Monthly Archives: March 2012

a little pissed

i am so angry right now

a fairly lengthy post i was just working on just totally slipped away and is lost in the ether thanks to posterous

at a point where i was almost entirely done with a new post about the web design class i’m teaching out at Brookline Adult and Community Education posterous suddenly refreshed and brought me out to the sign in screen, asking me to sign into the site as if i were never in the Create a Post screen

only an hour wasted, but it just feels futile and empty, really ridiculous that in the year 2012 posterous { or at this point now, Twitter } can’t figure this simple shit out

its totally annoying

and from Day 1 of getting involved in this more digital aspect of visual expression i think i’ve realized the rather robotic limitations of these mediatypes — the rather purely mathematical and super uncool potential of the technologies we trust to help us articulate and express ourselves in a more efficient and empowering way

at moments like this i retrospectively reflect and think its all bullshit

why isn’t this stuff as cool as Star Trek yet? 

its 2012 people

why can’t posterous just save a fucking draft before totally shitting my time away?

is that really too much to ask? 

i should’ve thought ahead and copy-pasted all my hard work and typings into a Pages file or something, i’m sure, because even in 2012 we need to compensate for our lameass technologies and pretend like it all hangs together in a smooth and accommodating manner — but let’s face it folks:

its not true

we PRETEND like this shit works so nicely — people constantly work these systems in total denial that we’re all fumbling and live-testing every single technology we’ve invented on a daily basis

here’s what i’m asking you to do for me as a reader of these posterous passages here — put on a little play-pretend persona hat for me, suddenly become acutely aware of every microinteraction you have with your devices and the web and just be happily observant of everything you do on a daily basis to get everything to work correctly:

  • watch how you need to repeat swipes on your phone before the follow-up animation indicates you’re onto the next step;
  • see how long you’re standing there, waiting for the supposedly automagic liquidfoam soap-squirter to actually moneyshot deliver a blast of bubbly whiteness into the palm of your hand in one of these semi-haunted public restroom nightmare scenarios;
  • create a post here on posterous and watch as all your hard work and minutes dematerialize into nothingness when the system autorefreshes without even giving you the courtesy to copy-paste your thoughts prior to this systems-based power of deletion

i know its not intentional, these little faux pas of user experience — but jeez, add ’em all up at the end of the day and its a fucking miracle any of the stuff we do during the day happens at all — and in fact, on certain days it can feel like some sort of cyberSurreal and fully automated magical self-terroristic attack of our machines to the very psyche and general health of humankind

its machine-on-man violence, i tellya

forget about this HCI stuff, this Human Computer Interaction — the whole system is still inconveniently reversed in 2012 and we have a flip paradigm existence of machine-driven processes { still }

its a little different than systems-centered design, i think { although that’s what’s secretly underneath it all }

the technology becomes our special new pair of red shoes, and now its up to us to just keep dancing and dancing and dancing and dancing

its all good though

i got this one

we’ll fix this shit

here’s the first step, the whole ‘when posterous hands you lemons …’ kinda bullshit

i just squeezed this post out of my own unfortunate circumstances

my original post is lost

here’s the beginning of something bigger

welcome to 2012, the day we really dig in and start to make the world a LOT more user-centered using cyberSurreal forensic investigation of these ‘machines gone wild’ as the very backbone to sticking it back to The Man — or no, wait a minute, not back to The Man, sticking it back to The Machine

on Bataille

 { and other near-future writing project works }


a week ago Carol, Maceo and i were out on Moody Street in Waltham, catching up on some amazing work out at The National Poster Retrospecticus at Lincoln Arts Project — just phenomenal visual design work in the tradition of the handmade rock poster, i highly recommend it

we sort of naturally wandered into the next store space which just so happened to be this cool, independent bookstore called Back Pages — a nice display on Steampunk artwork up at the front of the store, nice jazzy music in the backdrop — it was nice to find a real bookstore again, no nooks, no toys, just shelves and shelves of books with no promise of there being ‘everything under the sun’ in their inventory

anyhow, i picked up 2 books of interest — Slavov Žižek‘s ‘iraq: the borrowed kettle’ and the book ‘Georges Bataille’ by Michael Richardson

at first i thought, ‘huh, super hard to believe that Cosmo Kramer wrote a scholarly tome on this edgy, semi-Surrealist philosopher and fiction writer, really interesting’ but then i realized the author wasn’t Michael Richards, its Michael Richardson

anyhow, i think i want to write something about Georges Bataille eventually — this will be the preliminary research, this little book from Back Pages { thank you }, that and reading ‘Story of the Eye’ by Lord Auch about 5 times in the course of my lifetime — reading the introductory chapters to the Richardson examination of Bataille’s life, work and thought rings a lot of bells with similar thinking i’ve had over the last decade and a theme of ‘interdependence’ might be nice to elaborate on

according to Richardson, Bataille believed that ‘being can never be dissociated from social circumstance’ — in not so many words, that we all need to recognize and live within the greater cosmos, to realize our effect on the universe and likewise the effect of the universe on the individual

individual and the system — the system in this case being the universe, or the more social integration of the individual into the technohumanic ecosystem of other people and the environment, both the natural environment and the one we create for ourselves through development of: new tools; new thoughts and concepts; new self-reinventions of the individual and this cyberSurreal ‘system’ that keeps evovling

at this point in time i think we’ve lost all control — the ideas seem to invent themselves at times, right? or rather, once a new tool is created and released into the mediastream layer of existence the evolution of that tool is either implied or almost automagically invented and released

another topic that comes to mind, and perhaps this is an extension from my DMI thesis ‘confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy,’ would be to simply expound upon the concept merely implied by this rather confounding subtitle — i want to talk about using performance art, humor, user experience design and usbaility research practice as a form of activism, as, i guess, a means of social force to test and redesign a more optimal ‘experience’ of the world for real people — i never got to that point in my thesis book, at least i never got to clearly express this concept behind using persona play acting in an active way in real world settings as a way to discover areas of unintended usage in the found systems of the world — or if i clearly articulated on this concept, i don’t think i got to zoom in and focus on just this concept for all that long in the writing and project work

flying back from Valley Forge yesterday i bumped across this passage in ‘Storyteling for User Experience’ by Whitney Queensbury and Kevin Brooks:

‘Anthropologists talk about contextual observation as a way of making the familiar strange and the strange familiar’ 

i see a lot of these flip paradigms subconsciously surfacing in my work, and specifically in my more performative play investigations and in my curatorial endeavors — for instance, for ‘Provocative Objects: the extradition,’ the original call for work, as lifted directly from the website, says:

We are looking for pieces that instigate the viewer-participant-gallerygoer or blur the line and leave the audience wondering. Physical traditional art objects — dynamic prototypes — video, performative and conceptual work — we’re looking to collect an eclectic body of work to provoke viewer-participant exploration, thought, discussion and interaction. There will be a vaguely-defined ‘stageSpace’ for certain event-related ‘performances’ throughout the evening as well as numerous ‘objects’ or installations.

we made it seem like we were simply looking for ‘provocative work’ for the show, or at least that was the almost overt implication — but, i think my theory behind the show was to put together an amazing gallery exhibit that inclusively involved any and every mediatype — all the works you might find along the continuum of creative human expression — and to set up an eclectic body of work in a traditional ‘white box’ gallery space, mix the social factions together, these wonderful little cliques of musicians, artists, poets, performance artists and others, and sociologically see ‘what happens’

the exhibit-event was actually more about the artists and gallerygoers being the quote-unquote ‘provocative objects’

it is my belief that we are the most provocative and unpredicatable creative medium — flesh and blood and feeling — this is why, time and time again, i return to performance art as my primary form of personal expression — and this is why almost everything i do, as i have come to realize, comes from this fundamental core practice of using my own body, my own mind, my own movement and momentary experiential thought as the primary focus of my life’s work — this is how i empathically design through contextual consideration, through imagination, through performance or through imagining my own performance { as myself or as someone else } of a set of activities, tasks, goals, etcetera — it is how i participate and contribute to the world i live in and ultimately to the greater good of a collective conscious life in the world — life, our ultimate time-based medium

getting your toes wet


thursday started the veryFirst week of my Introduction to Web Design class out at Brookline Adult and Community Education — i think this one’s gonna be fun, and here’s why:

i have 6 students; the facilities at Brookline Access Television are phenomenal; i’m not expecting to be able to teach every single little thing about web { that is — i’m imposing certain limitations on purpose to cover the core and allow 2 passes through the course material }; i got to build the syllabus based upon previous web and interaction design classes i’ve taught out at MassArtUMass LowellSMFA and ArtScience Prize { formerly Cloud Foundation }; i’m basing what and how i teach it on courses i’ve taught and courses i’ve taken; i’m allowing myself to be totally me — plenty of room for improvisation and various asides

i really want to talk with DMI colleagues Alison KotinColin Owens and Martha Rettig about teaching web design — just get their take on what’s worked, what doesn’t work and what might be the optimal set up to be able to not only walk through the essence of web design but to also make it fun, memorable and inspiring for each and every student in the class — like myself, they’ve all taught design courses that involved some technical coding component and i definitely think there’s probably some ways to strategize and build a philosophy around how to make the material sing for the students

my personal ( and still somewhat vague ) theory goes something like this:

  • you need to limit the number of students — 6 actually seems pretty optimal, you can establish a rapport and really get to know each other and deliver the coursework in more customizable chunks depending on the chemistry in the classroom
  • some basic prerequisites might make sense — just a little bit of Photoshop 101 please and maybe some initial forays into the realm of coding attempts out of sheer personal curiosity on the part of each student — maybe they’ve tried a bit and backed out, not quite understanding what might not be currently working — or maybe they’ve blogged a bit and started to format text and set up hyperlinks using a few simple HTML tags and CSS styles
  • the organization you’re teaching for needs to be flexible enough to allow for an improvisational approach and they need to trust you to a fault — any gripey complaints to the administration from students need to be addressed in a way that doesn’t try to change the way i’m doing stuff up in the classroom — you don’t like the way i’m teaching, well, you come up and teach the class — or better yet, set up a better interview process, don’t throw me off my game
  • classes should be hybrid and leverage the live classroom session and online technology to properly get students passing files back and forth and asking questions — i hope they’re both excited about how much they’re learning but also coming to me with a million questions about why this or that isn’t working or what other possiblities might be available to incorporate in their coursework
  • drawing should be part of every single web design curriculum — before anyone even clicks on the green Dreamweaver icon i think its absolutely vital that students do proper design thinking exercises on real napkins with crayons, markers, pencils and pen — i still find it difficult to get students to take this part of the design process seriously, but its an absolute must, its just so much quicker to work through all the good and bad ideas, all the flows and deadends, with hand-drawn thumbnails, storyboards and conceptual diagrams
  • design needs to be part of web design, too — all too often we teach the digital tools of web design and how to find specific tools in the interface of each onscreen applications — design is more than Photoshop and web design is definitely more than learning the code — the basic theoretical tenets of design need to come into play with examples of both good and bad design specific to the web — a little theory in each class session goes a long way — at a certain point, even, i feel the instructor needs to take on the role of CD and crit the work in a way to provide vital direction that the student should take no matter what ( if there are any issues with this more mentorly way of teaching web design, students can always just save a version of what they’re working on, its not like they need to abandon their original direction or ideas, and, in fact, having the 2 versions might be helpful for both instructor and student for reflection and assessment at the end of the class run )  
  • the technology ‘set up’ for the learning environment needs to be good enough to feel invisible — all too often i am put in a classroom scenario where the systems and space are good enough to present and to allow students to use Dreamweaver or Photoshop at their desk, but not quite good enough for the instrucor to lead an adequate group critique session — crit is vital, and this broken set up gets in the way of actual learning in the classroom setting — its important, as the teacher, to be able to summon forth the right amount of technology and then tuck it away for those more community-, social- and human-based portions of the learning experience — once again, providing the tools ( computers and applications ) alone does not an optimized web design course maketh ( either Yoda or Shakespeare is known for that one )
  • web design is best learned in a renegade style or format — the overall setting needs to feel a lot less academic than a traditional college can provide — think lab or workshop, maybe a place where people can work on their own for a bit and then get up to move around and form little groups for guerilla testing and feedback microsessions

anyhow, just a bunch of my undercurrent thoughts on these matters of teaching philosophies in the realm of web design — i’ll let you know how things go as the semester progresses ;]