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July 26, 2008

Sketching in Hardware Day 2: Notes from discussion

Really really detailed notes follow. Thanks to all the SubEthaEdit contributors.

Notes on Sketching in Hardware 08 discussion

applications for hardware collaboration

not a technical problem - a social problem...maybe you need an active curator to maintain quality - or like the Linux benevolent dictator model
OPEN SOURCE - a 'bazaar' model of development, but for user interface and experience, perhaps need 'cathedral' (benevolent dictator) model.

Tools for collaboration
maybe Ning?
Eyebeam collaboration wiki on collaboration software - InventionDB, Twiki...lots of wikis
BSCW
Tortoise SV
needing to exchange diagrams
Get Satisfaction forums - maybe a Get Satisfaction plugin
Backpack?
materials libraries - like MacWeb (ask Leah what she meant)
RISDpedia.net - materials and processes for using them (note: incentives for using it help!)
Talk to Ayah about talking to Zach about collaboration
Ranjit: look at Ravelry, popular for knitting community

Barriers to documenting what you do
"Share this sketch button" integrated into tool

Dave M. Automatic export of arduino sketches to a web-backed database? with efficient search of "give me programs that work that look like what i'm writing here"
(example of sharing mech. built into tool: http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/coscripter)
- Scratch

Cost of making wiki pages, etc. is a barrier to people documenting their knowledge

Wishlist: What are the things that need to be built?

Dave Mellis Arduino 2.0: 32 bit? Ethernet? Built-in display driving? Good graphical programming interface

Phil: Server that can maintain 3D location of things
MikeK: what about Pachube? Look at Stanford Event heap

Jan: Arduino debugging system ...Spritzer hardware debugging - if I send this data in, what would I get back? (uhhhh... ask Jan how this works in detail) -> Jan: http://hci.rwth-aachen.de/spritzer

Jan: request for usable version of Eagle

Leah
1) materials library
2) SIMPLE way to use analog pins on Arduino as outputs
3) make AI tools for activity recognition available. Exemplar could be easier to download and use.there are AI libraries, like the Georgia Tech gesture toolkit (Ranjit - like face recognition libraries that are hardcore)
4) Bjoern should re-package Exemplar to make it easier to install

Bjoern: need good small LCDs. also: WiFi
able to mirror what you see on desktop screen on small screen

Dave V: the problem is keeping up with change in displays

Jeff: like a driver board that can adapt to many different displays

Kipp: displays! need support from manufacturers. Good one is Microtips (sold through Mouser, their engineers are very accessible) working at wrong level of abstraction - don't want have to write directly to pixels.

Dave V. looking at running Flash on Gumstix - Flash is the key for drawing, and Gumstix can run almost any display. (but Flash really only possible on Gumstix via Windows CE) Maybe OpenMoko or similar mobile platform?

Phil: or the Bug Labs thing...but it's expensive and big

NEXT TOPIC: Education (run by Dave M, who will soon be in it to his eyeballs)
New Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design - starting this fall... in Copenhagen
General questions: what's the purpose of an education in physical computing? what outcomes? what are employers looking for? what are good assignments? what's a good structure for a class? what's the right balance between individual and teamwork? skills vs concepts? what skills do people need to learn? what besides skills? how do we incorporate knowledge about history of field? are we trying to inculcate students in tradition? how much lecturing should we be doing? what about good ideas with no technology? how do we encourage faster and more frequent prototyping? how do we incorporate human context? how do we test prototypes outside of lab? how do we encourage student reflection? is this a discipline at all?

Jan: answer depends on your background, and students' backgrounds

Dave Mellis is an engineer, with background in interaction design. the students will be getting a masters in interaction design.

Camille: Keep everything short! Forcing a short time frame forces students to prioritize. A project a week, or even a day can help bring students focused.

Kipp: Make sure people learn how to make stuff, even if they know the theory. Conveying sense of constraints: of tools, of process. Teach work/design PROCESS.

Matt C: reflections on teaching with Jasper with students from RISD and Brown. Engineers needed focused goals, industrial designers didn't want systems reqs -- so they enjoyed different parts of the semester. Engineers able to enter design mindset because they can identify with object. Industrial designers have no experience with engineering culture (like specs and requirements). Support group meets. In group projects, everyone puts down their own money, and no one can own the final project. Using departmental money frees them to be a team.
(Bjoern: could we create a list of everyone's course materials online? - Liz: yes)

Jan: Many disciplines are already doing plenty of individual projects, so I try to correct for it in my classes. You can assign credit by having students make idealogues (?) everyone documents their own individual process for grading later. Interdisciplinary groups - give *upfront* teaching about problems in interdisciplinary collaboration, and what other disciplines value.

Pamela: When teaching, can't make assumptions about expertise in interdisciplinary classes. Scaffolding helps - building up levels of expectation in assignments so that there are multiple expectations for people at different levels of expertise. Students who are more advanced can take a series of challenges after they complete the basic exercises. Knowledge transfer - how people can apply what they learn in basic assignments and build it into their own individual projects. Likes individual projects so that students are forced to learn, not just depend on the designer to design and the technical person to engineer. Self-efficacy: giving people the sense that they have the ability to learn. But self-efficacy is something that people can acquire.

Ayah: Disagrees. From experience at MIT, take *only* people who really want to take the class. If the class is hard, they should learn how to deal with it on their own - by asking for help, by working on their own, by putting in extra time. So they come out stronger.

Pamela: Potentially losing some students.

Kipp: The actual point is making it safe to fail at some point in the process.

Julian: Spend 20% of time showing the work of other people. Don't assume that students already know about existing work - in technology, or elsewhere. It's not just about technology-based work.

Phil: A good first project: lots of constraints works well because students who are dazzled by all the possibilities go nowhere. One project: a single potentiometer, and a single output (either sound or video). Teams vs individual: now assigns first project to individual in order to make sure that people learn. But later projects do well with teams.

Leah: Show enthusiasm! Especially at beginning, it's important to communicate excitement. Also, contextualize information. Why are the ideas important.

Bjoern: idea logs work for us. We tell them that we're going to grade you on the number of pages in your idea log. It works like magic.

David Z: Pre-selection is important. Have a class of engineers and then teach them art. What are all the parameters of selection you can use in a class and get an interesting selection of subcultures and manipulate them.

Ylva: Early on explain that they shouldn't just think about their grades, but that this goes into their portfolio.

Daria: Do you want to educate people or teach them how to make products? [some motorcycle noise]

James T: The class has to be about you, as a teacher. Don't make it really hard, or about this, or [whatever.]. What are you teaching? Some of my best classes were with the worst professors.

Jan: We take the best possible idea log and then say to the class "this is what this can look like." Showing engineers basic sketching techniques and using them unlocks engineers creativity.

Dave V: At Brown, open constraints left people making uninteresting objects to complete the assignment. At RISD if you have two open constraints then people would do something weird. Manage constraints based on the type of people.

Dave Mellis: Are we teaching people skills or are we teaching people how to [design? balance?].

Liz: It's OK to say "in this class we're going to blink these lights" and make it OK to teach skills.

CTP: At SFAI the dean wants the output of every class to be gallery quality art. That makes it hard to teach skills. I've never been able to choose my students.

Nick: If it feels like a commune, but has healthy doses of reality, that's one good sign. You do some things that are expression and exhibition, and other things that answer people's needs and desires. If people come out being less sure of who they are is success.

Haiyan: Run people through the design process as many times as you can. Even if it's a skills class, run them through the design process. So that they always have an understanding of people. Even if it's a project for exhibition, it requires research.

Pamela: The students will learn skills [and some stuff I missed --mk]

Dave Mellis: What should the outcome be?

ËšJosh: What we look for is people who can dig a hole and have the confidence to get themselves out of it or take the consequences. They can separate their work from their self esteem. If I let that affect how I feel day to day, I would have to quit my job. I believe in spinning people around and watch them fail; they might excel in one thing and fall on their face the next minute. Like Project Runway!

Jan: I'm not expecting my CS students to be star designers, I expect them to be star developers, but with a good understanding of the values of other professions. I may be good at programming, but I understand that this guy is really good at design and we use different measurement at judging our work. If my students understand how to get a team that produces an exceptional result.

James T: How do you get people to understand that they're really good at interaction design?

Ayah: I would like a Physical Computing reality show. Like Project Runway.

CTP: It's happening.

Daria: After giving them with a background in what they're doing, I want to leave them with more questions than they can answer in these four years.

Liz: What's interesting about the mushy middle, it's a state of limbo we're in. It's important to understand that there are many different ways of doing interaction design. I come from a very research heavy school. Other people come from a tinkering school. If you teach clearly and honestly, and are OK to give people a D, and push people on to that other school.

CTP: If I get a painter and my class pushes them screaming back to painting, I consider that a success. (most don't go running, however)

Camille: We need more BA-level education. We're learning basic stuff at the Master's level, if we had a basic program in which people would learn the things that we're now teaching at the Master's level.

Nick: I don't think that's such a good idea. Right now interaction design is full of craziness, and it creates a broad scope. It augments who you were.

Ylva: When I went to school at 19, I wanted to be in interaction design. I had to learn Java by myself. I had to quit and study media studies and then realized that's not what I wanted.


Posted by egoodman at July 26, 2008 8:36 PM

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