Response to “A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design” + “A follow-up article”

The author’s main gripe in his rant is that instead of focusing on how we can further revolutionize what he we already have (touchscreen technology) we choose to instead focus on making small increments on the technology we already have. While the author appreciates the technological advancement that it took for us to get where we are today, he also has a problem with how touchscreen technology limits the usage of our body to full capacity that it can be used. I thought that this point hearkened back to one of our earliest class discussions of what interactivity truly means – we thought about how engaged one needed to be for something to be truly interactive, and to a certain extent, that is the point that the author makes as well. He wants us to research and focus on revolutionary technology that will engage us in all the ways we can.

In terms of my IM projects, thinking about how less of the body touchscreen technology uses is helpful because it expands my conception of what I can do with my projects. My last project involved just one single finger, but this blog post has definitely stirred me to think about how I could have engaged more of the human body in my project.

In the follow-up to this blog post, the author fends off the questions and criticisms directed his way after he published the original post. In this post, he clarifies that he did not mean to devalue touchscreen technology, and that he didn’t claim to offer any real solutions. However, that seemed like somewhat of a cop-out to me. I understand that the author simply wanted to bring to our attention a new way of thinking, but surely he couldn’t have assumed that nobody else was thinking in the same direction as him. In fact, with his background in future interfaces, I would have expected more of a focused direction to his thoughts.

Even so, it was an interesting read. I agree that we can and should look beyond the touchscreen, and I definitely like the idea of really engaging with the human body. I wish that the blog post had been a little more specific, if not in the exact solutions, then at least in the ways that the author thought we could start developing such research. However, I concede that this was simply a rant on a personal blog, and to expect from this post an academic, researched essay is a little far-fetched.


Reading Response to “The Design of Everyday Things” and “Emotion and Design”

“The Design of Everyday Things”:

More than anything else, this reading caused a shift in my perspective of design and responsibility. For two decades, I have been bumping into things and using machines wrong and calling myself clumsy — the idea that not all of it was my fault is almost revolutionary. As a consumer, I feel as though I have been conditioned to believe that it is my job to keep up with technology because these new machines are, after all, making things easier for me. This reading, however, made me think that perhaps more responsibility should be assumed by designers. I also really like the author’s section on affordances, anti-affordances and signifiers. He writes in an engaging manner, making sure that his arguments are backed up with enough examples to make his meaning clear.   In general, the author made some thought-provoking arguments that he then supported with examples and evidence. One more thing that works in favor of this reading is its relatability – his opening section on doors got me hooked and kept me reading.

“Emotion and Design: Attractive Things Work Better”:

The author makes the argument that attractiveness plays a larger role in designs that we might have initially imagined. Adding to his previous argument about usability of designs, he states that ugly designs are in fact much harder to use. He emphasizes that there needs to be a balance between usability and attractiveness. He gives the example of products made for low-stress situation that focus more on being pretty and relaxing, which then work better. This example was a little confusing, however, because his idea behind differentiating a high-stress product from a low-stress one was a little unclear. I assumed that he wants more attractive products to be made for high-stress situations, which would then help people relax and handle the situation better. But I could be wrong — the writing is not detailed enough to provide a full explanation.

Assignment 2: Get the Greenie!

For this assignment, we had to come up with a project that combined multiple digital inputs and outputs. Once I fully understood the prompt, I brainstormed ideas and decided that I wanted to try and make something that was at least game-like, if not an actual game.

Before I landed on the idea of Get the Greenie, I was thinking about  a switch that would power a combination of light sequences, or a chain reaction where one switch would lead to a light turning on to something else (maybe a motor that would then lead to something else). However, this was so complicated that I couldn’t even draw a rough diagram of it. After some more thinking, I decided to make an arcade-inspired game.

Rules of the game:

To start the game, the player presses the green button. The green button makes the red, yellow and green lights blink one after another. The player’s goal is to press the red button in the exact moment that the green light flashes – if successful, the blue LED lights up and the game ends.

I also have a Level 2 for the game, where the lights flash quicker. I couldn’t figure out how to integrate this part into the same code though, so for now it is simply another file of code that I upload separately.

The code I used:

As soon as I started making the project, I realised that I would need help coding it. Because of my lack of background in coding, I asked the TA Nahil to help me out, and she was very helpful. This was the code:

int switchState = 2;
int switchState2 = 8;
int switchState3 = 11;
bool gameon;
bool greenon;
bool gameonnextlevel;
void setup()

 gameon = false;
 greenon = false;
 pinMode(8, INPUT);
 pinMode(2, INPUT);
 pinMode(11, INPUT);
 pinMode(3, OUTPUT);
 pinMode(4, OUTPUT);
 pinMode(5, OUTPUT);
 pinMode(6, OUTPUT);

 digitalWrite(3, LOW);

 digitalWrite(4, LOW);
 digitalWrite(5, LOW);
 digitalWrite(6, LOW);

void loop()
 switchState = digitalRead(2);
 switchState2 = digitalRead(8);
 switchState3 = digitalRead(11);

 if(switchState == HIGH)
 gameon = true;

 if(gameon == true)
 digitalWrite(3, HIGH); 
 digitalWrite(3, LOW);
 digitalWrite(4, HIGH);
 greenon = true;
 if (switchState2 == HIGH) {
 gameon = false;
 if (greenon == true) {
 digitalWrite(6, HIGH);
 else {
 digitalWrite(6, LOW);
 digitalWrite(4, LOW);
 greenon = false;
 digitalWrite(5, HIGH); 
 digitalWrite(5, LOW);
 digitalWrite(3, LOW);
 digitalWrite(4, LOW);
 digitalWrite(5, LOW);

Since I didn’t yet know how to use the “millis” function, I had to code this project with booleans and “if” statements. This, however, meant that the blue light would only show up if the button was pressed right at the moment that the green light lights up. According to what I understand, I could have used “millis” to code this in a way that would allow the blue light to shine throughout the time that the green light was lit. However, this current version of the game is much harder!

The Circuit Process:

The project went through a lot of stages before it arrived at where it is currently. I wasn’t initially sure where to place the second switch, and once the whole circuit was done on the breadboard from our kit, I realized it was too clogged up and needed a bigger space – so i transferred the circuits on to a bigger breadboard.

With the very first circuit I set up, this is how it looked:

There was  also a phase when I simply couldn’t get the blue light to work the way I wanted:

But it all worked out in the end, and my project now functions as a game (albeit with its oddities)!

The Game:

Here is how it functions!

This is me playing level 1:


This is Luize playing level 2:

The Future:

There are a couple things I would like to do with the project once I have learnt how to do them:

  • Incorporate the “millis” function so the timings can be set exactly the way I want them to be (for example, the three lights could go off as soon as the blue light lights up, something I wasn’t able to do this time).
  • Find out how to sequence the LEDs so that they flash in a random sequence, making it harder for a person to get the greenie!
  • Incorporate a reset button.

Response to “A Jump to Universality” and “The Art of Interactive Design”

Response to “A Jump to Universality”:

This reading is a fascinating explanation of why and how certain systems have become universal in our world. As a student of Mandarin, I was very interested in the author’s piece on language systems. I thoroughly enjoy learning the Mandarin script and love contrasting it with the other scripts that I am familiar with, but I have always wondered if someday Mandarin will make the switch to an alphabet-based system, and why it hasn’t yet.

The point that the author makes about universality as a result of the shift from a system that merely hosts vocabulary to one that enables creation of more vocabulary was also particularly interesting to me. Mandarin is constantly welcoming new words into its vocabulary, words influenced by global culture and references that have formed a subset of their own: these words are neither foreign nor fully Mandarin. What’s interesting is that these words are formed on the basis of sound syllables rather than pictorial meaning. This transliteration has its drawbacks, but perhaps this is Mandarin’s attempt to make a non-universal system partly universal.

(Here’s a blog post about transliteration in Mandarin– it’s quite interesting to think about in terms of universality.)

Another aspect of the piece that stuck out to me: “It is as though everyone in the ancient world was avoiding universality on purpose.” It is so mind-boggling that some of our most universal systems today were never meant to be that way. What are we neglecting or rejecting at this very moment that may someday go on to become universal? The question is exciting, but we may never be able to answer it.


Response to “The Art of Interactive Design”:

“The Art of Interactive Design” offers an extremely interesting perspective on what should truly be considered interactivity. The author points out three aspects that are important to ascertain whether a design is truly interactive or not: listening, thinking, speaking. Based on how well a design is able to perform these three things, it can be deemed interactive (or not).

In terms of design, I definitely think that this definition pushes us to be more creative and think more deeply about the “interactive” part of our media. By creating a difference between reaction and interaction, the piece does a good job of encouraging readers to not settle for a refrigerator-style model of interactivity, instead giving us three parameters from which to think more deeply about design interactivity.

That said, I’m not fully sure where I  stand with regard to his actual definition. Especially in the context of our discussion about Siri in the classroom, it feels as though the scope of the definition is simultaneously too broad and too narrow: it allows us to interpret Siri as both highly interactive and not interactive at all. The definition may work as a tool to aim for a deeper analysis of interactivity, but as an actual measure of interactivity by itself, it is just a little confusing.



Observation Assignment: IKEA Lamp

This evening, as I was sitting down to finish my readings, my roommates burst into the room, back from IKEA with some cushions, bedsheets and a lamp. People putting together IKEA products has always been fun to watch, and today I observed my roommate as she fixed up her straightforward-looking lamp.

I thought it would take her five minutes to get the lamp up and running. It had about four or five different parts that needed to be put together, and the product came with an illustrated manual. Surprisingly, she refused to look at the manual, because the illustrations only stressed her out instead of helping her make the process easier.

She put together a couple of parts, and then had a friend help her put the rest of it together. The friend used the manual, but still had a couple of problems – he realized that one of the parts had been screwed on backwards, so they had to redo the procedure after fixing that mistake. The lamp is now done, and is emanating a gentle light as I type this post.

What really struck me about the interaction was how difficult it looked. Even though the entire procedure took only about 20 minutes, it still turned out a lot harder than I had expected it to be. It made me think about how we design products and whom we design them for. What is the point of a manual and how can it be more efficient? Is a design really successful if the average layperson cannot put a product together right away? Is there a way in which we approach our education that makes us neglect common sense and common physical skills?

The interaction within itself was interesting, but I am also interested in the questions that it made me ask. They are worth considering in the context of an IM class, and I hope to explore them further as I create more things in this class.

Response to “There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings”

30 January 2017

Response 1

Kenn Amdahl’s “There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings” is a perfect read for anybody who thinks that they are not interested in electricity. Early on in the book, he makes a point about jargon and how it makes rather simple concepts seem as though they are hard to understand for the common person. In this book, Amdahl eliminates most jargon, explaining to the readers the theories and models surrounding modern electricity studies in a simple, succint and humorous manner.

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Switch Project: The Hat Switch

30 January 2017

Assignment 1

Creative Switch: The Hat Switch

In this project, we had to come up with a circuit with a switch that was creative and, most importantly, hands-free! Before thinking about what kind of a switch I wanted to make, I decided that I had to first fully understand what a switch was and how it worked. I had a vague idea of what it was, and some leftover high school terminology was floating around in my head, but I had to read the ITP document on switches to really understand how I could make one of my own. It made the rest of the project a lot easier.

Inspired by the mustache switch, I decided that I wanted to make things light up based on the movement of my head. So I decided to create a hat switch: when I swung right, the yellow light lit up, and when I swung left, the blue one lit up. Here’s the hat I used:

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