FMP-1_01 ↓ Reverse Engineering Task

We started FMP – aka Final Major Project – tutorials. Prior to that, we were given a Reverse Engineering task in order to practice writing proposals.

I can’t say I’m sure about my FMP directions yet. Still, I’m pretty interested by topics such as globalization through the age of Internet. While researching what type of works have been done related to this topic, I stumbled across the project Homogenizing and Transforming World by teamLab — hence my choice for the Reverse Engineering task.

Though I’m saying I’m interested by globalization by scoping it through Internet — assuming it has been influenced by it, this topic still stays super large. To be honest, I don’t have any idea where to handle it at the moment. And I wouldn’t say it’s a joyful topic to treat, as I neither don’t want to fall (too much) into that heavy (this system is ruining our lives!) / guilty (we all are!) / dark (say no to globalization!) vibes type of project.

That’s why I think teamLab managed to convey an experience I would qualify as sensible — while the topic still got an efficient didactic kind of unfolding definition. Watch for yourself, followed by the task:

Title:

Homogenizing and Transforming World

Field of Study:

I want to study the globalization of the world at the age of Internet, esp. the question of cultural uniformity through it. My aim would be to create an interaction that permits the audience to understand the effect of globalization at his/her level as an full actor of its spectrum.

Context:

The Internet is a key factor to understand the globalization in recent years. If the globalization started by the fair trades between markets, its consequences expanded to communications tools and eventually medias, and thus affected popular culture.

Rationale:

Although the Internet has significantly broken down communication barriers between cultures, it has also contributed to the cultural uniformity of our societies. By exploring the question of Internet as a media, I want to reach an understanding of how the globalization shapes the vision of the world.

Methodology/Methods:

I will conduct a secondary research to fully understand concepts such as globalization and uniformity through Internet — and theirs impacts. Then, I will sketch different proposals while directly prototyping; thus research through making. I will hold several tests at a smaller scale, then as its real scale.

Predicted Resolutions:

I aim to produce an interactive installation that put the audience as an actor: individual balls floating in the air will communicate with one another via a wireless connection. As I’ve said, the Internet has spread throughout the world. Individuals are connected and information spreads back and forth freely. People act as intermediaries for information, and the instant the information spreads, the world unites. All individuals can freely and simply transmit information; the individual acts as an intermediary that transmits the information to the world, transforming it in an instant. (These are from teamLab, I can’t explain better…!)

Organisation:

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Social Things_02 ↓ First Presentation

We had to make a first presentation in the presence of the alumni Rania Svaronou and her colleague Riccie Janus working at IBM. In this 5 mn presentation, I presented the Slow Movement and its main sub-movement I’m interested in which is Slow Design, with its main principles: craft engagement with meaningful, to bring sustainability.

You can read more on that subject with the paper The Slow Design Principles (2008) by Carolyn Strauss and Alastair Fuad-Luke. Again Alastair Fuad-Luke, I think that his paper ‘Slow Design?’– A Paradigm Shift in Design Philosophy? (2002) started it all by coining the term. I also found a pretty interesting paper about Slow Technology instead, Slow Technology: Designing for Reflection by Lars Hallnäs and Johan Redström (2000).

Plus, the video made for the paper Slow Design for Meaningful Interactions (2013) by Barbara Grosse-Hering, Jon Mason, Dzmitry Aliakseyeu and Conny Bakker, is pretty good to rapidly understand what lies behind Slow Design.

 

Particularly the last part: “It’s about slowing interaction down at the right moment!“, which reminds me of what Carl Honoré wrote – whom I remind is the one that popularized the Slow Movement: “The Slow Movement is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. […] On the contrary, the movement is made up of people like you and me, people who want to live better in a fast-paced, modern world. That is why the Slow philosophy can be summed up in a single word: balance. Be fast when it makes sense to be fast, and be slow when slowness is called for. Seek to live at what musicians call the tempo giusto – the right speed.”

Last reference before I’ll go into my presentation. This talk given by William Odom shows various examples of what is Slow Interaction Design:

I also presented two decisions, despite having a prototyping idea: I didn’t want to do anything with an app nor a wearable device as I mentioned there are already good options out there, plus the fact that I actually want to get off the screen to craft a tangible object. For example, I’m pretty fond of these vintage calendars, I own several of them back in my parents’ place. They act like they should – that is telling you the day it is, and I also bizarrely enjoy the fact that you have to turn the handles to literally switch to another day.

Hence, there are interactions and gestures I’m missing in the digitalized world, and I’m trying to ideate to fill these gaps. Still, I’m thinking it might be too literal to even refer to the notion of time in my object. As I go on my contextual research, I actually mostly find projects focused around the notion of time. Here are examples from the Slow Tech exhibit curated by Wallpaper and Protein at the London Design Week. Nicolas also referred me to the Slow Watch project, and Betty linked me to the pretty similar Hidden Time Watch project. Pure counter reaction: I want time out of my object.

One feedback I got from the presentation I particularly retain is: “It’s not about the technology coming to us but us going to technology“, acting as a pretty good reminder of my previous references. Quoting Nina Simon in the Participatory Museum, “Imagine looking at an object not for its artistic or historical significance but for its ability to spark conversation“, I’m thinking my object might actually fall down that path.

Social Things_01 ↓ Continued Research

After the Collaborative Unit, time to dig into the Physical Computing Unit with the Social Things brief: “Using the research that you have done on a tribe, you will start designing a tangible or a wearable object for or with that tribe. The goal is to create a meaningful object using physical computing as an agency. By meaningful, we mean that it will communicate the value(s) of your tribe.

Just to remind, my research was on the Slow Movement. I did already gather ideas during the last part of my ethnographic research. I asked my interviewees the following: “Do you think it is possible to find a balance with technology rather than having disconnected moments?” One answer from Trine Grönlund whom is behind the Go Slow initiative, particularly stuck in my mind: “Absolutely. I think the answer is very much in technology and particular in the “interface”. Today everything builds upon distraction – you are looking for one thing but you are constantly being lured away to other things. Imagine the day we decide to build sites/apps/games in a way that spreads compassion. Imagine if the more time we spend in front of the screen the more compassionate and mindful we become.

If I highlighted this last sentence, it’s because I immediately had a flashback of one of my past projects: YOU HAVE TO FACE ME that I produced last year for the Festival Les Chambres Numériques, where I asked the audience to literally face the screen in order to trigger its contents. Well, I didn’t know back then that I was crafting an interaction I’m now classifying as slow! And even though I still don’t know what kind of object I want to make, I’m pretty interested in the same contrast I did back then: the effortless technology versus the mindful effort of the audience. Where is the balance? Wouldn’t an interaction that requires time end up frustrating the audience in search of efficiency? Then, isn’t it about the notion of slow to be adjusted at its right moment to intervene?

There are also others keywords I retain here: interface – distraction – compassion. There are definitely links to craft between these, as I don’t believe digital detox is a solution and don’t fall neither in the values of the Slow Movement. Trine also referred me to a talk given by Rohan Gunatillake at Wisdom 2 Europe – here is his own summary wisely named Redesigning not Retreating. He explains his vision balancing mindfulness with technology. He did so with his studio Mindfulness Everywhere which create meditative apps such as buddhify and Sleepfulness. Pretty good starting point for my contextual research!

In the same veins, I also found the initiative Time Well Spent – the founder Tristan Harris gave a pretty good talk that I recommend to watch to comprehend his vision of designing to value time with technology versus the seeker-attention character of technology.