Living outside of deisign. Bukowski speaks, and I paint some more furniture.

I dove back into the analog world yesterday, trying to stay way from a computer for most of the day, working on my motorbike, painting some furniture…. and yes, reading an actual book!  I’m a big fan of Bukowski, and I’d recently picked up two new books edited and put together by a friend of mine David Calonne.  They’re both phostumously published collections of short stories and essays by Bukowski. In one story, ‘Upon the mathematics of the breath and the way’ Bukowski talks about the the importance of living in order to become a writer.

You can’t write without living and writing all the time is not living. Nor does drinking create a writer or brawling create a writer, and although I’ve done plenty of both, it’s merely a fallacy and a sick romanticism to assume that these actions will make better of one.  Of course there are times when you have to fight and times when you have to drink, but these times are really anti-creative and there’s nothing you can do about them.

-Bukowski, exerpt from ‘Upon the mathematics of the breath and the way’ in the book ‘Portions from a wine-stained notebook

I saw this passage and immediately replaced the word writer with designer.  I think this ties into two things we’ve been talking about in class.  First, the notion of actually being there in terms of ethnographic research.  And second, something we touched on briefly in Jon’s class last week, which was the designers ability – or inability- to actually and effectively lead a life in which they can truly alter their their own perspective.

A writer reflecting on a world which they do not know is like a designer who designs for a world in which they do not live.  We must be careful not to live entirely inside the world of design, but also to live in the world for which we design, and with which we should design.

I’m going to go paint some more furniture in ‘designer’ black.

The Pixar Story

I got inspired by the book I’m reading, The Pixar Touch, and used it for my sketch story in IDSE103.

1974 Ed Catmull graduates from Salt Lake City University where he developed many of the fundamentals of computer graphics and imaging.

1975 John Lassiter enrolls at California Institute of the Arts to study animation.

1979 Lucasfilm starts a research lab to explore digital film and sound editing and accounting. eventually attracting Catumull and eventually Lassiter.

1986 Lucasfilm’s computer division releases the Pixar Image Computer. It flops.

1986 Steve Jobs purchases the computer division at Lucasfilm, which is renamed to Pixar, Inc.

1990 Pixar animates television commercials for Listorine, Life Savers, Pillsbury, and other household brands.

1995 Pixar releases the first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, directed by Lassiter.

1998-2006 Pixar releases Monsters, Inc and 5 other feature films which are all commercial successes.

2006 Disney purchases Pixar for $7.4 billion, where Catmull and Lassiter now lead the animation and creative departments.

Visual Thinking Resource 01

This post is a re-cap, to date, of the Visual Thinking resources that we’ve all gathered and sharred on the blog so far.  Each week Scott, Kat, and I will provide an update with links to resources from that week.  Please post or fwd on any links or posts you think would be relevant and we’ll add in!

Drawing and sketching resources:

Learning to draw lesson 1.0

Learning to draw, a students perspective

Drawing on the right side of the brain part 2

Stick Figures 2.0

Process graphics

My favorite design process visualization

Visual Notes

Visual Problem Solving

Online resources:



The Universal Traveler



NetLIB: NetFlix for Libraries

For our latest assignment in Petro’s class, we’re supposed to develop a story that solves a problem well from multiple perspectives (e.g. Owner, Patrons, Staff) and then illustrate this via some kind of diagram or storyboard. Then we’re supposed to present and “deliver via our blog.”

What does that mean?! We have to post our homework?! Awk-waaaard…

Um, yeaaaaah, seeing as how it’s after midnight and no one’s posted, either I’m misreading our assignment, or we’re all gun shy.

Anyway…earlier in the week, Alex’s book post and Kristine’s link about collaborative consumption got me thinking, so here’s my brilliant idea: NetLIB (NetFlix for libraries).

Click for larger size.

What data is…? Reflections…

div class='posterous_autopost'>My team just finished all the three participatory interviews. We are proud. There are several things we learned in terms of process of doing the interviews and just other things around it.

Today I understood one thing that means deeply to me. I understood what design data is and why quantity does not (?) really matter too much. Here, data is filled with emotion. It is filled with people's dreams, hopes

Lightly you use best shiny eye care online store product these make shampoos don’t.

and desires. It highlights frustrations. It speaks about daily struggles. It speaks about motivations and dejections. It talks about value systems and beliefs. It talks about a better tomorrow. It talks about the pride involved in day jobs. It talks about the love and passion for their work. Data is divine.

I never felt this deep emotion for data before. To me, when I did scientific research, data was a number. The more the merrier. Because, you can just average it out, calculate the mean, median, standard deviation. They are just there to run some Mann-Whitney tests or chi-square analysis and finally conclude why Pi = 3.143…Data were just numbers. When did we ever associate emotion with numbers unless it is related to us personally? No data point in a scientific experiment has an attachment with your own self. If the data point was not relevant to proving my hypothesis, it could have been an outlier. But, until now, it never occurred to me that they were all emotional outliers.

Let me set this straight. I still don't agree completely and approve of the general method of doing participatory interviews when people are paid for it. The process of recruiting candidates and interviewing them is bringing an artificial process to something that is so beautiful when raw. I understand the motivation behind recruiting people who could be interviewed so that we collect “rich” data. There is a budget that allows for having “n” number of people that we could talk to because what is data without patterns? The more people I talk to, the more patterns I can see, right? But, if I talk to 10 people who talk because they want to vs. 10 people who talk to me because there is money involved, am I going to see similar patterns? I don't know, but it something worth trying. But, I have a strong feeling that the undercurrents to both the data will be completely different.

In my interviews, I saw my own reflection in the eyes of a restaurant manager who cared about the environment. I saw a person pour his frustrations because the city is screwing him up with taxes. These people need not and should not be incentivized for sharing their hearts story. This class project might be over with three participatory interviews, but it is not over for me. The process will go on and I am going to talk to everyone who wants to talk.

Hello world!



Learning empathy thru firsthand experience of discrimination?

1968. MLK, Jr. is assassinated. An Iowa teacher decides that her students need to learn important lessons about racism and empathy—and that the only way to do this was through first-hand experience of discrimination. Not just talk about it, but do it and feel it. She creates a system of separation between blue-eyes and brown-eyes in her classroom as an experiment. She also later runs workshops with adults, with similar results. Watch the Frontline documentary, A Class Divided, online at PBS.

It’s pretty powerful stuff to watch these kids turn against each other so quickly. And it’s interesting against the lens of Kolko’s reading sets 2 (empathy, research, responsibility) and 3a (information vs. technology, education).

Questions it raises for me:

  • obviously a spectrum of empathy. are there some lessons of empathy you can only learn through first-hand experience? (vs. reading about it, hearing about it, witnessing it, watching a documentary like this, knowing it on a cerebral level)
  • what is responsibility of teachers (designers?) to design (facilitate?) these kinds of experiences?
  • where does this kind of learning belong? when should it take place?
  • and then also all the slippery, uneasy questions of ethics, psychological scarring, overstepping bounds, etc.?

Booktainment and the lazy-ing of our imaginations

A colleague of mine sent me a link yesterday to IDEO’s cute little video about the future of books.  It’s an interesting look at three different concepts that push the boundaries of what a book could be.  Later in the day another friend of of mine sent me a link to a new Vook that was of particular interest.  He forwarded it to me because it starred my former roommate, Captain Chris Clukies, tellin’ you how to fix up your bicycle.  I tweeted about these briefly and got a great article in response from @s0delightful titled “Books in the age of the ipad” which formulates some distinctions between what should be digital in the future and what should be printed.   Somewhere in there I had a class with Kolko and we debated some work by Neil Postman specifically concerning information overload and it’s effects on our scaffold of reality.  Huh?

Information overload.  Interaction overload.  Future overload.

Link it, Tag it, Share it.  Booktainment.  Much the way the media seems to have gone all Infotainment on us, I am worried that books will follow suit.  So my book can now change its own narrative based on where I am and where I’ve been, it can access loads of videos and volumes of extra information… and we end up always looking for and finding answers to our questions through quick links and live text.  But I wonder, where will the room to imagine go?  Or I guess, specifically, where will the time to imagine go?  When will I be reading and have hours in which to let my mind wander around my imaginations vision of the prose.

The beauty of a book with no images is that those images are created in your mind, those worlds rendered by your imagination.  Are we creating systems that allow for lazy imagining?  Systems where instead of building worlds in our own imaginations we will simply opt out and want to see what someone else has created? How much easier is it to click a link and watch a video than to dream of it yourself?  A good book can be like a walk in the woods, giving your mind time to breathe.  But somehow this vision of the future seems to have planted a boatload of flatscreens all up in my forest, making it much harder to concentrate on that which I do not know.

But really, all I want to know is what will happen to all the bookshelves?

doing to understand

We have been discussing the concept of co-creation as a research method in our research and theory classes. It is great to be able to layer them on top of each other. The theory class is allowing us to explore what the experts are saying through very thoughtful examples and articles. While I could see the value of the process from these articles I think it has still been difficult to understand. There have been many debates about how participants may react to activities. We did our first one yesterday and I was amazed at the impact. It allowed me to understand the method we had been reading and discussing in a new way. Our participant spent so much time working with us on the activities. Ideas and insights were shared that  I feel there would have been no way for us to know unless we had been involved in the market we are studying for months.This experience is influencing my view on the research process and raises some questions in other areas for me.

Is there enough “doing” in education?

Is there a need for recess or creative time at work places even if the industry is not involved “design”? Does it allow opportunities for communication and new ideas?

How can designers and educators create opportunities to explore ideas on their own and create their own point of view?