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Not sure if anyone still gets on here to look at stuff, but I heard this episode of “Stuff to Blow your Mind” just the other day and immediately thought of this class.


So I’m completely ignoring the fact that I’m supposed to be writing a post about the direction I want to take my final paper to give you this, this, this, this, and this! Talk about some serious human-computer interaction!

In case you don’t want to read even just one of those links (they’re very similar anyway): Coke has set up a vending machine at the university of Singapore that gives you a coke if you give it a hug. Yup. That’s it. A basically free coke, all you have to do is give the machine a love squeeze.

“The Coca Cola Hug Machine is a simple idea to spread some happiness. Our strategy is to deliver doses of happiness in an unexpected, innovative way to engage not only the people present, but the audience at large,” said a representative from the company’s “Open Happiness” campaign, Leonardo O’Grady.

This is kind of like the Free Hugs campaign, but instead of getting a hug from a person as your reward for giving a hug, you get a coke. On the surface, it seems really cute, playful, and innocent.

Is it possible that Coca Cola is just feeding off of the innocent playfulness of the free hugs campaign?

The Free Hugs campaign has a similar goal to the one mentioned in the quote from Coca Cola: that of “delivering doses of happiness” to people. This video on youtube is responsible for much of the popularity of the campaign (as well as the popularity of the Australian rock band Sick Puppies). Although the article doesn’t mention the Free Hugs campaign, it’s hard not to see the link (but I guess I’m biased in that way). Both campaigns claim to be giving out happiness through hugging. The Coke machine just also happens to reward your physical manifestation of your love for the brand with a coke. I wonder if people who know about the Free Hugs campaign have a different reaction to this machine than people whose worldviews do not include this notion of a “free hug” from something or someone unexpected.

Is it playing off of our biological responses to hugs?

Hugging people has a direct chemical and biological affect on your body. When you hug another person, your body’s Oxytocin levels increase.

“Oxytocin does more than make us feel good. It lowers the levels of stress hormones in the body, reducing blood pressure, improving mood, increasing tolerance for pain and perhaps even speeding how fast wounds heal. It also seems to play an important role in our relationships. It’s been linked, for example, to how much we trust others.” source

That last line actually makes this hugging Coke machine less cute and more creepy. Is hugging the Coke machine making you trust Coca Cola, the brand, more? Or just that particular machine? Can a machine trigger the Oxytocin response? We read an article sometime last year (I forget for which class) that claims people treat machines the same way they treat other people.

The results of this study show that playing with Sony’s AIBO dog robot reduces stress levels and has other mental health benefits, but does NOT result in increased ocytocin production (dang it! I thought I was getting somewhere really interesting).

I want to continue thinking about this, but I guess I should quit procrastinating and get back to capstone work.

Just a really quick post. I was reading this hilarious article about the movie “Titanic” and realized that maybe the goal of the movie was to make people feel sorry for rich people a little, and be glad that they aren’t rich and, therefore, aren’t “fake.” Ideologies. False consciousness. etc.

This seemed to fit in with what we’ve been talking about most recently, so I decided to share. Also that article is hilarious.

Is anyone else using Genre Theory kinds of stuff for their final paper? I’m currently collecting a bunch of articles for mine, and I’ll gladly share them if anyone might also need them. I’d also gladly incorporate whatever you’ve found in the list as well.

In class today Shad used a video game example to describe the distinction between diegetic and non-diegetic…stuff. He said that menus etc. are non-diegetic and the stuff that the character in the game would see and hear is diegetic. It reminded me of this video:

This video is part of a series of cartoony machinima that tells the story of five “citizens” of world of warcraft. The main character is a Tauren warrior who wants to be “Main Tank” (MT). What I think is really interesting about this video is the way the creator is intentionally integrating traditionally non-diegetic aspects of the game in a way that now treats them diegetically (is that a word?). At 2:35, the tauren pulls out a little book and looks at a quest log, which usually would be considered a non-diegetic aspect of the game, or something that only the person controlling the character would be able to see.

Does this make any sense? I’m trying to not be too confusing for the non-WoW players while also trying to explain something in alien language haha.

Do not feel bad if you don’t read this. It’s way too long. It might make you feel better though?

After we turned in our pre-writing assignments, I told Jeff that the assignment made me uncomfortable. He asked me to write to him about it. Of course I meant to write right away but…yeah. Now I’m writing it a little ways away so I hope that it will still come out okay. The thoughts certainly aren’t still fresh in my mind.

To preface: I think this was an extremely useful activity and I think everyone should have to do it. It might have felt repetitive for some of my class mates, but I’ve never had to apply cultural theories before, so it was interesting for me. The pre-writing in itself (the gathering quotes, creating a big mindmap, assembling things, making an outline etc) is an activity that I’m familiar with since that’s pretty much the route I take when I have to write a paper of my own (although all of the mindmapping typically comes at the end in a last-ditch effort to think of something). What was strange about this assignment for me, I think, was the actual application of cultural theories.

It was comforting at first when Jeff told us that we didn’t really have to know exactly what we were going to say or what we were going to talk about. I was pretty sure that it would eventually come to me. I knew that I wanted to look at the interaction of posting some code to a forum (specifically Stack Overflow) and the critique that follows from other Stack Overflow users. I had NO IDEA what theories I could apply though. When I went back through my notes, I realized that I had a hard time coming up with a concrete list of theories that we had discussed. Most of what I had in my notes seemed like vague introductions. I felt like I definitely needed to understand some of those theories more before I could apply them. The problem, I think, was that I was trying to find “formulas” and not theories. I blame my computer science and math background and the fact that I’ve never had to apply cultural theories before.

At first I thought it would be interesting to do some kind of comparative artifact analysis, comparing Stack Overflow posts with some Fan Fiction posts. I had an interesting reason for deciding to compare the two, but ultimately I decided that the comparison would end up being just too much work for a pre-writing assignment. Around the same time, I also realized that artifact analysis probably wasn’t that appropriate for what I wanted to say. But what, exactly, did I want to say? That was the big question that I couldn’t answer. Then I would remember that Jeff said that it didn’t REALLY matter right away. So then I would choose another theory that I could possibly apply. And then I would run into the same cycle. I kept questioning what it was I was trying to say before I would give myself enough time to work out the answer to that question. It seemed like most people were just choosing arbitrary theories to apply to the interaction they were inspecting. I was simply not comfortable doing that, even though it was just a pre-writing assignment for a paper I was never even supposed to write anyway. I kept thinking that I had to know exactly WHY I was choosing a particular theory to apply. Why sequence analysis? Why artifact analysis? What was applying those theories going to get me? I had no idea.

And I felt terrible for not knowing. I swear I pay attention in class, I do the readings, I try to engage in the material, but at that point in creating my pre-writing mindmap, I was just convinced that I wasn’t smart enough to get it. Looking back on my notes to try to find something to apply to my chosen interaction just made me feel even worse. Shouldn’t I understand some of this stuff? If I took my interaction and asked myself “What would I get out of doing some kind of sequence analysis on this?” shouldn’t I be able to answer? I should be able to say “Sequence analysis would tell you X” or “Sequence analysis isn’t appropriate for that kind of interaction, don’t be silly.” But I felt completely lost.

I wound up doing a sequence analysis in the end. I analyzed the critique that Stack Overflow users gave to a particular post by trying to look at them in the order they occurred (which is not how they’re displayed). I looked at the way some authors wrote on multiple comment streams, how other authors stayed on their own, and how some authors never even addressed the real topic of the post. I still feel like I have no idea whether or not sequence analysis was the “right” thing to choose for that particular interaction. Maybe there wasn’t supposed to be a “right” theory to choose, but I don’t believe that at this point. I’m still certain that there had to have been one, appropriate theory I could have applied but I failed to notice it.

I’m also still pretty certain that, even if forced, I wouldn’t be able to turn what I turned in into any kind of readable, intelligent paper. It was most certainly an academic failure of some awful flavor. I realized while writing this post that I’ve never read a paper that just totally missed the mark when it comes to trying to apply a theory to something in a completely inappropriate way. Maybe an example of how NOT to use some of these things would be helpful? Maybe some examples of academic failures would also be helpful, but I fear they would probably just feel like a waste of time.

In the end I’m glad we had to do it, and I think it was incredibly useful, but I most certainly did not enjoy working on this the way I thought I would. I’m sure I have more thoughts and feelings about this, but this is long enough.

I’m having an incredibly difficult time with this for some strange reason. I know I want to write about something that has to do with the way programmers represent their code / projects online.

I think what I want to do is an E. McClung Fleming style artifact study of a piece of code. I’m thinking either this HTML code or this C# code. However, I also want to somehow include the critique that others in that programming community gave for that specific programming artifact. Any suggestions?

What I REALLY want to do is some kind of sociocultural context analysis on this, but we haven’t gotten to that yet in class.

I think I’ve discovered a part of the problem people have been having with multiple user names etc. When I made a comment on Colin’s most recent post, I wasn’t actually signed in to wordpress, but the text fields were all auto-filled in, so I thought that was okay. Apparently it makes it act all funny. SO: when you’re about to make a comment, make sure you’re signed in (you’ll know you’re signed in if you have the charcoal-gray bar at the top of the screen and your username and picture on the right side of that bar). OR what you can do is click on the wordpress logo in the comment box, and it will “sign you in with wordpress” or something like that.

Also, I bet we could talk about this problem in interesting sign/signifier/signified/lifeworld kind of ways. Whoever does will get 2 free hugs. I was going to offer cookies, but I don’t have any on me, and I’m too lazy to get you some or make you some.

Mudit asked in class yesterday if his previous work as an interaction designer would classify as art, but his current work as an interaction designer would be called craft. The distinction he made is that current Mudit knows what he’s doing, but past Mudit didn’t.

I don’t think Collingwood would agree with this assertion. Collingwood makes it pretty clear that art has something to do with expressing emotion (specifically, a particular emotion). The artist goes through a stage of “I feel…I don’t know what i feel” which I guess could be similar to past Mudit’s confusion about what he should be doing with interaction design. However, the distinction I’m making is that Collingwood’s artist then sets off to express the emotion she or he is feeling by creating something, and she or he experiences that emotion through that creation. After creation, the artist is no longer oppressed.

In past Mudit’s case, he is not setting out to express his confusion about interaction design through the creation of an IxD artifact. Users approaching his designs weren’t meant to interpret his design as “this ‘artist’ was obviously confused.” And past Mudit probably didn’t experience a relieving catharsis once finished with the design (other than a “glad I’m finally done” kind of catharsis, which I’m pretty sure is not what Collingwood was writing about).

As much as I would love to be able to call everything I’ve ever done out of ignorance “art,” I think we can just call it “life,” and be happy with that.

This is one of my favorite internet videos, probably because of the way it affected me the first time I saw it. So I’m going to try to apply Collingwood’s disentanglement of “art proper” and “craft” to this video.

1. Means and end

Maybe I don’t understand this separation as much as I should, because I would say that the means and end are distinct for this video. The actual tools / actions employed by the video creator are not a part of this video. But I think that superficial application of this distinction could be applied to almost anything, which is why I say I probably don’t understand this distinction that much.

2. Planning and executing

The result, from what I can tell, was obviously preconceived. The video creator set out to make a video that would represent the self-destructive struggles endured by those attempting to attain the beauty represented in the media.

3. The end is prior to the means in planning and the means is prior to the end in execution.

This seems pretty obvious to me. This overlaps a lot with point number 2; the planning happened by deconstructing the end goal to figure out the means (e.g. deciding to use certain visual elements to portray the struggle), and the execution happened by working through the means to the end.

4. Raw material and finished product

In this case the raw material might be all of the models used to create the animations, and the video footage of the woman’s face. They are combined in the finished product.

5. Form and matter

The form of the video is separate from the matter used to create the video.

6. Hierarchical relation

a) raw material of one craft is the finished product of another

The raw materials of this video (the models created and the video footage of the woman’s face) are the finished products of other crafts: creating models and shooting videos (?)

b) one craft supplies another with tools

Not really sure how this point applies

c) complex operation is parceled out among a number of trades

All of the “trades” were done by the same person (except for the acting done by the woman), but it was still parceled out. Video editing, model creation, animation, etc.


So, according to my understanding of Collingwood, he would call this “craft.” What is expressed in this video might come across as too obvious for Collingwood. The video creator clearly knew what he was trying to express before making this video, so there was no emotional oppression stage (but maybe that’s just me speculating).

What do you think?