Prepare for failure

Workshop: Timing the library

Brief: Make a menial task with a library theme more fun or competetive with a timer. Time 3h.

Materials: Arduino and what we find in the workshop.

Team: Kornelia, Josephine, Max (from PD) and me

Great expectations

Our initial idea was to make some kind of essay writing simulator, but we quickly scrapped that idea as it seemed like a game that would be hard to implement in any meaningful way. We moved on to some sort of book sorting challenge. The idea was to have a book shelf that could sense if all books where where in the right order and if not would collapse to spill all the books on the floor.

The idea was our first problem, it was too complex for such a short project and on top of that we set a very high bar on the finish. I think we could feel a bit of a different culture between the Product Design program and our own. I think we at IxD see our prototypes as more of a tool to test an idea and the PD students, I think, see it more as a finished product.

I think I often fall into this "trap", to make a polished prototype to impress others instead of really prototyping my questions and it was easy to get drawn into this thinking when a team member pulls this way.


Josephine showing the books

To speed up the making of the books we tried to cut cardboard in the laser cutter, this worked really good and we where able to create 16 books in a short time. Start up was a bit slow, mostly because we have not had any introduction to the machine and that the students in charge of helping did not know about some quirks with dotted lines. It took some time to sort out why the cutter wouldn't accept the files and it was frustrating to have to work through another person and to try to convince them that they should try my solution.

In the end I think we saved some time using the laser cutter and got a very clean result. Cutting everything by hand would be very time consuming.

Building the case

Max was the one working more on the book case. We designed it broadly together, establishing requirements and talking about solutions.

Sad Max - Beyond thunderdome
Sad Max - We are starting to realize we won't make it
The assembled book case

Connecting it together

The books where cut from cardboard and glued together. Josephine found great book covers to use where the users could "easily" find the authors name to sort them in the right order.

Pattern of copper tape connects the books
Pattern of copper tape connects the books
Pattern of copper tape connects the books
The tape connecting the front and back of the books

In the end we struggled to get the connection between more than about four books. This is something we easily could have found if we just started with a simpler prototype.

The take away

We set our aim to high. We should have started making a small prototype and iterate to make it more complex and polished. But it was a good experience figuring this out and we found that failing is fun