Weekending 08222010


The disadvantage of having so much fun taking photos of skateboarders is that I have less “design research-y” photos to go along with the dispatches here from the Laboratory. So..I’m reusing some and digging deep into the archives.

Anyway. I’ve missed a week in here somewhere. I can say that the last two weeks have been weeks of wrangling thoughts into diagrams..wrangling and rustling and cow-branding and then, in the evening, playing lonely harmonica melodies and sipping coffee ’round the campfire. And early rising to count the herd, chase back the strays and move them along a little further to the, well..taking the allegory to its logical conclusion would ruin everything so, no good ideas really go to the slaughterhouse, they just get assessed and assayed for bits and pieces.

One continuing realization has been that these are definitely times where doing good projects is enough — and if they do good then that’s enough, too.

There was the usual cross-continental calls to update and share and exchange ideas. Some reviews and research proposals. Very exciting cross-silo puddle jumping going on. I’ve long been intrigued by the possibility that engineering and design cross-pollinate in some fashion and there may be a chance to try in the coming months.

Went to a concert at the Greek — Rodrigo y Gabriela — and normally this wouldn’t make it into a weekending post, except that it formalized the scourge of personal portable video recording devices, mostly the iPhone as there are the inevitable block-heads who just hold the thing up video recording entire songs so that you “enjoy” your time at The Greek — the canonical intimate medium-sized venue — with some jackhole holding a little video screen up in front of your view of what you should just be watching just right over there.

So — in the context of the material of this blog, I wonder how these little mobile devices that allow us to do these fascinating things like record experiences for later playback are changing behaviors. Clearly there is some kind of time shifting and hoarding and collecting and sharing rituals are in play here. Also something is going on with our ability to pay attention and maybe level-up our ability to recollect experiences without these devices — just as moments or translated perhaps into a diary or as a memory. And finally — the selfishness of that guy holding up his iPhone and blocking and impeding the view of the rows of people behind him? What’s up with that sort of willful disregard for fellow tribesman? Or whatever?

Anyway — onward. I think I am going to try to read “The Mirror, the Window, and the Telescope: How Renaissance Linear Perspective Changed Our Vision of the Universe“, the more legible follow-on to Samuel Y. Edgerton’s much more academic “The Renaissance Rediscovery of Linear Perspective“. I guess it’s weird putting a “to-do” in a “weekending”, but I started reading it, so I guess this is a marker in time-space so I can go back and note when I started sometime in the future when I realize I didn’t finish it..again. But, I’m curious for more useful stories in the catalog of useful stories about “how things were different” in the past — sort of a high road around the “wheels on luggage” conversation. I was encouraged to collect more “wheels-on-luggage” stories — moments where you realize that something happened to bring us to where we are today and things have not always been as they are, even if it seems incredibly obvious that anything other than what we have today seems silly — like not having wheels on luggage. In the case of the Edgerton books, he’s looking at how Renaissance linear perspective changed how we see and even understand the world around us, and it’s impossible in a sense to imagine that we could have seen the world differently. That may not be the best “wheels on luggage” example because it’s quite a big thing, different from small bits of design work that just make things a little better and do so in a subtle, understated way, but it’s one other story amongst hopefully many other useful examples. (I’m also curious if something like AR will do what the mirror and the window and the telescope have done to the way we see, understand, describe, discuss the world — will AR have its Brunelleschi moment where all of a sudden our “view” of the world, the way we see, changes?)

And finally — there was the Device Design Day talks brought to the world by Kicker Studio. I gave a presentation — some updates and re-workings of the Design Fiction material based on an essay that is quite well over due for the Swiss Design Network conference in late October. And a renewed committment to myself to do this remake of Kubrick’s 2001, as well as some small threads of the underpinnings of this based on some of the notes on HAL and “strong AI” found in the AIAA’s Special 2001 issue from April 2008, Volume 33 Issue 2. A note to self — I realized I wasn’t able to give any prescriptive thoughts as in — here are the three steps toward better device design. And that was okay — this need not be medicine, although people want a cure. It may be enough to think of Design Thinking as an approach rather than a process. Anyway — Bob Ryskamp has some brief notes on the entire Device Design Day, um..day..