ALL ART BURNS

It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Time for the final push

Four weeks to go and every class has a major project due:

  • 4,000 character essay in Japanese on the history of japanese youth culture and fashion
  • video sketch of a new product in Interaction Design
  • brochure for a client project in Document Design
  • that thing I’m working on for my Master’s studio that I’ll post about when it’s finished

I basically don’t have free time. Twice in the past couple of weeks I’ve gone out with friends and had fun, but the next morning I find myself thinking, “I probably could have used that time more wisely”. On the other hand, I need the occasional break so I can catch my breath and think about something other than sketching, storyboarding, and writing code.

Other students are looking forward to winter break so they can go home and spend time with their families and travel, I’m thinking about mine in terms of simply catching up on day-to-day life, seeing my friends, updating my portfolio, making some art, and generally doing things of my own choosing.

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posted by jet at 13:02  

Monday, October 27, 2008

Papanek on industrial design

School is consuming my life, so I’m making notes for future posts to my design journal.   Expect winter break to be a cavalcade of posts on WHY I AM SO AMAZINGLY BRILLIANT…

Today I was talking to a undergrad who is disillusioned with what he’s studying in industrial design studio.  While we were talking, I was reminded of something Papanek wrote that helped me figure out What I Want to do With My Life.

_Design for the Real World_, a book that got Papanek kicked out of the IDSA, really made me wake up and think about what it is I am doing and why.  The revised edition of _Design for the Real World_ is much better than the original, but the first paragraph stays the same:

There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few of them. And possibly only one profession is phonier. Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today. Industrial design, by concocting the tawdry idiocies hawked by advertisers, comes a close second. Never before in history have grown men sat down and seriously designed electric hairbrushes, rhinestone-covered shoe horns, and mink carpeting for bathrooms, and then drawn up elaborate plans to make and sell these gadgets to millions of people. Before (in the “good old days”), if a person liked killing people, he had to become a general, purchase a coal mine, or else study nuclear physics. Today, industrial design has put murder on a mass-production basis. By designing criminally unsafe automobiles that kill or maim nearly one million people around the world each year, by creating whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breath, designers have become a dangerous breed. And the skills needed in these activities are carefully taught to young people.

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posted by jet at 21:58  

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Omnibus School Update

Way behind on the journaling thing, but I’ve been kinda busy.

This wraps up week 5 of my 32 week adventure in getting a one-year master‘s. Intensive programs are, well, intensive. I’m taking four studios + an elective (the somewhat non-trivial Advanced Japanese) and that accounts for most of my waking hours.

Because mTID is still a new program, the courses I’m taking are relevant to my degree but offered from other departments. This semester, one of my design studios is in the English department and another is in HCI so I’m getting to interact with a lot of people from other graduate programs. The other two studios are basically a single massive studio under mTID where I’m doing a self-directed research project. (If you know the Carnegie Mellon unit system, I’m taking 51 units, 42 of those are studios.)

My research project is going really well so far. I’ll post more details when I’ve got a rigged demo, but I’m basically looking at ways to visualize Hertzian space using tactile and haptic outputs. Like many of my grand schemes, I give it a 50/50 chance of actually working instead of being an example of what not to do. There’s a fair amount of research in haptics for manipulators and engaging virtual worlds, however I’m personally leaning towards personal-level implementations that transmit abstract information. Instead of trying to provide realistic physical feedback to someone teleoperating a waldo I’m trying to provide physical encodings of data/information about an invisible environment.

At the end of week 5 I’m where I should be at the end of week 8 and I have 11 weeks until the end of the semester. I’d really like to have something to show at the CHI ’09 vignettes or alt.chi in April and the application deadlines are during winter break. I’m feeling pretty good about the progress I’m making, especially if I can work on this after the semester is over and have a really good submission for CHI.

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posted by jet at 15:43  

Thursday, September 4, 2008

“I want to be a designer because…” — 2008 edition

Two years ago, one of my professors asked us to complete this statement every year while limiting our answer to 15 words or less.

I want to be a designer because….
…designers can help people solve problems, including ones they might not be aware of yet.

In 15 words and with no qualification statements!

Thanks, Brett. This is one of best questions anyone’s ever asked me in the classroom.

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posted by jet at 22:44  

Friday, August 29, 2008

My New Life in the Off-World Colonies!

Today finishes my first week in the newly formed Master of Tangible Interaction Design program at Carnegie Mellon. It’s a really interesting concept for a degree — take technologists and designers and teach them the other’s trade in the classroom, then have them spend lots of time in studio implementing what they’re learning in those classes. This isn’t a revolutionary new idea but a variation on something being done at a number of schools.

My background is in technology so almost all the classes I’m taking are design oriented: Document Design and Basic Interaction Design this semester; color theory and another design class next semester. On top of those classes, I’ll spend most of my waking hours in studio trying to implement what I’m learning in the design classes. (Thus the reason I took a leave from work: there’s just no way I could hold down a job and do this much school.)

To be honest, I wish it were a two-year program. I’d love to spend a year in design classes then follow that with another year just working on studio/thesis. Before coming to mTID, however, I did complete the first year of the undergraduate Design program at CMU. Similar to other design schools, the first year is an intensive studio focused on 2d and 3d design fundamentals that doesn’t worry about the line between industrial design and communication design. Many students come in convinced they want to do one but switch to the other by the end of the first year. Me, I realized that I wanted to study design in some way that included ID, CD, interaction design and computation. Along came mTID so here I am.

I couldn’t have gotten here on my own, so…

Thanks to the Carnegie Mellon faculty who taught me how to draw more than stick figures, how to think about form and typography from a new point of view, and that design is bigger than posters and toasters.

Thanks also to the Design Class of 2010. First year studio was insanely great and you all helped me learn something about what I want out of design and what design wants from me.

Most importantly, thanks to Drue and all of our friends who have supported (and tolerated :-) me through the messy process that got me here.

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posted by jet at 13:23  
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