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Here is my first argument outline. It has plot holes and I am trying to find out more. Please feel free to critique and give your opinions on what you think. Nathan already gave me a few pointers


Basic Argument:

Computers need to have emotional Intelligence 

  •  Emotion is part of the context
    • We are not always rational: We are emotive beings to think that when we are interacting with a computer we are always in a neutral state is not very in situ!
    • Desiderata and Sociability:  Explanation of context and why problem solving is not enough
    • Example: Nathan trying to find the temporary saved file when his computer crashed. .Using desiderata framework
  • Need based design produces incomplete solutions
    • Usability and Functionality is not enough
    • Pleasure is important for day to day design: What is pleasurable and how need based design does only thinks of it as aesthetics
    • Example: Jeff interacting with Cortana.


  • We are in an abusive relationship with computers (I will write a better claim once it makes sense)
    • We are emotionally invested in computers: We are natural meaning makers, we associate everything with a personality.  
    • Our computer are not invested in us: Computers trigger similar social interactions as people, but do not reciprocate.
    • Example: It’s like talking to a zombie!


  • We already know that emotive computers work
    • Science Fiction Theory and its awesomeness: what we know from sci fiction theory and how it helps us speculate. In combination with desiderata.  
    • Example: R2d2, HER. Using SF theory framework and ACT framework what can we learn about them.


So I already know certain things I need to read (thanks to Nathan). Here are the things that I have read, the italicized are the ones just recommended.

[1] Don Norman: Emotional Design (the whole book!)

[2] Bardzell and Bardzell: Great and troubling beauty

[3] Nelson and Stolterman: Desiderata, Design Way

[4] Trevor Van Gorp, Edie Adams: Design for Emotion. (The whole book)

[5] Crampton and Smith: Design for everyday life

[6] Picard  Affective Computers

[7] switch: its a book on emotional intelligence

So what are your thoughts, comments, concerns?


So I just finally pieced together what I want to do and am currently pulling quotes from different papers. The basic idea comes from Don Norman’s Emotional Design.

When machines display emotions, they provide a rich and satisfying interaction with people, even though most of the richness and satisfaction, most of the interpretation and understanding, comes from within the head of the person, not from the artificial system

I basically want to argue that emotional intelligence is important for the future developments of computers and robots. I will contrast R2D2 and C3P0 with Siri and Cortana (apple and Windows phone) and show the difference in interactions of systems that are capable of emotional intelligence vs systems that only interpret commands.

For example, the other day Jeff Gadzala was showing off Cortana and was trying to get Cortana make a reference to the video game. Unfortunately, Cortana took him literally (“Cortana can you tell me about Master Chief”) and gave him a wiki answer! In this situation for example, had his phone been able to recognize the emotions (casual, joking), it would have been able to offer a joke or two!

I am probably going to dissect each example based on the readings (Sutcliff, McCarthy and Wright, Folkman, Bradzell and Bradzell) and show why emotional intelligence is important.

My question is, does this seem reasonable and narrowed down enough? Are there any seminal papers that I am missing out? Other thoughts and concerns?

I like this paper a lot and it got me to think a lot about horror, comedy, the fine line in between and user reactions and response to context.

Specifically, such fictions are generally
designed to control and guide our emotional responses in such a way that, ideally,
horror audiences are supposed to react emotionally to the monsters featured in
horror fictions in the same manner that the characters in horror fictions react
emotionally to the monsters they meet there

Carroll mentions this and it really resonates with me. I think a major factor to what is humor and what is horror has to do with the reactions. For me, the reactions of the actors give the audience a context…is it horror or is it comedy. That being said people themselves bring something to the table and decided if it is infact horror or comedy.

So Jared just posted a video on Day-Z. Honestly what made that funny was the guy who was laughing at it. If I personally was playing that game and that happened, I would not hang around, I would head for the hills. It may be because I am in the studio alone this late, but in my context, that was terrifying.

And that brings me to my primary argument. In movies what separates horror from comedy is the reactions of the characters. Carroll points out that horror and comedy both have similarities especially since both of them seem to take a normal situation and juxtapose it with something opposite. Dracula is dead and not dead at the same time. With this juxtapositioning in mind, I want to show the difference in the way we interpret horror and comedy is based on the reactions of the characters. The walking dead vs Shaun of the dead would be ideal examples. Specifically their first encounters with zombies.

In the walking dead the main characters expression is of confusion and fear. Character reaction to Zombies TWD_Ep_101_Sneak-325

This is similar to what Carroll says. But the point is, the actor and his reactions tell us this is serious. There are other queues in the shots, but their reaction to an unusual situation tells us that we should be fearful for him.

Whereas in Shaun of the dead, the characters react very differently to the zombies. they at first sort of ignore them, but when they find out you have to destroy the brain to destroy the zombie they get a hold of their LP’s and proceed to throw it at the zombies


It is this absurd reaction that tells the audience that this is comedy even though almost everything else is the same. You will never see this happen in the walking dead. The actors will never take their time and go through their LP collection while death approaches them slowly.

We can see how reactions of the characters can persuade our emotional reactions. Now let me give you an example in which we bring our own feelings into it. This is not horror related, but has to do with comedy.

In Inglorious Basterds there is a scene in which the Bastards have captured a group of Nazis and proceed to brutally interrogate them. What is interesting was the audiences reactions to the interrogation. People were laughing when they were graphically scalping heads, even when they beat a soldier to death with a baseball bat. It was funny primarily because we all know the Nazis were not good people (a dumb way to summarize it!)

Similarly in the movie, the Germans were watching a movie in which the Americans were dying…the Germans in the audience were laughing, but the audience in the real theater were not. We do not associate the death of American soldiers to fun.  What I am trying to say is that we as an audience also have a say in what is funny and what is horror. Our experiences and context definitely shape our reactions.

Thus in a similar fashion, I think Jared’s video is funny only and only because the guy is laughing….I swear, watch the video without the guys laughter and it becomes pretty scary!


So Jeff, I gotta give you brownie points for catching me off guard with the Type Reviews paper. Me being brutally honest, I was lost for the longest and did not know exactly how to react to it. I was a nice short read, but it confused me since we’ve done so many readings about critical design so I expected it to be another piece about it. Then too, I must thank you also because I am able to look out of the Brillo box and see that criticism doesn’t have to only engulf critical design and film, but a whole array of things. I honestly did like this reading, but it sounded more like an advertisement than an actual in-depth critique compared to the other readings that we have done in the past. But I will have to disagree with what he says about the ‘Emmy’ font. To me, it looks sophisticated and neat; as if someone wanted to take their precious time and make sure every stroke placed down had a certain meaning and form about it. Something like “Sweetheart Script” is too glitzy and too (for the lack of a better word and wanting to steal one of Jeff’s words) foofy. It’s too many loops and hurts my head every time I glance at it, like someone was trying to hard to hit that ‘graceful’ goal. But as I always say, this is just my personal belief.

As for the Tears, Time, and Love critique–um, yeah…more confused than ever. Maybe it is perhaps since I’m reading a movie versus listening to someone tell me about it, I cannot grasp all of the great points that was listed. A movie is something that I have to see rather than hear about and honestly, I’m not into romance movies. Too gushy and no bloodshed, but putting my personal feelings to the side, I will state that what had me confused the most is when the author was listing many examples of how the director used time over the course of the movie. To me, there seemed to be TOO many instances and if I were to watch the movie, I probably wouldn’t catch it all. I understand that as a critic you must look deep into the work and not just focus on the top layer. But me personally, an artwork, movie, or design is something that I first have to experience before chipping away at the underlying meaning. To give proper critique you must first look at it as a user. For this movie, I would first watch it then give my critique, but seeing all of these symbolisms and hidden messages, it would turn me off, especially if I have keep in mind about many of them I spot out. Also, I agree with Brunette about the hidden motif when he said,

“…his specific political microreadings of the various relationships and characters seem, as usual, rather strained and unconvincing.”

The argument about having a political subtext withing this movie does not seem to stand out much. There doesn’t have to be a big neon sign saying ‘THIS IS WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO DO’. Something as simple as the characters doing or saying certain things that spoke of the political standpoint that the director had could get the point out. People are too focused in finding all these symbols with time that perhaps they cannot focus on the stance.

Weird articles, but at least I was entertained!!

Okay, maybe you’ve heard of it or not, but this has been a big trending story the last few days:

For those of you not willing to click the link, J.K. Rowling put out a statement in an interview telling us that she regrets Hermione and Ron getting together, that it should it have been Harry instead, and as it is they’ll need counseling.

Not that everyone in the series probably couldn’t use counseling, but hey. And this is the second time she’s done something like this, trying to change the way we think about the story long after it’s been written – The first was when she announced Dumbledore was gay.

From my corner, I have no issue with either change (Not really a huge potter fan in the first place), but it still irks me in some way – I guess that instead of being careful and writing these ideas into the books when they were written, she’s come out later and gone “Well I screwed up, it should be that way.”

But of course she has the right to say whatever she wants about her work. Hell, I defended George Lucas’ abysmal edits to the original series – of course I have no requirement to watch the new ones or care about them whatsoever – but I do agree on some level with his idea that an artist should keep trying to fix and tweak their art until it’s ‘right’. But it does raise an interesting question, because pretty much anytime anything like this happens (an artist changing their work long after it’s released) it’s met with open vehemence. It’s a stance that in a sense flies right in the face of allowing the user to create their own meaning.

It gets into the ideas of aesthetics we’ve been playing around with, but once the object is imbued with a meaning and set out into the world, you get your users or perceivers creating the other half – They fill in and understand the work through their own lens and get to know it as themselves. It’s sort of the idea of emergence that game developers work towards, just muted and hidden within one person’s interpretation. And to come back in as an artist or designer and say “Whoops I fucked up, let me edit that” can easily rip apart someone’s understanding, and have them lose a lot of faith in both your story, and you as a creator.

So when is it okay to do so? When is it better to just start on an entirely new work? I mean in either of my examples, I doubt that many Potter or Star Wars fans were irrevocably thrusted out of enjoying their fandom, but these types of edits seem to be damaging in some way. What lesson is there to be learned as a designer?

A friend just linked to this site, calling it the ‘best site ever’. It struck me as odd, because I’m just not sure what to think. On one hand the products are downright beautiful. On the other hand they’re stupid. Sure, the product designs are really nice and well crafted – but the entire idea, or mission of the company is just confusing or lost.


Litographs is committed to promoting literacy, both at home and abroad.

We’re proud to partner with the International Book Bank to send one new, high-quality book to a community in need for each product we sell.”

The second half of that is certainly pretty cool and noble, but the first? Are people actually going to sit there and read *any* of the text on your shirt or bag? Is anyone going to buy one of these without being intimately familiar with the story already (In most cases readers, though certain products like the Alice in Wonderland stuff people may be approaching through Disney (And in fact their designs seem to come from that representation anyways)

And what does it say about us that we value reading and literacy as a thing to be desired, but we frequently like to show off this ability through means/objects that have no direct correlation to reading, and require no real engagement. At what level does a representation of a story convey the message of the story? At what level is the ‘message’ of the story even the important part? Is the idea that someone should engage with a story (Or music, art, etc. whatever) before they have an opinion on it valid at all? Where should that level be? Experienced it once, or deeply involved self in it and criticized it? There’s a common complaint about people wearing t-shirts of bands without knowing their music, or Che Guevara without knowing his history or politics. 

Don’t know that there’s a reading I can attach this to (Yet, at least), but I found it was pretty interesting. What do you guys think?


I became an avid fan of the Walking Dead last semester. I normally try to avoid TV shows when people tell me they are addicting when I am really busy (I’ve missed a lot of good stuff in grad school.) I have a long list of really good series to go back and watch when I graduate. However, I couldn’t resist watching the Walking Dead though. I love zombie movies. I think of all the dystopian narrative genres, I find it the most appealing. It might be the drama of watching someone’s friend turn against them right in front of their eyes and defend themselves. Whatever it is, it can be thrilling when it is done right. For the first two seasons, the Walking Dead was one of the best undead narratives I have seen.

The reason I am posting this on the blog is that lately I have been extremely disappointed in what they have done. In the first season, they kept it short and they had plenty of stuff going on the whole time. You didn’t know what was going to happen from episode to episode. At the end of every episode, you were dying to see what was next! Now, I am just wanting this season to be over. They are breaking all the standard rules of a true zombie thriller story, which they used to follow.

  1. None of the main cast members have died in some time. Knowing that anyone can go keeps you on edge throughout the episode. Game of Thrones is very successful at this. When there is no scare whatsoever of anyone dying, it becomes a soap opera and not a zombie apocalypse. I don’t find myself wondering who is going to die next. There hasn’t been any harsh reality faced in some time.
  2. A ridiculous rivalry which has lasted way too long! There has not been a large plot shift for some time. We’ve known that the Governor (Phillip) is the bad guy from the early impressions we got on him (he is the one on the left in the top photo.) He is the leader of a city called Woodbury. He has committed several nefarious acts in front of us the viewer and masked it from most of the cast for a majority of the season, however, in recent episodes he has shown his true colors for all to see. In the last episode, Rick (main character and the one on the right in the top photo) had the perfect opportunity to pull the trigger and end this. The Governor sat unarmed in front of Rick and he didn’t shoot him even when the Governor promised to bring vengeance upon his whole group with every person who follows him. This is really dragging on and is completely unrealistic at this point. Rick had already crossed the line of making quick decisions to kill people for the sake of his group spontaneously earlier this season against a couple inmates from that prison who tried to kill him. Shoot the guy and protect all you care about; or don’t shoot him and elect to go to a war where you’re heavily outnumbered. Tough choice for a man who is used to making tough decisions to save the people he has protected for almost a year now.
  3. Lame zombies. This past few episodes were laughable. The zombies this episode were nothing like the ones from the first two seasons. Andrea escapes from the captivity of the Governor. There was a moment where the Andrea was pinned to the tree by a zombie holding her there while hugging around the tree. That zombie apparently isn’t going to try to maneuver around the tree for the upcoming 30 seconds she has to fight for her life. Two other zombies are approaching her very slowly from the front as that zombie which refuses to walk around the tree holds her there. She can’t move her arm, but she is fortunate to have the first zombie from the front walk straight into a 5 inch knife with his eye socket. That zombie falls back on the other zombie allowing her to fight free so she can slowly walk up to each of them and stab them in the face. Later on, Andrea is cornered by the Governor who is chasing her. In a last ditch effort, she releases thirty zombies on the Governor!!! The Governor doesn’t appear to be all that worried. In fact, he is more annoyed that she did that as he slowly begins to walk backwards and kill zombie after zombie. What a joke? How the hell did these zombies overtake the human race if one person can fight off dozens of zombies, especially with all the gun nuts in this country. I didn’t see a man fighting for his life. He was trying to fight through a crowd of zombies to get to Andrea. This is no longer a zombie apocalypse. The zombies are more of a nuisance or pest than an impending extinction event of the human race.
  4. Main characters, no face time. I don’t know about you, but I consider Andrea to be a pretty weak, annoying main character. She isn’t likable. Her character is predictable, unchanging, gullible, and she generally finds a way to screw things up for anyone she might call a friend. The entire episode this week only showed Rick once the entire episode. Everyone in the prison is on borrowed time and may likely be killed (if that happens anymore in this series), but we don’t get to hear any dialogue from them. What are they thinking about? Are they nervous still? Anxious to fight? Do they want to run? Why am I going an entire episode without seeing all of the characters I care about. They developed this characters and made me like them. In season 3, they have repeatedly underutilized a majority of the main cast. It would be like watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy and you don’t hear about Frodo carrying the ring for a two hour movie. You spent all of this effort developing these characters. Use them!

I don’t normally feel this cynical this quickly, but I used to love this series. What happened to it? Are there any other fans out there who feel my frustrations?

This Post is coming straight from facebook and somehow related to the topic of my paper.

I acknowledge Angelica and Stephanie for this post.

Most of us are big fans of the Sci-fi movies. These movies sport awesome technology, well the dates in the movies are also like 2030, 2050, but these movies are being made right now, and yes some how the magical creators of the films make this magical interfaces appear as reality to us.

Somehow I feel that this kind of movies inform the design of the futuristic interfaces, but when they get implemented in reality, we say “WTF it is not the same as the one in Minority Report”  What Stephanie commented on the post on facebook was this, “I think movie technology is often another form of human-centered design, but it’s not for usefulness or usability–it’s for entertainment. The “user” is the viewer, so you have to make the tech as entertaining to watch as you can.” What I personally feel is that we will definitely like to see stuff like the one Tony Stark uses at his home in reality, and thus in research labs all over the world people try to make the interfaces like this, but when they are actually made, only the people who make it are really happy, they do all awesome maneuvers in the videos for promoting the technology which impresses the viewers, but when the normal user gets its hands on this, there is a big disappointment.


2013-02-27 18.00.58

I have myself experienced this a lot of times, both, being the user and the maker of such interfaces. I have seen people playing with the stuff I made with the leap. I always see the confusion on the faces of the people using it for the first time, what really scares me is when the confusion comes back after they are habituated with the interface and things go wrong. I feel like this is not what I wanted it to be.

The big question here is that, how much the interfaces shown in the science fiction movies inform the actual Interface design of the futuristic interfaces? Why are these interface not designed in a way that the user can get the same feeling as the one he gets while watching the movie? Where are we lacking? Is it the technology, or the direction which is informing the design?

Is the tech shown in the movies just meant for movies, or we envision what is coming in the future through that window and inform the designs to turn it into reality?



So I’ve been thinking about my final paper but I think I need some help framing the issue in an interaction/user experience design perspective. The topic is on digital storytelling, specifically in the medium of comic books and graphic novels. There is a history and technique to reading comics that has developed over the course of the past century, and with the advent of digital technologies there lies a whole wealth of possibilities in which the reader and the content can interact. On the other side, crafting comics has also changed drastically with the tools available to creators allowing amateur creators the ability to self-publish some very awesome content. I am less familiar with the creator side of the equation but I still find it extremely interesting.

A socio-cultural topic that also be fun to look at would be the legacy of the stories being told through the generations of comic books and how new media is changing the perspectives of viewers, established and new to the genre. I did a similar paper to this once in undergrad based on the mythology of superheroes and would like to revisit the topic but again, I’m having trouble framing the question in a design perspective.

Any and all thoughts would be welcome!

The talk of Alien and the Mulhall reading reminded me of several observations I’ve made over my several years of reading, watching, and living science fiction. Issues of sexuality, feminism, and gender roles are no stranger to the genre, and neither is the specific notion of “sexuality as monstrous”. In Alien, it’s clear, almost abrasively so, that the alien form is similar to that of female and male reproductive organs, and their method of reproduction is a violent, monstrous foil to that of our own. However, in the realm of Science Fiction, this isn’t merely limited to the Alien universe. In fact, this idea is spread across several mediums, authors, and stories, and I wanted to share a few of them with you today. If this incites a debate as to how sexuality is portrayed in science fiction, or how particular authors play with such particulars, I would be all to happy to engage in such a conversation. This won’t be in any particular order, except the surfacing in my memory of the following examples:

Starship Troopers – The “Brain Bug”

Starship Troopers, released in 1997 is a cinematic version of Heinlein’s novel. In short, it details the war of earth against “the bugs”, an alien species bent on world domination. The “brain bug”,  a general in the bug army, possesses the ability of sucking the knowledge out of any human being. The above clip details the art that went into the creation of the “brain bug” for the film, and it’s interesting that it was modeled after human anatomy to appear “grotesque”. Much in the same way the art in Alien obviously draws parallels to sexual organs, it’s almost impossible not to see a similar reference made in the design of the Brain Bug. This doesn’t go unnoticed by network television, as the orifice is usually edited out on cable TV for “content”. Again, we see parallels to a violent parody of sexual reproduction, but in this case it’s the dissemination (or should I say violent acquisition) of knowledge from a human being’s brain, rather than reproduction. Although I can’t find reference to such a characterization in the novel, Heinlein could himself be a study in sexuality and science fiction. His earlier works such as “Have Space Suit, Will Travel” (which is the first novel I can ever remember my father reading to me) were the quintessential 1950s sci-fi stories, meant for young children and more or less devoid of sex. Relationships stay almost strictly platonic (a main character is even called “The Mother Thing”). However, fast forward to the ’60s and ’70s, and Heinlein starts incorporating much more sexualized (and politicized) references into his work, arguably starting with Stranger in a Strange Land and continuing on through Starship Troopers. This is a slight aside from my main point, but I do believe there is larger conversation here which could be interesting to unravel in time.

Prey – 2011 video game (Warning – the content on the sidebar in YouTube when I viewed this clip was fairly sexually explicit, so if any of you are uncomfortable with that, I wanted to give you a heads-up. As long as this embeds it shouldn’t be a problem, but going to the site itself could bring up some thumbnails that you might find disagreeable or awkward in a public setting. Just a friendly NSFW warning)

I haven’t played the game myself, but I do recall a 2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer review of it. The reviewer was examining the “M” rating of the game, and explained that a part of the ESRB’s decision could have been due to the sexualized “Egg Spawner” seen throughout the game – walls that indeed seem to reference female sexual organs. This is something that didn’t go unnoticed by the players or critics of the game, but I’m unfortunately having trouble pulling up the original article that triggered my memory. I read it in print (while the PI was still being printed) and it’s possible that it didn’t make it into the internet archives when the paper folded. It’s also entirely possible that it exists somewhere on the miserable excuse the PI calls a website, which is all that remains of a once-proud newspaper giant (apologies for the soliloquy – I’m still bitter. And don’t even get me started on the Seattle SuperSonics) The art for the game- as mentioned in the video above – was also influenced by H.R. Geiger, the same artist who influenced the artwork for Alien, so it comes as no surprise that a parallel can be drawn between the two, although I’m not familiar with the game’s narrative to dig deeper than that.

At the moment, these are the only two “sexual monstrosity” references that I can call to mind, although I’ll be exploring some of my sci-fi literature over the next few days to try and find others. If anyone has something to add, I’d be very interested to see what other parallels can be drawn, or even if this could be construed as a theme not just in Alien, but across a genre as well, and what that has to say for science fiction, sexuality, and gender studies.