Category Archives: emotion

minor personal shifts

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although the idea of a ‘title’ in my professional life never quite gets me to a phraseology i am ever personally satisfied with, i do think that i may want to adjust my own personal, interdependent brand to something more aligned with who i really am as a creative individual

i typically come into a corporate organization in roles like:

  • experience designer;
  • Senior UX Designer;
  • UX Visual Designer;
  • UX Lead;
  • or UX Architect

marketingfacts

my own little tweaks to my titles in the past include phrases like:

  • Lead Designer;
  • Senior User Experience and Innovation Architect;
  • interdependent artist and user experience design consultant;
  • and most recently, just DESIGN

through these improvised and hyperbolized adjustments to who i am as a designer within the context of a company or contract, i can definitely now see i have been having an identity issue over the years — through my title, i guess i am striving, in some way, for a better-empowered and more-important contributing role within the organizations i engage with as a designer

 

pay-as-you-drive-300x243on the drive into work today i took a photo of the sky

less than a mile from the office i noticed a particular patch of clouds, the sun burning a brilliant white hole through the darker, floating materiality and wonderment suspended in a slow crawl across the sky ( as shown at the top of this post )

i tend to look up when i need inspiration or a meditative moment to bring me back to me in a calming, reflective way

i guess i couldn’t help but thinking about all the nonsense of titles and roles and the sort of self-bending, -twisting and -shaping we put our minds, behaviors and speech through just to fit into the context of our work environments

you play a role, after all

and you can never ever be truly honest ‘out loud’ regarding your thoughts, expectations and desires in the workplace — even those honest aspects that directly pertain: to the surface veneer around your particular skills and expertise; and the growth, direction and potentially improved capabilities you can drive to through your daily work, collaboration and training, thereby increasing the value and integrity you ultimately offer the business and it’s clients and customers

believe me — any sense of pure honesty can easily offend your work colleagues in an off-putting and detrimental way

 

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i’ve been let go on a few occasions for cutting through the bullshit in several of my efforts to guide teams and businesses through:

  • revelatory critique;
  • honest assessment of distracting dysfunctional dynamics residing within teams;
  • questioning the status quo around processes and workflows;
  • and suggesting hypotheses that could re-direct group dynamics to more fruitful interpersonal behaviors and smoother, more collaborative ways to work together

anyhow

 

long story short

with a subtle personal shift to thinking of myself as lou suSi DESIGN, i wanted to establish a mood and mindset for myself that consistently stayed with me from job to job along my career path, regardless of what company i chose to engage with for either full-time employment or consulting-based work

i also used the personal title shift to simplify who i am for myself and for the people i interact with in my career and in my personal life

 

This confusing diagram could probably use a bit of a re-design

UX design is difficult to explain to people outside of the industry

hell, its even difficult to discuss UX with other professionals working in the field as there are so many varied titles that overlap with one another and that provide all of these implied niche-variations that just feel utterly confusing and meaningless to me at this point

as a human-centered designer — and as a designer that primarily focuses on story to drive and guide every part of my process — its more direct and honest to simply say i am a designer and then go into the details about what and how i design if the conversation goes to a deeper place

by thinking of myself as DESIGN — as an actual embodiment of a character: a persona, if you will — i can properly position and center myself around who i am within my daily workaday context

by thinking of myself as DESIGN — i clarify my thinking about: what i do and how i do it; as well as how i relate and communicate and collaborate with people in the most human way possible within the set-up and on the stage of these corporations

by thinking of myself as DESIGN — i can also better focus who i am on the job as well as the perspectives, and the value of those perspectives, i bring into all of my collaborative work

 

here come the clouds again

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because i make my living ( meaning the money that supports my family and i in this capitalistic world of democracy, consumerism and darwinian daily social survival ) almost solely through design ( i also get to teach design, which is a wonderful way to share and deepen what i offer to my profession ), i oftentimes forget that at heart i am really an artist

i began to draw every day as a child of 3 or 4 and i have always cherished creative and expressive work across any medium

so to better suit who i am in the world — and how i am in the world — both professionally and personally — i want to assume a new role and a more honest, holistic description of myself, mostly for myself

instead of all of those complicated titles prescribed by corporations and business and UX and design, i instead will now think of myself as a practical dreamer

of course, this might not be what i say to people i meet at a professional networking event, at least not on the first handshake introduction

but maybe in curatorial and art-affiliated circles — that community might get it and accept me as i am

to make this stream of subconsciousness a little less passive-aggressive-wishy-washy, i want to end on this set of statements for today

i am an artist and designer

i am a practical dreamer

and its so nice to meet you

have a wickid fun weekend!

hope to see you again soon

artist

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 11:  Musician Prince speaks onstage at 2011 MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Barbra Streisand at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 11, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage) *** Local Caption *** Prince

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 11: Musician Prince speaks onstage at 2011 MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Barbra Streisand at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 11, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. ( Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage ) 

appreciations

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this year for Thanksgiving ( and why not also for each and every day ) take some moments to simply appreciate life

life is such a mysterious experience

one which i hope we’ll never Scientifically truly understand in the least

to try and understand life too much is to miss out on: the actual experience; and actually tuning in well enough to appreciate that experience of human ( among other forms of ) life

see if you can appreciate, too, all aspects of our experience together

up and down

good and bad

we are wed to life in all of its wonder and chaos, in all of its highs and lows — so try and appreciate and accept all that life offers us, even when it feels unfair or broken or wrong

this year i appreciate life — i choose to tune into that channel of human energy in a personally meaningful way

 

we almost lost our mother this year

i have a lot of questions for her, about her behavior, about her constant struggles with mood and escape and negativity and then manic joy

not all of these questions will be exactly smooth or supportive

i can feel ( in an unfortunately negative and low / sad way ) the immense power of our socially collected energies as a human organism — my mother’s purposefully-chosen attempts at the ultimate escape can be nothing but a dark and dreary ripple of hopelessness and confusion — a horrific example to ‘put out there’ for anyone in the world

it shows a lack of appreciation for life, for people, for anyone and anything beyond herself

my empathy for her obviously wanes at this point in the aftermath

but, for the rest of us at least, let’s hold on to life

we are all very vulnerable and life can escape us all on its own at any moment

there are no logical systems or reasons, either, that death needs to adhere to

so let’s appreciate life together

let’s set a good example for the world and the people we love

let’s appreciate each other with a new sense of closeness and humanity

tune into little things when time gets dark

tune into life

on the next …

lou suSi, stand-up comedian and comedic performer

so, here i am

much of my life remains the same in so many ways — and yet recently i feel like i’ve made fantastic strides in life that open up new areas for discovery, new opportunities to grow and contribute in an entirely refreshing way

i’m starting up a new chapter in life

this is a chapter that i’ve actually been working on for most of my life

i’m such a fucking late bloomer, though

a complete clod

always fumbling for the pull chain to click-click the closet light on and finally shed some light into the darkened room

i say this not to beat myself up here on my very own blog or anything, but i guess in retrospect its all so refreshing obvious to me now

my new direction feels so incredible simple, too — almost too entirely natural for me to feel like i just suddenly discovered it over the course of the last few months

i’ve finally decided to start taking humor and comedy seriously

it sounds so hilariously strange to me when i write it out like that, too, but its one of the few times in my lifetime that just make sense and feel right { other similar times from my life include: coming back into Art and Creativity as my core career focus; falling in love and marrying the woman of my dreams and making a family and life together; digging deeper into my creative energies and talents to focus on experience design and research-driven, user-centered processes as my lifelong avocation }

i’ve done a lot of self-reflecting,
soul searching and analysis
these last few years

and its been wonderful looking back at my life to see the long list of crazy, humor-based projects, performances and installations i’ve either curated or directly created — running through my CV, i get this sense now that i’ve been tap-dancing like a madman in a field of pollock paint splotches, perhaps so busy making — happily making — to even see from a higher perspective if there might be any patterns lurking in the mix

part of me doesn’t want any of it to make sense at all

as an artist, that’s not my job at the end of the day anyways, right?

but another part of me knows that you can create from a far stronger place with a deeper sense of self-awareness around what you do { or even around what you did } and i think that’s what i’ve been finally looking into as a way to build a new place from which to make my work

you would think that all of this self-reflection, too, would lead me to a far mature foundation from which to make and curate and perform

but it looks like i still needs to be silly

perhaps even sillier than i’ve ever been before,
at least within the context of my past work

i recently took on the amazing role of the official Comedy Catalyst for this year’s TEDxBeaconStreet in the Fall and i am committed to making the comic relief i bring to the weekend and all of its surrounding events so completely knee-slapping nuttyFun hilarious that i’m almost skipping rope with glee like a naughty child from right my office desk at the moment

i am committed to bringin’ the funny in such a big, big way

just remember — i couldn’t possibly make fun of TEDxBeaconStreet by my lonesome — its only via my carefully hand-selected Comedy Catalyst Team that the right kind of laughter can flow between the cracks of over-glorified bleeding-edge ideas from the most upper ups of our oh so humble Boston-Area intelligensia

let me know if you’re interested in joining our wisecrack ninja team of humorists, stand-ups and other olympic comedic adventurers out at TEDxBeaconStreet — ‘sGonna be too much fun { TMF that is }

 

 

on Turing

 

turing

and now … getting back to The Turing Test

lately my thoughts return, once again, to Alan Turing and the infamous Turing Test he conducted pertaining to machine intelligence, or better stated, pertaining to our human perceptions, beliefs and gullibility surrounding the technologies we create

the original goal of The Turing Test was to test ‘a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human’

however, based on this goal in relation to the actual methodologies and approach used by Turing, we can see a certain strange perversion didn’t necessarily shed any direct light on or prove anything at all remotely about a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior but instead used a trick in the form of a hidden human agent cleverly disguised as the computing machine to simulate varying degrees of intelligence along the machine to human intelligence spectrum 

at this time in history we may want to re-examine how we measure for intelligence — both machine and human intelligence

our standards of human language — especially machine-mediated, near-human language of social communication through the screen — have sufficiently changed over the course of several decades

and we need to keep in mind that the standards of human language vary significantly as we examine our communications as delivered through different mediums — for instance, human language in classic literature varies tremendously from the way we text each other via SMS; email communications — in regards to content, purpose and language structure — differ from the way we converse through social media as well as the way we communicate face-to-face IRL { the TLA for ‘In Real Life’ }; and so on

what if we considered testing ‘a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human’ by utilizing different forms of human communication exchange?

for instance, what if we looked at machine intelligence through the lens of humor and laughter?

Funny-robot

could a computing machine perform a successful set of stand up comedy in front of a live, human audience? can a computing robotic device actually make us laugh through comedy? not just by delivering jokes and schtick as written and honed through a human comedy author, mind you, but by cleverly crafting its own comedic material through whatever embedded intelligence-derived writing algorithms its programmed with, and then by delivering that material live, onstage?

and — from the other perspective — can our computing technologies in 2014 detect and respond to a human-delivered set of stand-up comedy through genuine laughter?

my questions here — just to clarify — challenge our current notions of machine intelligence by proposing we conduct the testing using actual machines, not just simulations of machine intelligence

let’s not fake it to make it here when it comes to our measure of intelligence — let’s avoid any sense of a mere simulation of intelligence by leveraging the state of our technologies as they exist today, ‘as is’

unfortunately i’m not the person to actually design, develop and build the actual technological objects needed to conduct these experiments — i’m just not technically proficient enough to produce an intelligent-enough robotic stand-up / humor / laughing machine to properly conduct the testing as i imagine it would need to be

but my hypothesis goes something like this:

the technologies we create will never be smart enough to deliver a successful set of stand-up comedy to a live, human audience — the content of the material would miss the mark and the delivery would be too awkward and off to get people to feel any amount of the sense of mirth needed to provoke genuine, human laughter

not only would a robotic stand-up act not produce laughter — in an even worse way such an act would most likely, instead, create an atmosphere of strangeness, this uncanny valley effect as defined and described by Masahiro Mori — the performance would feel downright creepy to people and would actually start to effect our human perceptions and our overall experience of the space and place of The Comedy Club as a familiar and funny scenario

i also do not believe our current technologies could be successfully programmed to behave in a smart enough manner onstage to improvise in the way a stand-up does on a nightly, performance-by-performance basis — a robot, for instance, might not be able to read the audience to gauge how they’re receiving the material, to see if they’re being funny enough to proceed with further material ‘as previously planned’ or to, perhaps, switch up to a different branch of jokes and storytelling based upon both an audience’s laughter and the general human feel of the room 

and then — when going in the other direction — when asking whether or not a robot or other computing machine could identify something as funny and then laugh in a natural, human way at the comedy or humor that typical inspires our human laughter — this, to me, is a no brainer

there’s just no way

in fact, we would be tripping into the same uncanny valley every step of the way — it might, perhaps, even be a far deeper fall into an unfathomable abyss of uncanniness

we can look to the dinner scene from Kubrick and Spielberg’s film A.I. Artificial Intelligence as the speculative example of what might actually happen when a robotic being encounters a humorous situation

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as a robotic boy, David sits at the dinner table with his new adoptive parents — as his parents Monica and Henry Swinton eat and drink their meal, David imitates the act of eating and drinking since he himself does not actually need food-based sustenance to live — after some silent tension at the dinner table, David breaks out into a crazy fit of laughter that quite literally scares the shit out of the Swintons — and then, following the initial scary outburst of laughter, the entire family exchanges more laughter around the dinner table

the entire scene makes no sense at all from a purely human perspective, but we see how a robot might misinterpret the tension in the room as potential humor to laugh about — here, for some strange reason, the laughter of the robotic boy, succeeds in making his human parents laugh — his laughter somehow becomes contagious for them, infectious, and they join in — but even then, the shared social sense of human laughter still contains a sour uncanniness, there is still some tense pressure residing in the room

 

so, on that note:

is there anyone that might be up to the challenge? who here on the interwebz can build a robot or other technology that could potentially make a human audience genuinely laugh?

and, could you also build out its amazing technologically-based counterpart as well? a robot that can detect and actually laugh in a human, natural way to human-delivered stand-up comedy?

do you submit to my challenge?

do you even dare?

does your dog bite?

peterSellers

sometimes i feel a lot like a human, wetware mash-up between Larry David and Peter Seller’s version of Inspector Clouseau from Blake Edward’s Pink Panther films of the 1970s and beyond

i always feel like that dream we all have where we’re walking around in a very familiar place but you know that you need to hide away for some reason — maybe you’re at school or at work or at a club or restaurant or something, but you’re overwhelmed with embarrassment and the need to hide yourself away — its only at about three quarters of the way through the dream that you realize that you’re ashamed and hiding all because you don’t have any pants on — hell, you don’t even have under garments on for that matter, and even though nobody seems to even notice you just know that you need to keep a low profile and sneak around until you can find something to cover your naked genitals and ass with

bumbling — i’m constantly bumbling

i mean — let’s say i get up and i’m in a hurry and i slide my jacket on, put my laptop bag over my shoulders, grab my coffee and water bottle and start to head out the door and then fwoOoOOop! — somehow the strap on my bag or a pocket on my jacket loops around the door handle and i’m yanked back into my ungraceful, clumsy reality again

i seem to have a bad relationship with inanimate objects

and i seem to get myself into probably just as many awkward and painful social scenarios as Larry David gets himself into on the show Curb Your Enthusiasm

its just not usually that funny to me in the moment — it only seems to grow into something of a funny story as my temporal distance from the immediate fumbling moments recede into the nebulous past

what’s kind of interesting and funny to me in thinking back to Seller’s Clouseau right now is a certain para-cosmological and symbolic connection i might have subconsciously made to a similarly hilarious character that can be watched on an almost nightly basis in our current television mass media substreaming archetype generation machine

and i think you know exactly who i’m talkin’ ’bout here Willis

that’s right — its none other than … dun dun duhhhhh!

Horatio P Caine

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when you watch an episode of CSI Miami, you know you’re supposed to take Horatio Caine dead serious — there’s this almost over-the-top ridiculousness to David Caruso’s delivery as Caine — its bad acting at its best

Caruso’s over-tense, tough as nails style of hard-guy cliché muttering at the scene of the crime actually becomes the perfect comedic counterpoint to the world of drug dealing and wheeling, murder and dark crime sizzling up from the heat of downtrodden, criminal Miami — and as unintentional as the humor may be, its a rather brilliantly clumsy-confident portrayal that truly brightens my nights when and if i get myself into a CSI jag to piss my time away

Horatio Caine almost comes across as the Anti-Clouseau in many respects, or at least that’s what i gather as the intention behind the writing and direction for CSI Miami — investigation mistakes for Caine have a far less light-hearted set of consequences than those made by Clouseau in a movie like A Shot in the Dark — you can feel that the character of Horatio Caine is supposed to come across as dark, troubled and mysterious as Tim Burton’s Bruce Wayne in 1989 Batman, but the delivery goes way too far and the result then turns into far more of a farce than anything — and for this reason, as much as Caine and Clouseau are bi-polar opposites on the spectrum of hard-assed smoothness and emotionality, i feel their intrinsically connected on a pseudo-psychic level of the collective subconscious

the dog that Horatio Caine might pet in Miami would surely bite,
but it would most likely actually be Caine’s dog

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