Category Archives: found design

the theatre of Work, ReVisited

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back in 2009 when i still conducted critical design research for Dynamic Media Institute in Boston i decided to start up a presentation series aimed specifically at helping my greener friends coming into the industry with some of the basic challenges they might encounter along the journey of their profesional lives

i’ve encountered more than my fair share of interesting twists and turns in my rather adventurous career as an accomplished experience design professional — and some of the joys and tribulations of navigating the glorious terrain can benefit by simply continuously building a better and better understanding and awareness of the environments in which we need to perform

in delving into the digital archives of my mind i recently rediscovered a few slides appropriately titled the theatre of Work — survival tips for newcomers to the workForce

the theatre of Work

the phrase by itself starts to imply some of my subconscious views and feelings regarding: the social dynamics; the essential personal behaviors we need to exude while performing; and general feel of the landscape set up by the workaday world as a means of reaching toward success for ourselves and for the companies we work for

i am an experience designer and a performance artist

i never studied the theatre, which is an important key differentiator i need to continually remind myself of along the way

its also vitally important to have an unrelenting sense of self-awareness and continuous introspective reflection for the kind of trek we’re all on within ANY industry

just this hybrid mash-up between designer and artist can have extremely important internally conflicting motivations embedded within the very nature of each role

but anyhow, i digress { i just heard someone on blogging across the way stand up and scream, ‘DigreSsioN!’ ala that famous set of passages from A Catcher in the Rye ;] }

after living a little longer and experiencing a few more years of this life of work we all live and breathe, i believe i have even deeper, more profound wisdom to share than i originally intended by designing up a few slides for a future-such talk to be about workerly advice

i am therefore re-opening this thread of thought — copy-pasting the open Keynote file and the PSD folder from my portable harddrive back onto my current active MacBook Pro device to really start digging into what new significance i can bring to the table to help people navigate the choppy waters and hopefully not make all of the same foolish mistakes i’ve made along the way

i know my triathlon could’ve gone a LOT smoother so far had i just had proper mentorship or perhaps better personal self-awareness and more thoughtful empathy to guide me

but i’m an impatient clown, for the most part

i always want the impossible and i design to reach for the bluest of the bluest skies

i would be more of a fool, however, if i continue to noodle and clown without ever learning and growing for the journeys i’ve made — and i feel that if i share some of my story in a thoughtful and meaningful way it might actually make up for my own silly idiocies and hopefully make for a better overall experience for colleagues, friends, acquaintances and frenemies that even care to listen at this point

i need to focus on my storyFirst presentation out at Massachusetts College of Art for the next few weeks, but i also hope to put some time into this theatre of Work concept, too, as it is near and dear to my heart — i want to help people and give them better perspective and hopefully facilitate better and better experiences in the world through my designwork and my design leadership

but, until then — shove off, bitchez! ;]

 

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the grocery shopping experience at Market Basket

shopping

there is nothing else in the world that can totally suck out any remaining sense of hope or empathy for the human race quite like the shopping experience at the Market Basket in Peabody

its a fucking nightmare

i’m NOT joking, either { although i’m sure this will be a hilarious entry }

from the moment you walk into the place you just know you’re getting a glimpse into what Hell might actually feel like — the experience completely humbles you, reminding us all how delicate and breakable the balance and boundaries actually are between a somewhat reasonable expectation for our human social experience and the life of our animal ancestry

the place horrifies me almost everytime

its worse than the comparably mild country pop music white trash nightmare going on right down the street at the Peabody Walmart — that’s another mindfuck of a trip that could probably be a few blips more tolerable if under the influence of hallucinogens, but it still gets put to utter shame by the kind of debilitating, pure insanity that is the Market Basket

the worst part of it all is, i mean, i know, i know, we all need to buy food on a semi-regular basis, right? and i know, too, that the less expensively priced the food offerings — well, the less refined and customer-focused the experience might be

at the Market Basket in Peabody, there’s just literally no room to move — the aisles are tight, you can barely get around or through if the feed monsters that frequent ‘The Basket’ cart park to both the left and right of main open floor per aisle — and they seem to not give a flying shit about when to re-stock shelves, or even how to re-stock ’em

today my son and i were just waiting at the top of one of the aisles to let Carol fend her way down what looked like the very claustrophobic and busy soup, pasta and ethnic food section of the store — we were waiting up by the meat department, consequently also extremely too close to their filthy restrooms and shelves of lost and rotting packaged discount grocery items, and this young Basketeer pulls out a major palette of Fun Pops, still entirely encased in semi-sheer plasticwrap, and leaves it in what seemed to my son and i like a fairly open and safe area previously in front of us

it totally cut our breathing space in half and now if anyone wanted to get by our carriage we would need to totally rock and yank the cart into a cozier proximity to the stuffed oysters and cocktail shrimp in the floor freezer unit we were previously huddled closely against

the guy starts yapping it up with some happy camper Baby Boomerette as he moves from this one majorly ridiculous obstruction he’s set up to another palette of Hugs Fruit Barrel beverages, which i really assumed were totally claimed to be as illegal as lead paint and wax teeth or something way back in the 70s, but i guess Hugs are still around — he moves the Hugs away after his little bantery live conference in the lane with Betty Boomer and disappears around the corner

after joking with Maceo about how insane this little chess move seemed to me, i decided to move our cart out into the newly opened space, maybe the only open 6 by 6 foot space with room to move, breathe and feel comfortable in the entire goddam grocery store at this point

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i started to think about grocery stores in general and why we typically start our food shopping at such a miserable place like Market Basket, sometimes picking up items later in week at Super Stop & Shop or elsewhere { just never Shaw’s, ya know? } — and, i think its an obvious no-brainer, right? Market Basket does have the overall best prices { and by best, i mean lowest or most affordable, of course } — i mean, other stores probably have wider aisles and less desperate people — and for the most part, only the wider aisles part is verifiably true — the people, i hate to say, as i know this will come off as sounding like mean snobbery on my part, but its simply a realistic observation when i say these sorts of things — the people, no matter where you go to shop for groceries, typically act like these strange lost animals of consumerism

today i thought less about the word food and more about the word feed

as i looked around Market Basket and my fight or flight adrenaline was kicking in to simply help me survive the experience in this sense of hyperawareness of the sheer chaos all around me, my fellow people seemed a LOT more like animals than human beings — and they were all coming here to feed more than find food — any sense of intellectual differentiation from the animal kingdom or more refined social awareness and exchange of communication from organism to organism fell completely away to make the entire experience feel more like a zoo or a farm or a circus — and that’s what makes it even worse for me — these weren’t even the truly WILD animals i would better respect and adore to come out and see in the woods, on safari or in a tropical rainforest, no, not at all — these animals were simply humans gone wild in a next-to-nearly-inhuman contextual setting, acting like decent and respectable American shopping citizens of the capitalistic consumerist construct we’ve been given — mannerless, inconsiderate, self-motivated and self-centered, inchoate as far as i’m concerned in our journey along the technohumanic evolutionary continuum, unthinking, base, and quite frankly simultaneously frightening and disappointing to me

i know, i know, i can’t believe i’m writing this openly and honest about these observations — its just all too tragic-sounding and rather judgmental

and you need to believe me when i say, i typically give almost everybody the up-front and center benefit of the doubt the first time i encounter them, despite all they say about the importance of first impressions and all that

but i dare you to pay a visit to the Peabody Market Basket — especially on a weekend or right around the temporal vicinity of a major storm threat as predicted by our horrendously inaccurate television weather reporters — go and see for yourself and report back to me what you experience, i bet you’ll see it almost exactly the way i do

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and what’re the alternatives?

go grocery shopping at Whole Foods?

its WAY too expensive there — and although there’s a lot more room to move and breathe and think, the people that shop at Whole Foods disappoint and disgust me for the very same reasons, but just coming from some more pretentious and extremely health- and fashion-conscious mentality — and there may be less of ’em, so the grocery shopping experience there feels more elegant, smooth, organized and thoughtful — i just can’t stomach the designer sweatsuits and pretentiously all organic, sugar free and decaffeinated institutionalization of food and our health addicted general public — any super market that doesn’t carry Cap’n Crunch is just selling an entirely different kind crack as far as i’m concerned

don’t get me wrong, i love the salad bar there, especially at lunch time when i worked out in Wellesley and all — it was fun to hit up the Whole Paycheck every couple of weeks or so for a nice change of pace, but its just not a financially sustainable grocery shopping option, and its not remotely believable to me on the earthy crunchy side of its post hippy, all naturale food chic

i guess until i hit it big or something i’m going back to The Basket despite the chaotic, animal-based nature of the total shopping experience — i even think i’m going back to The Basket when and if i hit it big, too — i just might go to the Market Basket out in Middleton instead

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uxWTF experience design challenge #1 — CVS receipt reDesign { please }

okay, okay, okay — for those of you that might personally know me in some way from the UX and Design Community, and by know me i mean really know me, you’ve probably heard me rant on about the real reasons why i am a user-centered designer

most people outside of the profession simply assume that all designers have this wonderful and delicate appreciation for elegant design in the world and that their passion and motivations lie somewhere within the logic of thereby wanting to design and bring to life newer designs as inspired by Bauhaus, clean and minimalist typography or by some self-delusional thinking that our contributions as designers in modernday society will somehow make for a greener, more peaceable and liveable planet

sorry if this sounds like a loaded way to re-introduce myself here for you — i don’t mean to sound hostile or pessimistic or negative in any way, believe me — i’m actually quite a lighthearted and humorous person in person, if you know what i mean — but i want you to understand MY reasons for being a designer, which i don’t think are too atypical, but they’re definitely not reasons most designers typically discuss in such a public forum

i design because i am constantly frustrated

yep, there ya go — i said it out loud { or as loud as you can get in blogPost format } — i’m frustrated, constantly frustrated: with the way the world is; with the horrendous design of just about everything we encounter in life; with the ridiculously backwards and twisted way everything seems to be better designed for The System, for information and data, for Machine-to-Machine Communication and Interaction { or M2M if you wanna get all TLA on that shit }, but not nearly even remotely designed for human consumption, use or participation

so, here we go — no real fantastic segue, fade or transition here to help move into this next concept, you now know my personal and professional motivations as a user-centered design professional and performance artist — they’re actually quite political reasons to do what i do, but let’s not get into that now, aight?

right now i want to talk about an idea that came to me recently while taking care of business in a public office restroom { this is where i get my most brilliant ideas, as funny as it sounds, in the handicap stall while sitting on the porcelain throne } — thinking about these frustrating experiences i keep bumping into out there in the world, i tried to figure out a way i could actually make discussions like these more consumable, more relatable and — most importantly — more actionable

i mean, how could i inspire other people to work with me in some collaborative capacity to actually redesign these horrifically poor and annoying experiences even if there might be no actual paying project on the books, even if there is no real financial reason to tackle these vital worldly challenges, even if the ONLY potential motivation to change these experiences is simply embedded in the very human need to show off what real, innovative design thinking can do to improve and better optimize our universal human experience and to hopefully become ubiquitously famous through these public, humorously expressed issues and processes to show people how to actually change the world

i mean, i’m talkin’ Steve Jobs level shit here — just without all the asshole politics and multimillionaire nerdy swagger of ‘The Genius’ bullshit we’re all led to believe about iPod Man

and it all starts with this concept

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let’s take a look, in blog serial format, at a list of these frustrating experiences through user-centered investigation and photodocumentation and see if we can’t put our heads together and fix this shit

its not that difficult people

its really not

and i’m here to help ya

let’s start with this one, this little uxWTF? design challenge:

the CVS receipt reDesign

now, to be completely fair here, this is NOT solely a CVS-related UX offense we’re talking about, right? we’ve all experienced this at NUMEROUS retail consumer establishments — it just so happens, though, that i’ve been picking up my meds a lot lately { thank gawd, right? who knows what this post’d be about without ’em ;] } and this similarly strange feat of cash register magic recurs like fucking clockwork with each and every transaction at the CVS Pharmacy and even at the front counter { not sure on the Photo Lab area, though, let me know if you can verify this same phenomena happening there, too }

let’s take a looksy

here’s what the CVS Pharmacy Technician handed me at the register before wishing me to, ‘Have a nice day’ …

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look familiar? this receipt — and i kid you not — this receipt is almost as tall as i am

that’s ridiculous

its just fucking ridiculous

what a waste of the life of a sapling

and you know what? i never ever use the coupons on these neverending receipts — never

i bet someone takes advantage of the remarkable savings provided by Consumer Value Stores, but i personally think the benefits or value i get from these veritable partystreamers of savings do not in any way outweigh the environmental cost or just the frigging paperwaste nuisance of these amazing little lengthy souvenirs i collect from each trip to the national chain convenience store

i used to actually save these receipts and scotchtape them together to write on the eventually handmade collaged side of my frankenpaper sans ink — but c’mon, seriously? seriously?

so, uhm, i don’t know — i recently downloaded and started using the CVS smartphone app on my android mobile device, and i actually think the app would be a far more appropriate delivery mechanism for these additional CVS membership savings — could be nicer, right?

a LOT nicer

i mean, we know they’re tracking our every purchase via the app or our CVS loyalty card much-like any supermarket, department store or other corporate chain of transactional wonderment, and i think it would be the very least they could do for us — let’s get smart, now, aight? — THIS might actually be one of the best potential implementations for those semi-bizarre and overused / misused QR codes { QR = quick response, in case you weren’t already in the know } — i mean, it might be superCool and magically fantastic if the entire CVS members rewards savings systems { and that of other similarly national chain-like corporate establishments } all somehow leveraged the app or the card, right? but at the very least, bring out the QR codes, print ’em right on the receipt, and then it might be, i don’t know, 6 inches long at the most { mostly now depending on just how many items you purchased from the store, not how much psychosocial data-driven stalker suggestions they can spit back at you } — i mean, we don’t need to memorialize last Tuesday’s purchases from the pharmacy for any real reasons as average American citizens now, do we? in fact, the printed proof is in some ways an actual privacy liability that could potentially break patient confidentiality { but maybe not, i’d need to actually read my receipt to see what’s listed for my recent pharmacy purchase }

on another note — and this is something i am just DYING to see happen in the very-near future — i would also love to see these apps and other store membership systems that track our every micropurchase behavior actually provide our data for US to usethe government sees my data, stores and financial institutions see my data, Hell, even offshore agencies working for credit card and other similarly skanky organizations most likely have more access to my personal transactional behavioral information than i do as the user of these systems, as the actual supposed member of these systems { whatever that means to me at this point, right? }

show me the data!

i think its about time to better empower the people through the access and flow of our data

and its also about time that we start turning the tables a bit and actually get paid for sharing our data with these organizations — why do we so willingly sign up for these services that basically steal our information and use it for the big consumer feedback loop for devious subliminal purchase suggestions from The Man { in a rather loose and corporatey collective sense of definition } — i mean, i know i know, we willingly sign up for these services and give it all away for free, like the utter dopes we all are — but c’mon, let’s get it back, let’s take back what’s rightfully ours and what should be ONLY ours unless we make a little jing in the deal — and i’m not talking about this beautiful, easy ‘giving back’ gesture we receive upon receipt, this paper streaming printed register tape of coupon savings, i’m talkin’ about actually gettin’ paid

pay up bitches!

you want this? you want this data?

pay me

the anatomy of a pinecone

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i think i found yet another connection to some previous threads in my work as a fine artist and designer, this time an interesting cosmological coincidence deriving from my lifelong obsession with pinecones

these photographs of a pinecone on my notebook at work inspired me to finally take up Joseph Liberty’s suggestion to look into the natural geometric wonder in the structure of these reproductive artifacts that quite literally litter the landscape surrounding our home in a fascinating, ubiquitous way

according to a Wikipedia article on the conifer cone, there are both male and female pinecones, both made up of essentially the same spiralling configuration of rigid plates that are more officially known as scales — the reproductive materials of the conifer, either pollen sacs or ovules, are tucked up inside each of the scales, with the actual act of reproduction almost seemingly performed by a miraculous happenstance fertilization of the ovules by airborn or insect-carried pollen from the male pinecone

interestingly enough, as in previous pieces where i purposely confounded the notion of a phallic object with overall feminine qualities, the female pinecone in some strangely personal and symbollic way represents this interesting crossing of male to female energies, a female object that looks and feels very hard, rigid and almost uttelry male — the other aspect of pinecone anatomy that i am focusing in on today, however, is the interlocking connetion of the scales around this almost spinal central, linear object — there is, in a sense, an implied relationship between the pinecone and the human { or at least mammalian } nervous system, and in fact further Wikipedia research for the initial surface information reveals that the pinneal gland located at the very heart of the brain is named for the pinecone and actually connects the left and right hemispheres, ‘tucked in a groove where the two rounded thalamic bodies join’ 

i am still very consciously looking for certain psychological and mystical connections in the subconscious themes and imagery that rise to the surface during periods of active, unthinking creative exploration and making — besides the fact that Carol and i are quite literally surrounded by a soft wooded forest of fir trees, pinecones, needles and plants, besides the sheer convenience of immediate material availability, i believe i’ve been obsessing on the vessel, the actual container of natural objects like the pinecone or the seashell for emotional and spiritual reasons — i think its time to dig a little deeper

brilliant little streaks a light ::..

driving through Boston @ night … capturing light w/ my digital camera + some purposeful jigglings … check it out … see if you like …

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the laughter life

aight, aight, aight …

new concept … coming right outta this here Sound for Dynamic Media course @ The DMI …

so … lately … on my Facebook laugh group, i’ve been using the smile emoticon as a sort of parenthetical, visual naming element + convention … so, the name of the group + all that is surrounded [: like this :] in little smileys, right? … + then on the other more poetry-based Facebook group i started up ( an actual second attempt to eRessucitate the poetry round-robin open mike i had running back in the early ’90s, The Sound of Dolphins ) i used a slightly different, but subtly similar convention … |: something more like this :|, right? these are the written music symbols that surround a repeating set of bars …

… so …

… why not create a Score for Laughter? sections of the score would be surrounded by the old [: smiley emoticons like so :] … + i could use the pitch + other parameters of musicality to really demarcate what i might want a laugh ensemble to produce for me as the laugh conductor … might be ridiculous, but worth trying out, right? ;]

could be creepy-cool-fun

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