The Bod Squad

A friend of mine is working on a project to fight childhood obesity by starting a kids fitness TV program called The Bod Squad. They’re looking for funding through kickstarter and have some hilarious incentives to donate.  I think this is a great example that shows the level you can take an idea with little or no funding… and then put it out there to see if you can raise the money to make it happen.  What’s great about Kickstarter is that you can make small donations, so give ’em $2 and let’s see if we can make the show happen!  A quick description from my friend Nick Gage below:

As you may or may not know, one of the many projects keeping me busy over the past few months has been the development of a children’s fitness show with my good friend Kira Elliot.   Kira is that rare blend of tireless TV producer (having worked at Nickelodean for years) and physical trainer (having run her own gym for the past three years).

The show is called “The Bod Squad.”  It is an interactive show that requires non-stop movement from the viewers (the kids) as they aid our protagonists (Abby and Maximus) on their journey throughout the body.  Its aim is to promote healthy habits and lifestyles while doing its part to stem the tide of the childhood obesity epidemic.  I co-wrote the pilot episode and am writing the music for the webisodes and the TV pilot.  We’re up and running online at thebodsquad.tv

Month #1 recap; blog posts roundup

We are officially half way through our first quarter. It’s been a busy month. Here’s a recap:

In our Interaction Design, Society and the Public Sector class, we talked about “the consumptive culture that has caused our self-identities to retreat to a disposable nature that is easily bought and sold.” But in the end, “will consumption make us happy“? If we were to rethink design and design education in the context of society, can it be classified by intent? Moreover, should design be universalWhat about moody? For all the paper that we read, each of these prominent design figures has a personal style of conveying their ideas. So is it actually possible for designers to lead a life in which they can truly alter their their own perspectives, in a world for which we design, and with which we should design?

Actually being there might help develop empathy, but is the data from ethnographic techniques pure? Maybe the data needs not to be “pure”, because value from synthesis and interpretation is inherently biased. At the same time though, would we risk running into the danger of creating a false sense of “now we know more about this [group of people]“? Leveraging co-designing techniques such as participatory interviews will certainly allow us to explore “designing opportunities for individuals and based on that they have an individual experience“. In our Interaction Design Research & Synthesis class, we learned by doing and certainly came out with our own conclusion on what data means. Not everything went perfectly, but our lessons learned were captured carefully.

Meanwhile, we are practicing how to tell stories. Stick figures were created in our Interaction Design Prototyping class to tell stories of how our classmate proposed, burritos in a series a tubes, or the pixar story. Then we got more sophisticated to tell stories that solve problems, like NetLib, voice of a restaurant, and the ideal thrift store experience. We pool together resources and continue to learn how to engage our audience. Each of us essentially is a story too. With an attitude of think/make, social media makes a good platform to have a living portfolio to tell that story. When we’ve figured out where our info should live, good practices to formulate blog posts, and how to engage on twitter, we will start developing them into process manifestos.

Life at AC4D is challenging yet rewarding. We share dreams, and in the process, will be creating our own definition of success.

Sometime this week, we are going to start discussing design for the “developing world”. Stay tuned for next month’s blog posts roundup – which will include the final verdict of which client we will be working with for the next 28 weeks.

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:

Vizthink

Books:

The Universal Traveler

Technology:

Livescribe

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

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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!

-Saranyan</div

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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.?