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å February 2015

í Unit 8: Assignment

Choose a manual action to automate, or choose an automated process to make manual.

This assignment asks you to consider how what we make as designers effects human interactions on the micro and macro scale.

Note your everyday actions; go out of your way to notice where technology is present. When do human interactions occur? How would the introduction of automation enhance or hinder the interaction. What would the advantages or disadvantages be if automation took over? How can you use sarcasm, exaggeration, appropriated voice to make a point?

For next week: Make a presentation showing your source material, and propose various possible re-envisionings. Your proposal may use: other designer’s work as reference, texts, sketches, actual designs, etc.

How are the scenarios different? What are its effects on social interaction? What is your point of view about technology’s social role through the project you are proposing?

Extended Portion: Create a finished prototype or proposal

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3 Responses to “Unit 8: Assignment”

  1. John Caserta says:

    Miranda July’s “Somebody,” http://somebodyapp.com

  2. John Caserta says:

    Karen is a life coach and she’s happy to help you work through a few things in your life.

    You interact with Karen through an app. When you begin, she asks you some questions about your outlook on the world to get an understanding of you. In fact, her questions are drawn from psychological profiling questionnaires. She – and the software – are profiling you and she gives you advice based on your answers.


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B Unit 8: Readings & References

Required for March 5th

As Robots Grow Smarter, Workers Struggle to keep Up”, New York Times
“The iPhone is the new Model-T”, John Caserta

Extended bibliography

“Will Your Job Be Done by a Machine,” NPR
Automation Makes us Dumber“, WSJ
Harnessing algorithms to create shape-change typography,” Wired
Nicholas Carr: The Glass Cage: Automation and Us (also see: video overview)
Lewis Mumford “Art & Technics
Miranda July’s “Somebody” app & miu miu video
Dunne & Raby Speculative Everything
Anthony Dunne lecture: “What If: Crafting Design Speculations”
Jon Sueda, Ed. All Possible Futures
Eugeny Morozov. To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism.
N. Joseph Woodland, Inventor of the Bar Code, Dies at 91
“The Machines Are Coming”, The New York Times. An op-ed by Zeynep Tufekci. More writings by her on her website and on Medium

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2 Responses to “Unit 8: Readings & References”

  1. John Caserta says:

    NYTimes Discussion: Digital Friendships
    Can real relationships be forged between people who never meet?

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How can technology be used to bring people together?


The Internet age has accelerated the use of automated processes and machines at the expense of the one-off design artifact. How we choose to make our work, and the way it is consumed, has an inherently social function. This unit asks you to form an ethical stance with the technical choices that you make. What effects do these choices have on the way people interact?

Learning objectives

– Form an opinion about the role of technology in the ways humans interact
– Increase sensitivity to the integration of machines in everyday life
– Communicate ideas beyond your ability to execute it. Create a clear and coherent proposal/prototype
– Become aware of speculative or non-functional designs for rhetorical effect

Lecture Notes


ZYX iPhone Activity


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w “The Web of Life”

Fritjof Capra


w “Systems Generating Systems”

Christopher Alexander

í Unit 7: One-week assignment

Unit 7.0 — Introduction

This introduces the common phenomena of (visual) pattern: repetition and periodicity.
Observe what unfolds. Allow the possibilities to show up naturally.
Work in teams of two or three (to compare notes for quantity and quality of inquiry) throughout this one-week portion, and observe and share what you are learning.
However, each of you remains responsible for your own results from your inquiry.

Unit 7.1 — Module

Design “module” (a single unit, cell): a square divided about equally in black and white. Look at options: geometric, organic; module as system or not.
Experiment with modules to see how they operate as patterns (7.2).
Eventually select ONE module unit and only use this one module.

Unit 7.2 — Pattern

First repeat the module in a squared grid (25/5×5, or 36/6×6) to create a simple pattern. Then vary the rules for repetition and periodicity in this grid.
Make as many variations as possible to generate diversity, dynamics, and uniqueness. Unit 2.2.1 — Notation system
Develop a simple (visual) notation system to show the operating system(s) of your patterns. Use this notations system to keep track of the systems used for each pattern.

Unit 7.2.2 — Grid Options

After working with a squared grid, experiment with (systemic) grid shifts (offsetting verticals, horizontals, or angles), but retain a solid field, and avoid new shapes/modules.

Unit 7.3 — Presentation on February 26:

Make a digital presentation to include:
• studies of the module, and selection of final module (and its system);
• process of pattern studies and experiments;
• selected patterns (for diversity, interest, comparative uniqueness);
• the notation systems for each pattern (i.e., to make the “system” visible). • summary as to what was experienced, observed and learned.

Unit 7.4 — Reflective Document (due February 27 or 28):

After class review reflect on this project individually!
Write about your experiences, the phenomena you observed, and what you learned. In write your reflective insights add visual samples as needed.
Email (pdf) this to your section faculty by Friday or Saturday!
(Don’t delay this task—do it when your mind is still IN the learning process!)

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How can we reveal the subtle in the obvious, the limitless in the limited?


Human beings are intrinsically organizers and pattern seekers because there is an apparent drive within us toward wholeness and integration, toward a sense of order, harmony and unity. What’s more, when we perceive such unifying holistic relationships this in turn informs us and gives us deeper insight. Combine this with the fact that everything designers construct impacts how individuals see what they see, necessitates that designers come to understand and embrace this holistic integration of parts and wholes, the operating patterns that produce their holistic properties, or the systems view. This unit will inquire into the basics of pattern and its role in dynamic complexity as well as its creative potential in design.

Learning Objectives

  • to introduce (visual) systems thinking to integrate the functions of parts and wholes; — to observe how the limitless can emerge from the limited
  • to inquire into the principles of unity in diversity
  • to discover and draw out the hidden dimensions within the plain, the obvious.
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How does the structure of information shape action?

We will use world-wide-web and the Internet as a case study for closely looking at and analyzing how the structure and layout of information on a web page affects the way we navigate the web. We will adapt a technique called ‘the dérive’ to experience, analyze and map a small portion of the web. This technique privileges subtle, actual, lived experience above abstract analysis. The unit will go on to explore how we can propose to re-design an experience (online or offline, digital or analog) and shape actions based on insight from our dérives and mappings.

Week 1
Part 1.1
1. As we go about our web-surfing we will become hyper aware of the design and context (how did we get to this page, what links did we follow, what social media service were we using?) of each page we visit.
2. Begin to pay close attention to the way you typically interact and navigate around a page.
3. We will begin to collect the bits and pieces we are noticing from each of these pages – images, snippets of text, urls, taking notes, drawings, sketches, screenshots, etc…

Part 1.2
1. Now try to ‘drift’ through the web: try to navigate without using the back-button, without any search functions, using your keyboard as little as possible (see the Trailblazers Web Surfing Competition below).
2. Pay close attention to the way your interaction differs during your web-derive.
3. Collect and map the elements you are noticing during your web-derive

Maps for 1.1 and 1.2
Using the collected snippets form 1.1 and 1.2, you will create a simple map of your experience. What is the simplest, most obvious way to display and share the information you have collected with your colleagues? What story does the collected information tell? Does your map reveal anything about your surfing habits, the sites you visit, the web in general? Did you take an unexpected detour on the web? Discover entire new sections, or categories of videos you have no idea existed? This assignment is about consciously navigating and tracking that navigation across the web.
You will present both maps in class in 1 week. Remember, maps can be diagrams, sketches, videos, poems, timelines, tumblrs, posters, or any other form you can imagine.

Weeks 2 – 4
2. You will either refine your maps or choose another experience on which to apply the dérive and mapping. You could choose a book, a poster, a space, an event.
3. You will propose a way – through graphic design – to modify the lived experience you have chosen.
4. You will finalize your proposal or implement your design.

Readings/Support Info

Learning Objectives

  • learn to use the dérive to pay close attention to lived experience
  • learn to analyze and collect existing visual languages
  • learn to edit, sequence, arrange and map existing content as a means of telling a new story
  • learn to design based off insight from the dérive and mapping
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