Thursday, January 27, 2011

IID Charrette

Rather than having a normal first week of classes, the IID department held a charrette. Over 4 days, groups of students worked together to parse out what "Interaction Design" means to the IID department at SU. We are definitely not a traditional interaction department (nor are we a traditional industrial design department). I think most students see interaction not only in terms of technology but also in terms of human and environmental interaction. I find that a lot of projects that I, as well as my peers, create are very systematic. Designing the form of an object can be fun, but designing the specific functions and relationships the object wil have in a greater ecosystem is far more interesting to me. I'm glad I chose a department that encourages this kind of thinking.

The specific brief of this project was given on Wednesday afternoon: "Create a way to fing things in Syracuse." Tuesday was spent finding our own way around Syracuse, so we had first hand experience about how confusing the city can be (as well as how many hidden gems there are).

Thursday was spent ideating and the final presentation was due Friday at 4pm. So, in less than two days, groups created some sort of "mock-up" of an idea. My group presented the video below.

Group M Charrette Final from Margaret McGill on Vimeo.

The design was created for anyone who wants to explore a place without having to rely on maps or GPS screens. The idea was to allow the user to get lost without any of the anxiety of being lost. A chip in each shoe uses GPS to always bring the person back to a starting point (a car, hotel room, etc).  When the person is done exploring, they simply make a gesture, like clicking their heels together, and the device is activated. The person begins walking, if they need to turn the chip in the specific shoe vibrates.

Overall, I loved being able to work with IID students from other years and I think the idea turned out pretty great.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thesis: Spring Semester

This semester is focused on designing based on the fall semester's research. After speaking with my professor yesterday, I realized I needed a quick visualization of what exactly my focus is. Enter the above graphic. Basically, I started the semester looking at "storytelling" but quickly narrowed down to storytelling  as social interaction. I then realized that there were some broader topics I needed to look at: culture, digital technology, and the idea of archiving. As much as I have a lot of broad topics, I want my final design to focus on the overlap of these terms.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Down to the wire

My desktop last night. For some reason whenever I write a paper I need to have at least 4-5 files for it: notes, outline, keywords, freewrite (where I just ramble out of order), and the final draft. I move between the files as well as my notebook in order to make sense of everything. I like using a notebook because I find that I need to physically write out notes from what I've been reading in order to retain the information better.

As much as I've taken a lot of writing courses over the past five years, I'm finding this to be the most difficult paper I've ever written. It has little to do with the length and more to with getting the content in order. I've never been good at putting things in order. I tend to jump around until everything falls into place. This paper has already had three outlines, each changing slightly.

The other difficulty with my thesis is that this isn't going to end up as an "academic" paper, it's going to be a design book. I'm writing very academically right now, but I know the final draft is going to end up focusing more on images and short bursts of information.  I need to process academically first before I can condense.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Something I forgot along the way

I'm currently writing a new outline of the beast that will become my thesis booklet. Along the way, I've written a few questions I hope to answer, the most important being:

Why do we tell stories?

In the course of reading "important" academic texts, I came to the high-minded answer that stories are told in order to "understand the human condition," "make sense of the world," "create a sense of empathy towards others" and so on. I only now realized that I missed a very important point:

Stories are told for the pleasure they bring to both storyteller and audience.

There is just something so fun about either telling or hearing a good story (I must admit, I am usually on the hearing end of a story).  This thesis may be an in-depth analysis of story and storytelling methods, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have to be dry and dull and overly "important."

So I'll end with a quote from the first essay of the book pictured above, titled "Trickster in a Suit of Lights: Thoughts on the Modern Short Story," in which Michael Chabon somehow makes the idea of entertainment a deep one:

"The best response to those who would cheapen and exploit [entertainment] is not to disparage or repudiate but to reclaim entertainment as a job fit for artists and for audiences, a two-way exchange of attention, experience, and the universal hunger for connection."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's a Story? In Visuals/Words

 So, I've spent a lot of time figuring out my own personal definition of story and storytelling. While working on a presentation for this week I came up with some simple visuals to show what I mean. Unfortunately, I had to scrap this presentation and simplify, so the visuals weren't used, but I figured they could live on here.

This is a chart that most people have seen in grade school about plot. I think it's actually a good start, but the idea of rising and falling action can leave out a lot of stories. I think a lot of stories actually look like:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Why

I've added a few more books to the pile in the past few weeks. Though now I am trying to organize what I have and narrow down exactly what information I need to give more life to this thesis.

Last week I spoke at length with one of my professors about my thesis.  During the course of the conversation she asked me "Why did you decide to do this thesis?" It took me aback, I've been so focused on just creating a thesis that I sort of forgot why I find storytelling so interesting in the first place. As much as stories have been part of my entire life, the thing that set off this thesis was:

I read Coupland's novel in May and wrote a brief review on my Tumblr (here).  Like I say in my review, what I found so fascinating were the scenes in which characters had to make up stories. Coupland did a good job contrasting the "true" stories being told as compared to their efforts to create a story. There is also a communal aspect to the tellings. The characters' stories begin to mix together, become one collective tale.

This, I guess is my "why." I want to know where communal storytelling is going. Is Twitter going to really becoming our best method of telling stories as a community (as in- retweets and thousands of tweets about one news story)? Are Youtube comments a sort of storytelling in and of themselves? 

Also, why do we still make up stories? Is there still a purpose to them? I like to think so, though it might not be a quantifiable. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Description of a Visual Object #5

Final one. (and maybe a real update later this week).