palpitation: part one

My heartbeat stumbles. Palpitations caused by an unwarranted desire. I close my eyes. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. In an effort to control its beat. My self prescribed cigarettes and whiskey can’t suppress this. Temptation transforms into the form of a labyrinth; with infinite traps and snares, twisting and turning never lessening its blow. But I am not ready to surrender. I see the light at the end and in it you stand. Just a silhouette.

But for now these tunnels are bare and they mock me. A museum of cobwebs and dust. The occasional echo, a reminder of what once was. I strain to hear, but fading memories can only help so much. The frame begins to crack, the foundation busts, and the ceiling caves above. All delicate to the touch. With the slightest bit of pressure it can crumble away. Turning to rubble.

Bricks and debris begin to fall. Slowly. One by one. Carrying words of hate and rage, sending up little clouds of earth as they smash into the ground. For now, I can easily avoid their fall. But it doesn’t take long for a fog of dust to form. The delicate mist now a heavy hail. There is no place to claim sanctuary. The thick haze blankets any and every sign of light; and with it, devours all hope. It tucks me in.

part two: coming soon...

 

process control

Image Source: http://www.pharmafocusasia.com/manufacturing/images/process_control.jpg

Image Source: http://www.pharmafocusasia.com/manufacturing/images/process_control.jpg

I don’t always struggle, but there are times that I do. Looking at a white blank page struggling for inspiration. My creativity and pen's ink restrained. I often sit and stare asking myself, “where should I start, with a dot, or line? Maybe a shape? What shape? Maybe a triangle or a square.”

I decide to go forward with a square. But then I start thinking again. “How big should the square be? Maybe it should be flipped onto on an angle, but not so it becomes a diamond. Ugh, I don’t know.” I draw a triangle instead.

I often find myself trapped in this black hole of over analyzation. It's force ebbing past the confines of my creative sphere into almost all aspects of my life. “That boy only texted me back ‘sure sure.’ He obviously hates me and doesn’t want to hang out or see me again.” It is frustrating, it really is.

That blank page is so overwhelming at times. At others, familiar. My mind and hand just take over, creating beautiful compositions that flow with such ease and grace from my pen. As I slow to that climactic finish, I finally wake.

I don’t know why I struggle so much at times. But I think I am starting to understand what makes those other times so free of mental constraint. There is a story I am trying to tell. Not one constructed through word but made up of visual metaphors.

There is always a story to be told and no canvas is ever truly blank. There are shadows, specks of dust, and imperfections. Which in itself tell a story. I add my own story, building onto what was there before.

 

okstupid: go home cupid you're drunk

So I started filling out an OkCupid profile the other day. I can just imagine your face as you read this, and you should have seen the look on your face. You were throwing so much shade. One of those "mhmm, okay, suuure... faces." You know, with the puckered lips, slanted  rolling eyes, and hips sticking out to the right. So much attitude, all that's missing is a z-snap . But ya, okay, who am I kidding? You caught me. I’ve had this shit forever. Like you don't have an online dating profile. Okay about 76% of you bitches, and I use the word as a term of endearment and just for the closest of friends, but a majority of you bitches just lied. I am not believing it for a second. Statistics don't lie!!! Anyways, at this point I have had an account for so long I don’t know whether or not to take it seriously or if it is just a complete joke directed toward me. I’ve even developed and experimented with strategies on how to fill out a profile, formulating and hypothesizing the perfect way of filling one out. Right down to the photo caption. Where is my lab assistant and microscope, to help find my dignity. 

It is still however a work in progress, obviously, because I am still *coughsinglecough.* An independent woman. Thats right. Throw yo hands up at me, all you sexy mommas who profit dollas. I don’t even know what the fuck that means, but can I just say one thing? There is so much talk from Beyonce, Kelly, and Michelle. About how they are strong fierce diva menstruating warriors who need NO support from a man. You know why? You see that necklace they are wearing? Well, they bought it. Probably with all the money from one of their multi-platinum award winning albums. Not even mentioning their solo careers. Also from them, in their own words, “I depend on me.”  You know what, girl you better with all the money you are making. Shit.

But you and I both know not to believe that line for one minute. We both know there would be some HELLA dramatic eye rolls and larger than life sighs, for sure, if their man didn’t get them some shit from time to time. Ladies, I’ve heard your song “Cater 2 U.” Make up your minds. Are you a single lady that needs a ring on it? No, because you've probably already bought it. Thats according to you. Lastly, and just as a side note. Question: but why do they preface all their questions in that song by stating “question:"? Just indicate you are asking a question, like every other normal human being, with a different inflection in your voice. I mean I know you are singing it, but I think your listeners are smart enough to understand it is a question. It is not that deep.

Speaking of deep... When filling out an OkCupid profile there is the section entitled, “I spend a lot of time thinking about....” I think it should be called, “ This is how pretentious or nonchalant I can be.” Honestly, I don’t believe a single word of what you fuckers write. Really, you’ve been thinking obsessively over and about “verb conjugations” and “how to not write expository essays about myself since I finished those self-exploratory college essays asking me to describe my personality in terms of elements from a Hieronymus Bosch painting.” Ummm, I don’t even know how to respond. ORRR their answers are a little too honest or obviously delusional. For example, one person answered “wonderin’ what heaven will be like.” And based on their pictures, I don’t think they’ll be seeing heaven. Maybe the inside of a prison cell for rape, incest, or cannibalism. Maybe, but it’s likely a 92% chance of most definitely. I’ll tell you what I have been pondering for a while. It is nothing substantial or exhilarating by any means, but it needs to be asked.  

If the gods at Crayola were to name a crayon "yolo" what color would that crayon be? Here are my theories... Shit I just got my period red, Cee Yolo Green, hey I was going to eat that blue, Sharknado grey, please do not feed the animals brown, do these pants make me look fat denim, I got blackout drunk again purple, bought a sports car welcome to my quarter life crisis black, I'm not too old to dress like this pink, ironic mustache sepia, etc. Anyways moral of the story is why make one "yolo" crayon when Crayola can release an entire box of "yolo" colors. I mean think about it. It is kind of genius. Most crayon colors are just an adjective plus a basic color. And there are what, like 12 traditional colors? You just need two hats, some of your drunk slutty friends, and some pens for those whores to write down their "adventures" onto slips of paper. The 12 basic colors will be put into one of the hats and the other hat will contain the tramps' biggest regrets. Finally, the art director or project manager will draw a slip from each hat and Bam! A new “yolo” Crayola crayon is born. Like the classic color, “I hope that bump isn't a herpes peach.”

 

welcome

Welcome! To my new blog site!

 The previous posts are from my time in grad school, completed for one of classes. They can also be found here: http://dkennedy001.wordpress.com/ but just scroll down or click to the next one, it's easier. To find out or see more about my work, feel free to explore the rest of my website and portfolio.

My time in grad school was amazing, full of self discovery. I was able to establish and refine myself as a designer, artist, and person. I have met so many inspirational and talented individuals these last two year, I wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world. They have become a group of people I will look up to, respect, and appreciate. They have become some of my best friends. 

Crawling out of that sentimental hole, the purpose of this 'new' blog is for self-expression. Whether that be through creative writing, design or system or interaction or art or museum exhibition critiques, or about one of my latest obsessions (currently Fringe, Oh Em Gee, amazing show!). I can't promise it will always be intellectually or artistically stimulating (sometimes there may be a glass of wine involved, who knows!), but I will try and maintain focus.  I will try and update/post every to every other week. Sometimes it may be more. At others, it may be less. 

With that being said, I hope you enjoy! As always, check out the rest of my website (aka portfolio) and check out my other social media sites. Thanks!! 

- Daniel Kennedy

 

'go forth and gossip'

Elaine Lui, professional gossiper, discusses during a talk at  TEDxVancouver The Sociology of Gossip. Claiming the ecosystem of gossip as important for through it we, as a society, can understand social culture, social behavior, humanity, and more importantly ourselves. Celebrity gossip isn't just gossip about celebrities, it is a reflection of our moral and ethics of the time. The gossip conversation is an information exchange filtered and interpreted by a person's experiences allowing us to set a standard of conduct. Through the lens of gossip, Elaine gives insight to our current views of gender roles, domestic violence, and sexual orientation raising questions of equality, double standards, and stereotypes. The gossip conversation is a play-by-play of social evolution.

The same kind of thinking can be applied to interaction design. There is a dynamic relationship between humans and technology. Technology is shaped and designed by a users' motivations, expectations, and participation. As a user becomes more confident and as technology evolves, offering more possibilities at a faster pace, the users' motivations, expectations, and participation will change and evolve. Thus the dynamic relationship, where each component responds and informs the other creating a cyclic nature to the design ecosystem. It is important to understand this ecosystem to better inform design decisions.

barriers of participation

In my previous post, I talked about how museum visitors are becoming more participators or partners of the museum. Museums are starting to let visitors have an influence and factor in the curation, design and development of museum exhibitions. This is in attempts to decentralize authority in the museum, allotting trust in visitors. Museums are generally seen by the public as the most trustworthy source of information, and with this shift in authority some have begun to question a museums trustworthiness. One way museums have started to overcome a visitors’ questioning of authority, is through transparency. Museums have started making it clear whose voice visitors are experiencing. Offering the voice of the visitor and expert side by side, entrusts a level of ownership and authority into the audience. This starts to resemble the idea of radical trust, which suggest a need for a more intimate and equal relationship between the museum and its visitors. The term accredited to Darlene Fichter, suggests that emergent systems, those built collaboratively by end users, can be successful only if institutions trust their users to also become participants and co-creators. Most of these systems of trust, that rely on the a level of confidence in visitors, have what is referred to as barriers of participation built into them. Barriers of participation are specifically built to encourage and protect through small but insignificant safeguards. It is possible to be inclusive without being reckless when the appropriate caution is exercised.

The Brooklyn Museum, for example, employs what they refer to as the “Brooklyn Posse” to manage and maintain visitor contributions. The Brooklyn Museum invites the “posse” and visitors to tag the collection allowing visitors to find objects and art based on a common language that is not filled with professional jargon. Shelley Bernstein, Chief Director of Technology at the Brooklyn Museum, in an interview with CUNY TV correspondent Brian Lehrer states that, “it is important to recognize that how we [the museum] professionally describe an object is not necessarily how a non-professional would search for it." The “posse” also monitors and moderates comments, making sure all content is appropriate and relevant. The Brooklyn Museum “wants people to comment and contribute”, Shelley continues, “and have an identity, so that all of their contributions are attributed.” This is done through the creation of “posse” profiles. In these profiles, it shows the number of tags, comments, and favorites of each contributor. It also provides basic information and links to other social media sites, like Flickr and blogs. Most importantly, it showcases the importance of museum and visitor relationships, and the confidence in dispensing power and authority into the public. Through the “posse” system of checks and balance, motivated members of this community are able to have an active role in the museum and maintain a dynamic relationship with the museum enhancing their museum experience. 

'social technographics'

Image Source: http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2007/04/forresters_new_.html

Image Source: http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2007/04/forresters_new_.html

Museums do not only engage visitors in the physical space anymore. It has extended into the digital realm. Visitors are able to participate before and after their visit. They have become more participators or partners of the museum. Museums are growing and becoming more as social hubs and communities.

In 2008, Forrester Research released a “social technographics” profile tool to help businesses understand the way different audiences engage with social media online. Forrester suggests six categories that online audiences fit into based on activity. The categories are the following: creators, they produce and upload content in the form of blogs, videos, and web pages; critics, this group comments on social media sites as well as post ratings and reviews; collectors, who organize links and form content for absorption; joiners, those who have created and continue to use profiles on social networking sites; spectators, they observe by reading, watching, listening and visiting information on social sites; Finally, the inactives, this group does not participate in any of the listed activities. These categories are not black and white, they are grey and blurred with many people belonging to several categories at once. Users shift between these categories depending on demographics, social and personal circumstances, and comfort.

Museums have started to use blogs as a way for visitors to reflect on their museum experience. Visitors are able to discuss with other visitors, and sometimes museum staff, about certain topics, themes, and questions. It is also a way for museums to keep visitors up-to-date with what is new and reveal some behind-the-scenes information. Tumblr, is one such blog, or digital tool, museums have started to use. Tumblr lets its users customize and share everything. It is a fine example that incorporates the different participatory categories previously discussed. Users are able to create and publish blogs, blending pictures, text, audio, and videos into each post. Personal blogs are able to be customized and ‘designed’ to reflect the personality and philosophy of the blogger. Tumblr’s dashboard, or personal homepage, reflects and displays other blogs users follow based on personal interests and hobbies. Published posts are organized by user tags. This folksonomy of organization makes it easy for users to search and navigate. It allows for easy access to content and the ability to follow and reblog your favorite blog posts. Users are able to like, share, and comment on different blog posts, both on tumblr and other social media sites. Users have the option to belong to all these categories, even if they are not a part of the tumblr community, just casual observers.

'do not walk'

It nears closing as I attempt work at Good Karma, the coffee house on Pine street. I decide to pack up my belongings, out of respect for the last lonely employee, and make my way home. It is unusually warm for January so I decide to walk, saving the token for another time. I put in my earbuds, turn on my iPod, and keep pace with whichever obscure band happens to be playing at the time.

Making my way south on Broad street, I start the dance of stopping, looking both ways, and crossing at intersections in attempts to avoid vehicles. I mostly abide by the laws of the road, the ones influencing and shaping this jagged dance. But ultimately, I decide to use my own judgement as to when to cross. There are ‘do not walk’ signs, signaling when one should  cross, but through my past experiences I now view them as dares. Daring me to cross at my own will, because my safety is not guaranteed. 

time

perception of time

perception of time

One thing rarely discussed when designing is time. More specifically, how it can affect the design of systems and their implementation. Designers may find it useful to understand how cultures' interpret time to better influence and shape the end product or results.

Globally, time is not interpreted and felt the same place to place. There is no universal now. Some cultures are future oriented while others are more concerned with the present and past. For American’s, schedules are valuable tools in managing their time. According to Hall, in his work The Voices of Time, “Americans tend to think of time as something fixed in nature. [...] As a road or a ribbon stretching into the future, along which one progresses. The road has segments or compartments which are to be kept discrete.” Compare that with the indigenous view of the Navajo, and it is completely different. For the Navajo, only the immediate present has reality. The future has limited reality, only the here and now have actual relevance.

By having an understanding of how time is different from culture to culture, instances of poor design can be mitigated. For example, one such instance in the case of Hyder Akbar’s story of Abdul Wali described in the article Interrogation Unbound. If the U.S. servicemen in this story better understood the Afghan interpretation of time, the tragic end result may have been avoidable. The servicemen should have developed a different system for their interrogation. One that used language, in its reference to time,  that was understandable and relatable to Abdul Wali. But Wali did not understand what being asked of him because it was not formulated in a way he could understand.

This is just one example of how limited understanding of time influenced design. As mentioned earlier, designers have begun to shift toward a more user centric approach in designing. Designers should begin to incorporate concepts of time into their methodology. Having time conscious aspects of design may better enhance the overall design, affording accessibility and use to a wider or more global audience.

unisex

A growing trend amongst public facilities has been the idea of the unisex bathroom. I am not talking about single rooms or stalls meant for the use of men and women separately, but rather one with multiple stalls where men and women use the bath simultaneously. A movement towards gender equality and tolerance can attributed as one of the main causes for this trend. Many also suggest, it will help in the reduction of line queues and with spacial preservation. Regardless of its origins, for many, the unisex bathroom will change the way in which people use and interact with and in it. 

One major change with unisex bathroom will be in bathroom etiquette, or bathroom behavior. For many, bathrooms have become a type of sanctuary or a place of social interaction. Many times people will tweet, text message, or even check e-mails, turning the bathroom into a temporary office. Small talk often arises in bathrooms as well turning into a meeting area or place of gossip. With unisex bathrooms, it has the potential to be less about those other functions bringing it back to it's initial intent. Lastly, bathroom hygiene may be impacted. Men and women can be equally messy and careless at times, but cleaning up after oneself will become a higher priority. If not, you can bet there will be a passive aggressive note somewhere. So remember men, put that seat down!

I happen to be all for the unisex bathroom. Belonging to the gay culture at large, the idea of unisex bathrooms have been around for awhile. In this culture, gender is not as black and white as society labels it to be. Some people do not even fit into the category of male or female. By making unisex bathrooms, we as a society, can start to better bridge the gap into gender equality. 

it's a shear fit!

Image Source: http://cakesandshakes.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/bad-haircut.jpg

Image Source: http://cakesandshakes.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/bad-haircut.jpg


It had been awhile since my last haircut, but my hair was at a point beyond control. I looked like a hobbit. Being fairly new to the city, I am still in the process of finding a hair salon or barber shop to become my regular place of service. Most salons require a license for their services, so one would expect the quality of service and product to be the same no matter the place. But this is not true. There are many factors that are to be considered when looking for a regular place.

There is a combination of four factors I consider when looking for a place to cut my hair. The first is the salon's ambience, it needs to have a comfortable and clean environment. The second is the staff, they should be informed and friendly. They should also be masters in their craft, nobody wants a bad haircut. Third is the location, it should be a reasonable distance from my home or school. Lastly, and most importantly, is the price. It should be affordable and reasonable, not too expensive or too cheap. Excelling in one aspect is not enough. There should be a good combination of each, but it is hard to find a place with the perfect balance.

No matter where I go though, there seems to always be an issue with communicating my desired style to the stylist. I do not know the proper lingo. I tend to use my hands and gesture a lot, using phrases like 'not too short and not too long,' hoping for some sign of understanding or confirmation from the stylist. Good stylist are able to interpret these failed attempts, but is there a better way? I have been to countless places over the years, but it is always the same game of telephone.

 

'like a lost puppy'

Image Source: http://www.collegehumor.com/picture/6815272/dog-visits-bank

Image Source: http://www.collegehumor.com/picture/6815272/dog-visits-bank

 Like with anybody moving to a new city, there were some aspects of my 'old' life that I had to localize and update. One aspect was my old bank account, I needed to open a new account specific to the Philadelphia area. I did some online research as to which bank had the best features and was the most convenient for me. I decided to open an account with TD Bank. With this newly acquired information I thought I was all set to go and setup my new account. Easy right, but that was only part of it.   

I walked into the bank ready to open an account, but I quickly learned I had no idea what to do. At my old bank, if you wanted to speak with a representative, there was a log book patrons signed stating reason for visitation, name, and time. This did not exist here. I didn’t know what to do. I was like a lost puppy. Did I approach an employee at a desk, the counter, or just wait in the lobby until somebody approached me? I decided with the later, which I think is only semi right.

At a later time I visited the bank with a fellow friend while she deposited money. Seated on a bench, I was approached by two different employees at two different times asking if I needed assistance. Was I waiting in the wrong area, was this the right way to wait for assistance? I don’t know. There is no clear indication or system of what to do. It is also clear that they don’t have a system either. I wonder how many more times I would have been asked if I needed assistance if I was there longer.

So with the help of Donna, the extremely polite and patient TD Bank employee, I opened my new saving and checking account. Two separate account numbers, also new for me. With my old bank it was just one account number with different extensions indicating the difference in accounts. Also, the transfer, withdrawal, and deposit forms are completely different from what I am used to. I still don’t know how to use them at all. I just guess. I always dread going to the bank, completing as many tasks online as possible. I still have no idea what to do at the actual bank, finding it much easier to navigate and manage online.

priorities

Image Source: http://corporatesurvivorguide.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/effective-multitasking-the-key-to-survival/

Image Source: http://corporatesurvivorguide.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/effective-multitasking-the-key-to-survival/

Sitting in a coffee house trying to complete some readings for another class, I finish a section glancing up deciding to take a break. I notice a light on my phone is blinking green, indicating a new message. I check the message and reply. My laptop is open in front of me, I retreat to the device checking my e-mail and other forms of social media. Nothing new, so I exit out of the windows, pushing it aside. 

Still not ready to resume my readings, I look around the cafe. I notice other patrons following in the same suit. Many have notebooks, books, phones, iPods, and laptops all in front of them, shuffling between all of the devices, like a choreographed dance. Reading for a few moments, checking their phone briefly, back to their book, next typing on the computer, only to return to their original task of reading. I am not judging, for I fall victim to this routine as well. Are we that easily distracted that we can't focus on a simple task, such as reading for school, are we so worried about being disconnected from society that we have to constantly be checking our phones and computers to fill that need, or are we simply just multitasking? 

As I am sitting their debating this, I overhear a conversation between two people at an adjacent table. A med student is talking to her friend about an upcoming exam. Apparently, it is a major exam worth a significant amount of her grade and rumors have been circulating over the potential difficulty. As I am listening to the lady illustrate the importance of this examination to her friend, I look over to see her Facebook open on her computer. I am not overly surprised by the observation, but wonder how important this exam is and if she indeed actually worried. I see this as a common occurrence. I wonder what we, as individuals and as society as a whole, see as a priority and what weight each holds. For this med student, doing well on her upcoming exam and being socially connected are both priorities with the same weight of importance.