Be it a slum in India or the Silicon Valley, be it in a modest dwelling or a luxury car, the currency of happiness lies in authentic conversations.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
If you are in school today the technologies you will use as an adult tomorrow have not been invented yet. Therefore, the life skill you need most is not the mastery of specific technologies, but mastery of the technium as a whole - how technology in general works.
Going from an audience of zero to an audience of 10 is so big that it’s actually huger than going from 10 people to a million.
Floppy disks forever!
Oh, the remarkable self centeredness and shortsightedness of the tech industry.
Yes there, I said it! I am a part of it- seeing it from both ends, its almost too glaring to miss- How the tech industry has turned out to multiply in clones. There is no room for individuality, no room for experimentation, there are outliers of course but few and far between.
Interaction design of today- suffers from acute Myopia.
It is in the history of new technology to totally destroy the previous one- remember “video killed the radio star”? Yet in whatever technological present we reside, it is easily assumed to be the future- something that will sustain and stay exactly the way it is.
Apps are for good, floppy disks forever! Yeah!
When I look at it as a recent graduate and as someone who had started my own company - I run into a shockingly narrow definition of interaction design all the time. How easy it is to look back and learn from the impermanence of technology, and yet how rarely will you find an introspective, truly future facing tech company.
The question that no one is asking in tech : Are we prepared for obsolescence? Companies need leaders for tomorrow. Not clones of today.
itwonlast: Kintsugi (to patch with gold) or Kintsukuroi (to repair with gold) is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery and ceramics using a lacquer resin sprinkled with powdered gold (or silver). Rather than being concealed, the damage is celebrated and becomes a defining feature of the object. As a general rule, the repaired artifact acquires far higher value and enjoys greater appreciation than it had in its previously undamaged state.
There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you.
The poetic and the veridical, the proven and the unprovable, the heart and the brain—like charged particles of opposing polarity—exert their pulls in different directions. Where they are brought together the result is incandescence.
Within that place of radiant intersection, love begins to reveal itself.
Presenting Ars Memorativa!
Thesis presentation video is finally online! Somehow this seems forever ago.
Kids used to ask each other: If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears, does it make a sound? Now there’s a microphone in every tree and a loudspeaker on every branch, not to mention the video cameras, and we’ve entered the condition that David Foster Wallace called Total Noise: “the tsunami of available fact, context, and perspective.”
This week was a watershed for Total Noise. When terrible things happen, people naturally reach out for information, which used to mean turning on the television. The rewards (and I use the word in its Pavlovian sense) can be visceral and immediate, if you want to see more bombs explode or towers fall, and plenty of us do. But others are learning not to do that.
You can get your cable news secondhand, via Twitter or the blogs, which is a little like using a mirror to avoid gazing upon the Gorgon directly.
We need to get smarter about the vectors of time and information flow. We know what the hurry is, of course. It is devoutly felt at CNN and Fox News that prestige or viewership or both depend on being the first, even if only by seconds, to announce practically anything. They continue to believe this, even though no one remembers which of them was first to announce erroneously that the Supreme Court had overturned the Affordable Care Act—rushing to botch a fact that had been officially released to the entire infosphere and would soon be universally available to everyone. “We gave our viewers the news as it happened,” Fox said smugly later that day.
It starts to feel as though we’re Pavlov’s dogs—subjects in a vast experiment in operant conditioning. The craving for information leads to behaviors that are alternately rewarded and punished. If instantaneity is what we want, television cannot compete with cyberspace. Nor does the hive mind wait for officialdom.
We’re starting to sense what may happen when everything is seen and everyone is connected. Bits of intelligence amid the din; and new forms of banality. Within hours of his death, the world could examine the videos Tamerlan Tsarnaev watched in his YouTube account and, on his Amazon wish list, some books he wanted.
The art of asking
For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on my thesis user journeys. Having done these before in group projects I was fairly confident of getting together the resources and shooting quickly.
However, I was in for a surprise. Not only was it hard asking for help from actors outside the class, it was also not something I was good at- Asking I realized is an art. I expected friends and acquaintances to drop all they were doing and be invested in my work without really giving them any incentive. Luckily my friend, Anita who works as a production assistant at R/GA told me a simple rule:
"There are three kinds of incentives - Money, the promise of a great time and friendship; to ask for investment in something as time consuming as video, you have to be able to provide one or more of these."
and I was providing neither. She also sent me this great talk by Amanda Palmer, it is not only relevant in the context of asking, but also in the context of the public presentations we are soon going to make. It comes from her heart and so you want to listen, to what she has to say and what she has to ask. Brilliant.
Some quotes from the user testing:
"It sounds like a secret"
"I get the message in the bottle idea"
"It feels precious, so i’m more thoughtful of what I say into it"
"I like that I learnt something I wasn’t looking to learn"
"I would like some insignia of the previous recorder"
"Does this stay only between Alex and me?"
"I’m just going to be brutally honest ok?"
"I wish I could leave it in my house for myself- kind of like an audio photograph, and then many years later listen to it"
"There is something intensely personal about this experience"
"Oh, I love the lo-fi sound, cause history always has and always will sound like this"
Stopping, thinking and remembering: New conversations in tech
Over the past year, I have tried to articulate better every single day, my viewpoint that is embedded and at the core of not just my thesis but also my approach to design. Having not been comfortable with the tag of “designer as a problem solver” or “an artist” I have often found myself stuck somewhere in the middle, not really being able to clearly define this viewpoint.
However, since the final presentations are merely a month’s distance, I am forcing myself to clarify this viewpoint, in order to get others to understand the motivations behind my process. Yesterday I came across articles by two people much more articulate than I am, expressing what I have been trying so hard to get at. In an article titled Machines of Laughter and Forgetting, Evgeny Morozov writes:
"Alas, most designers, following Wilde, think of technologies as nothing more than mechanical slaves that must maximize efficiency. But some are realizing that technologies don’t have to be just trivial problem-solvers: they can also be subversive troublemakers, making us question our habits and received ideas…
..While devices-as-problem-solvers seek to avoid friction, devices-as-troublemakers seek to create an “aesthetic of friction” that engages users in new ways. Will such extra seconds of thought — nay, contemplation — slow down civilization? They well might. But who said that stopping to catch a breath on our way to the abyss is not a sensible strategy?”
"The new connected is to be disconnected. Deadspots are the new hotspots.
Moving toward is moving away, and hence, the notion of density and progress has changed. It’s our job to pause, coordinate, and design opportunities for chance”
Reading these emerging thoughts in tech, not only gave me a sense of validation but also motivated me to continue trying to clarify, frame, articulate and express my outlook at the role of technology in design.