You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Rants’ category.

I’m slaving over this paper, practically worshiping it and turning her ideas into a framework to explain museum’s in relation to UbiComp…

*looks at top of front page of paper, notices Yvonne wrote it at INDIANA UNIVERSITY, it the very building I am sitting in*

had to share 🙂

Jeff’s last class had me reflecting on how my capstone has touched and shaped me. Over the course of this semester I have noticed more and more accessibility devices that focus only on the functionality aesthetic. This class has increasingly given me a harsh look on the technologies available to people with disabilities. I’ve taken this harsh look because these technologies separate people who do not ‘need’ these technologies from those that do. If these technologies were more desirable, perhaps they would not even be viewed as technologies for the disabled, but just good design that works well for people with disabilities? Even so, there some technologies that most people without a specific disability may never need. For example a prosthetic leg. This harsh look which will be evident in my paper as I use video game controllers as a lens to focus on this idea. Before this capstone and interaction culture I did not have these thoughts and it feels very fresh bit also very daunting at the same time. I’m not really where to with this blog post at the moment and I may come back to it later.

So, I have been in somewhat confused state lately. Since the semester is coming to an end, I am preparing my final capstone document; framing and re-framing things so that it makes sense to Eli and people who might read it.The journey of capstone is organic, the research phase never ends technically. But for presenting the project, I need to break things down , more specifically in PRInCiPleS format for the final deliverable.

Jeff shared an amazing framework of ‘What, How and Why’ to think about a paper or a design project. It totally made sense to me. I documented my capstone thought process in that flow. But as I was presenting it to Eli, I felt I was struggling a little bit. So, I mapped these two frameworks to understand how can they be related and came up with this:Image

What do you guys think ? How are you bridging this gap between documenting a process and presenting it? Would really appreciate some feedback..

A post from Deepak on Facebook which led me to research the author introduced me to Marc Hemeon, Senior UX Designer at YouTube and Google. The original post from Deepak interested me in that this entrepreneur Hemeon cancelled a project somewhat prematurely when it ran into a child pornography issue. 6 months of work down the drain for an issue that almost every tech startup has to face, but I digress.

Further research into Hemeon’s posts lead me to one titled Design Process is a Myth.  Intriguing, right? Here’s some choice quotes:

“Every designer has their own unique way of solving design problems.”

Bad product design is fixed by hiring good designers not by adopting a better design process.”

“I create products and ideas by instinct, derived from my own aesthetic tastes and personal beliefs of how a product should look and feel after I have studied the problem. Here is a loose outline of how I tackle a design problem (just don’t call it a process).”


And finally…

“I let my idea soak until I can clearly picture how to solve the problem. The solution arrives as a clear eureka moment. A eureka moment is pure, and provides an elegant and obvious solution (at least thats how it feels in my brain). The eureka moment comes randomly when I don’t expect it. If I sit down and try to force eureka I freeze and end up wasting time.”

I can’t tell if this guy is trolling or for real, but it raises the question: are these the kind of designers we will work with in the future?

So I finally get a chance to say what I feel about this subject. Yay me! Where to start? I guess I should start with my stance on the combination of horror and humor as genre’s, especially now and today and that stance is…don’t do it anymore. Seriously, please don’t do it anymore. Perhaps I have a different feel of what horror is compared to others but I am a horror movie fan to those movies that I deem worthy. Nowadays, horror is just consisting of a killer going around, mutilating everything in their wake, a main character that somehow ends up coming across said killer, and them trying to figure out how to escape while trying to kill the killer. Sadly, horror nowadays isn’t the genre it used to be. It’s completely watered down. When I think ‘horror’, I think of something that frightens me. In fact when I watch a so-called ‘horror’ film nowadays, I don’t find myself scared but rather I laugh out loud hysterically seeing blood and guts splatter everywhere and a more expensive showing of ‘1000 Ways To Die’. In this retrospect, I guess you can call me experiencing the comedy side of horror versus the fear. Horror films nowadays are just that: a joke. They are constantly repetitious and some of the elements that happen in horror movies have just become cliched. For example, why–TELL ME WHY!!!–there is always a dumb character that walks in the woods by themselves, ends up lost and with a broken car, starts running with the killer behind them and decide to slip and fall, the one and only black character dies protecting everyone (truthfully, most black people get highly offended by it because they would end up abandoning their own mother to survive, let alone a friend or comrade), the killer walks at a slow pace and no matter how much running the main character does, they end up getting killed; and somehow they manage to squeeze in a sex scene between characters right before the man then the woman (most times but it can be vice-versa) gets killed by the killer. Personally, I feel that in order to experience horror and humor first one must fix the horror side, at least to my standards. In fact, Gore needs to have its own genre to keep people from being confused about what is true horror.

In my opinion, the movie exemplars given by Carroll to me isn’t horror. Many of them are comedy movies/sitcoms (<– and that’s stretching the word ‘comedy’ too much for some of the films)  with horror movie elements. I can’t order a large sized meal from Burger King then get a diet Coke and say that it’s a healthy meal just for the diet Coke (<–that’s intentional. ‘Healthy’ is stretched a lot for diet Coke). There may be some elements like tomato and lettuce on your sandwich and the Coke but speaking realistic, it’s not healthy at all. That’s what I see with many horror/comedy movies nowadays. It’s not done right. Heck, sometimes I question the comedy aspect just as much as the horror.

I agree with Stuart Gordon when he states that ‘The thing I have found is that you’ll never find an audiences that wants to laugh more than a horror audience.’ but the only reason I agree with him is because I’m already biased as to how horror movies should be. To me, horror movies are to test someone’s will to survive when they have absolutely nothing and the situation seems totally desperate. That’s right, NOTHING! No guns, no shovel, no laser gun, no army, no knife, taser, mace, or brass knuckles. You are naked as an individual to protect yourself. That’s how horror movies should be, it should portray helplessness to the extreme. You can’t fight the enemy, all you can do is run, hide, and hope that they don’t see or hear you. THAT’S horror. None of this bullcrap nowadays can make me feel the fear of the character lost in a place that they’ve never seen before, surrounded by multiple enemies that when spotted, they must run for their lives. In that retrospective, I can’t say that comedy needs to be in it. True, I do want to laugh when seeing how pathetic the character is and that they are screwed with absolutely no hope of making it out alive; but laughing takes away what makes horror so awesome in the first place. There is no relief, there’s only suffering and no hope for getting out of the situation.

The only two names that come to mind when I think of these are in fact videogames. Honestly, it makes it much more scarier because you ARE the character that’s helpless. This is interesting because all last night, I watched the walkthroughs for both titles after looking up the top 10 scariest games of all times list on YouTube and a reference from a friend for a more recently released game. Both of those titles are called ‘Outlast’ and ‘Amnesia: the Dark Descent’. After hearing how scary these games were from my friend and knowing how much of a Boss I am, I was like, “Man, grow some hair on your chest and quit being such a punk!’. First I watched Amnesia, without any commentary (usually I hate hearing people talk while the game is being played) and found myself screaming more than watching to the point where I couldn’t even watch the first 10 minutes. It was too quiet and had me on edge so I had to find a video with commentary to make things easier. Needless to say, I didn’t finish it. So when my friend said ‘Outlast’ is scarier, I didn’t believe him…until I watched the first few minutes of it then called it quits. Those are true horror genres. When grown men with deep voices are so frightened that they scream out 6 octaves higher, that’s real horror. People truly forgotten what it’s like being caught off guard and surprised then realize that you have no means of protecting yourself. You can’t laugh at that. But with my sense of crude humor, it is possible to instill comedy in it to my liking, but like I said before, it’s got to be done right.

Sorry for the long post! You can tell I’m passionate abut this subject. 🙂

Regardless of the mental exercise that a lot of these readings present, I can’t help but jump to, how is this helping me being a better designer? How is this pushing me to think of different design paradigms, etc ? (This has no real conclusion… you have been warned)

So one thing that definitely stood out was the idea of context, and how a narrative builds not only on “cultural categories, norms, and conceptual schemes”, but being part of that context, and how the lack can alter meaning making. I see this related to our previous reading on how through the narrative, the author taps into the sensorium, and tries to trigger that reaction empathically (this person feels fear, so I am feeling fear).

“In these cases, it seems to me that once one excerpts these quotations from their narrative contexts, the danger that has been building up in the story disappears, and primarily only the anomaly remains in a way which, my theory predicts, is apt to cause laughter.” (p 252, Horror and Humor)


Taking this to say, interaction design for mobile devices, where the narrative is not continuous. So when we design for the user journey we are more susceptible to the aesthetic codings we embed in the interaction, since the point of interaction might be short. Alternatively, we also have an opportunity to build that narrative in broader terms perhaps, where the journey is everyday activity.

What other paradoxes are we designing through aesthetic codings and context building in digital experiences?

It is my intent to start the bulk of my pre-write this Sunday for my paper. I have been pondering about the idea for my paper for a bit of time and I keep circling back to the idea of aesthetics and accessibility designs. I remember when it first entered my mind when I argued in front of Eli that the collection of accessibility-minded video game controllers were aesthetically ugly. He challenged me on that idea and I couldn’t think of answer on the spot. This thought has gone through numerous different ideas where at one point I was questioning whether it was ethical to design a one-handed video game controller. I have been looking at one other designers have designing in this space, including the post Zan made earlier on Facebook and Scott’s Prosthesis legs. However while I feel I could be looking harder, I haven’t found many other examples that are beyond a “utilitarian focus.” So it may be a direction on my final paper. However, a working prejudice I have working in my head is that aesthetics in accessibility design beyond utilitarian are desirable and improve the well-being of both the people with disabilities and those who interact with them.  I’m not certain yet where video game controllers will fit into this argument, but these are some of my thoughts at the moment. . .

I’ve been thinking about a final paper idea for a while and I think it’s the best I’ve got, so here goes… let me know if you know of any resources I should look into, I’ll be starting my compilation this weekend. I’m not quite sure what I’m trying to say or what the HCI angle is in this exactly, but hopefully it’ll come to fruition.

Topic: Digitization & the loos of the brushstroke


I told a story in class one day about my study abroad experience in China. The students at CAFA would buy bootleg art books outside the school grounds and their work, while exquisite, would reflect the book- the photocopied, yellowed, flat, sloppy rendition of the Renoir, or what have you. They were mimicking perfectly, but the thing they were mimicking was a copy of a copy of a copy of a photograph from a person who was once in France, in front of the painting with a camera.

Digitization in the arts is a huge movement currently. Museums are spending a lot of money to get collections online. While it both preserves the work and expands the reach, there is a lot of information the photograph can miss. In paintings, color, scale, frame, where the curator placed it in a gallery, other onlookers reactions, and, of course, the previously mentioned brush stroke, all come to mind.

There are also issues of protection. If museums offer these resources for free, what is to keep people from repurposing them without permission? Or will the appropriate experience and understanding come across through a web browser. I supposed someone could snap an image in person at a free museum, but this does require a bit more ground work. What could the museums do to attempt to better facilitate the experience? What are they doing? Is there a way to show the brush stroke, brushed used, brush style- make the learning experience more immersive?

I’ll probably dive into:

  • The mission of museums
  • Acknowledging the difficulty of travel
  • Thinking about what the artists would say?
  • Look more at digitization efforts… maybe use one as a case study

Non HCI papers

  • Ways of Seeing – John Berger
  • There are lots of papers done for the Museums and the Web conference

In terms of HCI papers, I’m not really sure… Off the top of my head:

  • Koskinen, “Showroom theory”
  • Bannon, L.J., Benford, S. Bowers, J. & Heath, C. (2005). “Hybrid design creates innovative museum experiences.”

  • Defamiliarization, because why not?
  • Maybe Robertson and Simonson ?
  • Tufte Images and Quantities might be a stretch..
  • I really need to keep digging.

Any thoughts or directions would be super appreciated!

Earlier this week, Oculus VR, a company that has been producing Virtual Reality headsets to developers and other enthusiasts with the intent to release it to the public at a later date announced it would get purchased by Facebook. Many people on the internet have expressed their displeasure of Facebook purchasing Oculus. I want to take a brief look at these things through the lens of semiotics, focusing on the form of Kickstarter and how it influenced these behaviors.  I don’t have an Oculus Rift.

Two years ago, Oculus allowed individuals to support the company by engaging in a Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an interesting design because of the relationship that forms as a result between the the individual or company requesting money and the the person contributing money. This forms the Kickstarter address and its form. Kickstarter’s design has an interesting addressee. The addressee for Kickstarter are these individuals who want to support visions and want to make changes to their world by contributing money and effort. While choosing to purchase a product at a store also supports the company in a similar way. The key difference between these two examples is that the Kickstarter’s design highlights this support and vision-making. Kickstarter Backers have bought into this vision that the individual or company is proposing.

Kickstarter has several design features that allow its form to support this distinct relationship. First and the most important is forcing the creator to create a video for their proposal. These video tend to have the individuals speaking to the viewer and arguing on why they should support their cause. One could go deeper into the semiotics of just Kickstarter videos. Another form that kickstarters tend to have are updates. Creators can create updates throughout the duration the campaign which encourages a dialog between the backers and the creator as the project moves forward. As I mentioned, there is also a duration aspect to kickstarter which encourages a sense of urgency to both the backers and the creator. If they don’t make the money in the amount of time, they will not receive any of it and their vision will not succeed. Another aspect of the form of the Kickstarter is that the total amount of money is displayed publicly to the world. It creates excitement by allowing users see how they get closer and closer to their goals by putting the current amount just above the amount that is being requested. Finally, Oculus announced its kickstarter in a time period of huge excitement for Kickstarter. To many at the time, Kickstarter was very novel and this created a strong excitement around this device.


Originally, I was going to talk about the other aspects of this through the Semiotics lens, but this blog post is getting a little long so I might do another blog post later.

…the browser swallowed my blog post!