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Friday, March 5, 2004

Spring Break 2004
Spring break already. Hard to believe spring semester is already half over. In some ways, it seems like it is only beginning. It's been a lot harder to feel fully engaged this semester, for some reason. I have a lot of work to do when I return: essay for Seminar, lots of miLife project work for Studio, and my music map for Mapping & Diagramming. Not to mention teaching my students about designing look and feel, finding advisors (and settling on topics!) for my thesis paper and project, and finding freelance work to do over the summer.

But I do get a handful of days in The OC, so that'll be nice. Although I'll be doing some generative research for miLife while I'm there, and gathering data for my map too. Oy.

posted at 08:34 AM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Airing Dirty Laundry
One thing that is annoying about my program is how woefully under-promoted it is. There's no reason that someone from CMU shouldn't be included in these types of conversations about design education. It's sort of embarrassing we weren't, honestly. I was equally saddened and amazed at how many people at the IA Summit had never even heard of the interaction design program here. And I'm talking to people in the profession and in academia!

CMU's design school has a great reputation among those who know about us. The problem is that not enough people do. And I think it is a combination of a lot of things that I see schools like Ivrea, Art Center, and IIT doing a better job of. These include (but aren't limited to) a reasonable website, befitting a design school (rumored to be coming); hosting/sponsoring a small but visible conference like HITS; and a higher output in papers, design work, and visibility/speaking engagements from the core faculty. The addition of Shelley Evenson this past year was a step in the right direction on the last count, but clearly there is work that needs to be done.

posted at 04:43 PM in cmu | comments (4) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, March 2, 2004

The Sound of America, March 2004
Inspired by the political book map, I've decided to use Amazon's data for my final project for my Mapping & Diagramming class. (Hard to believe I'm starting a final project already!)

I'm planning a poster that shows the linkage between Amazon's Best Sellers using the "Customers who bought this album also bought..." data. Once I establish those links (perhaps going two or three levels of linkage deep), I can pull out some meta categories like genres and show those atop the pattern. I'm also planning to use the data for some related sidebars. Should make for an interesting diagram.

posted at 08:59 PM in projects | comments (3) | trackback (1) | link


Working on or at something intensely, like I've been doing with schoolwork for the last eight months or so, makes you take too many things too seriously. You begin to feel that everything is personal, even when it isn't. Your skin becomes thin, and offhand remarks take on a personal sting. Critical comments about your ideas become personal affronts. You become irritable and overly-sensitive.

My totally impractical advice: drop everything for a long weekend, like I just did. Let it all go. Drink some, laugh a lot, sing if you have to. Don't do any work. Don't even blog. (Horrors!)

You'll feel much better afterwards. Trust me.

posted at 08:33 PM in student life | comments (2) | trackback (0) | link


Making Bad Drawings Look Better
I finished up my Sketching and Modeling class last week before I left to go to the IA Summit. It was a "mini," meaning it only ran half the semester. Aside from learning that you can model physical objects very quickly (useful), I also learned how to make bad sketches (my specialty) look much better. Here's how:

  • Dropshadows are almost a cliche in digital design, but adding one to a sketch helps bring it off the page.
  • Related to that is to make a "light source" coming from the left of the drawn object, and shade in some shadows accordingly. Meaning, a dark shadow on the right plane of the object, a lighter shade on the front plane, and an even lighter one on the top.
  • Long strokes, even crappily drawn, are better than short, choppy, "hairy" ones.
  • Darken the edges of an object where two planes meet, but you can't see both planes.
  • Use the simplest means possible to convey ideas while storyboarding. Only use perspective for clarity.

posted at 08:21 PM in design 101, visualization | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


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All straight lines circle sometimes. - The Weakerthans