Posts about “Literature”

  1. Instrumental knowledge

    Sansa: A Modified Sansula for Extended Compositional Techniques Using Machine Learning

    McLean J. Macionis and Ajay Kapur 2018

    This feels like a school project, a good school project, but not one with very high academic standards or contributions. It feels like something that might be the result of our final project in TEI.

    I think it is a bt thin in motivating why they did it. There are many instruments that are easy to pick up and understand and a lot of them could probably house electronics. Why choose the sansula?

    Most of the features are just the result of electrifying an instrument, not particularly their implementation. The parts that are more unique feel a bit bolted on, would making gestures with the whole instrument have any positive effect for the musician. On top of that, those examples don't really use the instrument as such at all. So why not just use a sensor in any ol object then?

    Kontrol: Hand Gesture Recognition for Music and Dance Interaction

    Kameron Christopher et al 2013

    Kontrol seem to be in the same vein as Sansa in terms of the type of text. It seems a bit less cohesive as some of the examples of the Kontrol seem to be totally different devices.

    I think the saxophone example shows a lack of understanding of the instrument and context. When talking about the Guqin they go into great lengths to describe how the tone is generated and what makes it special but with the saxophone they seem to think that the important part is the hands. Thinking you can respond to the music by just knowing hand movement. That would be like just knowing what string was played on a guitar or the guqin.

    Furthermore I don't think most saxophonists that use filters would use them with a laptop, I think they would have pedals.

    Trying to cram some buzzwords into the text in the end does not do it any favors. What do they mean by "incorporation of nanotechnology"?

    Sensori-Motor Learning with Movement Sonification: Perspectives from Recent Interdisciplinary Studies

    Frédéric Bevilacqua et al 2016

    This text was better. It goes through some earlier research into the use of sonification in different fields.

    At times it feels like it rushes through what they did but there are some nice insights in it. The parts about what sounds are expected and how that can be used to increase the effect of the sound is interesting.

    Most of the research seem to be inconclusive and they want further research to explore the same issues. Some of the experiments seem to be replications of older experiments and have the same results. It's hard to see the contribution of the paper other than saying that this is a field that could be studied further. I think they are right in that though. This field seems interesting and it should be studied more.

  2. Photo by Jeremy Lishner on Unsplash

    Tangible bits and other pieces

    Tangible Bits: Towards Seamless Interfaces between People, Bits and Atoms

    Hiroshi Ishii and Brygg Ullmer 1997

    Although this text is very old it is a fun read. You can see how academia was miles ahead of commercial companies and developing techniques that would take a decade to start to trickle out into the world. The Microsoft PixelSense (Surface when launched) was very similar to the metaDESK and a very interesting product. It sadly went nowhere, maybe because the price tag of $10000.

    My understanding is that this is seminal work that informed much of the work in tangible interaction later on. Most of the examples are interesting but some feel a bit too quirky or gimmicky, like the LiveWire.

    As a text it's more of an overview of work that has been done and there are not that many insights or maybe I take them for granted 20 years later. There are cognitive benefits to physical objects (atoms) and coupling this with a digital data (bits) create a new way of controlling a digital system and suddenly we can touch the digital world (or cyberspace as they call it) and it becomes tangible. The hope is to have the benefits of both worlds.

    I love the example of the Marble Answering Machine. Maybe we don't use answering machines anymore but saving data (but more like a pointer) as a physical object gives us a relation to the data. We can keep it in a box to save for later and remember what they are by their characteristics like color and material. We can even customize them by writing on them or scratching our initials into them.

    This text really inspires me. This is the reason i signed up for this programme, I was tired of being stuck in the digital world, I wnt to mix the worlds.

    Opportunities and Challenges for Data Physicalization

    Yvonne Jansen et al. 2015

    The concept of physicalizations is an interesting one, like supersized visualizations, but the text fails to show any appealing examples in the paper. Most examples are in my opinion just visualizations with other media. They may have some extra benefits but it's such a subtle difference that I don't think we can in all examples even talk about physicalization.

    In the Hans Rosling example I argue that the fact that it is on a stage where the audience can't interact with the objects makes it a visualization. If this was to be considered a real physicalization, I argue that any movie or animation depicting physical objects also would count as one. I think that to be considered a physicalization there should for the audience be a diminishing of experience when the physicalization is recorded on video. In this example there is no active perception, non visual communication or other benefit.

    I get that the lines can be a bit blurry, but if you want to argue for why this is important and why we need a new field of research, you have to make examples that are good and make your case strong.

    The other parts of the text are more about how visualizations could benefit from being tangible. It borrows a lot from TUI but that is to be expected as the relationship between physicalization and TUI is similar to the relationship between visualizations and GUI.

    The authors also get into the challenges of physicalizations and this seems to be similar to that of visualizations where animation and interaction can make data easier to grasp but can also make the representation harder to read.

    Visualization Criticism

    Robert Kosara 2007

    THis paper felt like the least solid one of the bunch. It takes a very strange stance when it says there are two kinds of visualizations, pragmatic and artistic, that are impossible to reconcile. It is like the author thinks that charts and graphs have no inherent meaning, as if any language, visual or other, can be communicated in a totally neutral voice without meaning. I think he comes from a place where numbers are more correct than other information, and this is probably true for most of us, but if we think harder and deeper we can also argue that the numbers are just abstract representations of the world. Statistics are a nice way of working with a complex world but they are not the world. Quantitative measures can often be less accurate than qualitative but they are so much easier to work with.

    I think Kosara comes from a good place when he wants critique, and that some of his ideas are good, like having different experts weigh in on and review papers. It's just in the connection to the art world and how it should be implemented that he stumbles. I think he misunderstands what an art critic is, it is not an artist little helper that comes to the studio to discuss his latest work of art. A critic writes and theorizes about art, not for the individual artists sake, to contextualize, analyze and explain the art to others.

    Another mistake in my opinion is to think that critics not being artists is a bad thing. Why is it bad to have someone that is an expert of art theory theorizing. In a way it is the same as he proposes, he wants visualization researchers to peer review his work, he does not want just engineers to review engineers. It's the same concept, take an expert of the theory of visualization to review visualizations.

    The method of critiquing also baffles me. Are the rules for real? This is nothing like art critique, this is mentoring or tutoring. The author wants clear rules for good design and someone who can tell him how to do it. What he wants could probably be delivered as a book or course. It is similar to Twitter's Bootstrap for the web. It could make a lot of visualizations better but it does not make those visualizations good.

    When writing a paper in the vein of "how this can learn from that" it is a good idea to have knowledge about the "that" otherwise you are just setting yourself up for failure. Most of the critique I have is about the author's notion of the art world, but when the whole premise is to bring a concept from the art world into visualization that becomes pretty important. The paper would have had more weight if he just dropped the parts he didn't grasp and focused on what he wanted. It might even fit in a tweet:

    Fake tweet that sums up the paper

    Rant over.

  3. What is prototyping, and why?

    Clint sessions part 2

    I was away during this day but I have read the texts that where the base of this lecture and will reflect on them here

    Space exploration

    The Anatomy of Prototypes: Prototypes as filters, Prototypes as Manifestations of Design Ideas, by Lim, Stolterman and Tenenberg, discuss the use of prototypes in the design process and formulates a new framework for thinking about prototypes. They argue that the old way of thinking Lo-Fi or Hi-Fi is flawed as it does not really take into account what the prototype is for.

    The authors talk about how externalizing your ideas by sketching and prototyping help you traverse your design space and find new solutions and problems in the process. In their study of prototyping they build a framework to define the anatomy of a prototype. This anatomy makes it easier to discuss and evaluate the purpose of the prototype and what meaningful knowledge it brings.

    The fundamental principle

    Prototyping is an activity. A prototype is not a product but a tool to explore a possible design and it should manifest the qualities you are interested in researching without distorting the concept as a whole.

    Economy

    You should strive to make a prototype that is simple and efficient. The simplest you can to just measure the things you want to measure.

    Anatomy

    The anatomy model consists of two main parts:

    Filters

    What do you want to explore with your prototype. If you just want to get a sense of how the artefact feel when handling you might want to focus on appearance, but if you want to get to know if the GUI interactions you may need interactivity and more functionality.

    • Appearance: The physical properties of the design. Colors, size, weight and more.
    • Data: How accurate is the data in the prototype? Do you have real or filtered data? Do labels real?
    • Functionality: Are all the functions implemented or just some or even any?
    • Interactivity: Is feedback real? Can you interact with the prototype or is it just a block of wood?
    • Spatial Structure: This may be app layout or relation to different parts of the prototype.

    Manifestation

    THe manifestation is more about the look and fell of the prototype. These qualities can impact the data you get out of prototyping, often in ways you might not know beforehand.

    • Materials: What materials are used? This will have an impact on the look and feel of the prototype.
    • Resolution: How polished is the manifestation? This is what people talk about when they discuss fidelity in prototypes.
    • Scope: How much is implemented in the prototype? Closely tied to filters.

    Is it relevant?

    I think the empirical studies this is based on are a bit low quality. 8 subjects in a study makes it hard to draw any reasonably grounded conclusion but it speaks to my gut feeling. I don't think is the best way to grade a papers contribution to the field but I don't have the experience to do a thorough analysis of merits and faults in their thinking. The researchers seem to add a lot to de vocabulary about prototypes and give us new tools to analyze and discuss prototypes.

    The take away for me here is "find the manifestation that, in its most economic form, will filter the qualities in which the designer is interested, without distorting the understanding of the whole", this is in my opinion an elegant way of phrasing a quite complex problem. A key insight is that different manifestations can give different evaluations where the audience perceive different aspects. LoFi vs HiFi can give different insights and are not necessarily different quality.

    The text as a whole was very interesting and gave me new insights but it was also very repetitive and complicated. It could really use some editing.


    The Houde & Hill triangle
    The Houde & Hill model: Role - Look & Feel - Implementation

    Prototype Prototype Prototype

    In what do Prototypes Prototype, Houde and Hill introduce a model for talking about what a prototype does as opposed to the more traditional discussion about what it looks like. Their stance is that every artefact a designer uses is a prototype.
    They introduce the notion that prototypes can be "ready made" objects and all artefacts that answer design questions are prototypes. A brick can be a prototype if you want to test the weight and size of a product.

    A balanced triangle

    Houde & Hill introduce a model for planning and evaluating prototypes, a triangle that is not resting on any corner or side to show that none of the qualities discussed is the base or the point. The model has three corners: Role, Look & feel and Implementation and when you combine them you get integration.

    • Role: Artefacts high up in this dimension explore what role the product would have in a users life. It is about how you would use the product and could be as crude as a hand drawn story board or a highly polished video prototype.
    • Look & Feel: These prototypes are meant to evaluate how the artefact look and feel when used. We can disregard user value and functionality and focus on delivering a prototype that explain the aesthetic values of the design. It can be a very polished slide show or just an object trying out size and weight.
    • Implementation: This kind of prototype is a functional product but without the right UI. It could be a smartphone voice assistant that is not in a smartphone but otherwise work as intended or algorithms that solve a problem.
    • Integration: Artefact that prototype all aspects are integrated prototypes. They are more or less complete and can show problems and opportunities in the package.

    A seminal piece

    As a seminal paper on prototyping it feels more like a think piece than research. It raises interesting questions about the importance of a correct vocabulary to discuss prototyping. It also broadens the term prototype and shows the importance of making different artefacts to test different aspects. The thought on audience is also interesting and I feel I have made mistakes in that regard multiple times. I have not understood my audience and therefore showed the wrong prototype.

    To sum it up

    Both texts give me a new language for describing my prototyping. They also gave me insights into the importance of iterating and making quick prototypes. I have a tendency to overwork my prototypes as if they where products. This could also be in part attributed to a lack of opportunity to work in an iterative way during our courses. We often have to show results after just a few days and that is not enough to make many prototypes.

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