Archive for November, 2007

11.28.07 Revised Workshop Plan

Kelly C. and I reworked our plan for the small-group session we’ll lead at symposium. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us to collaborate with the Cranbrook students in planning the session, but the good news is that they’ll be attending the symposium. Here’s our revised plan:
1. Introductions
Refer to continuum of control as framing device for workshop

2. Human Scatterplot
Separate into groups: 3 points of control as ways of looking at design projects

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a horizontal line, participants close their eyes and listen to a series of questions and statements. For each question, the participants provide a physical response:

Yes/agree = 1 step forward
No/disagree = 1 step backward
Neutral/undecided = remains in place

  1. Are there more people who consider themselves designers today than 10 years ago?
  2. Templates are a great idea because they give non-designers the ability to create their own designs.
  3. Do you blog regularly?
  4. I participate in an online community or environment.
  5. Do you color outside the lines?
  6. I believe open source should be the future of computing and code.
  7. Do you program your own web sites?
  8. DIY culture is adding design jobs.
  9. Do you prefer to work without involving the client in the creative process and have a “dramatic reveal” of the finished concept or product?
  10. Your handmade birthday card is better than a non-designer’s handmade birthday card.

This will act as a sorting device to separate participants into three groups: design control, shared control (user/designer) and user control.

3. Introduce the artifact: present scenario around light rail proposal (and definitions of terms)
We’ll read two definitions, paraphrased from A Dictionary of Sociology, by Gordon Marshall:

Individualism can be defined as a set of ideas emphasizing the importance of the individual and the individual’s interests, and is used to characterize a range of ideas, philosophies, and doctrines. For the purposes of our discussion today, “individualism” is used employed to describe a political philosophy usually described as ‘liberal individualism’ that stresses the importance of the individual and the value attached to individual freedom and individual choice. This philosophy is frequently contrasted with collectivism, where the collective rather than the individual good is paramount.

Collectivism refers to any political or socio-economic theory or practice which encourages communal or state ownership and control of the means of production and distribution. The collectivist critique of liberal and other theories of individualism argues that market relationships are competitive, also therefore tend to be divisive, and undermine those communal bonds which are necessary between individuals if they are to cope with misfortunes to which all are in principle vulnerable.
Detailed Scenario:

Mae Winfield is a 42 year old mother of two who works in a cafe on Fayetteville St. in downtown Raleigh. Because of her husband’s job in sales, he often monopolizes their only car and she takes the bus downtown for work. Additionally, her 14-year old daughter has begun to ask about a driver’s license and a car, but Mae knows it’s not in their family budget.

On her walk from the bus stop to the restaurant, Mae stops by the Fayetteville St. Town Hall input node. She notices that there are new photos posted in the Public Transportation section, so she expands that category to have a closer look at one of the buildings. According to the description, the warehouse was part of the original proposal for a light rail system to connect points in Raleigh with other places of interest throughout the Triangle area. The idea seemed to hit a dead end last year when the plan didn’t receive federal funding, but there is a recent post with information from the Triangle Transit Authority about a new plan involving the local transportation organizations.

The partnership is analyzing the old plan and trying to reconfigure it so that they can accomplish the light rail plan with their local resources. They are asking for community feedback to hear about transportation habits, places of interest, ideas, and concerns.

After reading the detailed description, Mae can choose to peruse comments by chronology or keyword. She can leave her own, individual voice-to-text comment by touching and talking to the node or by calling a local number on her phone. She can submit written comments through a computer or via text messaging. She can choose for comments to bear her name or remain anonymous. She can also submit related photos from her phone or via email, or have walking directions sent to her phone from the node. She collects the directions in order to visit the site after work.

With her daughter in mind, Mae touches the category about safety issues. She reads some of the comments and questions left by other people. As she is browsing, another woman approaches the node. “I worry about safety too,” she said.

“Let’s record and submit a dialog,” Mae suggests. They both touch the node to activate the collective recording mode. “I selected this section because of my teenage daughter,” Mae explained. “We won’t be able to afford a car for her, but I’d like her to have some independence. And my husband and I wouldn’t have to constantly ferry her around if there was some way she could get around on her own.”

“That’s true,” said the woman. “I wonder how late it will operate? Also, what security measures do you think they will take to make sure a new transit system is safe?”

“I would feel better knowing that there were security cameras and conductors on the trains, just to have a physical presence and keep the peace,” Mae said.

“Those are good ideas. The train stops should probably have cameras and personnel, too,” said the woman.

The two continue to chat and the node records their conversation about public transportation. Later that day, after sunset, phrases and suggestions from their chat would be projected—along with feedback from other people—onto the facade of the warehouse building in question. This larger level of information demonstrates how feedback left by individuals can be applied collectively to the physical spaces in question.

4. Group Activity
Pass out Question sheet for framing discussion: focus is not on design or system, but the way this works in the continuum
Assign group recorder, use big notepads and markers
Group work time 10-15 min (they take notes)


Please respond to the scenario by considering the following questions from the perspective of your group’s position on the continuum. Nominate a group note-taker to record your group’s conversation and ideas. Feel free to propose a new utopia or distopia, respond in writing, sketch, futurecast, revise, reveal, surprise and shock.

We will reconvene in 15-20 minutes to discuss each group’s ideas.

  1. How can collectivism and individualism, mediated by technology, inspire urban renewal and change through the design of a nodal system that provides access to current issues?
  2. As designers, what evidence of collectivism have you encountered in the cultures for whom you design?
  3. What evidence of individualism have you encountered?
  4. In what ways can design respond to audiences that would benefit from systems that take both collectivism and individualism into account?
  5. Can they both be accommodated? Should they be?

Key Topics:
collectivism / individualism

Collectivism / Individualism
According to the article by Currin V. Shields, current trends in American society are to gather only for problem-solving or in times of crisis. There is a general spirit of individualism and the collective forms to address issues as they occur, not preemptively. For example:
– weather disasters happen and then plans are re-evaluated
– health issues occur and then we head to the doctor

As designers, what evidence of collectivism and individualism do you see in our field?
How do you feel about it?
How can design be used to reverse trends or can it only react to what is already in motion?
How do notions of collectivism and individualism relate to the spectrum of design control and user control?

Can design provide opportunities for collectivism and individualism in one system? Where is the balance between designer and user control?
Can collective voices from the public inspire urban renewal and change through the design of a nodal system that provides access to current issues?
How can collectivism and individualism, mediated by technology, inspire urban renewal and change through the design of a nodal system that provides access to current issues?

Is one of these trends becoming more or less prevalent? Why?
How do these trends pertain to or affect our notions of public and private space? How can a space be collectivist or individualist?

Designer control >>> User control
Where is a graphic designer’s place in this project?
What expertise might we bring to the table for this type of project?
Who else would you want on your team?

How much control can be given to each end of the spectrum?
Would policy makers and those who control the means of production to actualize city plans have an obligation to the public input?
How will the user know that their voice is heard, or is that an issue? How do you test for this?

How can interface design promote interaction and dialog between people as well as interactions between people and technology?
We love technology and recognize its importance and capability to shape culture, but it takes a back seat to what is actually happening with people. We’re also interested in looking at the human connections, human input, human interactions—not just between people and technology but (god forbid) between people and OTHER PEOPLE!

How can the design of a network of input modes evoke this sense of human contact?
How can graphic design contribute to this goal?
Is it even possible?
What are the ways that this is facilitated?

Public / Private
Residents of a city feel as if the space that is privately owned is still part of the collective community. Property owners rely on residents to support their businesses. How can design function as a mediator between these parties to communicate needs and desires?

How can you test for user needs in terms of disclosure of personal information related to opinion in a public forum? (use continuum)

Review the questions that were selected, via each group presenting the notes from their discussion


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11.12.07 Thoughts on Community Identity

notes…with Kelly C.

What if identity was a collaborative process?
What if brand was a collaborative experience?

How would it look and function? To what extent are our identities currently products of collaboration?

brand in a business environment
brand in a social environment
brand that connects a subculture & identifies members
– to each other
– to the outside world

brand that evolves as the user base changes
brand that evolves as it is used

collective activity
everyone donates a part
part becomes a mutable whole

what we project vs what other people project on us
literally use a projector to display images on the body?








prototype on changeable community identity

we come up with a “sum of parts” community prototype model

a matrix

a system

a structure


human scatterplot shows where people fall on the continuum

use results to split people into sections

3 groups: designer control, middle, user control


designer control = designer looks to clues from audience, designer puts systems into place, requires more innovation on designer’s behalf


user = system variables are very loose, requires more innovation from user (learning curve)


develop rapid prototypes for a community identity system that changes with the community


take away idea: what if the identity for a community could reflect its users as they change and emerge?

could this be something for the phone? get away from computer as
access pt to internet, look @ txt messaging? pic messages?

design interface identity for phone for community?

use “make tools” idea from liz sanders? (use buttons, blocks, jellybeans, etc) to keep it simple

use the big projection overhead to show the results? (rather than computer and projector)

video presentations?

have cranbrook kids doing exercise too with a care package we mail to them to collaborate online?
(have them on video chat on camera)

What is significant about the fact that we are doing this with Cranbrook?
What do we think about them?
How can we use this as an opportunity to learn how they think?
If they can come, how does this change the way we work? Live vs. working remotely?

Can this attach to a social issue, get away from personal baggage?

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Option Shift Control

The Master of Graphic Design Candidates
at the College of Design, North Carolina State University,
request your participation in our third bi-annual graduate symposium


Option Shift Control
Collaboration and Co-creation by Design

November 30 and December 1, 2007
Friday afternoon, all day Saturday
Space is limited, so send your RSVP email by Friday, November 16 to secure your spot!
Contact Communications Coordinator Rebecca Tegtmeyer,

Today all types of designers face an audience empowered by technologies; people who create and customize their own products and communications. Audiences (readers, users) now envision products, such as the Nokia 888 concept phone (imagined through Nokia’s Concept Lounge, a co-creation hub). They change the visual landscape of Facebook through user-made applications. Manifestos, novels and how-to books are published and sold via companies such as

Option Shift Control will examine co-creation from designer perspectives, looking closely at collaborative processes and outcomes as we all learn to work with (or tolerate) each other. Join us to debate and discover the pros and cons of collaboration and co-creation as well as the range: working with designers of other disciplines, experts in other fields, and/or audiences eager to create. Investigate and and respond to the topic of collaboration and co-creation through presentations, activities, artifacts, and discussions.

Here’s some food for thought:
Have you been contemplating the intersection between co-creation and designer control in graphic design?

Does the idea of client autonomy in design projects make you feel surly?

Do you feel the urge to protect the underlying structure and strategy of your masterfully designed systems?

As designers, are we willing to share? Do we even have a choice?

What if relinquishing some control means that more cooks in the kitchen will produce a masterfully seasoned soup?

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11.08.07: Futurecasting, round 2

“Direct democracy” took a turn for the teen, as I decided to think about how this device (and new social construct) might apply to an age group under the legal voting age. I considered how high school-aged teens might access information about politics and current events on a local, national and global scale through interesting current events* and their school subjects.

That said, this round of investigations largely explored the physical form, in addition to toying with interface ideas. After some initial sketch models, I decided to explore the idea of a coiled touch screen that would change form throughout the day depending on the number of visitors and their contributions to the site during the day (issues, articles, comments, images, etc).

Users initiate their interactions with the wall by placing their palm on the surface. They can then mark items of interest, write or speak comments, even vote on certain topics. When an item is selected, the number of users who have ‘marked’ or commented on it is reflected in the number of palm prints that appear around it.

* Thanks to those who helped brainstorm headlines of THE FUTURE!

Comments from crit:

DGC: Referenced touch screen shown at DUX which encouraged participation, generated conversation
(What is the name of it?)

MWKF: Why does the screen need to grow? DGC: Intersection of virtual/real; time-based, virtual motion meeting physical motion. Value in that expansion/expression

DGC: How does the information get there?

AH: How do the images get there, what do they mean?

KC: If it is a town hall, how can technology support face-to-face communication?

DGC: How about anonymity in a public space?’Big brotherish’ quality. Also, future fashions—?

KC: How do hand prints get to top?

GR: They float up there!










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