Reading for week2 : Mashup

Mashups: The new breed of Web app
This article gives me more understanding about variation of what mashup can be and some of them are what I use normally in everyday life. One of an interesting issue of intellectual property made me think of an idea called copyleft, which people share their idea and work, then let other people to develop it as you can see this culture from open source software. This idea of mixing one kind of information with another and managing them in the right context, would really turn unimportant information into something valuable you can’t never ever expect.

Calm Technologies 2.0: Visualising Social Data as an Experience in Physical Space
‘We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them’ Albert Einstein. I thought of this quote once I read this article and saw how complicated life could be since we had invented one thing to another. I don’t know if calm technology would make the world calmer or not. But one thing I’m quite sure is that the more we are tied to technology the harder we can live without it. Anyhow all examples are good demonstration for many aspects of mashup combining with hardware. For me, I’m quite impressed with Jonah’s work and it reminded me a bit of a work of an American artist’s I saw in Bangkok. He used to work for the project called ‘ We Live in Public’, which conveyed how people live together totally in pubic, as we started to see from Facebook these days, by having 24 hours broadcast of some people living in their private space.

Why Things Matter
When I read this ‘Blogject’ idea, I started to think of animism, the belief that objects are spiritual beings, but in this sense Blogject is more likely to be in sci-fi version. For this blogject idea, I can’t imagine how people would treat things differently and looked at them differently in the future, a tree might not be just a tree anymore. In the example that they put sensors into pigeon, doubt me about how people would integrate themselves with machine in the future for example a glass might be able to detect how people blink their eyes and give important information about social health statistic or even a shirt that detects pulse to know heartbeat rate of people in each country. In the beginning of industrial revolution, human treated nature and things as objects, just objects. Hence they didn’t care how they used them and had no feeling of what would happen to them. This 21st century people started to look back to what they did to nature and tried to find the balance point.I guess blogject might be one of a good example.

Grey Album from Danger Mouse
Mashup really interested me for last few years. I guess this culture got to be popular from Hiphop DJ sampling culture in 70’s when they used some part of different records to mix together as background music for their rapping. Some people said that Pop music since year 2000 are more likely to be kind of mix and match from retro elements eg. Amy Winehouse used elements of 60’s. Masup music could be the character of this decade, while music business is getting locked in and artists can’t purely invent the new sound or new element from beginning, because artists in the generation before have created and experimented with many things already. Another reason for this culture of mashup music is due to the development of music studio technology that is cheap and available for everyone to make their own music in their bedroom not in an expensive studio as many years ago.

Readings for Week 4

“Interaction Relabelling and Extreme Characters: Methods for Exploring Aesthetic Interactions”
by Gaver, Djajadiningrat, Frens

I think this is an interesting counter position to what Donald Norman presents in his argument of how important it is to create devices that are clear, concise and not cluttered and overwhelming for users. Still though, I don’t know if I buy that basically, user-ability amounts to a beautiful “interface”, and thus, the product has good user-ability, and I think that’s where it loses me. Beauty, or basically what amounts to a good looking design is simply superficiality and isn’t rooted in efficiency. A site can be visually appealing to any one person and still be hard to manage for most. I think when we think of designing things, it has to be more than an intricate or visually appealing interface. The user should be able to navigate around it even if they don’t use the interface for a month, for two months, or perhaps even more.

“Hertzian Tales”
by Anthony Dunne (excerpt)

I actually think Anthony makes a good point about electronic art as a field being way too focused on the fact that it’s a technology based medium that it sort of disregards the uniqueness of working with physical mediums instead of incorporating the quirks of these different medias into how artists work. I think, as someone who comes from a background where I’ve worn hats in several fields, I’ve always felt incredibly misplaced, and I don’t mean to make this about me, but I think right now, we’re at a point where there’s a sort of resentment from traditional artists to adapt to working on computers, and there’s a resentment from digital artists to use traditional media. We’re focusing way too much on petty differences and not embracing these different mediums for how one actually supports the other.

“The Design of Everyday Things”
by Donald Norman

I think this is an important reading, and one that I would try to take into consideration when I embark on a project. In this reading, Donald Norman goes into what makes a well designed product that people can use everyday work, and the key is visibility. If users have a hard time understanding where to start and how to use something, they simply won’t use it. One thing that comes to mind when I think of this scenario is the Sims. If the Sims have a hard time moving around, they simply stand in place and shrug their shoulders while shaking their head. Humorously, and perhaps demeaningly enough, People aren’t that much different.

“Why We Need Things”
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This was an okay reading, and I think Mihaly is onto an interesting problem, one that I’ve thought of, but I think he skims the surface here. Mihaly ignores the fallacy of our consumerist culture and classism and how this plays into the growing hoarding problem that’s becoming common place in our society and how these two problems come together. The truth is, people aren’t “dependent” on using these objects for their intended uses, and chances are, they will buy them and forget they own them. We are living in a culture where people buy these things not because they need them, but because they can. Basically, being able to cheaply own these products gives those of us without much a fund a false sense of privilege, it allows those who aspire for more to think they truly have more when that item might not have value at all, or when they can hardly even take care of the item. I don’t necessarily think it is a weird controlling relationship we have with our objects, because we don’t really have control over these objects, it’s more like they control us in that we can’t let them go. In a way, people depend on these objects to develop a false sense of class. This applies to many things, including the electronics we purchase and use today, in that they sort make us believe we’re acquiring status, which is partially tied to power, but is much more superficial.

I think all too often, people are blamed for this happening when it’s more the fault of these companies who mass produce these items for the sole purpose of consumer spending. Our society is at the whim of corporations, and in this scenario, it’s no different. I think Milhaly is right in that we sort of shape ourselves and our identity based on what we consume, we use our material belongings to make a statement about what they say about us as people. I just think this idea could have been explored and expanded on further.

“The Computer Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet”
by Alan Kay
I thought this was a fascinating read. As designers, I wonder how our generation has lived up to the expectations of generations before us and looking at the technology that is around today and what it’s capable and incapable of, and whether or not there is room for improvement. I think that given that there are those who’ve been given the foundation and funds to be able to push these innovations forward, it leaves our generation with more to prove ourselves with.

“What do Prototypes Prototype”
by Houde and Hill

Weirdly, this is the reading I can identify with the most. I feel like this week I have stumbled upon my own issues with coming up with prototypes. In creating work, I never really planned on developing my idea further but simply presenting it as a hypothetical maybe if I were to ever build it. There was a part about this reading that struck out to me the most…“It is difficult for designers to communicate clearly about prototypes to such a broad audience….Even communication among designers re- quires effort due to differing perspectives…Limited understanding of design practice on the part of supporting orga- nizations makes it hard for designers to explain their prototypes to them.”

I can sort of feel myself nodding with this as I read it along. I realize that the hardest thing to do is to describe to someone an idea especially since because they can’t see inside your mind, so so many concepts get lost in translation. My biggest problem has always been communication, and how to hone it so that my work can be more well received.

Week 4 Reading Response

Interaction Relabelling and Extreme Characters: Methods for Exploring Aesthetic Interactions

J.P. Djajadiningrat, W.W. Gaver, J.W. Frens

Coming from an industrial design background, it was really interesting to read this article. In the world we currently live in, mostly all the famous must-have gadgets focus entirely on a rectangular screen interacting with people through complicated software. Hardly do you see products with different shape and for and material physically interacting with human. This article talks about how interactive relabeling and designing for extreme characters may lead designers to think outside the box. When deciding on a thesis project in undergrad, it was really hard for me to decide on a topic. After long thought, I decided to create a design that focused on a somewhat extreme character in Alzheimer’s Disease patient’s caretakers. I made countless trips to different sanatoriums and used many methods such as diaries, user tracking, collaging, etc. to really grasp how the caretakers felt and how they acted towards patients of Alzheimer’s Disease. I had the opportunity to dive into a distinct user and to create a product that did not look prototypical. Because caretakers in Korea were usually old and were far from being tech geeks, it really would not have made any sense for me to create an iPad-like device that enables caretakers to manage Alzheimer’s Disease patients – the caretakers would not really find it comfortable carrying around an iPad and working with software that can be hard to understand. What I spotted was that almost every caretaker had a watch. I somewhat held an interactive relabeling myself and tried to store daily logs of patients into a watch so that caretakers could easily manage different patients. While reading the article, I really liked the product design created for the polyandrous twenty-year old. The other products for the drugs dealer and the pope were too clichéd and stereotyped therefore didn’t show much potential for development. But the “appointment fan” really made use of its aesthetics and combined it with interaction in a very purposeful way. I can see an image of a polyandrous woman luxuriously taking out her fan and blowing wind to herself while at the same time checking her schedule. Not only can this fan-appointment device be used by polyandrous woman, but I can see it also being used by other comparatively “normal” people.

What do Prototypes Prototype?

Stephanie Houde, Charles Hill

As a designer, there are many times when designers need to prototype their concepts. There are also several reasons for prototyping. Designers may prototype their conceptual “artifact” in order to see if their design really works, or to find out any other ways to solve different problems, or simply to make an effective presentation in order to persuade clients. Deciding on what the main goal of the prototype is essential during the process of prototyping as prototypes have several different outcomes. I like to think of prototypes as a communication tool towards different audiences in order to receive feedback that can improve the final outcome of the artifact. Just like people talk differently to children, teenagers, adults, old people, etc., prototypes must also be different for different types of audiences for better understanding. As an example, you would not make your prototype through touchscreens if you wanted feedback from a baby; you would make it on paper and crayons. After reading this article, it was quite clear that there are very diverse mediums such as video, paper / pencil, computer programs, pizza boxes, toy cars, etc. that can be used in order to communicate with different types of people. But it doesn’t mean the higher the technology, the higher the hierarchy of prototype. As seen in Example 9 of the article, toy cars and walkie talkies were used just for the sole purpose of the look and feel of the design. Because the “role, look and feel, and implementation” are three main factors of prototypes that need to be considered in order to achieve “integration”, I believe this is why designers like us make user scenarios, draw countless number of aesthetic sketches, and carry technological research and practice.