Moritz Greiner-Petter: Seamful Design

In 2015, Google released an experimental software plugin for its Chrome browser called Tone. The small tool is remarkable in its peculiar approach for overcoming the obstacles posed by the incompatabilities of modern communication devices, operating systems and network protocols. The browser plugin makes it possible to exchange online content with others in a shared physical space (like a class or meeting room) through sound. It allows to broadcast the URL of any web content as a uniquely encoded sound snippet over the speaker of one’s computer. Any other machine within ear-shot, running Chrome with the plugin activated and listening, is thereby promted to open the respective web link. The reliablility of the transmission depends on the volume of the speaker and the distance of the listening machines, but also on ambient sounds or the orientation of computers relative to each other. It’s even said to work over phone and video calls. As its developers note in a blog post: “Tone behaves like speech in interesting ways”[1]. Although the generated sound itself is cryptic, the auditory mode of sending data affords a somewhat comprehensible and approachable form of interaction. You can instantly hear how loud your message is sent, you might have to send it again, a bit louder this time, to reach everyone in the room, move your machine closer towards the listeners, or interrupt conversations to allow for a successful transmission.

Image Credit: Reddit thread “You’re an asshole, Roomba”

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Valentino Tignanelli: Academic Abstract

(Desplácese hacia abajo para el español.)

The academic abstract is a short text, usually of about 300 words or less and with no images. It works as a preview of a more extensive article called paper. This article should be firstly accepted before sending the abstract to a congress, institution or research magazine. The argumental line of the complete article should fit in this format. With the abstract the organizations that receive it will evaluate if the project is relevant to the program to be developed on the open call. There isn’t a general rule when it comes to whether the abstract precedes or announces the extensive article or if goes after it. If it triggers the content of the paper or if it synthesizes in a way it becomes more effective during it’s processing. They are common to be thought in a short time lapse of the deadline, and its length also responds to immediate materialization necessities.

Deadline mechanics by Valentino Tignanelli.

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Nancy Nowacek: Citizen Bridge

Bridges, in most all regards, are necessarily enduring infrastructure that enable transport of people, vehicles, and/or goods across an impassable obstacle (water, canyons, swift-moving multi-lane highways, etc).

What are the impacts, then, when a bridge is told that it may only exist for a day? How do the dueling obstacles of water and time ignite the design process?

Concept Demonstration, Governors Island 2012. Sculpture, lumber, drinking glasses, water. Video frame courtesy of the artist.

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Matthias Laschke & Marc Hassenzahl: Pleasurable Troublemakers

Keymoment – Initiating Behavior Change through Friendly Friction 
by Dr. Matthias Laschke & Prof. Dr. Marc Hassenzahl

The WHO recommends commuting to work by bike. However, people prefer the car – even for short distances. Keymoment is a key holder mounted next to the front door. It presents bike and car key, side by side, but on separate hooks. The moment of grabbing the keys becomes an explicit choice: bike or car? If the bike key is taken, nothing happens. If the car key is taken, though, Keymoment chucks out the bike key, which drops to the floor. People tend to pick up the key. Through this, Keymoment creates a carefully designed, quite tangible moment of reconsidering routines and choices.

The Keymoment: Change through friendly friction | by Matthias Laschke from Siegen Experience & Interaction on Vimeo.

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Jeff Thompson: Contextual Obstacles

In my creative practice, I find myself much less interested in honing a form or creating a frictionless experience. Instead, relationships and systems feel much more fruitful, with designed objects as a result of exploring that context. Thinking about how to represent this idea, the form of a “light cone” seemed appropriate. This form has fascinated me ever since I read A Brief History of Time as a teenager while on a family vacation in northern Minnesota. It shows a singular point, the present, with two cones emanating from it: the observable past and future. Replacing the point with an object (say a chair), the cones become echoing contexts: material, experiential, social, biological, and cultural. In one direction, these contexts become increasingly physical and fundamental. Methods of construction lead to material choices and ultimately biology, geology, DNA, and atoms.

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Martina Leeker: Obstacology with Trickster, Owlglass Pranks and Disabled Things.

What’s going on? Dispositif of Technospheres

The current situation of discourses on digital cultures can be described as a “dispositif of technospheres”, which is formed from e. g. discourse-on-things and techno-ecology, and the so-called “new materialism”. The departure point is a model according to which human agents and technical things should no longer be in an instrumental relationship, but are instead bound in a symmetrical agency. Technological environments are seen as a power of affecting that can no longer cognitively be grasped or controlled by humans. The dispositif of technospheres thus aims for human agents that are swinging with the technological environment, selling this existential involvement as a solution for dealing with current challenges as climate catastrophes and capitalist crises, proclaimed with the Anthropocene. In doing so, they forget the politics of the technospheres, because they are so enchanted with this that the concealed modes of data collection and analysis, as well as the interests of major players (Amazon, Google, Facebook) are happily supported.

The great challenge is now to develop new descriptions, what is absolutely required by the constitution of digital cultures, without overlooking their politics and governmental aspects.

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