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Like Mudit said, I’m also working on Clear, an iPhone to-do list. The motivation behind this selection was stemmed from my capstone which had initially focused on time. I don’t think it’s a to-do/task manager that changes the game. It’s just playing a different game.

Sort of Introduction/Brief on What I plan on Writing

Clear is an iPhone application released earlier this year. Its functionality is a to-do list. As with every other to-do list application other there, you have the ability to add, remove, or modify a to-do item. You can even create various to-do lists to house and categorize your to-do items.

However, that’s where the similarity ends. For this paper, I want to address the various reasons why Clear is appealing to many. Beyond the initial hype for a new application that does something differently, I would like to suggest that there is something about Clear that is aesthetically pleasing.

Clear was clearly (ha) built for the medium. Before addressing my main arguments and claims, I will be briefly expanding on the logic of the medium.

I will be looking at it through different lenses that are used to examine aesthetics such as Lowgren’s Use Qualities for Digital Designs, Nelson Goodman’s 5 aesthetic qualities, Bertelsen and Pold’s Criticism as an Approach to Interface Aesthetics.

Finally, I will cross-examine to see how these particular aesthetic qualities can be applied to other applications.


So… 20 minutes before the class, I’ve finally finished the reading.

At some point on page 274, I start to feel like the reading is looking at the film from a ‘Artifact Perspective’ than Socio-cultural Context. It feels like a sequence analysis of the film from 5-7 that looks dissects the film semiotically through the different phases.

I kept waiting to see if the author will conclude this discussion and say “Ok, so all of this shows that in the sociocultural context, it’s trying to get at this…” But that never came (or so I interpret).

Does anyone else feel the same way? Or am I looking at it wrong?

For Douglas Keller’s reading, I assume it was written in the 1990s and before the 2000s.

I just want to comment on the last paragraph that talks about the proliferate of technology (such as the Internet) and it’s effect on culture industries – which is previously defined as the industrialization or commercialization of culture by the likes of Hollywood.

I wrote down on the margin, in respect to the effect of technology on culture industries today, that it seems to be diminished or more balanced out.

With the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Videos as movie streaming services, we are having an ever increasing exposure to movies of wider variety than cinemas or HBO. And with the current policies of delayed releases, some of us are forced to watch other films – films that may not regard as mainstream, films that are part of a sub-culture.

The counter-argument can be that, the act of exploring more non-mainstream films, maybe itself another form of ‘culture industries’ – depending on recommendations. Like what Jeff mentioned in the previous class – the books that we see on the front page of Amazon are probably not published by independent writers, but by major publishers.

I guess I just wanted to argue that unlike the prediction by the author – that there will sort of be a linear progression of this ‘culture industries’ aided by technology, we are currently perhaps less susceptibly to the commercialization/industrialize of culture because of the variety of selection we have.

I was just going through my notes (link to others’ notes) from Interaction and came across a talk that I really enjoyed. The title of the talk is “Building a Better Starship” by Scott Nazarian from Frog (slides from slideshare).

During introduction, he explicitly differentiate a Starship and a Spaceship. The Starship is somewhere you can live on for a long period of time, whereas the Spaceship just take you to your destination. Their goals are different.

I really enjoyed the talk because it’s a different type of talk. It wasn’t about the theories of design or the experiments of design, but about how we may need to think to get from what we are doing now – designing iPhones and laptops, to designing (and constructing) Starships.

It resonates with me because we talked about Sci-Fi today – of the world that we wishes it to be. And with no shortage of starships in most science fiction, it’s probably a future that a lot of us identifies with. An ideology, a myth?

Relating to Marxist, I was wondering what is the ‘base‘, the ‘economic foundation‘ that needs to happen before we could get there. Or how can we defamiliarized ourselves from the idea to view it analytically. Or would there need to be a transformation like that of Industrial Revolution for such a drastic change to occur.

It’s kind of odd, but I felt there might be some degree of relationships there to think about.

I was a little upset with something yesterday evening and decided I needed to watch a documentary. So I hopped on Netflix and came across 180° South. Here’s the film’s description:

“Inspired by pioneering outdoorsman Yvon Chouinard’s freewheeling 1968 van trip to Patagonia, South America, a band of bliss-seeking surfer-mountaineers sets out — in 2007, by boat — to remake the journey in this adventure documentary…”

It’s a documentary about a journey, a journey to climb Patagonia’s Cerro Corcovado. And later, it’s a documentary that captures about the environment impact of progression.

It’s a very tastefully done documentary. It’s unique in many ways. And although it’s not really a ‘film’ (or is it), I want to try to examine it from the 6 approaches in Corrigan’s reading.

Film History
Made in 2010, the documentary is well-placed in the era of global-warming, globalization, the loss of natural habitat, etc, where the audience is well-place to understand these rising environmental and socio concerns.

The film/documentary also has a certain ‘Indie’ feel to it, not quite home-made, but perhaps independent.

In terms of the reception received, it has a fairly good rating over at Rotten Totatoes (80%). IMDB also rate it at 7.6 out of 10 from 650 votes.

It has a book out with the same title that provides more context and photographs/visuals. In one of the three reviews, it reads,

“See the movie, read the book. I really don’t understand why this book isn’t more popular.”

I would say I share the same sentiment.

National Cinemas
I think it’s quite apparent that the documentary/film is speaking to the issue of environmental impacts of progression.

While there are introduction of natives from Easter Island and Chile, the documentary is still filmed by an American director. The perspective of the issue may be perceived differently.

For example, someone in the States when viewing this film might have an urge to go out and climb or surf, as well as perhaps helping out with the cause, to preserve the ‘open country’.

Whereas for others, say Chilean who viewed this film, their sentiment might surround something in regard to their livelihood – the fishes that are disappearing from the ocean, or the land they lost to the dams.

It’s not hard to categorize 180° South as a documentary as it documents a man’s journey to relive a trip.

Yet, perhaps there are sub-categories that this specific form of documentary can be labeled with.

I would argue that this ‘genre’ of documentary is a rather new form of documentary that we are seeing more in recent years. It is not just an introduction to a place or an event, but intrigue us with the personal experiences – in this case, a lifestyle of living in the open country for 6-month at a time.

Quotes like the following is bound to capture the audience’s mind and entice a certain lifestyle or behavior,

“You know where I want to be right now…is right here. Nowehere else, not in the future, not in the past.”

The music also plays a part in shaping the experience of the audience. The music matches the mood and moment quite well, evidently through the pairing of the lyrics and the specific scenes.

I don’t think it’s easy to categorize this specific film since the director is a fairly new at this. But if we take a step back and look at the characteristic of Jeff Johnson, judging from his own narration and others’ commentaries, there’s perhaps a certain identity to this sort of film.

Maybe this can be associated to one of the naturalist or outdoorsy style of film.

Kinds of Formalism
There is a certain pattern with the way the shots are arranged. There is always something personal placed in the midst of something bigger. For example, there will be a shot of Jeff Johnson’s current situation before the camera pans to the ocean or the mountains.

The voices that you will hear in the documentary is also well crafted. The scenes where the interviewee speaks are crafted in very carefully. Other time, the narration by Jeff Johnson dominates any human voice you will hear in the film. This actually give a sort of ‘pure’ feel to the documentary. A sense of cleanness of the open country, perhaps.

There is a definite clear ideology as you progress through the film. It went from a purely self-motivated ‘project’ to something bigger, at least in terms of the message that it is trying to voice.

However, there are hints of commercialism and product placement 3/4 way through the film as more ‘patagonia’ products start to pop up.

In this documentary, I think the ideology is the outdoors, and quoting Jeff Johnson, “When open country is gone, we will be gone with it.” And in here he’s not talking about our physical body, but our ‘soul’ as mentioned earlier in the documentary.

It was a wonderfully crafted documentary and it definitely invoked plenty of thoughts and emotions throughout. After watching it, now I want to work out more so I can go out and surf, and climb. Who knows, maybe one day I will get to climb the North American wall in the Yosemite.

I have been using Flickr since 2005 and hasn’t logged in for awhile.

Recently, I came across the new ‘Favorites‘ page. Instead of thumbnails (of whatever sizes) or arrangements with some descriptions, it’s now called ‘Justified’. There’s probably a better description for it, but I’m just going to call it a collage of pictures without altering their dimensions (see image).

Visually, I feel like it’s more aesthetic than just a table of thumbnails. It’s appeal is not because of any one particular picture, but the context of it as an entirety juxtaposition together. And this form of aesthetic is visible in different examples: the index page of film photography, the layout of Instagram.

To better understand why I find it beautiful, I hope to try to ‘measure‘ it with some of Lowgren’s use qualities (to the best of my abilities):


  • the visuals delivers a novelty of viewing pictures that is not  traditional or in the norm
  • it goes beyond obvious needs and expectation – I won’t say it’s really out of the ordinary in this sense, since the previous mode of viewing also lists and lay it out
  • it connects to the personal goal of viewing what you have regarded as your ‘favorite’ and lying them out in a way that not only allows you to look at them together, but maybe also allowing you to draw connections between them  and maybe extract a deeper meaning base on the time and subject of the images.


  • Versus traditional definition of ‘usefulness’, that are task-oriented, the usefulness of this UI is not necessarily trying to get at that
  • It’s more apparent that it’s an enhanced user experience, that it is useful for the user to better experience these pictures


  • On first look, the collage does not provide detail information of each imagery. But when you look closely, you can see that each picture is at least labeled with the author’s usernames; and mousing over them will provide even more context (such as title and other annotations)
  • If your needs for viewing these pictures are just viewing them and recognizing who are the author, then you are not having to switch between going from different pages of each pictures for these metadata. In that, you have fluency of reading into these information


  • I think another aspect of the appeal of this layout is that (preferably when you go full screen), you get immersed in this environment of pictures
  • Although, this example, only addresses visual and auditory immersion and not necessarily kinesthetic.


  • I believe this is a large part of why I really like this form of display, the formation of this ‘justified’ collage in some way shapes me as a photographer (or someone who appreciates photographs).
  • Again, the relations of time and subject sort of addresses my interest in a specific point of time. So maybe you can even say I can visually see a shift in my identity just by looking at what I regard as a ‘Favorite’ over time.


  • The lay out is efficient in allowing the user to browse the different pictures very quickly


  • The possible actions include viewing a larger version of the picture, reading the metadata of the picture and perhaps leaving comments. And other than leaving comments, the rest of the actions are fairly transparent – you can perform this actions without diving too deep into the single collage page.


  • There is an aesthetic of simplicity in the way the images are displayed.


  • In the reading, ambiguity is said to “make easy interpretation impossible by creating situations in which people are forced to participate to make meaning of what they experience… The ambiguous design sets the scene for meaning-making but does not prescribe the interpretation.”
  • Again, the interpretation of looking at this collage is not clear-cut. Each person may come away with a different interpretation of this set of imageries. Think Pinterest, which is used by some of us for moodboards, to generate ideas through a variety of interpretations

I think many of may not be correctly interpreted, but I think this exercise does helps me to develop vocabularies to understand why I find this design aesthetically pleasing to me.

link to article:

I know, I know, I’m not a player. The most contact I had with the Mass Effect series are Youtube videos.

I’m a subscriber of Penny Arcade, an online webcomic. And recently, they have just launched Penny Arcade Report where they write about topics ranging from business to culture to games, etc.

Today I came across the article addressing the ending of Mass Effect 3.

In it are arguments in regard to the audience (the gamer) and the creator (the developers).

The viewer/users were that disturbed by the creator that there are movements whose sole purpose is to try to convince Bioware to change the ending.

I think this is an exemplar of an author/creator-centered approach and an user perspective; how they differs and how their path crosses.

link to video:

I think this is a very interesting series of videos that tries to compare Western and Japanese RPGs.

I personally don’t really know a lot about gaming (never had the money or the machine), so I’m not very familiar with what the narrator was addressing. A lot of what I know is from the projects done on capstone so far.

It was just a fun video to watch until he start to mention words like “underlying”, “surface elements” and “genre”.

The example in this video that stood out to me was when he tried to explain what defines a genre is not its (visible) mechanics but the “underlying reasons why we play a genre”. Yet gamers and developers “fall prey to it all the time” (just focusing on the mechanics). That a replica of a well-made, successful game does not equal another successful game.

In it, I saw the comparison of scientific comparison and cultural understanding. Design and develop for a user by understanding why it will be appealing to them on a deeper level, than trying to reciprocate what has worked before just base on the known elements.

Just wanted to share the video, very interesting and probably relevant.

When we were discussing about Lifeworld and Worldview, Gopi said something along the line of “as a designer, we create something that has a shared understanding. And that’s why when gesture was first introduced people didn’t know what to do with it.” (paraphrased)

And I had a question about touch. I think we have all heard of stories of toddler or elderly person using an iPad. And perhaps even argument that iPad may be defined as a computer – a very good and sufficient one at that.

Before iPad or iPhone, there was no commercially-viral touchscreen device to setup a lifeworld, so it’s safe to assume there’s no a priori on touch either. So where does touch fit in?

Thanks Gopi for a great lecture/discussion.

I think in the last class someone mentioned that how we view the movie is different now that we know the autobiography mapping behind it.

And I just want to apply that to something sort of personal.

First to set some context…

  1. My girlfriend plays the violin and so every now and then I will sit in and listen to recitals with her. I enjoy them for the most part, but often times I don’t quite understand them. So it was easy to doze off.
  2. A bunch of us went to Ireland last week and travelled to Giant’s Causeway (wikipedia). Giant’s Causeway is this very unique body of structure made up of interlocking basalt columns.

So across the sea from Giant’s Causeway is this small island called Fingal’s Cave (wikipedia), which is often time linked to legend of how Giant’s Causeway was formed. Although the uniqueness of the island should leave people in awe already, what’s famous about it was actually the composer who ‘personified’ it.

Mendelssohn, a German composer when encountered with the unique structure of Fingal’s Cave composed Hebrides Overture. Now understanding this background and having seen the sort of landscape in person, the next time I listen to Hebrides Overtune, I expect myself to have a different reaction to it.

Below is a video of the tour of the island & some part of the Hebrides Overture.