To facilitate communication between grandparents and grandchildren through activities

I am working on a project with a team of 4 people for Microsoft imagine cup and theme for this year is “World Citizenship”. We have to design a solution that makes a positive contribution to the betterment of humanity. We narrowed on a problem space to share and transfer family cultures and values between older generations (grandparents) and younger generations (grandchildren) situated remotely across the globe.

The idea is build the lost communication channels which ones exists due to globalization phenomenon. To start with the age groups of people we are going to study is grandparents whose age ranges between 60 – 75 yrs and grandchildren whose age ranges between 8 – 14 yrs.

Three primary predispositions to start with are:
– Older people have experience to share.
– Sharing information which once existed between older and younger generation is now lost.
– There is technology, cultural gap between generations.

To mediate any interaction between grandparent and grandchildren, one has to have a common ground to start any discussion. Grandparent like to share ideas, knowledge and young kids have less attention span to listen to grandparent partly due to the irrelevance of the topic to the current situation the kids living in. Establishing a common ground, by providing information of the kids through various channels in education, medical and social dimension.

Any comments, ideas and suggestions are welcome.

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Continuum Fingerboard

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Description:
Continuum fingerboard is a music performance controller. The controller has touch sensitive playing surface, sensors placed underneath the playing surface respond to finger position and pressure. The layout of the controller is similar to MIDI –keyboard, the difference being sustain and expression pedals are embedded in the playing surface (Sustain and expression pedals are functions used to enhance music note pitch and sound duration). The use of this instrument is not just only creating music, but to synthesis new sounds, explore sounds patterns in the performance environment.

Classification:
The music produced from the controller is contemporary, but given the wide range features in MIDI, one can easily produce old-fashioned music. Unlike any other electronic device, continuum fingerboard requires extensive practice to master. For any amateur musicians its difficult to get hold of this instrument and to control at first, the range of sound experiences it creates is almost limitless compared to almost any other instrument, acoustic or electric.  Often it’s tough to classify which genre does this music instrument falls, is it a craft based or physics based instrument.

Contextualization:
The instrument follows the principles of music and physics. Unlike other MIDI instruments, where one creates sound, pitch and volume, the continuum presents sound itself as a continuous medium. Due to wide range of sounds it creates, continuum fingerboard is popular amongst avant-garde musicians. Progressive rock has adopted the continuum as a way to express one’s self in a limitless way.

Why this site works?

I thought of writing few insights on websites and what makes a website more engaging with users? For this purpose I have chosen a website idlebrain.com and the first thing comes to our mind, does this website works? Does it serve the purpose, which it is intended for?

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http://idlebrain.com/
Background: The site primarily targeted to movie buffs of telugu speaking people (telugu is one of the regional language in India). It provides content related to latest news, hot gossips, interviews, latest movie reviews from telugu movie industry.

Web stats:
– Has more number of visitors visiting then blizzard.com
– Has a higher Alexia ranking the Indiana University.

I know these comparison are baseless, I have provided them only to prove why one should do a critical analysis of this website. What does it take to work on these websites? How such are sites designed? Do they have a secrete recipe (heuristics) to engage interactions with the users? How can these products sustain for a decade with the constant evolving web world? Although, there are clean and usable websites, which fall in the same category as idlebrain.com, for some reasons even today it stands out leaving unanswered question, why do people visit these websites? Don’t they get annoyed to see these websites after engaging with a highly usable (user experience) websites like Twitter, Facebook etc.?

Most of the users religiously visit and follow this website for the information it provides. This is definitely perfect example where usability takes back seat and functionality/usage takes the front one. For the users, change is unacceptable and unanticipated and the website administrators never experimented to change or revamp the site. User accept the website to be part of their external system (cognition), they just know where to find things like review, latest updates, interviews and photo galleries in this website. If someone tries to change the layout or hierarchy, it leads to chaos in the user interactions. As designers, how can we address and cater the future needs of the users, who doesn’t anticipate changes?  How to build mental model of user experiences while revamping such websites?

Few things I have learned from this websites, users don’t look for usable artifacts and they appreciate the fact being different. Clearly usability heuristics fails in this scenarios, unique users are visiting the site regularly and able to sustain engaging interactions with the website for longer periods, years in this case.

Designer at corporate world

Inspired from today’s class reading on “The Designer” by Lowgren and Stolterman, I thought of sharing my views and experience in design field.

Today’s designer may end up in a corporate world rendering their services for design as a service model or involve in product life cycle. Each of these works demands different set of attributes and qualities. Use oriented qualities such as structural, functional, ethical and aesthetic described by author [page 2,3] varies in these work types.

Design of structural qualities demands knowledge of technology and material.
Design of functional qualities demands knowledge of technology use.
Design of ethical qualities demands knowledge of relevant values and ideals.
Design of aesthetic qualities demands an ability to appreciate and compose.

For example, designer working in a design as a service model end up working on a project for week or month, thus designer working in such situations is more likely to develop structural and aesthetic qualities than others. At times its difficult understand the ethical attribute, as designers are more focused to make efficient and usable products from user point than what business wants. The scenario is different, when a designer works in a product life cycle, one develops a balance between these qualities to create usable products.

Creative v/s analytical
As author rightly said often creative and analytical abilities are often looked upon as an opposite side. A more creative person is considered as an artist and more analytical one considered as geek. Where does designer stand here? Designer should strike a balance between these abilities to create compelling designs.

 As a designer, it is never possible to be strictly creative or strictly analytical. There are no situations during the design process that require only one of these abilities. A design process is about being creative and analytical at the same time, more or less all of the time.

Again in a Design as a service model, a designer is more looked upon as a “problem fixer ” the ability to analysis the problem critically and provide solutions within the technology constraint is more valued than providing creative solutions. Similarly, in a product company, designer have to planned their strategy to release the products based on user reactions. You have to account how users in the eco-system react make design changes than just able to provide solutions, which are efficient.

Lamarque authors reading and my views

The reading was difficult for me understand and digest most of it. Through out my life I was more exposed to scientific type of reading then a literature based.

In the first section of the readings, the author gives an overview on the new criticism, which developed in 1930s and 1940s.  Explains in details by illustrating Shelley and Wordsworth poetry. I would have to love to see some examples of eastern countries poetry, since the eastern countries poetry is more focused on the freedom struggle not reflecting upon personal taste and passions.

One question, which struck my mind, while reading first and second section. How can we evaluate or do criticize music notations created by the great music greats. Although these notes are different form of literature, it personifies ones expression, style, kind of influence from the society is living on. I would like to see authors take on this.

For the most part of the reading, I tried thinking and conceptualizing on how can I relate it to design practice. How can we map concepts of biographer, autobiographer and critic explained in the reading to design? I tried relating drawing parallels between autobiographer and designer who creates a new gadget or artifact, and biographer is more like designer who develops variants of gadget or artifact created by other designer and lastly, a critic is also a designer by constantly changing the designs by evaluating through different lenses.

Indian truck Designs

Have you seen decorated Indian trucks with extravagant showy graffiti?

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I always wonder why one decorate their trucks?  What does it mean to them to decorate?

In an attempt to get few answers, I tried drawing few parallels from Carroll’s reading. First, to start with, let me describe what exactly the pic is.  The pic illustrates a decorated truck, which is usually seen in northern parts of India. Truck painting and decorating has emerged as a vibrant form of folk art in India. These “painted ladies” of the Indian highways have captured the imagination of many people on the highways.

From the critique point, I tried evaluating the picture.

Description:
Although truck is a gender neutral, based on the color choices, elements used in decoration and shape/form of the truck are critical to associating a gender to truck. The truck shown in the above picture is regarded is feminine. Many trucks are also referred to as sons (beta), daughers (beti), tigresses (shernee), male brats (ladla) or female brats (laadli).

Classification:
Truckers stay away from their families and wife’s for long time that they begin to see and treat their trucks like their wives. To personify truck as a wife they decorate with many elements such as flowers, beads, and paintings with human features. The act if decorating represents the husband’s devotion and love for her.

Contextualization:
One can associate truck to a workplace environment or could be a possible domestic environment given the fact that most of the truckers end-up driving for long durations. Trucks in Indian context symbolizes many things, it represents status, prosperity and an extended family member.

Interpretation:
People like to show things and take pride in doing so, truckers try to exhibit their pride, social status in the form of decoration. Before a start of any long journey, truckers start worshiping the trucks for their safe journey that’s why trucks more often have charms and religious symbols in the form of OM signs to swastikas to Indian god figures.