Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Emotionally Durable Design

The author explores the essential question, "Why do users discard products that still work?" It transports the reader beyond symptom-focused approaches to sustainable design such as recycling, biodegradeability, and disassembly, to address the actual causes that underpin the environmental crisis we face. The result is a revealing exploration of consumer psychology, the deep motivations that fuel the human condition and a rich treasure of creative strategies that will enable designers from a range of disciplines to explore new ways of thinking and designing of objects capable of supporting deeper and more meaningful relationships with their users.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Design Real Exhibit

History from Things

Quotes from Intro of History from Things: Essays on Material Culture

"Not only do artifacts present new evidence to support historical arguments; they also suggest new arguments and provide a level of rhetorical support to arguments that mere documents cannot begin to approach" (p ix)

"The style of objects, particularly utilitarian un-self-conscious creations, relflects not only craft traditions and the individual creator but also the contemporary culture in which they were developed. Seen as cultural creations, both their associations and structure invoke multiple metaphors that serve to materialize belief." (pxi)

WHY DO WE NEED THINGS? to objectify the self, organize the mind, demonstrate power, and symbolize their place in society

"Artifacts are instruments intended to be used, and interferences about this utilitarian purpose are not culture-sensitive. But artifacts also serve as signs, and their meaning as signs usually changes when the audience changes. When objects are used as symbols, as indicators by association, and finally as conventions or referents, their meaning becomes increasingly culture-specific." (pxii)

Lubar, S. and W.D. Kingery, eds. History from Things: Essays on Material Culture. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bibliography additions

Hawkins, G., and S. Mueke eds. "Culture and Waste: The Creation and Destruction of Value." Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003.

Cummings, N., and M. Lewandowska. "The Value of Things." Basel; Boston; Berlin: Birkhauser, 2000.

Honore, C. "In Praise of Slow." Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2004.

Werner, C., and D. Bell, eds. "Values and Valuables: From the Sacred to the Symbolic." Oxford: Alta Mira Press, 2004.

Candlin, F., and R. Guins, eds. "The Object Reader." New York: Routledge, 2009.

Papanek, V. "Design for the Real World: Second Edition/ Completely Revised." Chicago: Academy Chicago Printers, 1984.

More from Fast Company

Masters of Design 2010

Design is the Problem

Book description here

Interview with author Nathan Shedroff here

Heirlooms in Waiting

Fast Company article says:

"Designed to wow and created to last, these heirlooms-in-waiting are an antidote to throwaway consumerism in this era of disposable goods."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sherry Turkle Quote

"We live our lives in the middle of things. Material culture carries emotions and ideas of startling intensity. Yet only recently have objects begun to receive the attention they deserve."

- Evocative Objects, p6

Monday, September 20, 2010

Value in context?

Objects hold value when they are given meaning. This could be through context, or by storytelling. An item with no story and no context becomes forgotten and abandoned.

There is humour and truth in this concept of the "Instant Heirloom".

Monday, September 13, 2010


Is it recyclable?, biodegradable?, reusable?,
adaptable? upgradeable?, cherishable?, etc..

Eternally Yours

Billions of products virtually die before their time has come. This book maps out ways in which they can be designed and planned in such a way that their value can be sustained to keep them in use for a longer time. 'Time in Design' is about one of those ideal future products. It tells the story of Vivian, a name representing any product. The life of Vivian is retraced back from the preconception through the times of development, purchase and era of use, right until oblivion. With text contributions by Brian Eno and John Thackara, and designed by Thonik.

Production without Destruction

Ecodesign Foundation in Sydney, Australia created the concept of "sustainments". Sustainments are defined as mechanisms for betterment – product longevity, emotional durability and modularity are strong examples.

Raw Nerve: Life is Suite


An abandoned sofa is given new meaning and new life

Natalie Jeremijenko

How Stuff is Made

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Orestad College in Copenhagan

Article here

Design Ignites Change

This is a fantastic website that encourage students to use design thinking to explore and create solutions for pressing social problems

Website here

Innovation and Environment

Great article about new books that encourage the networking and exchange of ideas; some environments are breeding grounds for innovation:

NY Times Article

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Liz Coleman's TED talk

Essentially, taking liberal arts and making vital connections with education and public good, intellectual integrity and human freedom...

Impulse to change the world, enhancing the public good, making a significant and sustainable difference...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Attitudes and Values

This is a comprehensive study between the types of possessions people keep, and the differences between family heirlooms and instrumental objects, and the consistency they hold in terms of values.

Three studies were conducted to investigate individual consistency in the psychological functions of possessions, attitudes, and values. In the first study, participants listed favorite possessions, which other subjects classified by their similarity in source of value. The similarity data were analyzed using multidimensional scaling. In Study 2, new subjects rated each possession on four scales that represented subjective interpretations of the scaling dimensions, and mean scale ratings of objects were regressed over the scaling solution. The primary dimension distinguished symbolic or self-expressive objects (e.g., family heirlooms) from instrumental objects (e.g., a stereo). In Study 3, individual consistency in orientation toward symbolic or instrumental possessions, attitudes, and values was examined. The same subjects who listed possessions in Study 1 indicated their favourability toward symbolic and instrumental appeals and values. On the basis of the locations of their possessions in the scaling solution, individuals were classified into symbolic and instrumental possession groups, and attitudes and values of the two groups were compared. Results indicate that the self-expressive function of possessions, attitudes, and values is consistent within individuals

Prentice, D. "Psychological correspondence of possessions, attitudes, and values." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 53 ( 1987): 883– 1003.

Identity and Reinterpretation

Reinterpretation, an old concept developed by Melville Herskovits, is the way in which people seek to relate and adapt their changing experiences by using the past as a marker for interpreting the present.

This was the main theme to the book of objects I produced for another class. The contributors were asked to provide a photograph of an object that had value and was older than them, so the age was greater than the person who owned it. Each object was used as way to interpret something of value. People apply memory and meaning to items, and often use reinterpretation to make sense of new objects in their lives.

Hamer, J. H. "Identity, process, and reinterpretation: The past made present and the present made past." Anthropos 89 (1994): 1– 190.

The Consumer

This article focuses on the consumer behaviour in relation to self identity.

Our possessions are a major contributor to and reflection of our identities. A variety of evidence is presented supporting this simple and compelling premise. Related streams of research are identified and drawn upon in developing this concept and implications are derived for consumer behavior. Because the construct of extended self involves consumer behavior rather than buyer behavior, it appears to be a much richer construct than previous formulations positing a relationship between self-concept and consumer brand choice.

Belk, R. W. "Possessions and the extended self." Journal of Consumer Research 15 (1988): 139-68.


This article is particularly relevant to a thesis on possessions and collections. The article uses research to determine how society shapes our behaviour with possessions and how this reflects human nature. A cross-cultural, developmental, interview study is described that resulted in the identification of 27 dimensions of possession, 21 different reasons for ownership, and 41 categories of possessions. There are 2 major themes that emerge from the study: One was a sense of personal competence or control; the other was an association between possessions and the sense of self. Also, further studies with 2–5 yr old children that social environments determine how possession related behaviour emerges as children grow older.

Furby, L. "Understanding the psychology of possession and ownership: A personal memoir and an appraisal of our progress." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 457– 63.


Educational aspirations among Canadian 15-year-old youth are remarkably high: almost all aspire to complete high school, and over nine in ten say they want to go on beyond high school. University is clearly the post-secondary pathway of choice, being named by over two thirds of the youth. Less than one in ten say they want to pursue an apprenticeship or attend a post secondary trade or vocational school.

This quote pertains to my thesis proposal regarding youth literacy tutoring. Essentially, if youth have the aspirations to do well, then a tutoring system should be easily populated. Confidence plays a major role in success, and the atmosphere of the writing centre would create just that, likely publishing compilation books of student work, and bringing self esteem and skills up at the same time.

Learning Policy Directorate. Aspirations of Canadian youth for higher education: Final Report.
Ottawa, ON, Canada: Human Resources and Social Development Canada, 2004.

Possessions and Collections References

Abelson, R. P. "Beliefs are like possessions." Journal of Theory of Social Behavior 16 (1986): 223-50.

Abelson, R. P., and D. A. Prentice. Beliefs as possessions: A functional perspective. In Attitude structure and function, ed. A. R. Pratkanis. Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 1987.

Ainsworth, M. "Attachments beyond infancy." American Psychologist 44 (1989): 709-16.

Baum, S., and R. Steward. "Sources of meaning through the lifespan." Psychological Reports 67 (1990): 3-14.

Belk, R. W. "Possessions and the extended self." Journal of Consumer Research 15 (1988): 139-68.

Belk, R. W. "Extended self and extending paradigmatic reflections of identity: Gender and social-material position in society." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 165-86.

Buss, H. Mapping our selves. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1993.

Cairns, K., ed. Treasures: The Stories Women Tell about the Things They Keep. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2004.

Csikszentmihalyi, M., and E. Rochberg-Halton. The meaning of things: Domestic symbols and the self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

de Beauvoir, S. The coming of age. New York: Warner, 1973.

de Grazia, V., ed. The sex of things: Gender and consumption in historical perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Dittmar, H. "Gender identity-related meanings of personal possessions." British Journal of Social Psychology 28 (1989): 159-71.

Dittmar, H. "Meanings of material possessions as reflections of identity: Gender and social-material position in society." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 165-86.

Faraday, A., and K. Plummer. "Doing life histories." Sociological Review 27 (1979): 773-92.

Formanek, R. "Why they collect: Collectors reveal their motivation." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 275– 86.

Furby, L. "Understanding the psychology of possession and ownership: A personal memoir and an appraisal of our progress." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 457– 63.

Glodi, K. A., and A. Blasi. "The sense of self and identity among adolescents and adults." Journal of Adolescent Research 8 (1993): 356– 80.

Graham, H. Surveying through stories. In Social Researching: Politics, Problems, Practice, ed. C. H. Roberts. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984.

Graumann, C. F. "Psychology and the world of things." Journal of Phenomenological Research 4 (1974): 389– 404.

Guterce, A. "Transitional objects: A reconsideration of the phenomenon." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 187– 208.

Hamer, J. H. "Identity, process, and reinterpretation: The past made present and the present made past." Anthropos 89 (1994): 1– 190.

Hirschman, E. C., and P. A. LaBarbera. "Dimensions of possession importance." Psychology and Marketing 7 (1990): 215– 33.

Horwitz, J., and J. Tognoli. "Role of home in adult development: Women and men living alone describe their residential histories." Family Relations 31 (1982): 335– 41.

Josselson, R., and A. Lieblich, eds. The narrative study of lives. 4 vols. Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1995.

Katymun, M. "The prevalence of factors influencing decisions among elderly women concerning household possessions during relocation." Housing Practice 3 (1986): 82– 99.

Kamptner, N. L. "Personal possessions and their meaning: A lifespan perspective." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 209– 28.

Kotre, J. Outliving the self: Generativity and the interpretation of lives. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.

Lewis, M. The exposed self. New York: Free Press, 1991.

McCracken, A. "Emotional impact of possession loss." Journal of Gerontological Nursing 13 (1987): 14– 19.

Mehta, R., and R. W. Belk. "Artefacts, identity, and transition: Favorite possessions of Indians and Indian immigrants to the United States." Journal of Consumer Research 17 (1991): 398– 411.

Middleton, D., and D. Edwards, eds. Collective remembering. London: Sage Publications, 1990.

Mountain, G., and P. Bowie. "The possessions owned by longstay psychogeriatric patients." International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 7 (1992): 285– 90.

Mumby, D. Narrative and social control. Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1993.

O’Brien, T. The things they carried. Toronto: McLelland and Stewart, 1991.

Olsen, T. Silences. New York: Dell Publishing, 1982.

Perreault, J. Writing selves. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.

Prentice, D. "Psychological correspondence of possessions, attitudes, and values." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 53 ( 1987): 883– 1003.

Rabin, A. Studying persons and lives. New York: Spring Publishing, 1990.

Rochberg-Halton, E. "Object relations, role models, and cultivation of the seal." Environment and Behavior 16 (1984): 335– 68.

Ruddick, S., and P. Daniels. Working it out. New York: Pantheon Books, 1977.

Sherman, E., and E. Newman. "The meaning of cherished personal possessions for the elderly." Journal of Aging and Human Development 8 (1977): 181– 92.

Wappner, S. "Cherished possessions and adaptation of older people to nursing homes." International Journal of Aging and Human Development 31 (1990): 219– 35.


I recently completed a project on collections. I have always had an interest in antiques, family heirlooms, and objects that survive the test of time. This project took the form of a book, and my professor suggested it would make an interesting thesis topic. Essentially I would create a series of books sampling different cultural areas and the objects that individuals keep. In the fast-paced consumer culture, the value of the object seems increasingly lost. How does this change from one culture to another? How does this related to Canada's history? I came across this book on Northwest Coast natives and the dissemination of their belongings.

The pace of cultural change, of the integration of the Northwest Coast natives into European economic and cultural systems, seemed remorseless. Looms, cradles, fishing nets and hooks, cooking boxes, weapons, bark and woven cloaks disappeared before the cheaper manufactures of western industry.

Cole, Douglas . Captured Heritage: The Scramble for Northwest Coast Artifacts.
Vancouver, BC, Canada: UBC Press, 1995. p 244.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Agency and Humour

Feedback from Sarah RE: Engaging Youth in Literacy Tutoring

Develop the agency!
Use humour - humour is inherently political; disrupts the norm. Can be used to create community. This is seen in the 826 National Literacy groups: Pirate Supply Store, Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Store, Bigfoot Research Institute, The Boring Store, etc.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Story of Bottled Water

Excellent short film by Annie Leonard with an overview of the bottled water industry. How do we change public perception of bottled water? She mentions bringing back water fountains. It's true that most public water fountains are not maintained, filled with gum and leaves and debris. They are not appealing and this sends a message to the public that we don't care about tap water.

The Story of Bottled Water. The Story of Stuff Project and Free Range Studios. 10 April 2010

Profiles of Volunteers

A sub-question of my thesis would be how to attract volunteers to a literacy tutoring program. This study shows the motivations, benefits, satisfaction and barriers to volunteering more. This will prove in sustaining repeat volunteers and learning how to recruit the right people for the job.
Most people volunteer for a passion for the cause, and if advertised properly, the importance of literacy in the community will garner considerable interest.

Gotlib Conn, Lesley. Core Volunteers: Exploring the Values, Attitudes, and Behaviours Underlying Sustained Volunteerism in Canada: Report. Toronto, ON, Canada: Imagine Canada, 2006.

Understanding how kids use technology

This report shows how students use technology and more specifically the internet. Studies were taken to evaluate kids favourite websites and how much time spent on the internet. There is also a section titled Empowering Young People through Education. This is valuable information for the development of an online community associated with the literacy tutoring program. What do students of various ages find the most appealing. At this date, it would not make sense to start a literacy program with no online content - the majority of students spend much of their free time on computers. Games could be developed to educate students as well as entertain them.

Steeves, Valerie. Young Canadians in a Wired World: Trends and Recommendations. Ottawa, ON, Canada: Industry Canada, 2005.

The Value of Literacy Tutors

This research report shows that volunteering is a major part of the literacy training in Ontario. The data was gathered from Literacy Agencies, and compiled to show the monetary value, as well as the how to movitate, train, recruit, and manage volunteers. This is crucial information for the development of a thesis project based on literacy tutoring. It would be streamlined to stem this project from an existing literacy agency in order to pool resources and minimize start up costs, as well as adopt the respect and esteem of an established program. Trust would be a factor in starting a program, and to piggyback onto an agency would ease any uncertainty with the community. Also, of course, developing a relationship with neighborhood schools would be easier when affiliated with an agency.

The report shows how significant the volunteers are:

The results of the economic assessment reveal the vast economic value volunteers bring to community literacy agencies in Ontario. It is apparent that an estimated 5,985 volunteers contribute 665,175 hours or the equivalent of $12,505,290 in work time annually to Anglophone community literacy agencies throughout Ontario. The economic value of all literacy volunteers to all sectors and streams in Ontario is estimated at an $13, 826, 667.

This study states that the two most effective methods for recruiting volunteers are word of mouth and the local media, particularly newspapers. This could be made even more effective with a branded consistent image for the program. It also mentions that younger Canadians are more likely to volunteer when asked. To design the program so that it appeals to younger volunteers is also very important. This helps to preemptively eliminate any stigma that may be asscociated with literacy tutoring or volunteering.

MacDonald, Robb. Literacy Volunteers: Value Added Research Report. Barrie, ON, CAN: Community Literacy of Ontario, 2005.

National Literacy Strategy

This report is fairly recent and states that 42% of adults in Canada are lacking adequate literacy skills. This report compiles reasoning and solutions in order to bring National literacy to a higher level, which in turn drives economic growth and empowers individuals to engage in democratic and social decisions. Literacy begins with childhood and the report acknowledges that the benefits of literacy accrue over a lifetime and focusing on youth is the primary goal.

Several issues are identified in the beginning of the report:

1. The inability of many Canadian children to access high-quality early childhood education and care programs. Access tends to be a particular challenge for those children who are most vulnerable to poor literacy outcomes because they lack adequate supports through their home and neighbourhood environments. 2. T he inability of many Canadian children to access libraries, and other supporting programs and services, again with access challenges increasing for many of the most vulnerable Canadian children.
3. The inability of many Canadian schools to identify and deal effectively with children who already lag behind their peers when they first enter school.
4. T he need to improve teacher preparation in the area of reading development and reading instruction, and to improve the quality of literacy-related instruction in Canadian classrooms.
Although these are large issues, I believe that free literacy tutoring in neighbourhoods will significantly increase literacy in the students involved. The key is to create a fun environment with engaging visuals that inspire and uplift the community, volunteers, and students.

Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. National Strategy for Early Literacy: Report and Recommendations. London, ON, Canada: Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, 2009.

Literacy Tutoring

I was a literacy tutor during the summer months between 2000-2004. I was hired by the Limestone District School Board in Kingston. This was part of a initiative to bring better results on the EQAO Grade 10 Literacy Test that was issued across Ontario. Our team would meet with every single Grade 9 student and assess their level. Some students required more help than others, and we scheduled brief daily meetings with these students. Many of the resources we had were dated and poorly designed aesthetically. I took an interest in re-designing several and customizing the resources to suit the students interests. These proved to engage the student and take more interest in the assigned tasks. Visually stimulating material is a key factor in gaining a students attention level and keeping them on task.

More about EQAO:

EQAO ensures greater accountability and better quality in Ontario’s publicly funded school system. An arm’s-length agency of the provincial government, EQAO provides parents, teachers and the public with accurate and reliable information about student achievement. EQAO also makes recommendations for improvement that educators, parents, policy-makers and others in the education community can use to improve learning and teaching.

Education Quality and Accountability Office. Queen's Printer for Ontario 2010. 10 April 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Once Upon a School Website

Eggers, Dave. Once Upon a School. March 30 2010.

This site is an online initiative developed in response to author and philanthropist Dave Eggers' 2008 TED Prize wish to inspire and collect the stories of private citizens engaged in their local public schools. Each year, three individuals are granted the TED Prize, which provides winners with a wish to change the world, $100,000 in seed money, and the support of the TED community in making the wish come true. Dave looked to the community to build a website that would collect these stories. 826 National, Hot Studio, and Carbon Five stepped up and created Once Upon a School.

Keep track of sources

Marzano, Robert J. and Diane E. Paynter. New Approaches to Literacy: Helping Students Develop Reading and Writing Skills. Washington: American Pyschological Association, 1994.

Keep track of sources

Pantaleo, Sylvia. Student Response to Contemporary Picturebooks. Toronto: University
of Toronto Press, 2008.

Brabazon, Tara.
The University of Google, education in the (post) information age. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007.

Robinson, Joan ed.
A Second Chance, Literacy Training Manual. Asst. Catherine Lundie. Toronto: North York Public Library, Adult Literacy Program, [1989?].

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Water Conservation

Quoted from DesignSponge by Ashley English, March 26th, 2010

"Over 70% of our planet is covered in water. It’s a wet, blue planet. Everything we allow to travel down the plumbing pipes of our homes, offices, and places of recreation eventually makes its way into our oceans. So much more than mere locales of unspeakable beauty and vehicles for golden tans, these oceans and their coastlines provide food for massive amounts of organisms, including humans. A large number of Earth’s human populations live in coastal areas and rely heavily on foods from the ocean to sustain themselves, as well as for their livelihoods. Oceans also provide buffers from storms, which have increased in intensity as the Earth has warmed.
In the remarkable documentary film
“Acid Test”, narrated by ocean activist and actress Sigourney Weaver, we learn about the “other CO2 problem,” the rise in carbon dioxide levels in the oceans. This increase in CO2 is adversely affecting the ability of marine organisms to grow their exoskeletons. Traveling up the food chain, as successive organisms loose their food sources, the problem eventually becomes a human one. Similarly, the multi award-winning documentary film “Flow” assesses the world’s growing lack of access to fresh water. According to the film, of the 6 billion humans on Earth, over 1.1 billion don’t have regular sources of fresh drinking water. Furthermore, the fresh water that is available is running out.
Annie Leonard, a sustainability proponent perhaps best known for her animated film
“The Story of Stuff” about the life cycle of processed goods put out a new film this week on bottled water. “The Story of Bottled Water” examines the multi-million dollar industry, from what motivated its creation in the first place to its claims of purity as well as the waste that it generates. As this past Monday marked the 2010 World Water Day (an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro), and this year’s theme is “water quality”, it seemed only fitting that this week’s small measure should address water conservation, preservation, and stewardship."

She goes on to discuss the non-profit organization Oceana and the work being done by 5 gyres. (North Pacific Gyre also known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”) and provides a link to these suggestions, submitted for consideration at the annual Buckminster Fuller Institute Challenge.

Water conservation in the home, bottled water, and the way we use water in general would be an area of interest for my thesis topic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Community: The American Way of Living

Essay: Tobias Armborst, Daniel D'Oca, & Georgeen Theodore 10.05.09

Intersting approach to suburban sustainability issues. The creation of a suburban General Store to improve walkable neighbourhoods and decrease vehicle dependancy.


From the Design Observer: GlobalTap By Ernest Beck 01.28.10
More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to clean water. The rest of us have an unlimited flow from the tap. Daniel H. Whitman, a Chicago architect and social entrepreneur who believes that access to water should be a fundamental human right, wants to link these two extremes. In 2008, he formed GlobalTap, a for-profit social enterprise with a dual mission: to sell and install tap-water-refilling stations in public places in North America and Europe, and then to divert revenues from this business to fund badly needed water projects in developing countries. “Water should be free and accessible to everybody,” Whitman says. “Water is not just for privileged people in privileged places.”

826 Valencia

After Reading a Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius, and visiting the Pirate Supply Store in San Francisco, I started to research Dave Eggers a little more in-depth. I realized the Pirate Supply Store was actually the front of a Writing Centre for kids and that literacy was at the core of whole project. This led to more literacy and math centres for kids with themes like Super Hero Supply Store (Brooklyn), the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company (Seattle), The Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute and additional 826 chapters are located in LA and Chicago. These projects are good for communities and also offer the opportunity for rich graphic design work. Starting a Toronto Chapter would prove a rewarding and challenging topic for thesis.

Dave Eggers' Wish on TED

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vanderbyl Guide Summary

Vanderbyl, Michael, and Bob Aufuldish, Leslie Becker, Karen Fiss, Terry Irwin, Jim Kenney, and Jennifer Morla. “Graphic Design Thesis: A Survivor’s Guide.” in Teaching Graphic Design: Course Offerings and Class Projects from the Leading Undergraduate and Graduate Programs. Ed. Steven Heller. New York: Allworth Press, 2003.

Helfand and Drenttel Reading Summary


Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel from Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, and Steven Heller,

Looking Closer 5: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, Volume 5 (New York: Allworth Press, 2006)

The article begins with the explanation that science is the reason for revolutionizing the world. Then why is current design practice focused on aestheticizing pre-existing ideas instead of learning to create new ways to visualize new ideas?

Design has taken the surface value of scientific imagery and vocabulary and appropriated it into new designs, however these efforts are seriously lacking any formal understanding of the underlying science. One example used in the article is the recent graphic reinvention of the Periodic Table. The authors refer to this style of design "Faux Science" and offer a scathing review of the current trend to inject meaningless branding content into serious form.

"The appeal of information design is that it offers instant credibility. This is the domain of numbers and bullets and charts and graphs, ordered lists that visualize the obvious. Information design is rational and authoritative, classified and controlled to within an inch of its life: everything in its place and a place for everything. Label it information design and it looks serious. Number it and it looks scientific. But it’s a false authority, particularly because we buy into the form so unquestioningly."

Current design has become nothing but appropriation and artifice. Referring to Hegel and his method of thesis/ antithesis/ synthesis model, we easily locate the scientist, who migrates from observation to analysis to discovery. Meanwhile, the designer catalogs the everyday, making thick, wordless books with pictures that jump the gutter.

Helfand and Drenttel conclude that science is an enormous opportunity for designers, and that design schools should think outside the box (teach music theory, second languages, and science), so that the education of designers becomes new knowledge, rather than sticking to old ideas.

Overall, I think this is an excellent articles, and reveals truths about current design education - so much work is thinly veiled artifice.

Michael Beirut Reading Summary

The Design Observer, 05.09.05, On (Design) Bullshit

The article uses a humorous anecdotal story (taken from a real documentary) about a design disagreement between architect and landscape artist. After the landscape artist's idea is essentially critiqued and dismissed as inappropriate by the architect, his response is "bullshit". Essentially, the article exposes the truth about bullshit. In all design problems, there are concrete solutions to be articulated, but there are also the intuitive, subjective decisions that can only be chalked up as some degree of "bullshit". Being a good designer means more than kerning and colour theory: you have to be a compelling story-teller.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Eric Alterman Reading Summary

Out of Print, the death and life of the American newspaper, March 31 2008, The New Yorker.

After 300 years the American Newspaper seems to be nearing its final days, with the loss of advertisers, readers, market value (42% in the last 3 years) with the rise of the Internet, and the advent of such services as Craigslist which make the classifieds seem obsolete. The once high-margin monopolies of the newspaper world are now creating websites and profiting from online advertising, but at a fraction of the sales that have been lost from circulation print ads.

Columnist Molly Ivins claimed that the only way to save the newspaper was to make the product, smaller, less helpful and less interesting. Now people are spending far less time with their newspaper, and the readership is dwindling, with the average American reader fifty-five and older. The $450 million Newseum opened in the spring of 2008 in Washington DC, alluding to the fact that the newspaper is ready to displayed under glass.

Not only is readership falling, so is the public trust in newspapers, and media in general. A Sacred Heart University study shows that 9 out of 10 Americans believe that the media consciously seeks to influence public policies.

The Huffington Post has developed a new strategy almost accidentaly - that news is a shared enterprise between its producer and its consumer. Internet offers immediate information, commenting, and sharing, and is alive in a way that that a static paper cannot be. The majority of content is borrowed from elsewhere, what is the best version according to the editors, and repurpose with a catchy liberal-leaning headline and offer a commenting section. At the time the article was written the author states that over the past 30 days the unique visitors jumped to more than 11 million, and is the 9th most popular news site.
An excerpt from the article:
Lippmann and Dewey devoted much of the rest of their lives to addressing the problems they had diagnosed, Lippmann as the archetypal insider pundit and Dewey as the prophet of democratic education. Beyond the publication of the occasional letter to the editor, the role of the reader was defined as purely passive. The rise of what has come to be known as the conservative “counter-establishment” and, later, of media phenomena such as Rush Limbaugh, on talk radio, and Bill O’Reilly, on cable television, can be viewed in terms of a Deweyan community attempting to seize the reins of democratic authority and information from a Lippmann-like élite.

Duncan Black is quoted telling the viewers that despite the idea of a liberal myth, large ideas in the public are still not represeneted in mainstream media (such as the disapproval of the Bush campaign, etc). The rise of the internet allows liberal communities to flourish and allow for the Deweyan debate.

Alterman points out that classic newspapers spend far more on reporting than bloggers and internet news sites, and that while "real reporting, especially the investigative kind, is
expensive, they remind us. Aggregation and opinion are cheap."

Essentially, the blog world does not come close to to the seasoned expertise, and years of experience that traditional media has provided, and that internet media survives parasitically off of published newspapers. "And so we are about to enter a fractured, chaotic world of news, characterized by superior community conversation but a decidedly diminished level of first-rate journalism."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stacy Schiff Reading Review

Know it all, Can Wikipedia conquer expertise, The New Yorker, July 31 2006.

The article starts off with a humorous list of examples from Wikipedia, and gives a light comparison to Britannica Encyclopedia. Wikipedia is all inclusive and instantly updated, and receives up to 14 thousand hits per second; all things that other encyclopedias are not. The founder Jimmy Wales and 5 other employees run the non-profit organization that meets most of its budget with donations.

Free knowledge for everyone with internet access, in over 200 languages and hundreds of thousands of contributers. Wales was inspired by the open-source movement, the idea of mass knowledge being available, and the Hayek's free-market manifesto. The first version was Nupedia, which led to the idea of a wiki to promote more contributers. The wiki ended up getting so many contributers that it had over twenty thousand articles in one year, compared to the 21 of Nupedia's first year

Wales cites Van Darnton's theory that the world is new and radical, and the encyclopedia should also be radical. At first there were no guidelines for Wikipedia, but now articles must have previously published content, and hold a neutral point of view.

There is now vast community of admins, contributors, editors, robots, vandals, and moonbats in the world of Wikipedia. Sanger, a co-founder who left the company in 2002, states that Wikipedia beats every other source when it comes to breadth, efficiency, and accessibility.

Judith Bell Reading Summary

(extracted from Judith Bell, Doing your Research Project: A guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science, 4th ed, Open University Press, London, 2005)

Bell quotes Hart by stating essentially that the review of the literature is crucial to ones academic development; becoming an expert in the field. Haywood and Wragg allude to the fact that critical reviews are usually uncritical reviews... "It involves questioning assumptions, querying claims made for which no evidence has been provided, considering the findings of one researcher compared to those of others and evaluating. All researchers collect many facts, but then must select, organize and classify findings into a coherent pattern."

Theory and theoretical (or conceptual) frameworks are described by several different authors, mainly touching on key elements of the relationship between humans and social affairs, which organize and summarize empirical observations. Bell summarizes to state that "The label is not important, but the process of establishing a map or framework of how the research will be conducted and analysed is."

Bell goes on to include short extracts from successful literature reviews of both first-time researchers, and experienced researchers including Clara Nai, Gilbert Fan, and Richardson and Woodley.

Clara Nai divides her adult learning research into situational, institutional, and dispositional barriers, a method which she adopted from Cross (1981). Fan used headings in which to organize and categorize his findings regarding the decline of nursing program enrollment in Singapore:

• the decline in student enrolment in nursing education;
• curricula, types of nursing education and nursing com petencies;
• teaching and clinical supervision in nursing education programmes;
• the relationship between nursing education and the profession; and
• nursing as a career choice.

Richardson and Woodley prove to be well versed in academic reviews and use careful language to develop comprehensive connections and conclusions in their review.

Bell then reminds the reader to ask yourself whether the reviews you are reading are furniture sale catalogues or well organized accounts which are relevant to the topic.

The reading is concluded with a helpful ten point checklist for the review of literature.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Swanson Reading Summary

Graphic Design Education as a Liberal Art:
Design and Knowledge in the University and the "Real World"

This essay takes a look at how Graphic Design has been lacking an academic niche, and describes the importance of the broader incorporation of the liberal arts in applying professionalism to the field.

Design is essentially lacking in its own subject matter, and must be integrated into other disciplines in order to have meaning. In terms of education, this essay states that most programs have only prepared students for fields in design, and provide not much more than vocational training. If design teachers teach students what they learned in school, then there is a severe gap between education today and the current field of Graphic Design. The best thing is to make students adaptable to the perpetually changing field.

Design should be about meaning and how meaning is created. Design in practice, exists primarily in response to an externally generated need or situation. In essence, the lack of an academic niche has created a professional practice that is capable of bridging many fields and solving problems that encompass disciplines of all kinds.

Leedy/Ormand Reading Summary

Part I: The Fundamentals
What is Research?

A fairly straightforward approach to defining research, the author starts by describing "What Research is Not". We are then lead through a series of statements and in-depth examples to shed light on the misconceptions, and misuse of the term research. Research is not information gathering, not transportation of facts from one location to another, not rummaging for information, not a catchword used to get attention. Essentially the essence of research is the interpretation of the data.

There are certain key points in defining what research is: it originates with a question or a problem, requires clear articulation of a goal, requires a plan, divides the principal problem into subproblems, is lead by hypothesis, accepts certain critical assumptions, and requires the collection and interpretation of data in an attempt to resolve the problem that initiated the research. Most important to realize about research is that it is, by nature, cyclical.

The overarching message is that it is the organization and interpretation of data that creates valuable information in research. And although each interpretation is different - because research in inevitably subjective, it is the only way that new meaning is extracted. In doing research in a genuine way, we learn that more problems and questions arise, and that the process creates the need for more research, "such is the nature of the acquisition of knowledge."