trees. As an extension of this idea, how can other “standard productivity” interfaces be re-imagined for more idiosyncratic desires?
  • High-level hacking/crafting: Creating open ended tutorials as a form of inspiration and knowledge sharing about extending ubiquitous technologies into new forms/uses (instead of starting from low-level craft projects like “sew a blinking led!”). For instance, a kit & product-manual-turned-comic book called “101 things to make with an iPod touch on a Sunday afternoon.” By taking advantage of pre-existing apps, or creating new ones, combined with crafting highly specific physical forms, it could change the purpose from solitary digital consumption to collaborative physical creation. This relates to several prior projects that combine craft and technology such as Souvenirs from the InternetRecreate magazine and Huddle.
  • Computer lab rehab: Rethinking the repetitively uniform physical spaces designated as academic computer labs. Instead of an indoor-only teacher-students/worker bee configuration how can re-designing the space encourage different types of exploration and formation of communities? It’s not just about putting colorful paint on the walls or making it look like a Google office, but rethinking the values of the space entirely, including the way we interface with technology and each other. This is also somewhat related to my prior project on creating a sacred space to celebrate stochasticity as well as space-repurposing projects like Playing House and Never Was.

Questions

“Deep within every rational system holding societies together are assumptions that, if taken to their logical conclusion, tend toward absurdity.” (Blaine Merker) How can we use a hacker’s mindset as a way to expose and exploit these assumptions? I’m fascinated by the idea of Design Hacking. How can we recontextualize and repurpose (aka hack) existing technologies and environments as a mechanism for exploring the issues of culture, class, and community within hybrid spaces? “People’s behavior is largely influenced by the context in which they live…When we design spaces (real or virtual), we need to take responsibility for the types of behavior those spaces are likely to encourage.” (Jonathan Harris) What type of behaviors do our current systems, and their corporate owners, value? What types of behaviors would be more in line with our own personal values? How can we find and nurture the bits of humanity in our current machines, systems, and infrastructures? Or how can we bring our own sense of humanity to these spaces?

Interests

I am infatuated with the internet and the increasingly blurry line between our experience of life in the gradient between a physical and digital existence, and have a growing desire to interact with virtual things in a tangible way. I am also very driven by the DIY ethos, and believe in the power of creative recontextualization and resourcefulness as a tool to question our “rational” world. Growing up in the mid-west as a relatively privileged upper-middle class woman of color I’m especially interested in society’s “rational” ideas of culture, class, and community. I am also very interested in how these ideas currently (and could possibly) manifest in an increasingly technological world. I come to the table with my skills in graphic design, illustration, motion graphics, animation, and making. I also have an interest (and experience) in collaborating with product designers, architects, game designers, and programmers.

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