Archive for 'Thoughts'

Z-mail incremental updates

Written by on 28th September 2011 in Experiments, Thoughts with 0 Comments

Just a little incremental update to the Zombie Mail experiment. Newest part being the “Filters” page, where you could design & assign different types of zombies to different types of emails. And the Search eyeball on the bottom. Also animating my main character’s walk/shuffle cycle.

I sort of don’t want to over design the interface at this stage, but instead just get enough of it in there to get the idea across. I know there’s tons of details to figure out logically but I sort of want to keep it at a sketch phase for now, even though my sketch happens to be animated.

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Jesse Schell’s Lecture

Written by on 27th September 2011 in References, Thoughts with 0 Comments

I remember watching this video last year, but re-watching it again just now it’s clear how super relevant it is to the stuff I’m thinking about. Lots of great little insights in this, particularly about our emerging hunger for reality. Jessie is also a very animated presenter and it’s full of funny little things. And I think this pic is awesome. I don’t know who to attribute it to aside from The Internet:

 

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Googmazon Fresh

Written by on 27th September 2011 in Sketches, Thoughts with 0 Comments

This was an idea the came about after meeting with Tim and the rest of our thesis group. I talked to Bora about it yesterday too cause it seems to overlap some with her interests so maybe we can do something with it together.

Basically it imagines an interface like Garry’s Mod applied to Google street view. There’s also an additional interface element to let you Do The Timewarp and see what the place looked like at a different time. You can open up an (Amazon-like) inventory of props that you can drop into the street view and interact with and rotate. You can also attach other items together to create new things. When you’re done you check out to pay for your creation. Later that evening Goog-mazon Fresh delivery/printing truck and an operator appear at the site In Real Life to spawn your purchase. The next morning you go check out the spot and it’s there! Of course it’s subject to all sorts of errors and things, but there’s no returns anyways. And since you’ve paid for it no one can take it down!

It’s inspired by some of the Garry’s Mod stuff I was playing with this weekend but I think it’s also interesting how it relates to some of the Google Street view compositing things I did for Anne’s project this summer,as well as the 3D spam printer in the spring:

 

 

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Thesis Abstract. (version 0.3)

Written by on 26th September 2011 in "Official" Papers, Thoughts with 0 Comments

We live in a computational world with increasingly blurry lines between our physical and virtual lives. Our modern world is more orderly, more systematic, and more governed by algorithms than ever before. As technology gets pumped out faster and faster, ubiquitous computing pervades everything from our built environment to our front pockets. Technologists are often rushing forward, in the name of progress, without looking back to understand the effects (or missed opportunities) in their wake. Focusing on the “how” instead of the “why” these new pioneers develop faster and better ways of systemizing, quantifying, and tagging the world, making us more modular and predictable like the very machines we rely on.

But where is the space for human intervention and interpretation? How can we humanize technology instead of technologizing humans? Jonathan Harris’ work as a computer scientist, storyteller, and artist, has also revolved around this idea. He reasons, “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.”(1) What type of behaviors do our current real and virtual spaces value?  I value chance, subjectivity, and platforms for discovery through research “on open water” versus “on the ground,” as Terence Rosenberg calls it.(2) Following a hunch instead of purely scientific logic is a process too nuanced to be predicted by anything other than a human. With these values in mind, I want to hack together virtual systems and physical objects to encourage the co-existence of creative free play in both virtual and physical space. I want to reshape our everyday technologies. Starting points include: our banal office productivity software, smart but homogenous hardware, and environments where we encounter these systems & each other. I choose to not accept arbitrary systems of so-called technological and cultural progress. I too believe “deep within every rational system holding societies together are assumptions that, if taken to their logical conclusion, tend toward absurdity. As such, they are highly fertile terrain for artistic exploration.”(3) Our socialized beliefs about physical & virtual communities, the separation of work & play, craft & technology, and public space are all up for grabs. I want to hack into these assumptions by modifying, re-contextualizing, and repurposing the “new-yesterday-but-now-obsolete” technologies and built environments of tomorrow.

Not being an engineer, I realize I may not have the resources to be a technological tool creator. But in combination with people like product designers, architects, game designers, and programmers, perhaps we could be more than just consumers. By collaborating and leveraging my skills (as a designer, illustrator, animator, and maker) I hope to bring to life more nuanced, personal and meaningful experiences as “an alternative to the programmed myth that there is only one future on the flat graph that goes up and to the right.”(4) And perhaps in the process of exploring these interests, I can create a scaffolding to empower and inspire a diverse group people to take control of their own experiences and relationships with technology.

 

1 Jonathan Harris . World Building in a Crazy World . World Builders.” Web. 26 Sept. 2011.

2 Terence Rosenberg. The Reservoir: Towards a Poetic Model of Research in Design.” PDF file.

3 Hou, Jeffrey. Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities. 1st ed. Routledge, 2010. Print. 55.

4 Julian Bleecker. “Design Fiction: A short essay on design, science, fact and fiction.” PDF file.

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First Person Creator

Written by on 26th September 2011 in Experiments, References, Thoughts with 0 Comments

We went to Crash Space for a class on making 3D games with Valve’s Source SDK. I didn’t realize the SDK was only available on the PC side so I spent a good part of the time downloading Half-Life 2 and the SDK for VMware while watching him go through how to get things done. By the end I was able to make a room and texture it and be able to walk around in it. It’s kind of fun but a little too much for what I want to do I think. But the part that I thought was super valuable was talking about other platforms for 3D game making, which I spent today researching/playing. Here’s an overview of the various engines I’ve messed with this weekend, from Lo-Fi to Hi-fi

Minecraft ($20)

8-bit style block based ‘sandbox’ game. You have different elements and things you can put together in various ways. Also some 8 bit monsters you have to avoid when it gets dark out. Apparently the game already has a huge following (3 million downloads) despite the fact that it’s still in Beta.  I sort of like it but of course it’s pretty limiting. Not sure if it would be useful for my purposes yet. I think I like the idea of it more than the actual game..

Second Life (free)

I have never really been interested in Second Life, but I figured I should at least give it a go to see why not. For some reason it’s just always been terribly uninteresting to me. Maybe because even though you CAN make stuff it seems like its main purpose is more about going to various worlds and hanging out with random people. Just a glorified 3D chat room. I also realized I just think it’s horribly ugly, like the old MySpace of 3D worlds, which I guess has some charm. But I dunno, not into it.

Valve Source SDK & Hammer Editor (as little as $8 for one Valve game)

What I was originally going to the class for. Super powerful stuff if you want to get into the nitty gritty of making your own maps and things. But it’s PC only and the editor is like working in CAD. And there’s a whole bunch of stuff to tweak parameter wise. In order to test it you have to “Run Map” which loads up in Half-Life 2.

Garry’s Mod ($10 + a Valve game)

Garry’s Mod is the most exciting ‘sandbox’ game to me. It’s built off of Valve’s Source SDK so it works with the other Valve game assets if you bought the original games (Half-Life 2, Portal, and Team Fortress came with my pack). But there’s not actually any goals or missions or anything in the game. You just make stuff (and of course destroy stuff if you want).

Unlike other editors there is no separate “editor” view. Everything just gets spawned into the game realtime, resulting in a very bottom-up vs. top-down view of things. So if you’re placing things you have to walk around and see where it’s going to go. It’s not exactly like building in real life (you’re using a big physics gun to position and rotate huge things after all) but it gives more of a user-centered kind of view.  The rendering engine is also super powerful so things look pretty nice, and objects have physics built in already. Although sometimes I don’t understand the wonky physics. I was just trying to put some cars on the road and I kept accidentally throwing them across the way, which is only funny the first few times. I spent about 3 hours off an on messing with this today. Mostly just trying to figure out how everything worked. I had couches hanging from ropes on water towers and cars piled up and random houses and just a bunch of stuff. Favorite thing is probably the BBC radio which is just a little radio prop that streams live music from BBC. (It’d be cool to get a KEXP radio up in there too). The above screenshot is my little sculpture/playground installation : ) I like the idea of using it as a tool to prototype big interactive architecture installations.

Another really interesting thing is that you can also script things for it using Lua, which looks pretty simple. Also exciting are things like this Kinect + Gmod video example.

Unity 3D (free–till you want a commercial licene for a game)

 

I’ve heard Unity 3D come up several times in conversations. It’s obviously SUPER powerful and capable of making a wide range of games from the looks of their demo reel. And one of the guys at the workshop says they use it at work all the time to make marketing games for various movies and things. Still has a somewhat typical 3D editor view but also has a tab for the game view so you can test it out while in the editor. The above game is a free demo that come with it. Super nice graphics. And runs natively on the Mac. I think if I wanted to get more serious about building 3D games I’d dive into it more, but for now it seems a little bit over kill for my needs.

Overall 

Garry’s mod definitely wins for me.. at least for now. Unfortunately no matter what 3D first-person game I play I get physically queazy after I play them too long. There is something about the crazy control views and things that messes with my equilibrium where I seriously feel like throwing up after playing too much. Jeremy wonders if taking Dramamine would make it better. It seems like it’d be weird to take a drug to not feel sick while playing a game, though kind of interesting. But this is one of the many reasons I prefer side scrolling games. (Another downside is I think I may have inadvertently gotten Angelo hooked to Half-Life 2 now.)

The weird thing is I’m not actually even that much of a gamer, though having played when I was younger I certainly have an appreciation for them. I don’t want to make some machinima movies or anything either though. I think the most fascinating part is the weird mash up of 3rd party content in gmod, where people are just creating their own assets to share. For instance there are tons of Minecraft assets you can add. Or there was a map that was made to look like an old school NES Mario Kart track where you could race with the Half-Life 2 jeep.

I’m mainly interested in these engines as tools for creating interactive prototypes for other things, especially larger scale architectural things. 

 

 

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Questions…

Written by on 24th September 2011 in Thoughts with 0 Comments

Questions from yesterday…

How can we hack together virtual systems and physical objects to allow free play to co-exist in both virtual and physical space?

  • How can we build virtual and physical spaces that support human creativity as opposed to homogeneity?
  • What happens when virtual play and physical play co-exist in the same space?
  • Why are most Future Kid Tech Play Environments just dark rooms with interactive projections?
  • Why have playgrounds become more and more boringly “safe”?
  • What can we learn from Adventure Playgrounds?
  • What are the implications for when “work” and “play” are no longer separate activities?
  • Why are certain jobs more fun to act out? (ie. fireman, doctor, vet, soldier, waitress etc)
  • What would happen if more obscure career choices were elevated to a “fun” status?
  • What are the affordances of combining high-tech and low-tech materials?
  • Why do we accept the arbitrary but standard interface metaphors for our everyday software?
  • Why has technology become more and more rectangular?
  • What can we do repurpose our quickly outdated technology for idiosyncratic desires?
  •  What are alternative ways to store & access information other than a database based on tables?
  •  How can we make work more fun not just for children but also adults?
  •  What types of highly specialized objects can compliment our homogenous screen based bricks?
  •  How can we integrate interactive media into physical space that allows for personal & meaningful experience and is not just reactive?
  • What happens when mashups move beyond the screen and into the real world?
  • What does a hacker’s mindset add to design? architecture? play?
  •  Who will design our future tools?
  • What opportunities are there for reframining the uses for our urban spaces?
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Thesis Abstract (version 0.2)

Written by on 19th September 2011 in "Official" Papers, Thoughts with 0 Comments

We live a computational world with increasingly blurry lines between our physical and virtual lives. One that is more orderly, more systematic, and more governed by algorithms. As technology gets pumped out faster and faster, ubiquitous computing pervades everything from our built environment to our front pockets. Technologists are often rushing forward, in the name of progress, without looking back to understand the effects (or missed opportunities) in their wake. Focusing on the “how” instead of the “why” these new pioneers develop faster and better ways of systemizing, quantifying, and tagging the world, making us more modular and predictable like the very machines we rely on.

But where is the space for human intervention and interpretation? How can we humanize technology instead of technologizing humans? “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 real and virtual spaces value? I value chance, subjectivity, and platforms for discovery through research “on open water” versus “on the ground,” as Terence Rosenberg calls it. Following a hunch instead of purely scientific logic is a process too nuanced to be predicted by anything other than a human. With these values in mind, I want to reshape our everyday technologies from our banal software, to our homogenous hardware, to the places where we interact with these systems and each other. I chose to not accept arbitrary systems of so-called progress. I too believe “deep within every rational system holding societies together are assumptions that, if taken to their logical conclusion, tend toward absurdity.” (Blaine Merker) I want to hack into these assumptions by modifying, recontextualizing, and repurposing the “new-yesterday-but-now-obsolete” technologies and built environments of tomorrow. I hope to discover more personal and meaningful experiences as “an alternative to the programmed myth that there is only one future on the flat graph that goes up and to the right.” (Julian Bleecker) And perhaps in the process, I can create a scaffolding for others from a diverse background to form their own experiences.

I love working in within the increasingly blurry zone between physical & virtual life, between high-tech & low-tech, and between work & play. Growing up in the mid-west as a relatively privileged upper-middle class woman of color, I’m especially interested how ideas about culture, class, and community currently (and could possibly) manifest in our increasingly technological world. I come to the table with my expertise in graphic design, illustration, motion graphics, animation, and making. I also have a strong interest (and experience) in collaborating with people like product designers, architects, game designers, and programmers to compliment my skill set.

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Kids Tech @ IFTF

Written by on 19th September 2011 in Thoughts with 0 Comments

I went to a Kids Tech workshop at IFTF on Friday. It was amazing to have such a great resource of people who knew a lot more about all this stuff than I do. I have several pages of notes from the day and I haven’t been sure how to synthesize it into something sharable yet. But I will try and put something together..

I think it definitely influences some of my ideas. I had initially been thinking about the space between work + play as an area to explore but after the workshop I’m sort of reconsidering a little.. It sounds fun to make work more like play, but is it bad to make play more like work? Something about KidZania just doesn’t seem quite right. I also had initially considered a wider, general audience, but I wonder if it would make sense to focus mainly on a younger demographic?

 

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Fragmented thoughts @ LAX

Written by on 18th September 2011 in Thoughts with 0 Comments

Waiting for my flight @ LAX on Thursday night I tried writing out thoughts in my sketchbook. They’re sort of just fragments, certainly not complete ideas, and perhaps a little redundant, but I thought it would be helpful to document them here for easier reference going forward. Maybe they can help form some coherent ideas when I have time to do my rewrite tonight.

Ramblings..

We live in an increasingly technological world. One that is more orderly, more systematic, more governed by computation. Is this what progress looks like? We run risk an increasingly binary existence. But I’m interested in working in the space between the poles in our life. If we’re talking about 0′s and 1′s I’m interested in what happens around 0.37-0.73. I’m hoping to discover the fertile areas of exploration in this limbo land.

A hybrid existence. The zone between. The unexplored new frontier, this time around, is right here.

Technologists rush forward without looking back to see the effects (or the missed opportunities) of their wake. Rush forward to develop faster and better ways of systemizing, quantifying, and tagging the world to make our lives more predictable, like the machines we rely on.

How can we leave more room for human intervention? Where is the space for our own exploration? We can’t ignore technology. But we can shape our machines on our human terms instead of shaping our selves to fit the machine. Humanizing Technology vs. Technologizing humans.

Progress can’t just be about conquering new lands to put up a flag and just say that we made it.  Those of us without the skills or resources to do the conquering can only look around at what’s already here, and seeing what we can do with it to make it what we actually want and how to make sense of it. As new technology gets pumped out faster and faster we need to figure out how to upcycle the “new-yesterday-but-now-obsolete” technology of tomorrow.

Maybe we should call it the Upcycled Frontier. I don’t mean this in an environmental context. So what is it?

The Upcycled Frontier is a space too nuanced to be tagged/catalogued/parsed/predicted by anything other than a human. The Upcycled Frontier may be generative, but not in an orderly fashion. It’s hard to talk about this nebulous space. It doesn’t really have a name. Like the problem that has no name. Or perhaps not so much a problem but an unexplored opportunity for something more fulfilling.

Ubiquitous computing in our every day spaces means our physical environment is becoming increasingly computational. How can we make sure these spaces still leave room for personal and mythical experiences?

What does it mean that there is no name for our shared experience? Like the housewives of the 50’s who felt like they had it all and should be satisfied with their lives, do we feel like we’re actually living the dream? Or is there something missing? Are we just getting lured by the appeal of order becoming increasingly systematic?

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keyword exercise

Written by on 17th September 2011 in Thoughts with 0 Comments

We did a keyword exercise in class on Thursday to try and find some keywords that describe what we’re sort of thinking and interested in. Design hacking, space hacking, and fun ended up in the center of the “IS” circle, while Scientific, Deterministic, and Passive ended up in the center of the “IS NOT”. Though I think maybe Scientific shouldn’t be in that center now that I think about it. Hard to read but Radiolab and (sciecne writer) Jonah Leher are in the “influences” section. And I do love science. I guess it can involve science in a way that doesn’t result in something Scientific.

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