Today is one of those wonderfully, rainy days when plans are mutually cancelled, rainchecks are welcomed, and indulging in some melodramatic reminiscence accompanied by instrumentals and a little red wine feels just right.
Because of the way the day is playing out, I am finally getting to write about my reaction to a quote in a book I’ve been reading over the past month. The book is called “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky. It’s largely based on Thomas Edison’s quote about how an idea is just 1% of success. The other 99% is hard work and perspiration.
“Feeling progress is an important part of execution. If your natural tendency is to generate ideas rather than take action on existing ideas, then surrounding yourself with progress can help you focus. When you make incremental progress, celebrate it and feature it. Surround yourself with it.”
This quote spoke to me because I tend to be easily inspired and equally easily distracted. As soon as something starts to get a little difficult, I have often tended to check out and look around to be inspired again. This has led to many starts, but not as many finishes in various aspects of my life. The rain this afternoon gave me some time to act on this quote by writing and reflecting on some of my progress over the past couple years. In doing so, it dawned on me that I’m actually not someone who doesn’t finish things anymore! I’ve actually made some of my ideas happen and am presently taking part in a future I set out to create a few short & long years ago.
Of course, I still have so many ideas that are far from realized, and each will come with a whole new set of challenges, but as the year comes to an end, I am happy to forget about the hard work for a little bit and just indulge in some progress for a few moments.
It feels good. Try it. :)
“It’s not about making pretty things, although beauty is definitely part of it. Designers are the catalyst to help people discover new ways to live better. And, people may be conscious of that, or it may be completely in the background of their lives, that are just suddenly better, and they don’t even realize why.”
After the research interviews I mentioned a couple posts ago, I created personas. Creating the personas helped me ground my thinking and helped me synthesize/cluster key insights into prevalent themes and design opportunities for the final system.
Three Key Insight Themes:
People share photos differently now with digital technologies and systems, but people still tend to share stories about them in person (i.e., “Oh, did you see that photo I uploaded?” or “Hey, I saw you went to Tahoe last weekend.”)
As people reach middle age and start to feel a “finnitude” about life, energy, resources, they start to reflect on a more regular basis. Usually, these moments of reflection lead to realizations and learnings they want to share with others. There are practical motivations behind sharing stories. It is beyond mere nostalgia.
Digital Storytelling Concerns/Limitations
Among other things, people are highly concerned about where there digital artifacts actually live, who owns them, what happens if the service goes out of business. They also do not want to partake in anything they feel is forcefully curated (i.e., Facebook Timeline). In addition, they do not want to add more content than is already out there if it is not meaningful. They want organization of content, not more of it.
Design opportunities arose directly from these insights, as follows:
- The final “thing” must record or capture story sharing experiences where and when they are already naturally occur. It must meet people where they are.
- People want to leave behind a biography of their lives, and be able to share their “war stories,” for others to learn from or simply relate to. It could be a database of success or failure stories that people could read and be inspired by.
- The final “thing” should help declutter existing digital content, not just create more of it.
”After winter, must come spring.” - from Lauryn Hill’s song, Everything is Everything.
My blog is called “Love, Life, and the Pursuit of an MFA,” and I’ve only posted thus far about the last bit. So - I decided to share a little snippet of the first two. Last night, my boyfriend took me to a Lauryn Hill show for Valentine’s, and it was incredible. So incredible that I had to write about it to stop talking about it.
Lauryn Hill took her amazing Miseducation album and remixed all the songs in a jazzy, rock style - similar enough to the original songs to sing along to, but different enough to be utterly speechless at the same time. It was amazing to see her sing and rap with such strong femininity and edgy grace. Her outfit was a mix of animal print, patterned tights, boots, chunky, shiny bracelets. I know that sounds pretty horrendous when written out like that, but looked classy as hell on her.
Then, after the standing ovation, she came back out singing Turn Your Lights Down Low. Couple seconds after she got to the mic, she asked if we wanted to meet one of her “loves,” and turned backstage and called for her “love.” And, then this tiny little person waddled onto stage. Lauryn picked her up and they started singing together. At that moment, she transformed from powerful rocker to loving mother in an indiscernible moment. Her performance showcased a truly Renaissance woman.
“Take care of yourself so you can take care of others,” is something she said during one of her intimate, talk-to-your-audience parts of the concert. I can’t wait for her next album.
My friend, April, is doing cosplay for her thesis. In a class last week, she said, “…after dressing up as a character, I feel like I actually am that character for a few days.” So, she starts to act a bit more confident, silly, etc. Well, I think a version of that happens with great concerts. After having been part of Ms. Lauryn Hill’s audience for a few hours last night, I feel inspired to keep striving for that graceful balance of strength and humility, despite how hard it seems at times. I hope some of these feelings stay, but I wholeheartedly hope I do not start wearing animal print and clunky bling all the time. :)
I submitted my thesis proposal to a CHI Conference Workshop: Memento Mori, and I just found out it was accepted to participate!
Check it out here! It’s called “Legacy Construction through Digital Imagery.”
I went out and interviewed some amazingly insightful Baby Boomers this past weekend. I am in the process of synthesizing responses, but thought I’d share a Design Research exercise I did with the respondents. I made 20+ little magnets of “values,” for five different categories I have been thinking about for the final system. During the interviews, I realized yet again the the insights do not come from the completion of an exercise, but from the conversations that happen (or don’t happen) as respondents think aloud about their decisions.
Time to start cranking on thesis already. There’s been a bit of inertia to overcome after winter break, moving apts, etc., but I keep having to remind myself that this will be over sooner than I probably realize I want it to be.
A little stuck about what my “thesis final thing” will eventually end up being, I used some time in Advanced Design Research to make this quick “product box,” to get people thinking about what features would be needed, inspiring, or confusing for something called a “Digital Legacy App.”
Through the experience of talking about this briefly with the group in class, an idea I had is that even if this “thing” ends up as a solely web-based service/ product, it would be interesting/appropriate to package the app as a physical thing that could be handled as a precious heirloom of a sort. Obviously the box depicted here does not represent the shape, size, etc. of what the final product would end up being, but it was a great conversation starter and research method to get people to react and talk about what they would want such an app to do.
What if you could annotate pictures right on the screen? Kinda fun, but too literal, right? Yea, that’s what most respondents had to say. I made this tool that allows you to write on your screen directly out of Flash and a Wiimote to get people talking about how they’d like to ideally annotate their digital photos. People started by responding that this felt a bit gimmicky (which I knew it did), but then it opened to floor to what would feel more authentic to their experience. A repeated response was: voice. People want to be able to tell a story about important/favorite pictures.
And, of course I prodded a bit about my obsession with scents - and there seemed to be interest in that as well, with one of my favorite quotations being “…when I see my son after a long time apart and we hug, his smell really enhances that moment.”
I have been finding through interviews, and also from personal experience that the actual “objects” (physical, digital, or perhaps they are one in the same) we attach to become more sentimental as they become less perfect; as this provides more space for projective construction, or space to fill in the blanks.
However, with the near perfect transmission of digital imagery today, storing a photo is simple. It’s so easy to keep every photo exactly as is. Every excruciating pixel is here to stay exactly as it was captured. While this is great for storage, I wonder if we are potentially suffocating the nature of nostalgia, which has always granted us the ever important freedom to forget.
I mean what is it that we even remember when we remember?
So - I spent the whole day at the wood and alt materials shop, and I am completely covered in debris right now, but I have to say I’m pretty happy with this little guy. I decided to make it circular, because as per my Smellscape survey, most people that responded (including myself) think scents have a curve-based form. So yes, the code is still screwy and only working with LED’s, but I am feeling okay with my work today and looking forward to freaking out and fiddling with it with my teacher Chris Paretti tomorrow.