Feb 5th 2021
When We Build, Wilson Miner
Wilson Miner, a designer in San Francisco starts off by talking about his childhood and how his father collected things. Miner repeats with the words of Marshall McLuhan, “we shape our tools and thereafter out tools shape us”. Miner elaborates on how an introduction of a new medium changes the environment and talks about how we designers get to the impact the world with the things we create.
The idea of how each time we introduce a new medium, it creates a new environment was a very fresh perspective I got introduced to through this talk. Tools and products which are results of our creation have the power to change how we behave as humans. Wilson very rightly mentions that cars are a huge example of how a creation can totally change the way we live in this world.
Wilson’s point about tools being an extension of humans is something I totally agree with. As we know, tools are things that help us perform tasks efficiently. And these tasks, in the absence of tools, would be done using none other than our body parts themselves (hands, mind). So, these creations and tools are really just extensions of us. As Wilson mentions, the computer is an extension of our brain and helps us do tasks faster and more efficiently what our minds would be in the past in the absence of these computers.
There was not a lot I could disagree with in the talk as there was so much sense being made in every sentence Wilson Miner was saying. Although, he mentions that a response to a nipple is the only intuitive activity humans do, which I sort of disagree too. I believe babies tend to do multiple things on their own, without being taught or having observed some else to prove this theory wrong. Their actions to do things without being taught or influenced is a result of our natural instinct, curiosity. The reason behind the success of a plug and socket is because by human instinct, every hole needs to be filled with something. Babies try to insert their fingers in tiny spaces between the carpet on their own, no one teaches them that. This is a very tiny example, but I do believe that human have a large number of things they do intuitively.
The fact that collections are empty vessels like totems which are actually just symbols of us, really impacted me. I really never saw the activity of collection in this light and it really blew my mind.
Feb 10th 2021
The Web's Grain, Frank Chimero
The Web’s Grain is an interpretation of Frank Chimero’s talk in Webstock, 2015. Frank Chimero is a designer and writer based in Brooklyn who expresses his interest, experience and thoughts about web design through the Web Grain. Responsive design is thoroughly explored in the reading and Chimero also expresses his opinions about the entire system in detail. He displays his disappointment with the direction the medium is going and tells the readers about his wish, “a desire of a technology of grace, one that lives well within its role.” He urges the readers to think about the prime function of a website and how we design it thinking of it as a blank canvas when in reality it should be designed with priority given to the elements before we add the bounding walls for restrictions. The reading summarises how responsive designing has become a nightmare for most designers and suggests we think of websites as a material to build with instead of a tool that is infinitely malleable.
Chimero’s introduction to the Beginner’s mind from Buddhism was a new concept for me and I was extremely intrigued by it. The method refers to being open and eager about opportunities by dropping large bags of preconceived notions and looking at the opportunity in a new perspective. It taught me how not just new opportunities, but ever opportunity should be treated like this.
Chimero presents an extremely interesting example to explain the difference between static design and web design. He uses a comparison between the Mona Lisa and David Hockney’s photo piece The Scrabble Game. The Mona Lisa has fixed edges and uniform edges that gives complete control over the result, whereas Hockney’s piece is an edgeless surface displaying unknown proportions with a composition formed with variable elements which leads to an uncertain result. I admire the thought behind the correlation and agree with the fact that Hockney’s piece does complete justice to the main aspect of web design, fluidity.
It was difficult to find something to disagree with in the entire reading but there was one point which I felt I did not completely agree with. Chimero calls Apple’s website a ‘monstrosity’ and says that it does not behave like a website should. I agree that the overall website does not sit among the behavior of most websites but I do believe that it satisfies the main purpose of the company, showcasing and selling products. The website takes the viewer through a series of products and displays each of them in a full screen view with extreme detail and various perspectives faking the feeling of a 360 degree view. Online shopping for products misses the opportunity to actually see a product in real life and I believe Apple’s website has solved that problem too with this 360 degree view solution. This doesn't mean that I completely agree with how the website is created but according to me it's not a bad website and does well in the area it needs to, product showcase.
In my opinion, the big idea of the reading was to help readers understand what approach they were taking when designing websites and what were the consequences of those choices. The reading also emphasized on what was the correct approach of starting a website and how to be successful in designing a website which is successfully responsive and also maintains the creative direction in all sizes and dimensions. Lastly, there was a lot of importance given to the way the text was presented and I that made the reading less like a blog post and more like a dynamic experience completed with audio and video inputs.
Feb 22nd 2021
Just Enough Research, Erika Hall
This talk by Erika Hall walks one through an extremely efficient process of how to perform research and work for any design and development project. She starts with relating to the audience about a common need of being right all the time. Sliding into the factor of uncertainty, she discusses how when we design products, we are putting our design out in the world where we lose all power and cannot control how people interact with it. She asks an important question about why bad products and designs exist in the world when we know how to make good ones. She believes the answer to that question is a lack of asking questions. Hall then takes the audience through an entire list of steps to follow to perform effective research and the importance of asking questions.
All this time I believed research was gathering information but this talk made me realize that research was more importantly about asking questions, and specifically the right questions. Only when a person needs an answer to a question will they have a sense of direction. The other thing that was something new to me was the idea of talking to people alone when conducting interviews. In all my past experiences, I’ve always had the perception that more the people, higher the amount of information which is still be true, but the key here is that those people need to be spoken to separately which gives them an opportunity to be completely candid.
I really resonated with the idea of the gap we had between our personal assumptions and the actual working world. And how the only effective way to close that gap was to gain knowledge. This knowledge comes through research and helps us confirm or reject our assumptions to have a clearer and more concrete image of the world/problem we are dealing with.
A lot of what Erika Hall mentioned in her talk made sense to me and due to a lack of anything wrong to find, here is something is minimal, but a point of disagreement. During the talk Erika mentioned something about millennials and then countered that by saying “Millennials aren’t even a real thing”. The word being a part of the dictionary and a very real and existing term for a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century can’t not be a ‘real thing’. She might have a different agenda of saying that statement but I couldn’t agree to her statement.
The talk made me realize I had been lacking knowledge about the overall concept of research. The process was broken down by Erika in three main parts, asking questions, gathering data and analysing the data. In my opinion her method is pretty straightforward and does justice to each aspect of the project. And I believe I need to make it a part of my research strategy in the future too. The other thing I realized was that I needed to stress on the importance of asking questions and being a good listener. I believe this talk has given me a great lead to follow to increase my knowledge and perform effective research for all my future projects.
Feb 28th 2021
Color in UI Design: A (Practical) Framework, Erik D. Kennedy
Erik D Kennedy’s article talks about the color scene in UI design. He talks about how many people have talked about color theory in a rather confusing way and doesn’t encourage productivity. He suggests designers move towards a technique called Color Modifications for choosing colors. According to him is the best one out there, and Color Modifications is, “The fundamental skill of coloring interface designs is being able to modify one base color into many different variations.” He walks readers through the entire process of how to use this technique as well as the pros and cons of it, but mostly pros.
Color Modification itself was quite a new concept for me but the instance when Kennedy picked real world examples and emphasized on the patterns found in the values of the variations was a real eye opener. The other thing that was new to me was the section about Luminosity. The point feels quite obvious, but I never really thought about the fact that different colors may require a different amount of brightness for all to look equally bright (if that made sense).
I was not just impressed by the color variation method but I was also converted into a loyal fan by the end of the article. I agree to all the points made, I believe it makes a lot of sense, I want to use this method and I will save this article for future reference. I think I couldn't agree more.
To be honest, I read through the article thrice. But I wasn't able to find anything I personally disagreed with. Some people might disagree with Kennedy calling the split complementary palette useless but I don’t think I disagree too.
As I mentioned above, I definitely was impressed by the color modification method. I am a fan of biomimicry and as the source of this method also is nature and the real life examples of shadow, I am all for it. I believe I will be using the method in my inventory project and hopeful will see results. Also, the example Kennedy shared in the article of an interface all with just one color modified was a really strong visual. So simple yet so beautiful and fully functional.