Posted: February 26th, 2012 | 2 Comments »
Two weeks ago, when in California, Luke Johnson gave me this fantastic (and sort-of psychogeographic) map of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The project is called “Mysteries and Curiosities Map of JPL: How can design influence an established culture?” and it has been conducted by Luke and a bunch of other people.
As described by the website, “The map functions as a tool to orient new employees, encourage Lab explorating for current employees, and to put a human face on JPL for the outside public“.
As described by Luke:
“For a place that depends on logic and reason, the Lab’s layout is anything but. In fact, a running joke at JPL is that its employees need to use GPS to find their way around the Lab. For one, buildings have numbers instead of names. Secondly, buildings are ordered in the number in which they were funded, instead of by location. For example, Building 67 is perplexingly located between Buildings 238 and 138.
Intrigued by this dichotomy and wanting to know more about JPL aside from the four walls of my cubicle, I came up with a plan. Armed with a GPS tracking device, camera, and a trusty pair of shoes, I walked to every building on Lab in numerical order. What I thought would take a Saturday afternoon took 22 hours over the span of four days at a walking distance of 52.2 miles.
The resulting map is a reflection of this wacky experiment, research at the Lab’s Beacon Library, and conversations with other JPL employees. The map itself is divided into two sections. The front is an Insider’s Guide to JPL, containing information I wish someone had explained to me when I began working at the Lab.“
Why do I blog this? Having been to CERN yesterday morning with the Lift12 speakers made me realize how such maps of big research facilities can be relevant as a way to not only describe spatial material but also stories and cultural content related to these intriguing places. Quite a nice project!
Posted: February 18th, 2012 | Comments Off
Few examples of technology/software-enabled spatiality encountered in Los Angeles last week:
First, this marvelous dashboard from a Toyota Prius, an energy monitor that dynamically gives indications to the driver. As soon as I got into the taxi, I became fascinated by this visualization, it looks like a weird video-game (especially if you consider the joystick-shaped gear selector that has no real mechanical link to the car).
Then this Google map itinerary printed on paper, definitely a classic nowadays:
This miniature keyboard seen at the flea market in Pasadena is also curious… sitting here in a previously human-inhabited kiosk:
Being a great fan of pet toys, this mouse-controlled mouse is a definitely stunning invention. Not just because of the mouse recurrence, but also because designing artifacts for non-humans may be intriguing:
And finally, this gorgeous “singing rock” that we ran across in Calabasas is one of those little things that express the seemingly human need to control nature:
Why do I blog this? Of course there are plenty of other objects, but these different “interfaces” struck me as fascinating this time in California. Mostly because they have various spatial implications and that they’re all somewhat recent.
Posted: February 17th, 2012 | Comments Off
Towards Touch-Free Spaces: Sensors, Software and the Automatic Production of Shared Public Toilets by Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin is an essential read for anyone interested in how software-enabled technologies have implications at various spatial levels.
In this case, it’s about touching things with hands (pressing of buttons, pulling of handles, flicking switches, twisting selector dials), a relevant situation to understand the “nature of the recent automatic production of touch-free spatiality”.
(Toilet interface in Geneva)
Some excerpts that fascinated me:
“in spite of the hype and some potential benefits from touch-free technologies for enhanced convenience and hygiene, their real world implementation is always imperfect. The incomplete deployment of sensors and software across the sequence of activities (including opening doors) means that toileting as a whole can never be rendered fully touch-free and the bathroom fails to become a completely automated code/space.
Touch-free technology is almost always implemented partially, and also partial in different ways, which can make for user frustration as one is uncertain about how bits of an unfamiliar bathroom are meant to work: ‘so where do I wave my hands to get some soap?’.
The danger is then that toileting is set to become an over-determined activity. Attempting to make avowedly simple activities touch-free with digital sensors and software algorithms is simply unnecessary it could be argued, and an excess of automation in the bathroom could be critiqued as an example of disciplining the body through ‘technological paternalism’ “
Why do I blog this? Being interested in the usage of digital technologies in various places as well as the implications of automation, this is a good example of how to explore a specific locus of interaction.
Posted: February 14th, 2012 | 1 Comment »
In California this week for a workshop at Nokia Design about location-based services. Today at lunch, I also gave a brownbag seminar about my approach to design/innovation projects.
Here are the slides of the presentation:
Why do I blog this? It was a good opportunity to finally step back and describe informally how I work, what I’m interested in and what kind of assumptions I have when carrying out projects (self-funded or with clients).
Posted: February 10th, 2012 | Comments Off
No, it’s not a minitel service, it’s just called 36-15, and it’s a cool new podcast in French about digital innovation by Laurent (“L’émission qui se demande si le 21e siècle est une bonne idée”).
Last week, I’ve been interviewed on my book about failures and it’s located there on the infosphere.
Posted: February 7th, 2012 | Comments Off
I found this gem on the website of the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories:
“Meggy Jr RGB is a new kit that we designed as a platform to develop handheld pixel games. It’s based around a fully addressable 8×8 RGB LED matrix display, and features six big fat buttons for comfy game play. (…) A unique feature of Meggy Jr RGB is that it is designed to be mounted inside a “handle set” — a wooden or plastic case that’s safer and more pleasant to hold than a bare circuit board. You can make, mod and customize your own handle sets to suit your taste– These are like faceplates in that you can switch whenever you want to suit your mood or the game that you’re playing, however different handle sets can radically change what the Meggy Jr looks and feels like. Above, you can see what our basic handles (left) look like, as compared to a set of custom smoke-colored batwing handles (right).“
And you can even make your own handle (or to have them fabbed) on platforms such as Ponoko or Pololu. I’d be curious to test it and see whether the interface itself is easy to play with, without a shell.
Why do I blog this? What fascinates me, beyond the fab/open platform, is the device aesthetic. That might be the equivalent of Centre George Pompidou (Beaubourg) for digital devices! Showing the internal guts of a technical apparatus is an intriguing approach that can be traced back to other architecture/industrial design traditions. It can be about making things visible and transparent to the users/people.
It also reminds me of this Mehmet Erkök’s Extreme Personalization phones. The phone shell, personalized in a very expressive way, can be seen as an interesting approach to customization:
Posted: February 6th, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Found in Hotel by Boichi, a Japanese manga that I only found in French.
Why do I blog this? I like the way the one-eyed face has been turned into something more human-readable through basic pencil drawings. This may be the equivalent of the “Transmetropolitan” smiley face.
Posted: February 3rd, 2012 | Comments Off
An interesting excerpt from the interaction12 day1 report by Johnny Holland about Antony Dunne’s speech “Crafting Design Speculations”:
“One audience member did ask the obvious question: where is the role for such out there work in everyday interaction design? His answer was that these students come from work and many return to the commercial field being employed by big corporations: it’s not the strangeness of the work as much as their thinking process that counts.“
Why do I blog this? that’s simply a good quote/answer to the question since it reflects the value of design.