003.3: Alpha Presentation

Started off with a rad intro build to keep me an my audience excited.

Cool gif about becoming a Master of Science. I am pretty sure once I get my diploma it will be just like this.

This is the latest I have ever added the title slide, but I felt really strong here.

Having a three-page build because my thesis is too long is probably a bad sign. I do have a few avenues to keep rewriting it, so that is definitely an upcoming project. I think the hardest part of the thesis for me is the project feels so big that cramming it into a small statement is inevitably incomplete. This likely means I am still a little too close and need to abstract more.

Both people who took notes for me mentioned that they aren't sure what positivist and  logico-totalitarian mean. Though I would suggest the latter is a combination of two words the do know, suggestions to define my terms are pretty much spot on.

Overall, finding the balance between conciseness and accuracy and accessibility will be an ongoing challenge for this project. Once you've spent a ton of time with your material being able to project yourself into the audience becomes more difficult precisely as it becomes more necessary.

Elevator pitch feels nice though. And last week that was killing me. Improvement is possible.

This speculative/critical design cone was a very helpful diagram in talking about my motivations for the piece — that is pushing scenarios into the preferable slice. Though I am uncomfortable with some aspects of critical design  —  satire, "making people think" as a goal, cruel humor in general — the theory behind the works certainly resonates. We put what we want out into the world, even if only in prototype form. This is exactly polluting the possible.

And this is where things started to go downhill and get messy. Because I know my class has heard and seen the work before, I find myself leaving out the basic explanations of what I am doing and why. For the next version, a top-level overview should fit in here.

While feedback into how prominent to make the Proust link was mixed, Marijke pointed out the sense of time travel that is lurking in the project and suggested that making this more explicit might help frame everything.

I brought the object in and passed it around, then talked about next steps: inductive charging, etc.

One of my favorite pieces of feedback came in here, with Ti asking that the magnet be added back in. Other people echoed that it was one of their favorite parts. Fortunately, the magnet is not dead; I just left it out of this prototype, since the unconsolidated form factor means I won't be attaching it to bags soon anyways.

Again, without context, the screen review went over a bit badly. There was very little feedback about the screens themselves — likely because the content is still dummy content and there is very little time to take it all in.

I'd really like some smaller reviews to just get feedback on elements of the project; luckily I think that is in the cards, maybe even next week when we have individual meetings (in the time we are waiting around).

And then the gif showing the screens in action would not play! I haven't run into problems with gifs in Keynote before, but preloading will be my friend when it comes to the final presentation. Unless I decide to show the application itself, which would be preferable, I think. ( /me adds "load app onto example phone for review" to Trello.)

Finished up presentation of new work by showing off the O/t marketing site. Here the biggest problem was that, of course, I can't read the site to people when I am presenting, even though, as one note-taker pointed out, this was the point where she felt like "oh! now I am going to finally get it!" For my committee, this should be less of an issue, since they can review it beforehand and will also read the paper.

I am also playing with the idea of having people read the site and fill out (another) survey, assuming I can get enough interest from Twitter and personally asking folks. This way I can get feedback about the site, which is other facing, while focusing on the phenomenological work for the majority of my user research.

Here I quickly ran through the design and materials research I did last semester. Again, while this will be useful in the real defense and I should practice discussing it, I rushed through because I know everyone has already seen it.

Structurally, I waffle between showing the work and then reviewing the development or keeping thing chronological and building to the reveal. In this case I worked backwards: today > design > related works. Maybe for the B presentation I will reverse it, just to test.

The characters in the system: object, application, user.

A view of the system chronologically.

A view of the system as storyboard.

Screen designs. I did stay pretty true in implementation.

All the fun materials pics!

Finally I reviewed the comparative applications, at a high level. This will have to be blown out rather a lot in the paper itself.

Thync is a more on-the-nose implementation of a personal object designed to help you explore sensations. Of course, fitting into the current trend means it is about a system determining what you need and your passive interface with it. The How It Works section of the site serves as an example of the type of explanation lost-time.club plays on.

Gordon Bell's My Life Bits (whose existence I discovered via Sherry Turkle's Evocative Objects)  is the grandfather of personal data collection as indiscriminate hoovering. Bell even wore a camera to take photos whenever it thought someone had entered the frame (determined via light changes). The writeup claims this is the Memex brought to fruition which is, I think, to misunderstand the Memex. Bush talked about the Memex as solution to overwhelming information via personal curation, not as the generator of indiscriminate data, requiring ever more code to annotate and classify.

Next came Reporter, Nicholas Felton's commercial version of an app he built to originally help him create his 2012 Annual Report. I remember being so excited to get my hands on it when he announced its development at Eyeo — and being so disappointed when I started using it. The constant polls, the purpose of the app, made me irrationally annoyed each time they popped up. This is perhaps a cautionary tale for the object and its little notification buzz. At least the object "works" if it is ignored.

The third memory device was Ishaac Bertan's. This is more up my alley, creating a general reminder, a line, at the time it is touched. That is all the data collected, which for me is somewhat too little. 

Last I mentioned Dear Data. As a work of abstract personal memory collection by two of my favorite artists, Dear Data is the closest to what I want to create in terms of data display in the app. It is beautiful, generative, and legible while remaining abstracted.

The final slide covered my plans for the future, including phenomenological research, which will mean producing works like my original moment tracking and interview with myself.

Overall, the presentation was decent, but I need to pay more attention to explaining upfront and to building a story around all the artifacts of the design process.