Inspiration Interaction design Learning

A few interesting reads for the weekend (February 20)

We Are Hopelessly Hooked
A review and discussion of four new books, which all tackle the distractions and addictions of digital technologies. Some of the best designers in the world are working on getting us ever more addicted to their particular products:

“Tech companies are engaged in “a race to the bottom of the brain stem,” in which rewards go not to those that help us spend our time wisely, but to those that keep us mindlessly pulling the lever at the casino.“

I see the effects in my students and myself, but in spite of this I often find that I’m dragged into it. One design challenge that I’ve posed to a few students in the past, and which I’ll revive alongside readings from this article will be to design a deliberately slow and reflective social network.

Microsoft’s Radical Bet On A New Type Of Design Thinking
On designing for underserved groups of people (aka inclusive or universal design), and how it could potentially deliver better products for all of us. The title might be a tad off (is it design thinking? if so, it is in a very broad sense of the word), but it is interesting to see how this mindset might affect a huge entity like Microsoft.

There is no such thing as a normal human, our capabilities are always changing. The hope is that in seeking out new people to include in the design process, we can smooth away the gaps that bedevil our digital lives.

Building a Bridge Between Engineering and the Humanities
A proposal for new models of education, research, and practice, in which the lines between STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are deliberately blurred with those of the humanities:

Boosting enrollments in STEM is not enough. An educational system that merges humanities and sciences, creating whole-brain engineers and scientifically inspired humanists, fosters more than just innovation. It yields more-flexible individuals who adapt to unanticipated changes as the world evolves unpredictably.

photo_75344_portrait_325x488While the piece is written in a North American context, this line of thinking is equally relevant in the Scandinavian context in which I work. I see way too many trenches being dug between the disciplines at the moment, rather than bridges built, in the public discourse. As frustrating as this is, I am equally thrilled to see many of the things that actually unfold in practice, both at the university and beyond, to move past these divisions and explore how new blends of mindsets, skillsets, and toolsets can help us better understand and shape the world.

Architecture Design processes Event Learning

Media Architecture Student Competition

As part of the Media Architecture Biennale, we will host a 24 hour student design competition on 1 October 2012 beginning at 20:00 CET (7 pm GMT). The design competition is open to bachelor’s, master’s and PhD students in the fields of interaction design, human-computer interaction, architecture, urban design, etc. from around the world and it will not be necessary to be in Aarhus to participate.

The design challenge will begin on 1st of October when the design brief is made public on the MAB website as well as per email to participants who have signed up. To demonstrate your solution to the design challenge, you are asked to submit a video. This can be either a video prototype or a concept video. Anything from animation through screen capture to acting is valid. Note that this means that you will not have to implement the system. Participants will be required to keep a design blog throughout the 24 hours – this blog should record any major stages for your design. We don’t expect you to share any ideas or results before the end of the 24-hour challenge, but what we want to be able to follow is the methodology you used to come up with your final design.

The winning team will receive a travel scholarship for attending the Media Architecture Biennale 2012 in Aarhus to the amount of 1,000 EUR as they will be invited to present their conceptual work at the biennale. The top three entries will be awarded certificates of recognition.

Inspiration Interaction design Learning

Inspiring reads, July 5th through July 14th

The Individual in a Networked World – Two Scenarios that outline potential evolution from current trajectories

Coursera – How an education startup may profit from free courses

AcademiPad – Using iPad, Mac and the web in research, teaching and learning.