« March 2008 | Main | June 2008 »

April 10, 2008

Rafael speaks at Columbia College of Chicago's Interactive Arts + Media Department

I'm speaking tonight at the invitation of Patrick Lichty and the Interactive Arts + Media department. The department has a wonderful array of major concentrations including Game Design. I had the enormously good fortune to meet Patrick in New Orleans in 2003. We spent an afternoon in intense conversation over lunch and a visit to the contemporary art museum. I had – and still have – much to learn from him.

Posted by SWEAT at 10:17 AM

April 08, 2008

Carlos Runcie Tanaka at the University of Denver

Carlos Runcie Tanaka, Peru's representative to the Venice Bienale. World renowned artist.

learn the technique from the direct experience, from the elements thaty you have in your own place.

Carlos realized that he was of the desert south of lima. he decided to begin to employ low temperature clay and colors of the desert. he began to place objects back into the sands of the desert.

In Cuenca Carlos began to try to bring the landscape into the musuem, even as he was moving the objects into the landscape. In Mexico, he brought 14 tons of gravel into the Museum of Modern Art as the landscape the objects.

Using very simple forms.

giving back things to the earth.

finding narrative significance in the iconography of the crab.

cosomological and numerological significance.

it takes an hour to fold an origami crab.

the folding is a reminder of stories.

videos of the folding.

grinding of glass spheres.

dancing with a crab.

video of "Displacements" recreating the folds, meant to feel as though they are floating in space. folded paper brought together to make the map of the world, and then the ocean comes and the folded papers are replaced by crabs of different sizes. building up the forms from darkness to light.

the body as measurement of all things. press molds to make 300 figures. taken hostage by the revolutionary movement Tupac Amaru. held for 10 days. the piece called "the wait". 100 roses for 100 waits (hopes?), dried roses in the urns below the figures. people were still held hostage while he was making this work. an homage for those still held at that time. an attempt to communicate.

Posted by SWEAT at 07:00 PM

April 06, 2008

CMU online video flirting project

Seven week project,
looking to create a product prototype that occupies a casual, centralized model.
looking at online initiation/introduction, online flirting, resulting in physical relationship.
online quick video Q&A that has a game-like feedback and quick turn.

"Flirtastic" was born.

how to assess the design? tried to attack with traditional HCI, but:
impossible to describe rich interaction with paper prototypes
impossible to...
impossible to...

flex made sense to develop prototype

created a bootleg workflow all Adobe branded.

created story video to prototype the service.

there is a live prototype created in Flex.

Lee Byron's website: http://leebyron.com/what/flirtastic/

team member, Paul Robare's website: http://www.paulrobare.com/Flirtastic.html

team member Chris Michaelides website: http://chrismichaelides.com/projects/Flirtastic/Flirtastic.html

Posted by SWEAT at 09:33 AM

Adobe World Wide Education Community

Map of tools, getting AiR & Flex into Web developer communities.

Adobe Design Achievement Awards competition 2008

video of benefits given to those who earn distinction.

Reel Ideas studio:

Posted by SWEAT at 09:21 AM

Glenn Platt on Graphic Design in the context of Digital Media Programs

Glenn Platt is the Director of Interactive Media Studies at Miami University of Ohio:

Graphic Design & Digital Media Programs: Obstacles and Opportunities


  1. Curricular Territory
  2. FTEs
  3. Facilities
  4. Faculty Lines
  5. Promotion & Tenure
  6. Enrollment Threats
  7. Funding
  8. Politics


  1. Leverage Other Curricula | More With Less
  2. Cross-Listing
  3. Use As A “Carrot”
  4. New Models For Appointments
  5. Create P&T Committees By Contract
  6. Require Double Majors
  7. New Opportunities As Partners
  8. Establish A Value Proposition

Graphic Design & Digital Media Programs: Questions For Consideration

Isn’t this a systems design problem at its heart? The fact that we even have to place “graphic design” and “digital media” in oppositional terms belies the fundamental problem of institutional structure. As long as we have traditional silo departments in divisions, can there even be resolution to this potential conflict?

Does the redefinition of Design (capital D) to capture the social, technical, visual, auditory, motion, human, and political system-based problem solving, set us up with an impossible task: an academic domain too broad to cover? Consider this: can you prepare a student for the breadth and depth required by an Institute without Boundaries and The Barbarian Group?

Does it demand partnerships that we have not considered?

Co-creation. Non-linear curriculum. No one owns an academic domain. Faculty as partner, not expert. We are our network... This all requires quantum, not incremental, change. Can we do this? Can we afford not to?

Top Down? Bottom Up? Left to Right? Right to Left? Who moves first?

Posted by SWEAT at 05:00 AM

April 05, 2008

TheBarbarianGroup wants people who have studied comparative technology for specific sectors

Way cool marketing company, TheBarbarianGroup, asked for help in preparing the next generation workforce. Their call was admittedly selfish, and offered with good humor. Their clientele are asking for (demanding?) projects that necessitate a diversity of software tools be deployed, across a diversity of professional competencies, often to use the same kinds of assets. TheBarbarianGroup doesn't know which of the working methods from which professional competencies will be best for the project.

Posted by SWEAT at 06:29 PM

De Angela Duff on Graphic Design in the context of Electronic Media Programs

De Angela Duff from University of the Arts in Philadelphia:

Co-exist by separating or collaborating? Combine/collapse?

Questions to dialogue to consider solutions:
  1. how is the student's experience same or diiferent?
  2. Artifacts aren't different necessarily or are they?
  3. how is the student's Processes same or diff?
  4. how is the student's Vocabulary same or diff?
  5. how is the student's Thinking same or diff?
  6. how is the student's Knowledge same or diff?
  7. How is the student's historical reference/context same or diff?
  8. structurally curriculum wise
    • Diffs/sims
    • scheduling grid / credit hrs and contact hrs
    • Sequential vs non sequential
  9. teaching methodologies
  10. ground up

    Top down
  11. redundancy? Overlap?
    Good or bad
  12. turf wars
    Bodies leads to
    Political power

Posted by SWEAT at 05:15 PM

Peg Faimon on Graphic Design in the context of Electronic Media Programs

Peg Faimon of Miami University of Ohio:

Digital Media programs by their very nature want to fight against the traditional siloed university structure. Should digital media move from the single disciplinary home, such as Art or Communication, to an interdisciplinary collaboration?

If departments across campus, including graphic design, are doing “digital media” shouldn’t they be sharing their common language and take advantage of overlaps?
In a “networked/non-linear society” what is the appropriate organizational structure for our graphic design/digital media curricula?
How can we be affective advocates for change on our campuses? Is it our role to educate administrators about dynamic media and how it fits within and changes the traditional curricula?
How can we set up our curricula to be evolving and flexible, as opposed to static and repetitive?
Design thinking, like digital media, is a bridge to other disciplines. Is it our role/responsibility as graphic design faculty to take the lead in building that bridge?
Is a “thematic” education as effective as a “linear” one?

Posted by SWEAT at 05:15 PM

preparatory thoughts for my session tomorrow

With regard to Design in the context of Electronic Media programs

I am the director of an interdisciplinary Digital Media Studies Program. Curriculum development is constant and ongoing.

1.- My sense of self-worth is deeply tied to my making things, either by myself or with others.

2.- What is the radius or range for my interdisciplinarity?

3.- Can I play well with others?

4.- Can I understand my field deeply? historically? with vision?

5.- Can I understand someone else's field deeply? and how that field productively interfaces with mine?

6.- How can I subsume the voice I worked so hard to develop?

7.- Am I frightened or comforted by apparent schizophrenia?

8.- How do I feel if I create situations? If I create systems? If I create relationships?

Posted by SWEAT at 05:15 PM

"Shannon & Wheeler's model for communication was intended to describe telephones, and is insufficient for other forms."

Heard at the Massaging Media conference.

Posted by SWEAT at 05:00 PM

Algorithmic Design

Design moving from composition to choreography, from objects to systems and services.


Open Code Project:
rethink the idea of making simplified forms of programming. Alan Kay thinks:

"... when we teach children English, iti is not our intent to teach them a pidgin language, but to gradually reveal the whole thing...

In computer terms, the range of aspiration should extend at least to the kinds of applications purchased from professionals."

There may be a fallacy in this thinking, in that the whole of the natural language is on display at all times in original language aquisition. Children can express themselves functionally -- if clumsily and with frustrations -- with imperfect syntax and vocabulary. This is not the case with artificial computer languages.


Having a browser will become a ubiquitous condition. Creators have created a processing IDE and archive at the above address. Code won't be stored if it isn't clean. So you can trust all code on archive to learn from. Can't store code in archive unless author is willing to share code.

Type+Code: processing for designers
formal exploration of letterform transformations in processing. Student introduced processing to Ellen Lupton, her advisor, at MICA. Linked interpretive typography with Sonya [sic?] to create reactive piece with acoustic input.

Everyone can learn processing.
Created some basic tutorials as a contribution to Ellen Lupton's book on the New Design Basics.

These still offer a reductivist or simplified approach, Bauhausian tradition reaffirmed. The breakouts lag behind the Keynotes. This is likely a necessary existential condition of conferences.

"Genetic Typography"
recapitulation of the typeface Beowulf, instantiated in Processing, with self-conscious homage to A-Life pioneer, Conaway.


Hugh Dubberly is very impressed that Lupton's students are exploring Processing, and wants to know how that happened.

Driven by student interest at MICA.

A reference is made to Adobe Illustrator as a "traditional tool" (tee hee)

And reference to Processing as a meta-tool

conversation about how to make form (predictable or otherwise) with and through Processing.

Glen Carlson should have presented here. so too should have Devin Monnens. Josh, Carlos and Mohammed could have presented some P4 Games examples here. They spend all their money on tuition, and can't afford to be here. Yarghhh!

Challenges to authorship. Once again.

Posted by SWEAT at 04:00 PM

"Processing is the hot new thing"

MIT students at the Massaging Media conference

Posted by SWEAT at 03:59 PM

I feel brittle

I don't feel that I am supple enough to keep up. I am concerned for my own sustainable learning path.

Posted by SWEAT at 02:34 PM

Hugh Dubberly Massages Digital Media

Insightful and persistent production of salient concept maps. Brings intelligence and reason to a practice that is often self-indulgent and unreasonable.

Talk tilted:
Three new waves of change and what they might mean.

worried that design might be stuck. The world around us is changing. These changes are large. Rates of change are double exponential.

thre trend, senors are proliferating, video is converging, mobile devices are opening up.

Wii mote is a touchstone of the inflection point.

shows "World of WiiCraft" video. Will need DarWiin Remote patch. Don't need the Wii, just the sensor bar ($10.) and the Wii-mote ($40.00).

Intel put individual sensors on individual vines in a west-coast vineyard to make a very detailed map of the heat & humidity in order to optimize for micro-harvesting and increased quality.

Don Carr's sonic snowboard. snowboard as musical instrument.

google my lost keys. (sharing spime scenario)

Johnny Lee from CMU and his internet fame from his demos on Wii-mote head tracking

Emotive Inc. Software that recognizes brainwave patterns and matches them to commands. Not magic, you have to train the system. (my EEG hairnet)

Mobile Devices are opening up.
Apple is looking at the entire community of systems that surround the mobile tech.

Spook Country geo-locative tagging scenarios

augmented reality displays

Video is converging with other media (finally)

Seadragon by Microsoft (BladeRunner scenario)

Plastic Logic Inc with flexible screens.

Screens become architecture

a new video web will emerge

assumptions to challenge:
sensemaking and storytelling don't change
managing complexity is a new problem
designing is the exclusive province of designers

systems theory provides a body of knowledge designers should use

design thinking is opening the door to business, but traffic can pass both ways

design is a part of all professions

the arrival of design courses in business schools should be cause for celebration and reflection.

look up Austin Henderson, Liz Saunders (Sanders?)

We need to think about tools for making tools.

We need fundamental change in the way we practice and think about and teach design. There may be a schism between those who believe is about giving form and those who look at and think about designers of systems.

We don't have a mechanism for improving design. This is a goal of research. There is no feedback loop.

The research imperative is too tied to specific personalities and has not yet taken on a life of its own.

Hugh looks forward to working with all of us on changing that situation.

Posted by SWEAT at 02:00 PM

massaging media requires lubrication

provocative thought: if design is the mediation of interactions, and cognitive frictions and inertias need to be overcome, then a lubricant at the points of contact will be most welcome.

Posted by SWEAT at 12:22 PM

Design Educators Community on AIGA


Launching two design educator research grants of $5000.00 each. Call will go out April 30, 2008.

Posted by SWEAT at 11:40 AM

Speculative Making

Meredith Davis still firmly believes that Designers retain a role in creating objects, artifacts and experiences that provoke. In the graduate level at NC State, by decoupling the self-indulgent expression from the making, the results of that speculative making can be useful in several contexts. These speculations become proposals or propositions with rhetorical and emotional power.

Posted by SWEAT at 09:37 AM

What is the Researchable Question?

Massaging Media conference panel with Meredith Davis, Jamie Gray & Deborah Littlejohn.

Distinguish between Master's level inquiry and Doctoral level inquiry.

If you can describe what your potential outcome is, you are not really in research mode.

components of espistemologies:
Relativism | Phenomenology | Positivism

master's students tend to be toward the left here
doctoral students may be all over, but will work toward the right.

NC State does not allow self-indulgent projects, students have to envision their projects and outcomes as transferable to some novel circumstance.

For masters students, guided prompts:
Content Interests, ways of working, future goals
reaffirm and amplify student predilections

Jamie will talk to us about her process:
Master's recipient:
Speculative Making as the domain/method
needed a lens to focus her effort within limited time.
"Digital Collecting" became Jamie's focus.

"how can a collecting behaviors inform the design of a set of interactive tools?"

parsed and reparsed, annotated and reannotated the original question:

digital collecting behaviors
serendipitous discovery
gathering & creating experiences
subjective & associative categorization
sharing & collaborating
speculative intractive tools

a demo follows that offers a "loaded" icon of diigolet style functions that remixes a set of visual indices of collection that reside on the desktop, that can become access points for the collected information.

Jamie chose to make a set of small studies focused by the question.

Jamie's next speculation is a cursor loaded with tags that collects info-content in the way of Katamari Damacy. The cursor becomes a mosaic of the collection.

"how can digital collecting behaviors inform the aesthetics and functionality of ...."

Profession is more that an occupation and becomes a field of inquiry in its own right.
What is worth doing?
This question is often the focus of the first year of a PhD program, mapping the field in it's entirety so that one can know with certainty that one is offering a novel contribution to that field.

Deborah Littlejohn
Still encounters resistance to research in design.
Research builds a shared knowledge base for the profession.
Is shared to ensure rigor
Is rigorous so it is seen to be credible to others.
The sharing process is prescribed;

Epistemology: how we know what we know
Methodology: How we go about knowing it

Defining the Domain of Inquiry:
Deborah falls within Teaching & Learning within Design Education, in contexts of tradtional and non-traditoinal methods.

open up to pedagogy, organization, digital technologies, space
each of these components is further opened up, and their interrelationships are in turn investigated.

how do these components act in concert?
these components are infrastructures.


Opens up for discussion.

Q: can you talk a little about NC State as a model? It seems rare in having 3 levels of investigation.

A. We are a college of design with a diversity of curricula/specializations in Design. We have tried to be very clear what the differences are between the levels. We do not mix them in classes. We do not have Masters' students doing mainstream design-office type work. They have professional portfolios, they dont' need that. Doctoral students come in at the research level.

We shouldn't do things that incapacitate students in one level to move up to the next.

Q: Can you reflect for us what the Doctoral Student of 2015 look like?
A: We have been cherry picking methodologies and adapting them to make them appropriate to design. I find myself looking at what a dissertation will look like, and find myself purging texts of Acronyms because we want the field to read these. There is a history of doctoral research in architecture that assiduously quantifies things that don't matter. It seems that someone was attempting to validate something that they already had a gut feeling for.

Q: for Deborah about the field studies for her cases.
A: she is still developing a framework for making those choices.

Q: can you talk about mentorship
A: emphasis on interdisciplinarity calls "affinity faculty" into play. During the candidate selection process one faculty member has to stand up and say "I will mentor that student"

Posted by SWEAT at 08:51 AM

"If I hear one more person tell me that a computer is just a tool I'm going to shoot myself"

Meredith Davis gave voice to a desire for a complex and nuanced understanding of the interplay between ourselves in roles as creators, viewers/audiences, users, consumers, co-authors and our facilitating computational devices. My colleague at the University of Denver, Trace Reddell, has described this relationship in the terms of Jamaican cosmology, namely Dub.

Davis' quote, that I have used to title this entry, bristles against the essentializing tendency that is common among people grappling to understand complexity. Others have bristled at the essentializing of computers at "the computer".

Posted by SWEAT at 07:48 AM

(Re)Envisioning the Designer of 2015

The AIGA and Adobe have partnered to attempt to identify the parameters and perimeters of and for the designer of the year 2015. They assembled a group of advisors on both coasts to help them through the visionary execise. They found that the educators had spent considerably more time thinking out that far ahead. Adobe and AIGA will share the results of the visionary process on a dedicated website in the near future.

They have tried to map speculative job descriptions to identifiable techno-cultural trends.

For the AIGA, the exercise is a necessary one, to better understand / anticpate potential futures for the profession, and to steer its direction accordingly.

For Adobe the exercise has multiple benefits, both philanthropic and pragmatic. With the public dissemination of the exercise and its public partnership with AIGA, Adobe makes a claim for continuing visionary status. At the end of its opening remarks for the Massaging Media conference, the representatives of Adobe reminded all in attendance of the importance of the prior visionary triumphs, PostScript – the underlying page description language created by co-founder John Warnock – and PDF – the set of protocols that allowed sharable high quality documents. Marketing triumphs become visionary triumphs.

Adobe's market leadership is reinforced by the claims to visionary status, as well as by the association with AIGA. Philanthropy as advertising.

Full disclosure: I use and enjoy Adobe's products. They have been very thoughtful in the crafting of many of their products. I have grown comfortable with them. I am critical of my own relationship with the products and how those products shape my expression.

Posted by SWEAT at 06:00 AM

Design is the Mediation of Interactions

Meredith Davis offered this pithy (re)definition of Design in her opening remarks at the Massaging Media conference last night. I didn't live blog it, but did try to capture her remarks via audio. She said she will share her prepared statements. She has been challenging several pre-conceptions that design educators hold, and has been experimenting with newer pedagogies at NC State.

Posted by SWEAT at 05:53 AM

SWEAT collaborator Kara Brittain named to the Cowboy Heritage Project

SWEAT collaborator Kara Brittain has been named Director of Cinematography to the Cowboy Heritage Project! (www.cowboyheritageproject.org) The project deals with documenting and preserving the history and culture of small ranches and their families in the US, Canada, and Mexico. She will be on the road continuously for the next two years. Kara began independent creative investigations of her own cowboy heritage that caught the attention of the Cowboy Heritage Project founders. We are happy and excited for her!

Posted by SWEAT at 05:40 AM

April 01, 2008

Redeye to Boston

R: I heading to Boston tonight. I'll be speaking at the Massaging Media Conference on Sunday. I'm feeling more than a little intimidated. The subject of the panel is "Graphic Design in the Age of Digital Media Programs". The panel is the last of the conference, and I'm the last on the roster, before the conference wrap up session.

Posted by SWEAT at 08:05 PM