Archive for December, 2010

Toyota sees into its own future, scoffs and runs ironic campaign anyways

2007: Toyota launches a Prius ad campaign featuring with the beginning of Suburban Kids With Biblical Names’ song, “Rent a Wreck” playing in the background. I wonder if this was a joke by a disgruntled employee.

2010: Toyota announces a massive recall of vehicles due to brake failures after several deaths due to “unwanted acceleration.”

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Pantone Branding

It is incredible how far Pantone has extended its brand. Any consumer product can have a color and by licensing its name, anyone can be immediately associated with Pantone’s success. iPod/iPhone cases, flash drives, coffee mugs, and eyeglasses make sense in filling the “hipster toolkit” but a Pantone branded Visa card? Too far!

It's every color you want to be!

The Search For Local Proxies to the Chilean Refugee Experience

I have begun searching for local access points to empathy and user-focus in redesigning the post-disaster experience. The list of suggestions for local proxies was rather short: embassies and the homeless community (with the notion that the homeless represent mini-disasters). What follows is a progress update.

The Haitian and Chilean consulates didn’t pan out leads to refugee groups or refugees. I found a place called CCIL (normally a homeless rehabilitation program) that housed Haitian refugees immediately after the 2010 earthquake, but their contact form and email are non-operational. I will try calling them later in the week to see if any of the refugees are still there and possibly available.

Today, I prepared food and served the homeless on Team B at Church of Our Saviour. While I enjoyed helping out and meeting some really nice people, I’m not sure if talking to the homeless is getting me closer to design ideation. I learned tips for homelessness: 1. The St. Paul Church (associated with De Paul University) has daily meal service except on Sundays, 2. The Night Ministries Bus goes around neighborhoods serving food and providing non-prescription medication along with a dose of ministry but lately it’s been overrun by “the selfish beggars who don’t care about anyone but themselves,” 3. A bunch of inmates were recently released and they settled under Wacker, making it unsafe.

Perhaps the most useful insight that I’ve gained from asking the homeless, “What do you carry with you to maintain a sense of home?” or, “What tangible possessions do you value most?” is that no one (n=3) actually answered with something tangible. Dave, who likes to build things and is having trouble rebuilding his life because of a bad back said that “community” was the most important because, “Everything else gets taken away from you so it loses meaning.” Sean, who used to be a carpenter and is convinced that he’s owed a lot of Social Security, said that “friends” were the most important. He has a sister who is an inspector “which is higher than a lieutenant” in the 18th ward that he “tries not to bother too much.” Le, who seemed genuinely happy, answered, “inner harmony and projecting a sense of inner peace to others.”

I can’t forget the image of a scrappy looking man bringing me a plate of spaghetti and chicken wings. He kept shoving it towards me, finally saying, “microondas,” which I remember to mean, “microwave” in Spanish so I heated his food. I am pretty sure he didn’t speak any English. Later, when we were serving seconds, he was stopped in line (because the server was getting him his first plate of everything) and someone wanted him to move over, which led to shoving. It was pretty clear that he didn’t understand what was going on and immediately felt threatened. I wish I remembered enough Spanish to have a conversation with him.

I’ll try this again in January.

Winter Thesis Schedule

The goal of winter is to move from research to design.

12/17/10: Call Chile/Haiti consulates, find access points to homeless community
12/18/10-12/23/10: Map HCD toolkit to problem statement (develop plan for investigations) / recruit team members
12/24/10-12/30/10: write problem statements suggested by case studies, group into themes, develop frameworks
12/24/10-12/29/10: prepare personas/briefs for IxDA meeting
12/31/10-1/3/11: outline Chile situation, prepare draft deck for IxDA meeting
12/30/10-1/5/11: Interview/volunteering opportunities? / research NGOs (OxFam, UNICEF)
1/4/11: submit IxDA meeting materials for feedback
1/6/11-1/11/11: 50 sketches/ideas that might address the problem
1/10/11: Email Jim goal of investigations, general structure and plan
1/12/11-1/15/11: Gather resources for investigations
1/16/11-1/20/11: Interviews/volunteering? / prepare for IxDA meeting
1/19/11 or 1/26/11: IxDA presentation
1/21/11-1/26/11: Package winter work / prepare for investigations
1/27/11: First day of class, begin iterative investigations
1/28/11: First day of GFRY / UX for Good volunteer (interaction design for community mental health)
1/29/11: UX for Good volunteer (interaction design for community mental health)

The Feeling of Trauma: An Investigation into Real Time Travel

My friend Liz wrote a good synopsis on what the feeling of flashbacks is like for those suffering post-traumatic stress disorder

Sometimes it’s as if we exist in Jell-O, suspended but able to see the world around us moving by. What does it mean for time to move slowly? How does this affect the experience of day-to-day living? When in a state of suspension, one experiences the utter stillness of time; catatonia; the restless rest. A deafening silence; incommunicable horror. Awake during anesthesia. Floating through space. Stillness overtakes everything, swallowing it whole. With stillness comes a degree of inaction, a dark resignation. Or perhaps it is more like a paralysis. In this state of stillness, a person might feel utterly stuck; petrified; bound to the past and unable to move from it.

The full article can be found here.

Feedback on Thesis Proposal

The overarching theme in my feedback was that I needed to narrow my scope. In the direction of first aid objects, do analogous objects exist that perform a similar function to my goals? Community projects such as the AIDS quilt or socks knitted at home and sent away during WWII tell stories. Can instructive toys such as Montessori objects be modified for therapeutic purposes? I need to bring things to try while I’m there in March. That means I need to find parallel cases here to study firsthand. The involuntarily homeless provide an example of displacement. Consulates may be able to put me in touch with refugee organizations. My work may not necessarily result in objects but perhaps a set of instructions for the psychological well-being of the community. The US Army issued playing cards with images of the most wanted “terrorists” on the back so that soldiers could recognize faces. What’s less known is that they gave away playing cards with images of national treasures in Iraq to aid in preventing theft as well. How can the modification of vernacular objects place mental health at the forefront?

2010 New Zealand Earthquake

No deaths and only 2 significant injuries occurred in the 7.1 Richter, September 4, 2010 Canterbury, New Zealand earthquake because of strict building codes.

Wikipedia article.