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October 2, 2020

The Perception of the Environment

Meaning is there to be discovered in the landscape, if only we know how to attend to it.

As undergraduate, I took a course called Landscapes in Literature because I assumed we would be reading about "happy daffodils dancing in the wind" (Wordsworth) or treks through foggy heaths (Brontë), but the professor had a similar outlook to Tim Ingold on what constituted a landscape in literature. We started off with "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman working our way to "A Journal of a Plague Year" by Daniel Defoe. Both of these works in particular deal with how mental or physical states affect their perception of the environment that they live in.

A key part of the class was writing about the meaning of landscapes depicted in the works that we read. The professor encouraged us to write the most "BS papers you can. Make me believe it." when interpreting the text. This caused me take both a critical and creative eye to the texts I was reading. Critical to discover what are the patterns of the landscape, and creative to convey meaning to the those patterns.

October 2, 2020

Phenomenology in HCI

Extremely simplified, experience is limited to the bodies capability to experience. Perception is the interpretation of that experience. Consciousness is how our perceptions construct our reality. Phenomenology is the interaction and dissection of these constructs.

I found this article interesting because while never directing mentioning this article touched on many of themes present in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, who is sometimes referred to as the philosopher king. Additionally, I would consider, The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, a HCI design specific application of these principles. I will explore these connections below.

Phenomenology, Meditations, and the everyday.

II. XV — All is as thinking makes it so.


III. X — Remind yourself too that each of us lives only in the present moment, a mere fragment of time: the rest of life is past or uncertain future.

Consciousness as a temporal structure. Here Aurelius is exploring how our "primal impression" is the one that grounds us in the present. And to spend too much time in "retention" and "protention" phases detracts from the experience of now ~ where the melody lives. As designers I interpret this to mean, give only the information that is needed in the present, in consideration of past and present but not overvaluing.

IV. IV — Constantly bring to mind all that you yourself have already seen changed. The universe is change: life is judgement.


IX. ILII. II — You will find that none of these who excite your anger has done anything capable of affecting your mind for the worse: and it is only in your mind that damage or harm can be done to you — they have no other existence.


September 25, 2020

Exploring the Reflective Potentialities of Personal Data with Different Temporal Modalities

"Personal listening histories lack the material presence that might enable people to casually engage with them in daily life."

The human brain does not construct memory and remembrance linearly or sequentially. Everything is a metaphor connected to another metaphor. Any memory is an intangible experience. Something you can't put your finger on, existing undefined at the edges of your consciousness. The more you try and define it the more you destroy it, layering over current experiences, until all thats left is the memory of the memory. This has been explored at depth in literature, cognitive psychology, philosophy, pop culture, and various other mediums.

And now this radio.

"...to catalyze a range of experiences that can evolve as one develops a sensibility."

What appeals to me about this radio is that it's almost as if you are putting a knob on your memory. Exploring time both linearly but also "perpendicularly" across time periods. This isn't a way of thinking that is natural (sample size: me). Plotting connections between time and memory in a way that forms new associations and remembrances. Memories that don't rewrite but strengthen the power of the connection between your felt experience in the present and your memory of the past.

Of course, I am basing this off a few quotes by a small, niche study size, but I find myself wanting this radio nonetheless.

September 22, 2020

The Problem with Doors

The very human problem with doors is that there is no one single human or entity designing all the doors. Every door has a different “mode of action,” a different way of interacting with its control, as defined by the designers intent. And as encountered by Don Norman and many others, this intent does not always translate to the person using the door.

Each designer or architect is bringing a different focus (aesthetic, cultural, economical) to the design of the door’s control, or selection of the door’s use. The visual signals they choose, and the cultural constraints they operate by may fail to translate outside of their original context of creation. Doors are a human construct, and we should demand more of their design, not less. Rather than design a single type of door, we should consider how might we give clear affordances to open “new doors” for door’s modes of action.

September 22, 2020


In this chapter, Bauman displays a comprehensive knowledge of mechanical and UI controls, their affordances, interactions, and constraints. His deep familiarity with the application of these controls means that he understands what is lost when we depend too much on a single type of control (keys).

We can see the affects of the lack of control diversity in many of the tools we use today. At one end of the spectrum there are the UI interfaces with clunky and unwieldy UI with Menus nested in Menus nested in Menus. Surely there is a better way to access than going 5 “key” clicks deep into a menu. And at the other end there is the minimalism design trend often sinks controls, making it hard for users to find and interact with the controls they need. Either system depends on controls that provide limited “feedforward” affordances.

How can we introduce new control paradigms (tactile, audio feedback) to match the technology being developed so that they do not tax our attentional and cognitive systems?

Designed by Rachel Arredondo