As part of my work with Moey, Inc, I’ve been working with ex-NFL player Wade Davis to research football plays and passes. We are putting together two interactives for a museum in Texas as part of their upcoming high school football exhibit. I’ve hit the ground running in an effort to learn more about football basics. I’m excited about the narrative we’ve developed; it touches on both learning and doing for an audience of novices and experts.
One of my side projects of late is an iPhone app for kids that encourages and rewards experimenting with food and food combinations. We are reluctant to call it a cooking app, because it is more related to exploring, finding, and experimenting in ways kids may not be able to do in real life. The team includes myself as the Lead Interaction Designer, Jesse Lowe as the Lead Programmer, and Laurie Filiak as the Visual Designer. Just a few days ago we noticed we had not accounted for a huge part of the experience; the soundtrack. This is a new territory for me, including a Composer as part of the team. Audio for the most part is perceived as annoying on websites, and would be an experience nightmare if it was part of software design. Even for an exhibit design an audio soundtrack is rarely considered. But when it comes to handheld devices with the goal of creating a complete experience, music jumps way up in priority. Music becomes even more important when your audience is kids.
Children have the amazing knack for remembering songs, even when exposed to them in utero. Back when I was pregnant the first time around, musicologist (and my future colleague) Gideon D’Arcangelo interviewed me for his radio show Listening In: The Delivery Room . This interview explores the role of music in the delivery room, but we also spoke about playing music for babies in utero. I confessed that I exposed my daughter to more Ratatat and Blondie than she could probably stand (which serendipitously led to me spotting Deborah Harry more than once in those 9 months). Four years later, she still has an inclination for both musicians.
We are still a month out from deployment, but will certainly post more about the project once everything is complete.
The groundbreaking effort to digitize all of JFK’s speeches, papers, images, video, has launched just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the President’s inauguration. I was pleased to hear about this accomplishment yesterday, and even more pleased to be part of the design team (at ESI Design) that made it happen. Organizing the nation’s largest online digitized presidential archive has been one of the most exciting (and comprehensive) projects I’ve worked on recently. Here’s a passage from the press release:
“Until now, the national treasure of historical material housed in the Kennedy Presidential Library’s collection has been available only by a physical visit to the library itself. With the launch of the new digital archive at www.jfklibrary.org, students, teachers, researchers and members of the public now just need an internet connection to search, browse and retrieve original documents from the Kennedy Library’s collection, gaining a first-hand look into the life of President Kennedy and the issues that defined his administration. ”
From an Information Architecture standpoint, there were plenty of challenges to resolve in the design of the site. Most importantly though, we sought to make the Archive and all of the contents accessible to every type of visitor. Since the JFK Museum and Library attracts many students, scholars, and loyal enthusiasts, there was a strong need to offer the complete depth of archived material while organizing the artifacts into natural groupings.
What I find most important about this launch is the transparency that’s being offered. It feels like an unobstructed view into the Kennedy administration’s decision making process and the challenges they faced. It’s empowering to citizens to have access to this material because our current administration is faced with similar types of challenges. While putting the wireframes and documentation together, I gleaned an incredible amount of insight into that era, learning more than I had in any history class about the 60′s. Especially when I happened across the Cuban Missile Crisis documentation. There is something fascinating about the level of political detail one can find here. Nearly every single communication document, including memos with hand scrawled notes, is available for viewing. And it’s easy to become immersed by them. Particularly, there is a certain emotional charge found in the audio recordings. I love listening to them and imagining the circumstances of their urgency.
All in all, I think the site is very inspiring acts more as a window into the future than a retrospective of an Administration.
Visit the site at www.jfklibrary.org
This morning I happened upon a great coffee spot in the east Village on my way to meet Molly. The place was adorable and cozy, with raw food being the specialty of the house. After my coffee was ordered, I sat at the bar to enjoy a few quiet minutes. I started drinking my coffee and noticed a hand painted leather bound book with a white cord coming out of it. It smacked of an ITP project, but when I opened it, there was an iPad. With a nice note as well, “Free 15 minute Ipad use with a minimum of $5 purchase”.
I immediately had a hundred questions and started talking to the barista about this, asking him how this works. He said, “Basically if you buy anything, I’ll give you the password so you can use it for a while.” I asked if a lot of people used it, because I imagine it would be difficult to use this device publicly, meaning it wasn’t customized with your own apps, settings, and passwords. In fact, I’ve NEVER logged out of any of my iPad or iPhone apps. Or designed any for use on a public device (yet!). He said that a lot of people are surprised by it, but they get regular use (there are two).
He also added that it was the co-owner’s idea. I think it’s great that there’s no charge (or even a means yet to charge for public iPad use), and they are pretty laid back about people using it. It’s not a huge monitor and keyboard that takes up the whole bar like the internet cafés of years past. Very well done. Now I just have to go back to watch it in use.
I’ve been lucky enough to help with redesigning the new Ice Cream Social website. Ice Cream Social, run by my friends Mary and Jenn, is one of the freshest design shops I’ve seen in a long time. They create all sorts of gorgeously clean letterpress designs, including invitations, logos, and accessories. It’s great to collaborate with creatives who have a strong design sense and unique aesthetic. In turn, I’ve been doing tons of research on custom made stationary and invitations. It’s interesting to me that an art form as old as letterpress still reigns as the true queen. And while embellishments have been popular for a while now, they look so rich impressed on cardstock. This definitely leaves those of us digitally inclined with something to consider.
Stay tuned for the new design of icecreamsocial.com in the coming months, but for now here’s some sampling of their work:
It’s finally here! A few months back I had an idea that might get my three year old to stay in bed in the morning, and to go to bed consistently at night. This idea was prototyped out by myself and the talented Jeff Gray using an Arduino Teensy, RGB LED, an Ikea Fado light, and a prototype desktop application to customize settings. I tried out the light on my own “Early Bird”, and it worked with great success. My family watches the light transition from pink to blue at 8pm every night. So we decided to make the light real and have it prototyped by a factory that specializes in LED lighting. We’ve decided to produce a very limited run of the Early Bird Light, and will be announcing the product very soon. It’s made of solid aluminum and an etched glass globe. The software allows you to customize night time, morning time, and nap time, and your little one can help select the color for each time period. A full RGB spectrum is available to choose from. And the software is super easy to use and very cute. Here’s a sneak peek!
Education Nation went up a few weeks ago, but I was too busy wrapping up other projects to post about it! Education projects are always fun to work not just because I support the cause, but because the goal is to open up the visitor’s natural curiosity to explore. That’s just what these books did; allowed visitor’s to Rockefeller Center to explore the seven different types of learning. As a designer, this was a great project because the start and end time was a matter of weeks, and I was able to then go onsite and observe how people interacted with the books. So much fun.
Here’s a video of Bloomberg talking about the larger mission of Education Nation, which is to reform the education system.
The Energy Lab is up and running! It was great to be part of this project.
Here’s a blurb directly from the National Guard site, where you can also find more information about this very cool initiative.
Learning is best when it’s a hands-on experience. With this idea in mind, we’ve created The Energy Lab to bring the world of math and science to life for 11th- and 12th-grade students. The Energy Lab will house a 24-seat on-board theater and four cutting-edge experiences—representing the elements of Earth, Water, Wind and Fire—designed to expose students to math and science concepts, using the platform of energy and the environment, and fuel their curiosity through hi-tech, competitive interactions.
Along with using captivating experiences to teach students about math and science, The Energy Lab also reinforces the importance of staying in school and earning a diploma, while demonstrating new career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields. The Energy Lab will act as an innovative resource to schools and teachers nationwide through direct contact with students, an online web portal, and a national math and science contest.
Happy New Year! As much as I enjoyed 2009, toward the end it began looking like we needed a little bit more love around us. Since it wasn’t known for sure if this need for love was something only I felt or a cultural phenomenon, it only seemed right to track the frequency in which the term “love” is used. The Love Lights offer an ambient snapshot of how much love is passing through a few corners of the world at any given second. When love is expressed in one five different languages; swedish (kärlek), english (love), indonesian (mencintai), greek (αγάπη), and norwegian (elsker), a light will pulse on. The Love Lights are built off sentiments publicly divulged through Twitter, which has nearly 50 million users worldwide. I’ve been noticing that the lights for the non-english words stagger on as the day goes by, and are most active late at night. English, of course being the dominating language of Twitter, remains fairly consistent.
The Love Lights are made from LEDs, copper tubing, handblown glass bulbs, beeswax, and electronic components. Each bulb is etched with the word kärlek, love, mencintai, αγάπη, or elsker and then dipped in beeswax to give the light a natural quality. 15 x 9 x 21 inches. The only requirements to get the lights up and running are an ethernet (cable) connection and a power source.
The Love Lights are one of four light pieces I’ve created over the past year. Each one is made from similar materials with a different concept, such as the Belief Loop and War Lights. As an artist, it’s important to me that traditional electronic components are not the dictating aesthetic. Electrical parts like LEDs, wire, and pcb board are just a few of the tools needed to create these pieces. What is more important is how they reflect the human sentiments that go into making them work.
Contact me if you have any questions or are just curious about how it works. Many thanks to Jeff Gray for technical support.
As archives are increasingly digitised, so their collections
become available as rich, and very large, datasets. Individual records
in these datasets are readily accessible through search interfaces,
such as those the Archives already provides. However it is more
difficult to gain any wider sense of these cultural datasets, due to
their sheer scale. Conventional text-based displays are unable to offer
us any overall impression of the millions of items contained in modern
collections such as the National Archives. Searching the collection is
something like wandering through narrow paths in a forest: what we need
is a map.
This proposal is to research and develop techniques
for visualising, or mapping, archival collections in a way that
supports their management, administration and use. The specific aim is
to develop techniques for revealing context: the patterns, high-level structures and connections
between items in a collection.
practical outcomes of the project will be prototype interactive,
browsable maps of the National Archives collection that apply these
techniques at different structural levels:
- A map of the
whole collection, at Series level, will show the “big picture”: the
size, scope and historical distribution of different series, the
relations between series, and their corresponding Agencies and
- A more detailed map will focus, as a test case, on
a single series (A1), accumulating data from individual records to
reveal the distinctive “shape” of that series.
The issue of navigating large digital collections is current and significant; interestingly some
prominent American researchers have recently announced
a broadly related project. This project is highly innovative; by
supporting it, the Archives would take a leading position in the field.
The project would be extensively documented and well disseminated,
drawing an international audience.
prototype browsable map showing the structure of the whole National
Archives collection at a Series level, including the relationships
between Series, collecting and controlling Agencies, and functions.
- A prototype map of a single series, linking to and contextualising individual items in the series.
- A set of sketches: static and dynamic visualisations that demonstrate a range of different approaches.
set of techniques and approaches for creating interactive maps of
archival datasets. These will be applicable across the archives sector,
and among other institutions dealing with digital collections.
- Documentation and dissemination of the project to an international audience.