Saturday, January 30, 2010

Design's Role at Present (and perhaps the reason for degrees like ours and IxD)

I had an awe inspiring class last Thursday. First, if you haven't read the course brief, I'll let you take a look:

"The 2010 design challenge explores the emerging role of designing services and the intersection of Social Networking technologies and trends. Service design is a meta design activity for intentionally integrating systems of interaction with customers—via physical systems, information systems, and human systems—to create value and differentiate providers. Think everything from getting a coffee at Starbucks to being treated at your local hospital, from government services to financial services. Social is all about people building and connecting through communities and sharing information and influence. What happens when service meets social? There are some precursors in services such as Patientslikeme™ and some micro financing services—but what happens when service meets social in the mainstream and everyday life? "

In the course of......the course, my group and I have been working on a sort of glorified craigslist, a system by which people can trade their goods/services/skills, with an emphasis on fostering the neighborly stereotype of yesteryear, of the days when people watched out for one another and frankly, did things together. Somewhere along the way, we got am little lost in the green aspect of sharing and reusing resources and lost some focus on the social impact we desired.

Let it be said that we are working towards both of those aspects to play important roles in this design, but the primary focus is the social change we seek to encourage/inspire, and the saving of resources is a natural by-product of using the service.

This is where Axel's inspiring words come into play. He spoke of the future of Design as less and less an issue of creating beautiful things that work well and streamline our lives to incredible efficiency. He went even further to say that in fact, the majority of the products the design world has put out have inadvertently helped spur on the sense of isolation becoming apparent in a world where direct physical interaction between people is becoming less and less of a necessity. The very objects and systems created to help us all live life more efficiently have also served to separate us socially. This is true whether we're talking about full isolation, or just placement in a different social context and removing on some aspects of the original or traditional interaction.

But this was by no means a cynical look at the design world or an accusation of any sort. This was all to underscore the future of design, to let us know that in fact, we as students are beginning work on something new. For the first time, the design world is beginning to focus on what can be done to bring people together on the most basic level, and that job is in our hands.

Exciting isn't it? I think this will be invaluable information to hold throughout the process of this capstone, especially since it is a service that I am working to design, and it really is relevant to all of our projects as well.

Thank you Axel!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A.A. Bondy

Perhaps raving about a new musical find is slightly irrelevant to my capstone topic, but I feel compelled to let everyone know of the greatness of the man featured in the title of this post. I attended a show at the Tractor last night, and it began with a host of disappointments, the first being that the artist I had come to see exclusively was, to my surprise, opening the night. The second was that he was halfway through his set by the time I got inside. The end of disappointments almost made me leave altogether, because the band following the beloved Willy Mason was horrible, just bad, nothing really more needs to be said. Everything changed when A.A. Bondy took the stage and filled my soul with heartfelt grit ( the good kind) and several mind-blowing walls of melodic feedback and oscillating harmonic waves that had somehow begun with country and folk roots and had arrived at their beautifully noisy destination somehow....subtly? My point here is that we've all seen artists/bands that overdo it in terms of trying to cover too many sounds, these are the types who set aside ten minutes or so to tell you what their sound entails when asked (and actually need it).

That all aside, these guys had their proverbial shit together, and every single explosive moment in their songs were on point, signaled by eyebrows and flailing arms in between strums. What if this kind of nuance could take place overseas? This is what should be accomplished by this project! (see, this is TOTALLY applicable to what we're doing in class!)

Yeah, so go check out A.A. Bondy, he's great, and so is the band he's currently touring with featured in the video below (that doesn't do them justice but will have to do).

Ooooooooooh, That's a Bingo!

First off, I'd like to thank Hans Lander for such an amusing hack job on a apparently english-derived phrase (watch Inglorious Basterds). The Gestapo really had a way with words (it's totally PC if it's a movie reference), and I couldn't help but use his version to underline my excitement at finding another great source for inspiration and study for this project: The World Music Centre. This page has some really great mission statements focused on the future of globally diverse music education, specifically in universities, but I believe it will prove invaluable to the progress of this project.

The only drawback (as you will quickly notice if you peruse the site) is that it does not seem to be a very active place. Nevertheless, I hope to contact somebody from the site if education becomes a large part of my project and see what someone taking on such a huge idea might think of what I am conceptualizing.

An example of the work the site fosters:

"From the 1990’s, cultural diversity in music education has developed explosively in terms of frequency, locations, people and institutions involved. It has also raised many questions on position, content and methodology. Cultural Diversity in Music Education (CDIME) is an informal network for institutions and individuals working in this field. It is a platform for exchange of ideas, experiences and practice in an area that is still gaining ground in music education at all levels throughout the world. The Call for Papers is closed, the programme is being made as we speak. Keep an eye on the website for further information. "

Love it!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Internet or Kiosks? (IxD summarized)

How would this perfect network that lets musicians of any level interact on endless levels exist in this world? The default method of interaction for all participants is of course through the internet on PCs with the necessary interface hardware to plug instruments or microphones into their computers, but my mind has been wandering lately. I realize that thinking of form at this stage of the game is probably a little pointless, but that's why I wrote my flawless metaphor, so that I can easily get back on track regardless of where my ADD mind takes me! (note: I have no idea whether or not I actually have ADD, but I can't say I'd be surprised).
I dream of odd kiosks placed in public places, but then again, so does every other interaction designer when they are wondering how a system they are working on might be placed in the real world (I am joshing 100%, but these do pop up from time to time, and it speaks more to the state of technology than anything else. Besides, what good would designs in the field be if they all existed on some unique platform? You think Sega vs Nintendo and Mac vs PC are strong feuds? Imagine every intangible system existing on it's own hardware..........eeeek). Ok, so interesting or unique interfaces are few and far between for a reason, got it.

Next time, a useful post!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And now it's time for a weak metaphor!

A couple of day's time has witnessed my first step back from the most recent out-pour of of slightly-more-focused-than-day-one energy, and as I still sit here, scribbling attributes and verbs on notebook paper for tomorrow's pecha kucha, I've formed a lackluster metaphor that I think may be a good shrine to return to from time to time in order to realize the fundamental concepts that define and give purpose to whatever my project ends up being:

It begins with a swimming pool, let's not delve into it's location or its means of operation, that may come later when there is a more certain range in view for who the project will affect, or it may very well never be that important. The important aspect of said pool is how it serves those who use it, and let's assume that everyone has a more or less equal amount of access, time, and other resources necessary for partaking in positive experiences that the pool provides. The pool's experience and meaning changes, it can be used for competition, teaching, coaching, casual exercise, partying, etc, and each of these is an experience controlled (if we assume the pool is not a restricting factor, aka it is a "perfect design") by those participating in and conducting the experience.

If the pool is a design, in this case a system of service, and the people who use it, from lifeguards to.......senior swim aerobics students are the users, than where should the designer look besides the pool itself in order to provide a meaningful/useful/helpful experience for the people enjoying it? My thoughts go first to the surrounding facilities, anything on the same property certainly, but perhaps also other buildings and establishments in closest proximity to the pool, or in the case of a generic design, the closest links that design has to the world: its market, it's relative and complimentary designs, its competition, etc. But where does the designer go next? The first two controllable mechanics are obvious and intuitive to the process of any design, but I would argue the part that matters most is in the first assumption of the scenario - the accessibility of those who would use your design. In a world of markets that becomes more and more diverse, choice-laden, exclusive, and tiered, my desire as a designer is to make something that reverses such a concept, and not by reducing choices or trying to find something everybody likes, but by building a "pool" that is, in every aspect, inclusive, and inspires it's participants and users to help one another in learning, creating, communing, etc.

Wow, at this point, I have no idea if any of that makes any sense, and I'm losing the battle to stay awake. What I want anyone reading this to get out of it is my belief in the importance of inclusive design, (a founding concept of the practice really), and the clear connection this makes when we talk about designing a service. I want whatever this project becomes to be something that encourages people to experience one another on a level beyond any simple economical transaction, I want a sense of community to be omnipresent in the experience.

That's enough for now, editing and clarification to come.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another great example of collaboration

This one was shared by our own Senior ID student/dear friend, Kristen Bales. It may be a stretch to call it collaboration, but this was for lack of a better term/in lieu of an overly wordy title. Maybe it's involuntary collaboration? Song painting? Label it with whatever buzzword you wish, but you have to admit, it fits somewhere within the realm of my recent explorations.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Encouraging Words

According to wiki, the best current example of non-textual mass collaboration is in open source software, though it could easily be argued that this is still, at the level of creation and editing, a form of text, regardless of the fact that it is not a traditional language. Even more interesting is the suggestion given in the same paragraph citing music as the next platform for mass collaboration in non-written form. I found this pretty exciting, because although it's great to have similar examples of your ideas already functioning in the real world, it's nice to have a chance to think of something that may not have already been done to death. You can check out the text for non-text mass collaboration under the definition for mass collaboration here.


Right, so let's think, what've I got lined up so far in respect to my capstone project? Well, it's going to be musical in nature that's for certain, it's use will involve collaboration on an ideally massive scale, it will bring people together from all backgrounds (like a pixar movie, only better), it will be age-independent, and finally it should be in some open-source/DIY form. It should be noted that the last attribute will not require extensive amounts of work or money to participate, the ideal situation being that each participant merely creates some artifact that allows them to participate and exists as their very own "weapon of choice."

So the flow of inspiration can be seen as trickling and vague at best right now, but visions of vast musical collaboration networks are already beginning to blossom within my meager mind. For now, take a look at these:

We have games that allow us to play songs with real instruments

We have musical collaboration utilizing systems not necessarily meant for musical collaboration.

Finally, we have teachers and schools posting examples of classwork and lessons online.

Maybe there's a way to merge it all into something meaningful for everyone who plays or wishes to play, practice, or learn an instrument (including voice) with someone else, at any level....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So about this whole capstone thing.....

It's finally time. I've been wondering what this would all be like since I first laid eyes on the visual schedule for the design major. We all have this daunting pair of classes senior year dedicated solely to the project that........I'm not sure, defines our entire undergraduate experience? I'm glad to see that this quarter will be spent deliberating and honing down the idea upon which our project will be based, and I was encouraged by the conceptual and theoretical nature of the projects reviewed in class, though I feel like I'd be more inclined to create something with more tangible aspects than some or most of those we viewed in class yesterday. Now, it is time to assemble the first Pecha Kucha.....