12 Forbes Terrace
Pittsburgh, PA 15217










Thursday, October 2, 2003

Having an Experience

Seminar was all about a close reading of John Dewey's "Having an Experience." Frankly, I could have used an even closer reading, because I'm still struggling with this (essentialist) interpretation of interaction design. But I'll try to summarize and hope at least half of it is correct.

For Dewey, forms exist in nature and in society. A mountain is a form; so is the Democratic Party. They are created by processes and energy (intent). Living beings, and especially humans, interact with these forms. We make them into experiences. Forms are the raw matter for our experiences, which then themselves become forms. Its a paradoxical position.

Forms are who we are as human beings for Dewey. For Bergson they are conventions that get in the way of our inner life. We have to turn forms into experiences by a process called reconstructive doing. We have to remake the form in our minds. Unlike earlier interpretations of interaction design, the environment resists. It is difficult to reconstruct certain things. Like this article.

Most experiences are what Dewey calls inchoate: they are unfulfilled, they get interupted; there is no closure, just a stop. In short, these are both frustrating and not significant. In order for an experience to be fully formed, it needs a beginning, middle, and end (closure). Three things have to come together to create an experience: the aesthetic, the intellectual, and the practical. Depending on which one of these dominates is the type of experience you have. Some are intellectual, some practical, some aesthetic. They are differentiated by the intent we bring to them.

How do you make an experience? By crafting an aesthetic. Form comes from the subject matter itself. But, importantly, the artist makes, and the audience remakes. The audience takes your experience (form) and, through reconstructive doing, remakes it into their own experience (form). And this is how interactions work: they are a constant process of both doing and undergoing.

posted at 09:12 AM in design theory | comments (1) | trackback (0) | link


Essentialist Readings

Two readings that relate to essentialist interactions:

posted at 08:33 AM in readings | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link



I've picked up another assistantship, TAing an introductory web design class taught by new faculty member Stacie Rohrbach. I'll basically be helping students with code projects and working through Dreamwaver issues.

posted at 08:12 AM in assistantships | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


BreakAway: The Movie

If you're in the mood to watch a four-minute product movie for a product that doesn't exist, my movie (9.6mb quicktime) for the BreakAway project might be right up your alley.

posted at 08:02 AM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Busy Boy

Christ, this has been a busy week. Some weeks of school are fine, normal. Other weeks are just pockets of activity and work. This is one of the latter. It's one of those weeks to just get through.

I'm starting to really love Thursday nights. Sunday-Wednesday nights aren't my own: I'm just doing homework. But since I don't have class on Friday, Thursday nights are mine. Some weeks, Survivor can't come on soon enough.

Here's how busy I've been: I got a new CD (Interpol) on Monday. I haven't listened to it yet. For me, that's pretty much unheard of.

posted at 07:48 AM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Susan Rockrise

Went to the first lecture in a series of them thrown by the Design department. Tonight's speaker was Susan Rockrise, global creative director of Intel.

posted at 11:55 PM in special guest stars | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link



I realize, looking over this last week's entries, that it might seem like I spend most of my time reading articles for Seminar. While I do spend a lot of time doing that, lately the bulk of my time has been spent on projects, specifically a product for interface class we're calling BreakAway.

The product is basically a reminder system that monitors email, calendar, and computer activity, and tells you in a situationally appropriate way that it is time to take a break. The product also looks like a blob of PlayDough sitting in a candle holder. At least, that's what the prototype looks like.

We spent Saturday filming an instructional movie, and I've spent quite a few hours since then editing the film and adding music, titles, and subtitles to the footage. I've had to learn iMovie to do this, which added to the time it took.

We're presenting the product on Thursday with the movie and a presentation about our design process.

posted at 11:49 PM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Monday, September 29, 2003

More Dewey Readings

Perhaps the seminal interaction design text, "Having an Experience," by John Dewey from Art as Experience. Also by Dewey, "The Existential Matrix of Inquiry: Cultural" from Logic: The Theory of Inquiry.

posted at 08:35 PM in readings | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Essentialist Interactions

We finished up our look at existential interactions ("transactions") today by discussing Henri Bergson's "Time and Free Will," then moved on to the third interpretation of interaction, essentialist interaction, discussing our reading from John Dewey's "Democracy and Education."

But first, a quick recap of the first two interpretations.

Entitative ("interface") interpretation: Reality is the entities around us. What interacts in this view are bodies in motion. Interface is how these bodies relate to other bodies: they only send signals back and forth. Emotions, values, and beliefs are all deemphasized.

Existential ("transactional") interpretation: What interacts in this view are sentient beings, who are able to make sense of the world. The focus here is on making sense, adding meaning, then projecting it into the world. What a person says and does is important.

Henri Bergson's views fit in this view. Bergson is all about space, time, and motion. Motion is made up of discreet moments that we connect. Motion is created in our consciousness.

There are two ways of looking at the world, according to Bergson: one in space and one in time. Time can be seen in space, however. Even though it is deceptive, we use space as a way of talking about time. Dreams are the one place that space doesn't dominate.

There is a second time that we do not measure: duration. Duration is the flow of our consciousness.

For Bergson, interactions take place in two ways: either they are put into space, or they dissolve inside the mind.

It's deep, deep stuff. I won't claim to understand it entirely.

We then moved on to the Dewey readings and entered into the third interpretation of interaction: essentialist interaction.

In this view, unlike the entitative view, communication and interaction aren't the same thing. What is interacting here are people and their environment. Environment, according to Dewey, isn't just our surroundings, it is physical and social, natural and cultural. The external world, unlike the existentialist interpretation, is not absurd: it has meaning, or essences. The environment "pushes back" in this approach.

In other words, here subject matter counts. Subject matter has essences; it has persistence and significance.

This view feels that we might not have all the answers, but we do have some, and they can exist in forms: art, institutions, design, etc.

Interaction occurs in this view as exchanges of energy and in the forming of experiences.

posted at 08:30 PM in design theory | comments (4) | trackback (0) | link


‹‹ preceding entries




All straight lines circle sometimes. - The Weakerthans