“ezGestures is a gesture recognition library for Processing. It works by analyzing mouse or Wiimote movements”
“tweetPad is software used to visualize Twitter feeds in a new, dynamic fashion. The idea is to not only be on the receiving end of these feeds but to be able to manipulate them”
“Twitter4J is a Java library for TwitterAPI.”
Month: May 2008
links for 2008-05-10
A brief, handy description of the Soho Project.
The Rhetoric of Video Games — MIT Press Journals — The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning — AbstractA good introduction to Bogost’s concept of procedural rhetoric—the ways in which games can make arguments.
Sketching the experience of toys
“Play is the highest form of research.”
That’s what I always say when I’m playing games, too.
I really liked Bill Buxton’s book Sketching User Experiences. I like it because Buxton defends design as a legitimate profession separate from other disciplines—such as engineering—while at the same time showing that designers (no matter how brilliant) can only succeed in the right ecosystem. I also like the fact that he identifies sketching (in its many forms) as a defining activity of the design profession. The many examples he shows are very inspiring.
One in particular stood out for me, which is the project Sketch-A-Move by Anab Jain and Louise Klinker done in 2004 at the RCA in London. The image above is taken from the video they created to illustrate their concept. It’s about cars auto-magically driving along trajectories that you draw on their roof. You can watch the video over at the book’s companion website. It’s a very good example of visualizing an interactive product in a very compelling way without actually building it. This was all faked, if you want to find out how, buy the book.2
The great thing about the video is not only does it illustrate how the concept works, it also gives you a sense of what the experience of using it would be like. As Buxton writes:3
“You see, toys are not about toys. Toys are about play and the experience of fun that they help foster. And that is what this video really shows. That, and the power of video to go beyond simply documenting a concept to communicating something about experience in a very visceral way.”
Not only does it communicate the fun you would have playing with it, I think this way of sketching actually helped the designers get a sense themselves of wether what they had come up with was fun. You can tell they are actually playing, being surprised by unexpected outcomes, etc.
The role of play in design is discussed by Buxton as well, although he admits he needed to be prompted by a friend of his: Alex Manu, a teacher at OCAD in Toronto writes in an email to Buxton:4
“Without play imagination dies.”
“Challenges to imagination are the keys to creativity. The skill of retrieving imagination resides in the mastery of play. The ecology of play is the ecology of the possible. Possibility incubates creativity.”
Which Buxton rephrases in one of his own personal mantras:5
“These things are far too important to take seriously.”
All of which has made me realize that if I’m not having some sort of fun while designing, I’m doing something wrong. It might be worth considering switching from one sketching technique to another. It might help me get a different perspective on the problem, and yield new possible solutions. Buxton’s book is a treasure trove of sketching techniques. There is no excuse for being bored while designing anymore.
links for 2008-05-09
Timo comments on the latest NFC enabled phone from Nokia. Good stuff on gestures, security, durability, affordance and other user experience aspects.
Migurski discusses the considerations that went into Oakland Crimespotting. Interesting bits on emerging patterns, and combining traditionally dense dataviz with permalinking of separate datapoints.
Bogost looks at the use of haptic feedback in games, noting that most of it is utilitarian, not aesthetic—Rez being a notable exception.
Bogost responds to an Escapist article by Travis that asks if game studies are doing anything of value for gamers. The discussion in the comments of this post between both is perhaps the most insightful part of what is dangerously close to a flamewar.
links for 2008-05-08
More Twittering objects. This time it’s a house: “the phone is ringing (family)”. Via Alex.
An impressive collection of (interactive) dataviz patterns. The companion site to a Master’s thesis, I’m sure the guy will pass.
Lots of pictures of the design stages of Olinda (Schulze & Webb’s social radio).
links for 2008-05-07
Wroblewski’s book on web form design is here.
All the illustrations from Wroblewski’s Web Form Design, CC licensed.
Posters made with a mix of traditional illustration techniques and programmatically generated images using openFrameworks.
“They are always willing to trade away a little of their freedom in exchange for the feeling, the illusion, of security. What we have now is a completely neurotic population obsessed with security and safety and crime and drugs…” Via Ruben.
“Too many wrongly characterize the debate as “security versus privacy.” The real choice is liberty versus control.”
Part of Moggridge’s keynote at the CIID symposium on service design. He shows a few videos of ways to research, develop and sketch/prototype services.
links for 2008-05-06
A way to track your reading through Twitter. Via Iskander.
Schulze & Webb’s social radio is here and it looks awesome. Very inspiring work.
“GameBrix enables everyone to create Flash games online without any programming.” Another entry into the game creation space.
Thought I’d bookmarked this already. Saw this at GDC — EA’s effort into social gaming and game creation. Pretty comprehensive effort.
“New York Talk Exchange illustrates the global exchange of information in real time by visualizing volumes of long distance telephone and IP (Internet Protocol) data flowing between New York and cities around the world.” Via Mr. Greenfield.
Could it be that makers of infoviz are reluctant to include predictions for fear of being wrong? I see no reason why the extrapolations desired by Alex aren’t feasible. People will need to be able to discern possible futures from unavoidable destiny.
“Is it less subversive to point out a problem without being able to suggest or allow the exploration of solutions?” Useful editorial in light of my upcoming talk in Amsterdam.
“Phidgets are a set of “plug and play” building blocks for low cost USB sensing and control from your PC.”
“Hello. We’re the toy designers behind roadkill. We’re not your usual humdrum toy designers though. We’re Toy Terrorists. We squash and burn and bludgeon and maim.” Subversive toys? Why not.
links for 2008-05-03
“I guess you could even argue that mining was closed down prematurely because Thatcher hated the miners, and that the agency business is being closed down prematurely because everyone hates advertising.”
links for 2008-05-02
“Design For Mobile will be the first North American mobile user experience conference.”
Video of an experiment involving a work by Tuymans exhibited in public space. Precious few stopped to look.
Time lapse video of a Banksy piece getting a lot of attention from people.
A how-to guide for making Mario blocks and putting them up in public space.
Tom’s take on Shirky’s Web 2.0 talk: “[…] most of us fall into neither the “hardcore” all-choice category […] nor the “totally passive category”; rather, we hover around the middle, scaling up and down to either end.”
“We’re processing hundreds, if not thousands of times more information per day than previous humans – how are we meant to make sense of it all if we have no downtime?” I know I feel like that sometimes.
An assortment of weird things in public spaces
I’ve been researching street art and related topics lately, and have come across a range of interesting things people have placed in public spaces. I thought it would be fun (and perhaps enlightening) to collect them here. Each entry follows a similar format, listing what was left, by whom and with what intent, what it was made of, and what the reactions were.
Clearly, ‘playing’ in public spaces is not without risk. Reactions can vary widely and are dependent on such a huge range of things that you can essentially not predict what will happen. If you want to leave things with the aim of changing the public’s attitude, you’d best embrace this unpredictability, make use of it, and not be naive about it.
World famous street artist Banksy has created many interventions in public space. A recent one in London being a mural showing a girl raising a flag bearing the logo of Tesco’s while two children look on, hands on their harts. The piece is filmed for an hour and the result shows a huge amount of people stopping and looking at it. (Which is interesting in the context of to the next example.)
Photo credit: Ben Bell on Flickr.
Luc Tuymans (2008)
As an experiment, critically acclaimed contemporary painter Luc Tuymans paints a mural on the walls of a busy pedestrian street in Antwerp. Hardly anyone (less than 10%) pays the work any attention, as this video shows. What does this say about people, what does it say about contemporary art?
Photo credit: Pkeyn on Flickr.
ATHF Mooninite (2007)
LED displays showing a Mooninite, a character from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force animated show are attached to metal surfaces throughout 10 major cities in the USA. They are part of a guerilla marketing campaign to promote an upcoming ATHF film. After being up for a few weeks, Boston police are alerted to their presence and mistaken for possible bombs, launching a full-on scare. The artists responsible for putting them up (Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28) are arrested but later released.
Photo credit: Emilgh on Flickr.
Super Mario Bros. Blocks (2006)
Street artist Poster Child publishes instructions for the creation of blocks faced with question marks taken from the game Super Mario Bros. online. Inside the blocks are the traditional power-ups from the game. His intention is to comment on the onslaught of advertising in public space. Many create the blocks and put them up in various public places, some as a statement, other for fun. One group of young women is arrested for doing the same, but are ultimately not charged.
Photo credit: Block by Psticks taken from Poster Child’s site.
British UFOs (1967)
The RAE Rag Committee plants six small-sized saucers at equal distances on a straight line in the south of England. The saucers are made from fiberglass resin, contain electronics to make them bleep when tilted at certain angles and are filled with a mixture of flour and water boiled at high temperature to represent alien life. The resulting reaction is comparable to the War of the Worlds scare of 1938. The intention of the hoaxers: to raise funds for charity. They were not persecuted, although some authorities were less than amused.
Description based on an article by John Keeling in Fortean Times #228 from which the image is taken as well.
Can you think of any other weird things placed in public spaces? Do let me know.