May be things aren’t the way I observed but nonetheless I must tell what is making me to even write so. I am seeing a lot of people around me spending hours entertaining calls. Either they are answering calls or many a times are making calls to all different sort of people. And with an oxygenated penetration of mobile telephony, people aren’t simply making calls to all different sort of people; they are making calls from all different sort of locations as well. Finding people with earplugs and talking to gods and demons while they walk on road or virtually at any place, no matter how bizarre the place itself is, isn’t such a spectacle any more. No doubt we are connected better than ever before perhaps in the history of human race but what about the clarity of communication. What is it that drives these conversations? Does it compose of statements followed by further set of statements or by an endless clarification of the anything being spoken of? Does it include more of confusion or clarity? Although I have no access to what people talk about on their phones but with some inquiry and with couple of persons who shared their experiences of talking at length, few interesting things seem to be emerging.
It is off course subjective to an extent to see a connection between clarity of communication and the communication medium i.e. mobile telephony in our case. However the agencies, the people who are talking, which drive communication do have an effect on the clarity of communication. Whether one is able to communicate to the other, does depend on one’s ability to articulate his thoughts. No doubt about this but the case doesn’t simply rest here. What about the loss of signals during a mobile conversation or a sudden disappearance of battery power? What about the continuous noise that disrupts our talk sometimes? And what about an accidental push on the ‘red button’ when you are trying to switch between your ears? All of these and similar others random factors do affect our perception of the caller or of the subject being talked of. I have come across people testifying how they have been mistaken for someone who is arrogant or egoistic when for reasons, similar to the ones mentioned above, a call broke at some critical point in the conversation. And even when they resumed the call back, how hard they had a time clarifying their stand or explaining the reason for the ‘break’ in communication. This might happen between two people fixing a deal on phone, or between duos who are on the verge of resolving a crisis. And this might be worse between a couple.
Apparently none other than script writers or storytellers have made a note of any such behavior, truly spontaneous and random, but many a times critical. We can accept this! We can term these as ‘misunderstandings’ and can assume that these have ever existed between people, and can conclude that communication technology can’t really handle it. However I do feel somewhere that technology isn’t simply mean to enable communication between peers but rather it is there to sustain it in an intended form; in a form which humans decide.
Yeah.. I mean you would ask such as question, as the one above in the title of the post, to yourself when you probably had worked really just a day before and today you happen to be comparatively a little eased. So in retrospection I am posing this question to myself, “So what is it that I did yesterday?”. Apparently the answer to this question is relatively simpler than I imagined. It is either one activity or the other… something with a well define goal to be completed in a shorter time. However what is interesting me more now, as I look back, are a bunch of new things which I discovered. I was involved with an UI assignment where I was struggling to produce quick prototypes. For those who are not familiar with the domain, UI is an acronym for User Interface. The assignment demands me to create sufficiently detailed prototypes which I can use to illustrate the workflows and individual screens. Fighting against the time I tried couple of things, right from Photoshop to Illustrator, Balsamiq, Pidoco and so many of these. Every link got me to a new product page where I am shown a tutorial video telling me how to use the specific tool. Come on.. I have no time to view tutorials, give me something easy to understand and operate. At least for god’s sake please don’t ask me to Sign Up to try. Soon I realized that perhaps I’m asking for too much or I’m knocking at the wrong door. I could also be blamed as a hurried user who wants things at his finger tips. Whatever, my reality stays with me at the end. I just could not use these tools.
Anyways lets come to the interesting bit. At the time when I started putting off with this show I came across, almost accidentally, a webpage. It showed me simple tools to help one creating paper prototypes. Let me insert that link here. It is simply amazing. What they provide is a set of layouts as PDF files which you can print. These include different graph layouts like equally spaced dots, grids, storyboard etc. These layouts are flexible enough and one can feel at home while creating paper prototypes. The layout which I used is a dot graph. I printed several copies of dot graph on A4 papers. Paper prototyping was so quick with these dotted graph papers. I think I discovered something simple, yet highly effective yesterday. BTW, if you notice the image that I have used at the beginning of this post is one of my paper prototypes 🙂
This morning I got to know about the Start Up revolution in Israel. A dear professor and also an experienced designer, Iko Avital, told me that Israel has fastest growing Start Ups in the world. After googling for few, I came across this awesome start up called Wibbitz. They convert text into videos and kind of believe that they could turn readers into viewers. An amazing idea indeed. I tried the same for my blog and voila!! It worked and my blog posts are now appearing as news headline in a video. It’s really an experience.
For some reasons it seems that embedding the video isn’t yet working with wordpress. So my readers have to wait to see that. But DO TRY Wibbitz.
Although I try avoiding pasting links from other blogs unless “commented upon” but here is something which I think we need to read as it is. The post is written at ACM Communications by Neil Savage. In his writing Neil talks about Claude E Shannon’s work at Bell Labs. In Oct 1948 Shannon proposed the Information theory which became backbone for many a cutting edge scientific discoveries to happen later. My personal motivation to revisit Information Theory dates back to two distinct times. First during 1998-2003 when I was pursuing B.E. in Electronics and Telecommunication engineering. And second during master’s in 2005, when Madhusudan Mukherjee, most eloquently, exposed us to the design side of information theory at National Institute of Design.
A few days back I was asked an interesting question. Although personal but I believe that the answer to the question is worth sharing. Somebody asked,
“Why did you decide to get into design research and leave designing?”.
One can see that it is not just one single question. While in the first half of the question one is asking for my reasons to pursue design research. Fair enough! I have written a short essay on why one should do design research. It talks about the value proposition which design research brings into the larger picture of designing communication, products and services. I would encourage you to go through this post as well.
But in the second half of the question one is assuming that either I have left designing to pursue design research or design and design research are two mutually exclusive activities. Let me assure you that it is neither of these two cases. Neither I have quit designing after deciding to carry design research nor do I think that design research and design are mutually exclusive. Even after getting involved with design research I am actively pursuing design. There are short projects that I try to handle and accomplish. Well I know you could simply discard my answer stating that it is too personal to be taken seriously. Let me then question the assumption that if one pursues design research he/she could no longer perform as a designer. I believe this is inherently an overstated and exaggerated imagination. The whole idea that research is a scientific process, based on articulation, objectivity and measurements while design is an intuitive process, fused with creativity, doodling, and life changing thoughts, is utter bogus. In fact Creativity, Objectivity, Articulation and Understanding can exist independent of disciplines and fields. And these qualities cut across the boundaries. They are as crucial for one discipline as they are for another. Also look into the areas where design has an access to. They are also evolving. May be gone were the days when a designer would be limiting his performance to print media or to graphic arts and identity design. One could claim that design was an statement on its own, capable of transforming perceptions and identities. But listen to the contemporary voices and one can realize that design has a much larger audience, and a larger reach now. Today’s design of products, communication and services rests on extensive user’s feedback. Fields like ethnography, material science, information and computer science are crucial for imagining anything ‘next’ or extending the obvious line of thinking. Thus it seems that the design research and design are complementary activities and not mutually exclusive. And, they do so by not simply supporting each other but by chasing each other. And off course one can do both if he/ she could manage 🙂
The hand held gadget market is rolling at its best these days. Its not rare to spot smart tablets of different sizes and cell phones with bigger screens supported over android or apple platforms. The consumers seem to be happy too though I have few of those walking towards me while trying to establish a Wifi internet connection. Anyways I don’t intend to comment on the software of these products in this post. Instead I would love to write about an interesting observation here. These smart tablets and iPads typically have sleek, minimalistic and clean designs with rounded corners. With a glossy finish these products look wonderful in a consumer’s hand. But stay there for a while and you will see that the person is barely in a position to keep these hi-end tablets and pads in his hand confidently. Most often he could be seen taking special care while handling these products. The fear that the tablet or the cell phone will slip off from your hand is quite evident. And then just next to the tables where these gadgets are put for sales, lies a series of bags and jackets. The manufacturer of these bags, jackets and stands advertize by saying that they know how to keep your favorite gadgets ‘safe’. And then you spot the same consumer with a reincarnated version of these gadgets in their reinforced skins. So whats the point? The aesthetic for which one buys these gadgets gets compromised so soon. I wonder how designers would address this? They have rounded off the corners to make it look sleek and humanistic but they had to also offer you additional ‘designed’ material to make these corners sturdy. Doesn’t it ask for a little more- in terms of considering the overall ecosystem of the product.