Archive for March, 2013

Capstone Project Prototype Examples – Music and Sunlight

Programming the Lilypad Arduino with Modkit –





Cesur and Verily


Sorry for the double-posts

So this is a really random thought, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to truly create “human-centered” designs that are for people other than ourselves. Especially within the context our project, we are balancing the needs of several different groups of people with unique needs within a space and a system. Has anyone else been reflecting on navigating the balance between multiple different stakeholders while keeping their designs centered on our clients and negotiating meeting competing needs? What have you all been thinking about?



Schon and Band-Aids


As I look at my band-aid, immediately what comes to mind is the jingle in the Band-Aid ads…”I am stuck on band-aid brand ‘cuz band aids help heal me.” Which also leads me to think of the expression “putting a band aid on a bullet hole.” These things cause me to think about the sticky, unyielding properties of band aids which I also thought about as I read Schon. What happens when practioners are stuck in their ways and do not come to a point of be self-reflective? What happens when some practioners are only self-reflective because that’s the culture of their environment but not because they truly want to be? What happens when not all practioners are self reflective so those that are have to hold extra?

Design Inspirations for the Hackjam


The room at the library is a double room. One side will have 30 computers (desktops and laptops), and one side will be for taking breaks and eating lunch. The room is spacious and well lit. Computers are set up two to a table, so there is plenty of room to walk around, but there is also opportunity for collaboration between participants.


Analogous Site: Bloominglabs
The hackerspace at Bloominglabs looked like a physical workshop with many people working on projects and getting ideas for new projects. It was messy and dirty, and you could tell that a lot of work goes on there. It is like they never know what projects will be finished and what ones will be started. There are tools and materials everywhere, but you don’t see everyone working at the same time. While work is done in this space, people talk to each other, socialize (and eat ice cream and cookies), and generally hang out in this space. So projects are stretched over long periods of time.

We learned that while the technical hours are Wednesday from 7:00-10:00 p.m., some people stay until 1:00 a.m. working and hanging out. They types of work range from mechanical to electric to woodworking, to computer projects. There is a space where people work with their computers and generally socialize, and then there are separate rooms for working with electronics, radios, and with mechanical tools.






Interviews: Experts: Jess Klein

What has been the general response to Hackjams that you have seen put on by teens? By schools? By parents?

“Usually the teens in these scenarios are self selecting and often already identify as hackers, techies, geeks, nerds, digital artists, and occasionally designers”

“…however teens tend to appreciate the subversive nature of the word ‘hack’ and own it. Schools and parents I would say are hit or miss. Often when people run the events there is the glance or look of – what are you talking about? HACKING?! But after the initial shock factor wears off, these events are often quite supported by schools and parents. Schools love that youth are taking ownership and forming  identities around technology and media, while parents are appreciate the innovative programming that their children are engaged in.”

In Hackjams for teens, have you seen any practices that work well across contexts? In other words, are there specific practices that you have seen in multiple Hackjams?

We need to find an analogous entity to introduce hacking and what it means to hack. We are thinking of using Impromptu to hack a song.

We are thinking of ways to engage older teens in the Hackjam without leaving the younger ones behind. We are thinking of having the young hackers contribute to a forum where they can post how to perform different actions as they hack, and to a troubleshooting forum throughout the day. Have you seen other Hackjams do this? If so, how did it work out?

Jess suggests peer mentorship as a way to engage everyone and help each student learn more throughout the day.

We created a wiki on for last year’s Hackjam where the hackers’ reflections and work live. Are there other such sites that we should/could look at?

“That’s fantastic. I have seen tons of other blogs and wikis. You might want to check out the recently launched Webmaker Teach: where Mozilla has compiled a ton of these kinds of resources.”

Interview: Users: Students

We sent a survey out to students who attended last year’s hackjam, and while responses are still coming in, initial responses are very helpful. It seems like they liked creating a webpage and using the knowledge they gained from hacking in a different context. This is good to know, since we weren’t planning on having them make a webpage this year. Now we are rethinking this.

The students also reported that toward the end they ran out of ideas for their hacks, and one student reported that she did not like writing reflectively throughout the day. Something for us to think about is that one student was disappointed that hacking was not something more scandalous than appropriating news stories. We don’t want to have them do anything illegal, but we should capitalize on the connotations of “hacking.”

Interview: Non Users: Phil Carspecken

Phil was also disappointed that he couldn’t learn how to hack his bank account, but he liked our project and the direction it is going.

He suggested some ideas for research: try to capture how children learn about the relationship between mean and form, for instance, in hacking advertising.

He also suggested that we frame this workshop from the perspective of critical pedagogy. This means having kids hack advertisements or newspaper articles, and then reflect on how the changes they made affect the original intent of the advertisement. Literally, we want the hackers to understand the meaning of the layout and how that affects what is communicated.


By interviewing different types of people and visiting an analogous space we have a better sense of how we want to design the Hackjam so that the young hackers get the most out of the day. We will take all of this information into consideration as we proceed. Likely, we will include a frame for the workshop and activities that continually ask hackers to come up with new ideas in new ways.

Our understanding of the terms “hack,” “hacker,” and “hacking” are developing as we go through this process. The activity of hacking is not new, but the appropriation of the term is. We are learning that to hack in the broader sense is to transform and tinker.

Practitioner’s Inquiry – a Transaction

One of the things that strike me as I read Schon is the transactional relationship between the practitioner and his context or situation. In reflection-in-action, the practitioner converses with the situation. He shapes the situation, but in conversation with it. In the process, his own models and appreciations may be shaped by the situation.

I like this specific example of the Supervisor and the Resident. The Supervisor exhibits a reflective conversation with the patient’s information. He is guided by his repertoire of different cases, interpretive explanations and psychoanalytic theory. However, the Resident was unhappy – his learning approach puts up with not understanding the Supervisor’s reasons for his analysis and recommendations. To me, it seems that the transaction between the Supervisor and Resident was not really happening.

Schon writes about the difference if the Resident were to actively discuss, or even challenge the Supervisor’s analysis, the boundaries of reflection would then be stretched to include the Supervisor’s reflection on his reflection-in-action. His mental models and appreciations could be shaped in conversation. And the exchange would be like fair trade!

Schon, as he relates to cheese

Schon, as he relates to cheese

Thinking of the wooden toy as an actual piece of cheese…Cheese is created by a cheese maker who is a professional who engages in practices specific to cheese making. There is much tacit knowledge in the process which can be reflected on throughout the cheese making process; also the chemical and biological knowledge and skills necessary for cheese making do not have to first be learned in a classroom, they can be learned during the cheese making experience.
Also this cheese has holes, not all practitioner will be reflective, it requires a concerted effort to not slip through the holes.

Object to reflect-in-action with



Measuring is both objective and subjective practice. It is a representation to quantifying, to converting the continuous into discrete pieces, fractions, to parcel the world out. It is but a convention though, imposing a frame to the objective world, a scheme to  reality. However, we measure with a purpose in mind. Measuring supports the creation of a representation of the space, a virtual space; it lets us experiment with it. Thus, what one has measured is susceptive of manipulation. One can reflect on different measures, different ways of measuring, and good measuring requires practice. For the reflective practitioner, a ruler can be thought of both as an object-in-hand and object-at-hand.


The Reflection Activities

The scissors is a tool with two blades, the two blades remind me of the mismatch between traditional patterns of knowledge and practice to the features of practice situations. He talked about why rational design processes doesn’t work in reality, for instance, why the waterfall model will never work on real life problems. And he tries to explain how designer (architects, musicians, engineers etc.) really work when they solve real problems. And how to teach expert knowledge to others.


The central part of the scissor is what makes it work in reality, and it combines both side of the blades. In real situation, the working process is not just about individuals from the same field, coming from the single perspective. Instead, it may be a work team which integrates experts from both pure theory and practitioners.



The Reflective Practitioner and Ramps



The easy thing to say here is that my own practice as a professional in the field of landscape, both in design, and the practice of building structures (whether they be hardscaped elements, or the sculpting of trees) has significantly shaped my practice in every other field that I have engaged myself in. The right angle triangle is a ramp. My practice has been ramped, led from the ground up, through an initial foray into a field that I at first knew nothing about, and had to learn through observation, and (perhaps more importantly) practice in the field itself.


This has laid the groundwork for my practice in my approach to my art, and the ways in which I allow for it to be constantly redefined through experience. The iterative process, however, can become difficult in the sense that it will sometimes also not allow enough space for the technical rationalist to break through, and accomplish the task at hand. 

This Reflection Brought to You By the Letter “W”

As an activity to get into Schon’s Reflective Practitioner today, we were each given a toy. Here was mine:

photo 2

So I have the letter W as my object. The first thing that comes to mind for me is sort of theoretical – the letter W is a representation, so is implicitly about the process of making explicit through representation. The themes of implicit and explicit run through Schon’s work, most clearly in his discussion of three levels of knowing – knowing-in-action, reflection-in-action, and reflection-in-practice. To me, these three levels represent a spectrum of implicit to explicit, with the process of representation (and therefor my little W) becoming most relevant at the reflection-in-practice level, wherein a practitioner most actively is theorizing and communicating about their work over a longer timescale so as to understand patterns and regularities in their work. I can see the letter W really playing a key role in this process. : )