Reading 1

Natural Interfaces are not Natural, Don Norman

I had begun noticing what Norman would consider NUIs when the Nintendo Wii first came out, the experience was quite different from what I thought human/machine interactions would be. But it wasn’t until the appearance of the XBOX 360 that I started thinking about the new possibilities that these new interfaces were presenting.

At the time, I was still in my undergraduate program (animation) and was thinking about creating an interactive performance space that could generate graphics and sound (only to find out later that many have “been there, done that”). Because I wanted to focus on the therapeutic and meditative aspect of body motion and abstract audiovisual experience, I didn’t want to use the cumbersome motion capture suits that were introduced to us in class. My other option was using a camera capture set up which was very expensive and inaccurate if you wanted to do more detailed movements of joints, or group capture where overlap may occur. The interaction that the XBOX 360 advanced confirmed that such technologies were becoming more and more accessible, affordable and powerful. But due to my limited knowledge and understanding of the emerging technologies, it was hard for me to envision the design process and further realize my idea.

This article is interesting in the way that it emphasizes the complex thought process behind each seemingly natural interface (musical instruments, GUIs, etc.) that we have become so accustomed to. For me, the design process becomes more tangible, and I begin to have a sense of areas I can start looking into for further understanding.

I am hoping to read more about the conceptual and design process of NUIs, GUIs and musical instruments (the mechanics of musical instruments can be so fascinating and creative).

Great Wall of Facebook- The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out, Fred Vogelstein

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, Eli Pariser

Last weekend I picked up a copy of Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble. Although there’s been critique on the book’s view of the personalization of social network and social media sites (one reader placed Pariser in the same “Internet pessimists” category along with authors like Jaron Lanier, Andrew Keen, Lee Siegel, and Nicholas Carr.), I still found the author’s point of view interesting and worth considering.

Since the beginning of its existence, the Internet has always been seen as a platform of new possibilities and opportunities. But with the increasing use of personalized systems online, the extent of our cyber vision becomes questionable. Are we really in control of what information we take in? Are we really presented with more choices? or are we instead put into little niches that the algorithm has constructed for us? Personalization seems to emphasize the individual and his or her unique characteristics, but at the same time, does it turn us into cliche’s?

Your Art Not a Gadget, Jaron Lanier

“I want to say: You have to be somebody, before you can share yourself.”

This was my favorite quote from the section.

Week 2.0 reading response

Mashups: The New Breed of Web App – Duane Merrill

Prior to reading this article, I had only heard the term “mashup,” but I didn’t really know what it was. After reading this article, I still wasn’t 100% sure I knew what a mashup was. I understood it in terms of music, but I call them “remixes,” but I didn’t think I was familiar with them in terms of web apps. So I did a quick online search for “mashup web app examples,” and now I get it. Mashups are being used everywhere on the web, but I didn’t know they were called “mashups.”

I thought this was a very cool blog that tracks Google Maps websites, mashups and tools.

Also, this video was pretty helpful in clarifying what a “mashup” is.

Mashin\’ up with Granny Teller

This article, although 20% of it sounded like a foreign language, did however, give me an in-depth look into the back end of web apps.

Grey Album Producer Danger Mouse Explains How He Did it – Corey Moss

Naturally, the first thing I did after reading this article was listen to parts of the Grey Album. It’s remarkable. I found that I had a few songs from the Grey Album on my iTunes, but I hadn’t realized they were mashups because the way the songs were mixed blended in so seamlessly. And what’s more remarkable was his process. Burton took two “finished” pieces and deconstructed them, adding in bits and pieces here and there to create something completely new and extraordinary.

Calm Technologies 2.0: Visualising Social Data as an Experience – Michael Hohl, Ph.D.

I really enjoyed the essay about calm technologies. I’ve been stuck in the backwoods corporate world for the past four years as a fake web designer, and have been trying to push my thinking beyond the screen. So this essay really connected with me and what I am trying to do here at Parsons. The beautiful thing about our program is that we don’t always have to make something so functional and marketable. We can make things for ourselves. We can make things for our friends. We can make things for whomever we want. For example, Dimitrios Vlastaras’ “Web Visitors Blinker” was a purely personal project that gave him a “warm feeling.” The concept is so simple, yet quite interesting. And that’s really all you need.

I think it’s also important to note that I agree with Hohl. A lot of screen-based technologies are in your face. Surrounding you. Devouring your time. I like the idea of peripheral technologies. Accessible when you need them, when you want them, and there to give you those warm fuzzies during those moments you crave them.

What this essay did the most for me was that it inspired me. It really made me reflect upon this path I’m taking towards my future. This is grad school. This is probably the last time I will ever have all the time in the world to experiment and push my concepts beyond what I’ve been doing in the past. This is what you’re supposed to do in grad school, right? I feel like I’ll be successful here as long as I push myself, and distort my thinking and perception. Sometimes my experiments may not be successful in a marketable and pragmatic sense, but if it’s different and if it challenges me, then it will be successful to me. I know I have a long way to go since I automatically think of websites any time we’re assigned a project. I just need some time to get the corporate out of me and find my creative spirit again. In conclusion, this essay was really powerful to me personally, because it reminded me why I’m here.

Why Things Matter – Julian Bleecker, Ph.D.

Blogjects, as described in the essay, can be a very valuable research tool because they can go where no man can go. And they are definitely more cost-efficient than sending a person out to monitor a tree in the Amazon.

It’s also a very interesting concept to let the objects do the talking. With blogjects, we don’t have to guess. We can see with our own eyes what is happening to the planet. We can use the blogjects to see how our planet is changing, and we can analyze the data collected from the blogjects to help shape the future. Once we see what is happening to our planet, perhaps we will be more mindful as designers when creating new objects.

But blogjects don’t even have to go that deep. I’ve always wanted to have some sort of blogject for my son. I’ve wanted to give him a watch or necklace or something that he could wear everyday with a built-in GPS and camera. Then I could go on a website and see what it is that he does everyday. I know it sounds psychotic, but he’s been going to some sort of daycare ever since he was 6 months old. Before he could talk, I’ve always wondered what he did when I was at work. And after he started talking, his stories to me about his day are so terse.

Mama: What’d you do today?

Ping: I can’t remember.

Not acceptable! If only I had a blogject that would track the everyday activities of Ping…