A review. An omission. Five priorities.

We were asked to complete a few writing exercises to help steer our work.

1. Write a fictional two paragraphs reviewing your thesis as if you were a reporter in the audience during your final presentation at the end of next semester. Give it a headline and describe the key takeaways.

A swipe at touchscreens.

Sam Wander presented a thoughtful examination of creative computing. Today we typically design with the same input devices (namely keyboards and mice) that accountants use to manage books. As we increasingly tap away on our glass touchscreens instead, happily headed towards our inevitable glass future, are we right to transition our creative work over to these devices instead? In examining this, he wondered whether specialized work should take place on general purpose machines. He looked closesly at the kinds of task creative workers have become accustomed to doing each day, and asked what kind of device or tools would give people the most control, and allow them to be the most productive.

His solution (though he was careful to emphasize that his product was meant to be seen more as an open question) was to demonstrate how design work could be different – how it could better utilize our kinesthetic and tactile faculties. Next time I open Photoshop, I'll be sure to remember him swooping and sliding all manner of controls in his demo. I hope someone from Adobe was watching.

2. Answer this question in as much detail as you can: What have you chosen to omit from your thesis project? Something you might have started the semester thinking you would include, but have since decided to leave out. What made you decide to leave it out?

One route that I thought I might pursue was using the kind of mobile technology I'm pushing against to build my product, with some form of augmentation to extend it in the ways that interest me. To be more explicit – I considered making an iPad design app that would have a number of associated analog inputs, either connected remotely or somehow interacting with the touchscreen. At this point I've moved away from this to focus on something more Arduino-based, because I feel I will have more scope to "purely" express some of my ideas. Perhaps I will end up exaggerating them as a form of provocation.

As classmates have pointed out to me in recent discussions, I should be focusing less on "what's the right technical solution?" and more on "what are the meaningful interaction problems you want to solve?". I've been conscious of this, but daunted by my desire to really execute something complicated – and in service to this begin down a technical path as soon as possible to make sure I can realize as much of it as possible.

I'm trying to step back a little and ask the more meaningful question, and keep this distraction at bay.

3. Make a list of the 5 activities/aspects of your thesis that you expect to take the most time, in order from most time intensive to least. Next, make a list of the five aspects of your thesis that you think are the most important to it being a success. Compare the lists. What do you notice?

That will take the most time:

  • Writing code
  • Building analog controls
  • Testing and debugging
  • Designing visual identity
  • Producing my journal

That will make it a success:

  • Ensuring the provocation is meaningful & convincing
  • Telling a clear development story
  • Producing a polished prototype
  • Letting people use the product and experience the concepts themselves
  • A strong identity

The core disparity is that if my concept is meaningful enough, it will be more important for its success to coherently present the story than to actually make it.

But the disparity hinges on "what I think is expected of my thesis" to "what I want to get out of my thesis". I appreciate the power of being able to clearly present and narrate ideas, and our program isn't wrong in emphasizing this. However, a fundamental reason for me embarking on this journey was to learn to make things I couldn't previously have made. For now I intend to continue focusing on making this work a vehicle for pushing my craft skills.