Readings Week 4 – Alex S

Cultural Probes

The concept of the probe made sense to me. It broke down many formal and somewhat impersonal routines which have, for some time, been implemented to capture data or experiences from users. Interviews, polls and surveys all require the user to recall experiences, outside of the environment they experience them. In these scenarios user likely feel uninterested, pressured, or possibly confused. The probe created an interface that allowed the user to record information about their environment in a playful and personal way, free of pressure.

Experience Prototyping 

I just wanna recap the excellent examples the people at IDEO (one of my favorite design firms) gave in this article.
– Defibrillator, triggered with pager
– ROV, navigate player A to player B
– Train journey, user experience through role playing
– Six degree of freedom controller
– Airplane interior, reconfigureable props
– TV remote, electronics prototype
– Children’s camera, trail period with users
– Digital camera, bulky prototype

These examples reveal the diversity in prototyping methods and how the different approaches can solve or identify different problems. Where the defibrillator prototype focused on the users emotions and personal concerns, the children’s camera conversely focused on how the device would be used once submersed in its intended environment. In all these scenarios, prototyping was the key to solve problems that are difficult to quantify or identify without subjective speculation.

I realize now that having a grasp on effective prototyping techniques will make me a stronger designer.

Cardboard Computers

This one was a bit off, dated maybe. For me, computer interface mock-ups are the easiest to make, and cheapest; constructing computers out of cardboard seems a bit tedious. I guess 1991 was a long time ago… Of course, they were dealing with some technologies (laser printer) that didn’t yet exist and I have nothing but respect for that. To often, we design for now cause people need solutions now. I love designing for the future, with idealistic expectations of technology, somewhat like they were doing in this study. In the end, the mock-up/role playing scenario seemed to

The mandate (of PD) was bang on. I could see how it was crafted to direct decisions made about technology in the workplace to be scrutinized. When technology became accessible to institutions/workplaces in the form on networks, little consideration was given to the people who work with the technology. We are now, finally, starting to pay attention to this and designing better networks.

MashUp – Alex S

Hardware MashUp

This physical mashup was intended for those of us who are master of procrastination and disasters of organization.

The concept, is a physical to-do reminder, that sits near you and perpetually reminds you of your to-do list. Many of us have a great deal to do in a short amount of time. It is difficult to stay on track and keep on top of your work. The to-do reminder has set out to remedy this, and reduce your hours of procrastination. Ideal for students!

How do I add a to-do to my list? There are two ways. One, any time you are online you can visit our URL (currently being tested at and append/edit your to do list through a quick and easy online form. Two, text your to-do from your cell phone to our number and it will automatically be added to your list.

How do I see my to-do list? Your list is displayed as scrolling text on a small LCD which is part of the compact and wireless device. The device may just be some little bot with an LCD head as shown below…

A prototype is currently being developed for this product.


Software MashUp

It is difficult to develop ingenious ideas in an area already so saturated. Because of this I began thinking wildly about mashup concepts that could be possible in the future. I arrived at an absolutely mental and outlandish concept titled AnotherMe.

Simply put, AnotherMe enables you to find other people on the planet most like you through a monstrous mashup algorithm. It was conceived when I observed the ever increasing trend of both the number of people online, as well as the number of people avidly sharing personal information. When every human on the planet is online, and you and one amongst (what could be) ten billion people, are you going to be overly concerned with privacy?

I compiled a list of items I feel can accurately distinguish a human…

Geographic locations, past and present
Interests and hobbies
Character and demeanor
Physical appearance
Views, political and religious
Genetic traits and DNA
Societal status/role
Achievements or misfortunes

With exception to health, character, DNA and misfortunes, most of these are already shared online by younger generations who have access to technology.

For this project I envisioned a future where personality can be captured and accurately stored in an accessible online database. DNA and health information is also shared through privatized databases. As we can suspect, access to this mass of information would lead to an unusual and somewhat scary future for mashups.

Maker Faire 2011 – Alex S

I have been involved in the maker movement for about four years now but never had the opportunity to attend the faire. It was great to see all the youngsters, engaging in soldering and electronics. Overheard much talk about ‘Arduino in the classroom’. I feel kids who take a liking to this at such a young age will have no fear of technical hurdles. The faire needs more oversized and outrageous projects: cars, monsters, robots, etc. With such confined living in NYC I guess it may be difficult. I hope during my time in NYC I will enter one or two projects into the faire. Have to start thinking wildly….

Below is my video of ArcAttack – a music generating tesla!

ArcAttack – Dr Who


Readings Week 2 – Alex S

A new breed of web apps, integrating data-sets from multiple sources. No doubt, this style of development has become significant. Over the next few years, as more data is passed down to the public domain, and as younger generations readily share personal information online, the mashup formula will continue to grow.

Websites who generate revenue solely on advertisements are unfortunately forced to secure their content from mashups. These are mainly media sites: YouTube, Flickr, etc. This makes for an interesting battle between the mashers, and the providers.

Google has one of the best mashups: Google Trends. Amazing amount of information about the world based on Google seach content. If you think about how many queries are hammered into the engine every day (91 million) that is a plethora of data to work with.

Calm Technologies
Data from hardware passed to and from the internet? I feel this has been around since the dawn of the internet. As far as making the internet more ‘tangible’, I am not sure this is a well thought out approach, more-so, a step backwards. Technology is making the world less tangible, yes. Is this having massive social impact, yes. Are irritable blinking LEDs going to help, not really.

Amazing article! I cannot wait to have a camera in my living room that can somehow intelligently take pictures during my house parties. I suspect the first step towards the technology of intelligent things will be with RFID integration, or something similar. Objects will then have more identity, as barcodes are more-or-less meaningless to us at the moment. With RFID households will have itineraries of our items, which can then be linked to online networks. Many possibilities follow, such as tracking, sharing, and even more intelligent marketing.

Grey Album
Electronic producers love remixing and mashups (homonym). Many of them are very talented and enjoy the challenge of working with a limited set of samples – exactly as Brian Burton stated. I can relate to this article as I have spent many hours banging my head against Ableton (an infinite production suite) and generating a mess of sounds that were never consolidated as a full track. Conversely, when I make use of my synthesizer, the limited sound bank is more engaging.
In web context, mashups are used to integrate data while this style of mashup is about limiting the amount of data.