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In Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics, he argued that art deals with human interactions within a social context. He said, “Art has always been relation to some extent.  It has, in other words, always been a factor in sociability and has always been the basis for a dialogue (161).”  I thought it was interesting how he made the comparison of what is art with art exhibitions versus books and TV. Bourriaud stated that exhibitions aid in the idea of a civilization of proximity.  At these exhibitions, people have the ability for dialogue about pieces of art.  Exhibitions are relational.  Books and TV do not fit these characteristics, however, because they are typically enjoyed in the private spaces of our minds.  He brought up the idea of a cinema, which does bring people together in a space to enjoy and consume a piece or art, however the cinema does not fit the same characteristics as an exhibition because there is no “live commentary on what the theatre or cinema audience is seeing (the time for discussion comes after the show).”

This one page of the reading really got me thinking towards my paper topic, which deals with a website called StageIt.  The website allows artists to play concerts to their fans across the world at set times, while being paid.  As I’ve been thinking of this website, I’ve been comparing it to other sources of music such as live concerts and recorded YouTube videos.  In regards to Bourriaud, concerts would be seen as relational because they bring people together in a space where they can comment and have open conversations with other fans during the show.  YouTube videos of a concert, while they may be exciting and enjoyable, would fall into the same category of TV and books.  Enjoyable, but they do not promote an open dialogue or bring people together to discuss the concert until after the video.  Users can do this through the comments section of Youtube.  And enter StageIt, this new-ish website that could be related to YouTube in a sense because it is playing a concert online.  But StageIt provides a mix of YouTube shows and live concerts.  While the artist is playing their show live all over the world, fans are able to discuss in a chat about what is going on in the concert.  StageIt provides a way for fans to connect and discuss the show with one another, and also talk to the artist in real time.  While the space fans are brought to is not a physical space, it still has the ability to bring them together to talk.  I guess the point of this rant is that after finishing the Bourriaud reading, I realized that StageIt is relational, and could be considered art to Bourriaud because it is a “site that produces a specific sociability.”

 

In the Barnard reading, he states that “Hadjinicolou tries to understand style and differences between styles in terms of social classes.  For him, style belongs to classes or sections of classes.”  For me, the relation I made was based on the user and the design or product they choose for personal use.  It kind of relates to what Brian had said in a comment on my last blog post.  Certain people choose certain products, and this in itself can reflect on their class or section of class.  If we take the cell phone for example, there has been a large increase in the development of smartphones.  Yet, some people still choose to use standard cellphones without touch capability.  Could we relate the types of technology people own to their social class?  I would say yes, in some cases.  However, I do realize this idea is flawed because choice of technology could also deal with generation gaps rather than social class.

Another way to use Hadjinicolou’s ideas is in relation to a design itself, rather than a user.  We can  see how designs can express the ideas and values of a social class.  Take smart phones again—they are wonderful because they grant us instant access to information and communication to loved ones.  This in a way shows that the class that the smartphone was designed for values information and communication.  This society values having a social aspect added into daily life.

As I was reading the Corrigan reading, I found myself trying to make the connections in critiquing current technology and interactions.  So here’s my go at making the connections on a few of Corrigan’s approaches.  Whether they are correct or not, I’m not too sure.  But its a try.

Film History – Corrigan stated that this approach was typically used in investigating the historical context of a film.   He said that “some historical analysis informs most writing about the film.”  I guess with interaction design, the historical analysis would inform us about the evolution of interactions and devices.  In regards to interaction, I took this historical analysis not of the context of the time, but the historical context of the artifact.  For example, if we take a look at how music players have changed throughout history.  They have evolved from radios, large boxes full of wires used to play recorded music, to more portable forms.  From radios, we moved to things like tape players, Discmans, mp3 players, to the iPod, the iPod Nano, and eventually the iPod Shuffle.  Looking at the history of music players, we can see a historical trend of devices getting more compact.  And now that I’m writing and thinking about it, this is a historical trend that reflects us as a population.  Because music players are not the only devices in history that have evolved to become smaller and more portable; we notice this trend in phones, and even video playing devices.

National Cinemas – I had a harder time with this theme in regards to technology and interactions.  To Corrigan, the national cinema approach dealt with the culture and national character of a film.  I suppose in our case, this means that technology is portrayed differently within different cultures.  This is a long shot in the dark, but could this play into how western cultures typically read left to right and up to down, and how most of web interfaces place their menus on the left side of the page, or at the top of the screen?  I feel like menu placement is a standard across the web, but how does this affect cultures that read in the opposite way?  Is it possible that other cultures may try formatting their technology differently because of this?

OR does the national cinema approach deal with specific cultures and how they interact with technology differently (with less of a focus on the actual technology, and more focus on the cultures using it)?   Again, I’m not too sure…

Genres – The genre analysis approach focused on finding patterns of form and content in a film.  With genres, we identify themes, structures, and techniques that are similar within a set of films- or in our case, technologies.  I relate this to having certain design patterns for different companies.  Take Apple for example.  Apple products have certain patterns when it comes to gestures.  I consider them one of the first companies to play with gestures successfully.  On macs, Apple made use of the no button track pad.  They played with gestures and how a user can use the two finger swipe to scroll up and down, four finger swipe to display all applications, pinch to zoom in and out, etc.  As a company, Apple has carried on these types of gestures to other technologies.  They moved to the iPod touch, eventually to the iPhone, and now the iPad, which has similar use of gestures.  This is just one example, since Apple has made various design patterns recognizable to the brand.  When someone says “That’s an Apple product”, the phrase has a certain connotation of design patterns that follows it.

Auteurs – This type of analysis deals with associations of films to certain dominant figures.  I saw this as associating certain technologies to specific companies, or those at the head of the company.  I’ll use Apple products as an example again; they have a direct association with Steve Jobs.  Other examples include associating Macintosh products to Bill gates, or social media products to Mark Zuckerberg.

Kinds of Formalism – This type of criticism dealt with style and how features are structured within different films.  In film, Corrigan stated that critics focused on different patterns in narrative, camera techniques, etc.  I could be wrong, but I related this to different UI elements.  If you compare Android phones to the iPhone, both have their own unique design patterns. Android phones typically have a sort of static menu structured into the phone at the bottom of the screen.  Because of this, apps designed for an Android device don’t typically need a “back” button.  The iPhone however does not have a static back button, so typically in iPhone apps you’ll see the back button as a back arrow with text on the top left of the phone.

Ideology – The beliefs we have about the world… honestly, I had no clue how to relate this aspect.  Any thoughts?

A lot of people have asked me this, so I figured I’d ask on the blog to make sure.  For tomorrow’s assignment, we are only doing the pre-writing activities, not a draft of our paper, correct?  In my notes I wrote “You are not writing a paper about this subject.  Jeff wants us to generate a document and do the pre-writing exercises.”  I just want to make sure I’m on the right path, and am not telling people to do the assignment wrong.

On another note, if we are only doing the pre-writing assignment… how many resources should we have mapped out in the “collection” exercise?   Is there a certain length we should try to accomplish in our pre-writing document?  Thanks for any help in advance.

So reading Jared’s post made me think about different perspectives of analysis we learned in class.  When we choose a specific type of interaction, whether it be a website or app or other, are we allowed to use other perspectives we have not gone over in class?  To my knowledge there are four perspectives:

  1. Creator
  2. Artifact
  3. User
  4. Social

We have gone over Creator and Artifact perspectives in class.  Is anyone else using the User or Social perspectives for their writing assignment?  Would it be unwise to use these perspectives for this first writing assignment since we have not gone over them too much?  Or is the point of the assignment to drill down deeper than the perspective, and into specific themes like signs / signifiers, denotation / connotation etc.

Okay, I lied… that was more than one question. :P

I was stumbling around on Twitter this morning and saw this video:

The video is a psychedelic mash up of a ton of UI elements we have known for decades.  Though 6 minutes long, I was entranced by how the video was made, and how the UI elements played a role in the music video’s storyline.  I saw the video as a criticism on how current UI elements and technologies control our lives.  Though this article goes through the idea that the video is a “a menagerie of classic interface elements headed for the deadpool”.  What do you guys think?  Either way, pretty neat video.

I know its been a week since the rest of you talked about this reading, but I wanted to share some general thoughts and reflections I had while away.
When first reflecting on the Cross reading, I was unsure whether I enjoyed it or not. As I read through the text, I felt like saying “Well, duh… that’s obvious…” on many sections of the text. But the more I think about it, I did enjoy the reading. I saw this text as a validation of what we have been learning in the HCI/d program. The fact that I’m saying “Duh” in my head proves to show that I have actually learned about design within this graduate program.

One part that stood out particularly to me was the “Attachment to Concepts” section. This section basically discussed the fact that designers have a tendency to cling to their early solution ideas and or concepts. Cross argued that designers follow one design idea to solve a problem, even if they run into issues. Designers will keep on with this idea and apply small fixes as opposed to finding a better overall solution. As I read through this section, I had flashbacks to Marty’s IDP class. I can see him in my head screaming “This is bad design. Never marry your ideas.” The approach of patching a design is like cough and cold medicine for a virus. It solves some of the symptoms, but doesn’t really solve the problem. A good design should address the whole, rather than parts. I think that’s something I have really taken away from this program.

Another section that stood out to me was the “Fixation” section. I agree with what Cross says, that when designers fixate on already made solutions, and it can hinder their creativity and further exploration. However, I do not necessarily see this as a bad thing in some cases. There are certain design patterns that users are familiar with. I can see that in some design problems, creating your design around a familiar pattern will make user adaption easier. For example, at work I’ve been working on a social CRM app for sales reps. Theres a good portion of them that are not very tech savvy, but when introduced to the idea of the app, they asked, “What kinds of apps can I download now that will help prepare me to use the one we will get?” Having examples ready to reference can help out. If you are too out there with your designs, there is a risk of a huge learning curve, which some users may not be willing to do. As Cross stated in his summary, fixation is a double-edged sword. But being conservative in some cases is not necessarily a bad thing.

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