Harry Spetnagel Final Project Proposal

  1. The question that you would like to study— How to design technology that shapes main steam culture.
  2. The method/idea that you will engage to study that question— Materiality, Action and Perception (edited from class).
  3. Your plan for the two weeks— Conduct background research on present technologies that have changed culture, and investigate why they are successful, how they were designed, and who uses them. I also want to survey people as I learn about previous technologies to see if the old research is congruent with todays culture, and see how people interact with technology.
  4. Short description of how you plan to document the work— Take images and write what I’m thinking as I go along and upload it to my blog site.

Harry Spetnagel Probe Study

  • an image and description of each of your probes— my probes were 1. Draw your childhood home, 2. A survey of how many sibling you have, and what their birth order was, and how they would be represented in shape from with playdoh, and 3. asked if they could buy anything, what it would be. 
  • an image and description of each of the responses to your probe— the responses were 1. a picture of a house, 2. the participant had 4 siblings and was the 3rd child, with a smiley face in play doh, and 3. A farm with lots of animals. 
  • an image and description of your design sketch— my design sketch was an adult tampoline this would invite a creative element into the users adult life.
  • reflect on each of the following questions:
    • Was the response to your probe what you expected? if yes, why do you think that is? if no, what was different?— yes, they responded to all of the questions. I was interested to learn that they wanted to own a farm, with lots of dogs.
    • Which of your three probes would you say was the best at revealing something about that person who completed it that you may not have otherwise learned through conversation? Why do you think so?— I think the picture of the house was the best because I was able to get good imagery of how they previewed their childhood which would have been difficult through language. 

Harry Spetnagel Material Studies

  • descriptions of your material sensors and/or actuators— I had a plastic bag, and hence I was thinking some sensors which would work well could include weight, volume, wind/water speed etc. a potential actuator could be having the bag inflate, or empty its contents.
  • a reflection on the following:
    • while experimenting with the materials and designing your sensor and actuator,  would you say the “life” or “flow” of the material ever became perceptible to you. If so, in what ways? If not, why not?—I think I realized that the “flow” and “life” of a plastic bag were much broader than I believed coming into the study. For example I viewed plastic as a disposable material, but the possibilities (ie. melting it down into something new, reusing it, adding features, etc..) made themselves pretty clear. Also because plastic originates from oil/fossil fuel, its strange to think of the life time of a plastic bag on a grand scale, where the oil used to make it once was a dinosaur/plant. weird to think about!
    • what would you say are the benefits and limitations of starting design by working with particular materials?— Benefits include being able to shape the design based on the properties of the material to make a harmonious design which works well with the material. Limitations might be creative in the sense that when starting with particular materials, every idea you have will fall into the limitations of those materials, and you may miss something clever, new, ground breaking, etc… because you are thinking within a box of perceived possibilities and not being as creative as possible.

Harry Spetnagel Perception Studies

Please submit a blog post with the following:

  • your walking algorithm (the one you wrote)— Take 20 steps forward, if you don’t run into a building or person turn around and take 15 steps, if not turn left and repeat.
  • the name of the person whose walk you performed— Laura Devendorf
  • your photos and notes form your walk—I didn’t take photos from the walk but noted that from the environmental design building the instructions to walk until obstruction and turning right worked well for our campus as I was able to navigate to the engineering center, and eventually end up inside the business school from the environmental design building.
  • your photos or description of your design sketch— my design sketch was a medical grade(comfortable/ plastic) neck brace to prevent people from using their phone while they walk.
  • a paragraph reflecting on the following:
    • what does  your design “amplify”
    • what does your design “reduce”
    • what “script” does your object suggest?— Peter-Paul Verbeek states that”According to Ihde, the transformation of perception always has a structure of amplification and reduction. Mediating technologies amplify specific aspects of reality while reducing other aspects.” My anti-phone neck brace design amplifies the wearers surroundings in that they are no longer capable of being distracted by their phone and are forced to look upright at what is happening around them. Depending on your view about phones, a pro or con is the reduction my design creates of not being connected to your phone and what is happening in the digital space around you. By looking like a medical neck brace my object design suggests that cell phone addiction could be viewed as a “disease” in society which needs medical/scientific evaluation to be addressed.

Future Product Catalog

  • An image or description of your catalog — My catalog was for Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company. There were pages for coats, jackets, tee-shirts, pants, shorts, anything that you would expect to see in a typical outdoor clothing catalog. Because it’s outdoor clothing, the advertisements were also scenic pictures of nature, people rock climbing, jogging, hiking, etc…
  • Your list of what the “near future” innovations in the domain of your catalog— Near  future innovations for clothing include the use of new, light weight materials, discrete, woven in electronic components (including biometric data sensors for heart rate, body temperature etc.), and GPS built into zippers to aid with rescue missions for lost adventurers.
  • An image of your modified catalog—
  • A paragraph reflecting of your modified catalog:
    • what issues for the future did this exercise help you think about that you hadn’t thought about previously? If none, reflect on why you think it didn’t bring those issues up.— Clothing is a pretty safe area considering that it serves a singular purpose and is limited in what it can accomplish in terms of utility. Because I designed for a utopian future I didn’t run into any issues besides trying to convey the clothing functionality without explicitly explaining what it was in my catalog redesign.
    • if you had more time, what would you do to improve your design fiction and what outcome would you desire from those improvements?— I would basically keep my design fiction as I was able to implement all my near future research.

Harry Spetnagel Subversion Exercise

  • Your list

Google,  Apple, Amazon Echo, Cell Phone/NSA, Social Media, Insurance

  • A brief description and/or photos of your 2 design sketches
  • Please compare the design sketches along the following criteria:
    1. which design do you think does a better job at creating a space for contestation and why?  —The Amazon Echo esque speaker which plays a song anytime your network activity is being monitored is better at creating a space for contestation because it brings the idea of security to light when It would otherwise be behind the scenes.
      1. who is involved in the contestation? —People Who value privacy and internet service providers.
      2. what kind of conversations/outcomes do you think could emerge from this design as opposed to the other? —The speaker design would result in people realizing how little privacy they actually have and them taking precautions to protect it. The first design was essentially private servers to host a personalized smaller version of the internet with no third parties involved, taking out a need for contestation.
    2. do you think your designs would be an effective way of provoking contestation about the issues of surveillance or do you think other types of political action would be more effective? —I think our speaker design would be effective at provoking contestation because It would literally alert the user whenever they’re privacy was in jeopardy, making it obvious what was happening regardless of the users lever of computer proficiency. In the case of internet security political action would just lead to a more regulated internet which may be counter productive.

Harry Spetnagel Misuse Studies

1. The picture of your thing

IMG_2379Traffic Light
2. A picture and/or description of your sociotechincal map

3. your design sketch

4.  a paragraph or so that answers each of the following questions:
– describe how the politics of your photographed thing is authoritarian or democratic.

Traffic lights represent aspects of both authoritarian and democratic politics. Authoritarian in that you go when they tell you to go and you stop when they tell you to stop, and If you fail to do so, law enforcement will intervene. Democratic in the sense that people appreciate that a lot of people have to go a lot of places and the traffic light system ensures that if you follow the rules and wait for other people, others will do the same for you, allowing everyone to safely reach their destination.

– how do you think the politics expressed in your photographed thing came about (e.g. were they intentionally designed that way or simply the result of deeply entrenched norms)

I believe that the politics in the design of traffic lights  was intentional to add order and safety to the road system. That being said I know there are other countries with virtually no traffic laws, or other systems such as roundabouts which accomplish a similar outcome to traffic lights, hence I believe that traffic lights in the United States are part of a deeply entrenched norm as well.
– in what way does your design sketch reveal those politics, what aspects does it make visible?

My design sketch holds a lot of ideas/bullets, but my original sketch showed two roads intersecting. Pedestrians have a cross bridge and are out of the traffic equation. One direction of cars has no traffic lights, and the opposing cars in the intersection have a stop sign, meaning that if they want to cross they have to wait for traffic to die down, or make risky maneuvers. This design reveals the authoritarian politics of order via law enforcement and democratic politics of safety via the willingness of people to share the roads through their absence. This showcases how a system without traffic lights wouldn’t distribute an equal driving experience to everyone but rather favor more aggressive or risky drivers.


Harry Spetnagel Inverting Metaphors

  1. Link to the article—–https://www.wired.com/story/youtubes-redesign-watch-all-the-videos/
  2. State the original goal and the inverted goal.—– The original goal behind changing the UX of youtube was to make watching more videos easier for the average user, hence generating more ad revenue and making Youtube as a company more profitable. The inverted goal would hence be to make watching videos so complicated that it would be easier to not watch videos than waste your effort trying to find something you want to watch.
  3. Describe your imagined technology (including pictures preferably).—– My technology would be a Youtube kiosk, where you pay to watch one random video at a time. The lack of the ability to select a video you want in combination with having a price, and having to search for a kiosk would make Youtube hugely unappealing to the average person.
  4. Write a paragraph about what assumptions this “opposite” goal makes about people and what values it places as central to the design. What experiences could you imagine this technology supporting? Did this exercise make you aware of any unconscious biases in design? Did if give you new ideas for what technology could do in daily life? Which of Sengers et al’s “Reflective Design Principles” does your technology support (if any)?—–The assumption that the opposite goal makes about people is that they value ease of use and will not use a service which requires more than a basic level of effort if a more efficient alternative exists. Hence the design behind the opposite goal is to make the service as energy extensive as possible. By making Youtube into a kiosk format the user is forced to travel to a specific location, and the random video feature and monetary charge mean that there is a high probability that you won’t watch a video you want and in turn you will have to spend an unnecessary amount of money to see something worth wile. This technology could actually create a unique public interactive video watching experience for city squares and other areas of high traffic. This exercise made me aware that a huge unconscious bias in design is ease of use and minimizing energy expenditure and mental effort from the user. My technology would support reflective design in “giving users a license to participate” and creating a more interactive and demanding Youtube experience.