Working hard (or Hardly working)

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

  

A couple more sketches today for some various work/play project ideas. I realize these are all pretty silly, but that’s why I like them…

  • Desk Jockey Hero (spelled wrong I now realize) is like Guitar Hero. (And a little like Typing of the Dead) To play you have a replica of a desk top complete with a wireless keyboard and mouse and chair back. Push buttons to perform desk jockey actions like “click, search, and scroll” And since it’s portable you can play the game anywhere. I don’t know what the game interface would actually look like yet. Maybe it’s just a open window thing so you can augment reality with your gameplay.
  •  Flowchart Blocks recognizes that in today’s information economy it’s less important to be able to know how to fit blocks into appropriately shaped holes, and more important to be able to create arbitrary relationships between the blocks… I sort of drew this cause I thought it would be silly to have kids making flowcharts, but I sort of also think it would be a nice tool to have personally… The tops would be an erasable marker surface. I googled around to see if these existed already but I couldn’t find anything..
  • Elanor the Orator draws from Parappa The Rapper, Rockband, and Powerpoint Karaoke. And all the Skype video calls I’ve had this summer. Basically instead of pretending to be a rapper you pretend to be a public speaker on tour. Each level is a different conference. And as you level up you get nicer designed slideshow graphic elements to work with when constructing your slides in addition to a larger audience. I imagine that one of the upper levels is being at a TED talk or something. Scoring is based on words, gestures, and audience reaction. And the audience is actually other live people.
  • KeyPoint 1.0 is basically Keynote/Powerpoint + Tetris. Drop & Drop instead of the typical Drag & Drop. You’re not really trying to clear any rows though. Mostly just make a Dadaist presentation. When you fill the screen it goes to the next slide. Or maybe you have a time limit for each slide, Pecha Kucha style.

I really like the last two.. Though I think they’d all be pretty fun to build out prototypes of. I am liking this whole drawing comics as legitimate grad student work. I’ve also been doing some pdf reading today: Game Design & Architecture, Contesting the Public Realm: Struggles over Public Space in Los Angles, Play in the City: Parkour and Architecture.

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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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Zombie Mail v.0.1

Written by on 21st September 2011 in Experiments, Sketches with 0 Comments

A first stab at a wireframe/prototype interface for Zombie Mail. I was getting tired of just seeing sketches and needed to see something interactive to start thinking about the details more. The artwork is really a sketch of what I’d like it to be but i also sort of like the rawness of them.  There’s a lot of things to figure out, like dealing with text and the various zombie kill animations. But I sort of just wanted to get something out there for people to see sort of what I’m thinking about.. I think for now I might leave it in this state for a while and try some other things before coming back to this.

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Dead Tree Database

Written by on 21st September 2011 in References with 0 Comments

Hey! What do you know, the library actually has some interesting books! : )

  • Far from Equilibrium: Essays on Technology and Design Culture (red book)
  • Design of Children’s Play Environments
  • Habibi (from Amazon, not the library.. not directly related, I just want to read it)
  • Design For Play (green book)
  • A Hacker’s Manifesto
  • Mashup Culture
  • Playgrounds Design

So I guess I have some reading to do..

 

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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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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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