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April 1st, 2011


08:32 am - tree-centered design
the other day in Web Design One at Endicott College the classroom buzzed in active Design mode, totally focused on our second major project of the semester 'What's it do?' when I suddenly asked aloud:

'What site would I create for this project? If I had to do this assignment, make a web experience that 'does something' or allows the user to make something, what would I do?' and in an utterly amazing way, just like that < you see me snap my fingers > Joy suggested,

'What about treestr?'

which totally caught me off guard, actually

I asked, 'What?' and Joy responded, 'What about treestr? You know? The social networking site for trees'

I totally forgot that I mentioned this idea to the class the other day

I think I literally said, 'Woah, yeah ... good idea ... huh ... not sure why I didn't think of it'

and then the ideas flooded in

its crazy, but the phrase 'What about treestr?' inspired a mad rethinking of this site I considered to be a parody-like commentary on the overUbiquity of the social web — and I was thinking of it all now as a serious project, almost like ...

there's an app for that ;]

where did I go wrong in my previous Design Thinking for treestr? I mean, I threw up the 'coming soon' page at treestr dot com, I made the Facebook Page and Group and I think I even have the Twitter account occasionally treetweeting in some sort of fauxData, right? and then my good friends at DMI already helped me out and encouraged this madness I have for the cyberSurreal side of the social web with all of its likes, friendings and comments — Jason, Colin, Elaine and others all popped onto the Facebook treestr brand extensions and posted these hilarious updates and app-driven interactions from the imaginary world of cybernetic forestry — in the mix, controversial upskirt tree photoPosts, messages about treet-ups in your town, flirtatious messages like 'nice leaves' between members of the treestr social network, videos and photos of treely activity, and one of my favorites — a near-poetic piece entitled, 'laughing trees', which, of course, ties into some of my other thesis project work in laugh research and development

so, what was different now? after all this time — an elapse of a year or more from the original seedling idea { pun intended }, how had my idea morphed into something entirely more amazing and believable?

i looked at the experience in a tree-centered way

seriously, right?

prior to this week i think i thought treestr would basically look + feel like, well, Facebook or Twitter

yes, even I've been duped into the lockstep mentality of these social networking sites

you set up your profile, add an avatar pic, connect with friends and then its pretty much these status updates with comments, ratings, all that, right? we know the deal by now and its tempting to color within the lines and simply meet the expectations we all have surrounding these online experiences

but what if we take a few minutes — or maybe even many months or a year — to let the original idea sink in a bit? what if we allow the mind time to wonder and ponder and roam a bit, all on its own? i know there's barely a company 'out there' that has 2 weeks to wipe its own ass, but seriously ... I let this idea sit and listen to my new direction, this new tree-centered design concept that I'd at least like to simulate

so, trees can 'log in' to treestr ( pun intended, again ... and i know that this time its an unforgivably bad one ) using whatever nanobotic extraSensory connection the site provides its userBase and the big questions that come up are:

how do trees think? and then, more importantly — what does it look like? and then that leads me back to the whole notion of thought in general and the visualization of thought ... after all, the information we post to our social networking sites is as close to raw thought as we've gotten so far ( some of it closer to raw than others — and for me the most important part of all of this is that in the raw thought there is honesty ... maybe not 'The Truth', but at least some sense of honesty, right? )

my own thinking on this online experience is that the way trees think and what that might look like in the visual domain is most likely unlike anything we've ever experienced — totally Surreal + trippy — I can imagine lots of colors from the heat of the sun, a pure happy warmth and the visual feeling of wind and sky — roots, leaves, the veins of leaves, the rings in the trunk, the bark and the life-filament of utter life itself flowing inside, all of these seem to be part of the vision — if there's an equivalent of a status update, how does that get interpreted for human understanding? and then, again I ask us all 'What do OUR thoughts really look like? how do we blend the visual, the vocal, the aural and the dream? certainly this mix of internal media makes up the way we think and ultimately influences that domain names we register
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December 8th, 2010


09:03 pm - bedtime story
Stevie Wonder

Cover of Stevie Wonder


okay, i'm not sure why this isn't working ...

i brought Maceo to bed at about 7:30 after we set up the first half of this wooden model airplane kit, right? we read this Ocean Animals book { specifically about ocean animals of The Great Barrier Reef, like the Leafy Sea Dragon, the Dugong, all that, right? } ... + then it was like 'lights out' time, but with the closet light on + Stevie Wonder's Christmas Album playing on repeat ... like, that's the nightly tradition

i go in there like 10 minutes ago + Maceo's like reading The Magic Pickle ... like, wtf, right? ... so, he's all giggles 'n' sh!t when i go in there to lay down w/ him for 5 minutes or so + he won't calm down to fall asleep ... he's like all extra giggly 'n' alL, so i'm like, 'what? do i need to tell you a sad story or something to get you to go to sleep?' + i go into it ...

the story starts off w/ this little old man walkin' down the street 'n' alL ... the guy, all of a sudden, falls through an open manhole cover + ends up in the sewer ... 7 minutes later he encounters a one-toothed Venezuelan beaver ... the beaver's fur is all unkempt, + his tail is kind of mangled + more waffle-looking than a pancake an' all that, right? but then the old man + the one-toothed Venezuelan beaver w/ the waffletail end up swooshing about underground in the sewersystems together for months on end + find a cozy new spot to call home just underneath a Walgreens in downtown Wakefield { well, i didn't tell Maceo exactly where i was thinking, right? }, but neither the beaver or the old man can afford the medication 'cuz they don't have insurance or a job or anything

this is where Maceo turns around w/ his big overbitten crazy smile + says w/ this joyous expression, 'what's health insurance?' + i say 'exactly' because i just don't get any of this sh!t ... alL insurance just always seems like such a scam + like right when you need it most they don't give you the full amount or anything + there's all this pre-existing conditions bullsh!t + its insane, right? like, the cost goes up + up + up + up + up + why isn't there like web design insurance or something to cover the much-needed upgrades to templated WordPress systems w/ CMS capabiliites + like tagClouds + all that cool Web 2.0 add-on functionality that really does nothing for anyone but make 'em have 9 new ways to think about disorganizing the information?

now he's back in there hopefully drifting to sleep, probably dreaming of sewers + health insurance + one-toothed beavers

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November 21st, 2010


09:04 am - Provocative Objects: the extradition

its now more than a week after Provocative Objects: the extradition + i am still feeling the buzz of this amazing event, although at this point it doesn't seem real ... David Tamés + i co-curated this 'cyberSurreal, interdisciplinary + immersive exhibit-event', bringing over 30 international artists, designers, musicians + performers together at The Patricia Doran Gallery at MassArt to put together a really exciting + eventful evening that nicely celebrated a crossStream mix of creativity

as a board member of Mobius + a graduate student in MassArt's Dynamic Media Institute, i find one of the biggest challenges for the sort of pure, innovative creativity that naturally exudes from artistic { or designerly } collaboration is not necessarily one of promotion, but one of providing context for the work that can open up the potential audience, inviting more + more people into the fold, allowing a broader spectrum of people 'out there' to see what you do ... i am pretty sure my original intent was perhaps a bit more subconsciously plotted out, but my semi-removed observation of at least the Boston scene goes something like this:

there are currently at least 10 different communities that i want to get mixed up in, to help promote, + to cross-promote ... there's the Boston music scene ( such a fantastic family of sound + mutual artistic support ), performance + experimental art, several closely-related but institutionally-divided academic programs ( MassArt, SMFA, AIB, BU, Harvard Laboratories, etcetera ), new media art, traditional + fine art in both the gallery context + beyond, burlesque + comedy, + the list could go on in some seemingly neverending Rabelaisian batch of lists ... seeing the amazing successful model of the avant variety show Scara's Night Out back in 2003 at The Lizard Lounge ( thank you Chris Mascara ) from the unique role of bumbling, comedic host ( in character ) i could see how inviting many different acts to the performance venue could provide a richer context arena for some of the amazing talent i am lucky enough to get to know ... this same model, which one might simply call 'sharing', extends back to some of the amazing productions rosS Hamlin put on through OpeN FauceT Productions in the 90s + then forwards to cool shows like Jerkus Circus put out by The Steamy Bohemians ( fun + raunchy pun intended ;] ... no offense implied ... see stores for further details ) ... although i wasn't necessarily aiming for Provocative Objects to be a variety night, per se ( in fact, i consider to be more like a 'Saturday Night Live'-like implementation for new media + performance art ), i feel the spirit of the exhibit-event does harken back to these wonderful experiences i have witnessed as both spectator + performer ... + i would be lying through my whitestripped teeth if i didn't at least mention the influence of these shows have had on me + the sort of pure joy + fun that these amazing events brought me ( the same sort of energy i think David + i consciously intended to bring to gallerygoers + the participating artists for this show )

+ i would be silly to not mention the obvious influence of mindbending events like Mobius' Annual ArtRages fundraiser events ... after years + years of studying painting + my slow personal evolution toward performance art + installation work, my advisor + mentor James Coates suggested i check out ArtRages ... such a total lifeChanging, eye-opening + immersive event ... i just remember walking into a space where suddenly everything in the world finally made sense ... i could let go of any tension, any illusion of control ... i had finally found my safe haven, my home ... definitely a total influence on what i always think about as 'the ultimate event' ... + i feel extremely lucky to now be directly involved in the organization after many, many years ... one of the most important Boston-area organizations to support + watch

more writings on Provoctive Objects in posts to come ... just setting the stage for the moment ...

more about Provocative Objects
more about Dynamic Media Institute
more about Mobius


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November 16th, 2010


10:31 am - Response to a local recruiter

there's a lot of activity 'out there' right now, especially an intriguing new buzz in the experience design domain ... recruiters hitting me up from all directions via LinkedIn, either from Boston-area firms that place you on a consultative or full-time basis or directly from the in-house HR professionals onSite at several fabulous firms in the area

so here's the dilemma though ... as much as i should probably say 'yes' to each + every opportunity to jump in the hotSeat + get into another 5-person, 2 and a half hour interview, i think its still vitally important to think very selfishly about this dynamic ... about the total timesuck these interviews become + how they can distract from any contract | consulting work already on the plate ... + even about whether or not, from the 'user-centered' perspective, these opportunities are even worth the serious efforts of being in the constant maelstrom of The Spanish Inquisition on an every-other-day basis

here's an email i just sent out to a recruiter that i think should be totally valid as a request from a potential ux candidate that i am sure seems utterly ridiculous to most agency recruiters { mostly because i'm not just saying 'yes' in some sort of plea of desperation }

email response to an anonymous recruiter as of November 16, 2010

...........................................................................................


Hi *2v!#,

Thanks for reaching out like this. I really appreciate you thinking of me for this role. The position sounds fantastic. All of the activities outlined in the job description are right up my alley and I am qualified to lead the design using user-centered methodologies in a collaborative environment. But my recollection of the ‘experience’ I had when I last talked to Fidelity is not a good one and I do not want to pursue any role with Fidelity, Veritude or any related or similar organization.

I apologize for what might appear to be a strange refusal, but I trust my gut instinct on this and from my vantage this is simply not a good fit.

Thanks for your time and energy. I really appreciate it. I hope your client-scope allows us to potentially work together to land similar work for a better organization.

Best,

Lou


...........................................................................................


thoughts? advice? other approaches? i'm sure that 'silence is golden' for most items like this, but i really felt my last 'experience' with this organization was really THAT horrible + warranted some minimal explanation


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May 13th, 2010


01:14 am - LinkedIn Answers: What is the worst website you ever saw and why?
Cookie cutters

Image by litlnemo via Flickr


Rich Kellerman of MarketAmerica posted the following question to LinkedIn Answers. I've included a link to the thread up on LinkedIn as well as my response for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!


View the LinkedIn Answers thread here: http://hotsects.com/liworstweb


What is the worst website you ever saw and why?
This question pertains to active websites. Please exclude one page websites.



This is a tough question to answer. Some fantastic, classic examples of horrific website design were already posted and they totally make me laugh ( and thanks for posting them ).

As an accomplished and seasoned designer ... and one that keeps up with all the current trends and terminology ... I have to say there is currently a proliferation of bad websites 'out there'.

After recently reading Jarod Lanier's 'You Are Not a Gadget' I came to the guided realization that it is too easy for the average person to put together and release a blog, website or some online experience. I realize that not everyone participating on the web today might need a designer for what it is they are trying to accomplish with their online extension and expression, but I cannot emphasize how tiring it is lately to come across website after website that use the same cookie cutter out-of-the-box blog app theme ... or some componenture from the same 4 to 7 Web 2.0 canned content widgets. Right now I could Google a topic, visit the top 10 sites that come up and probably discover most of the links lead us unto the Wordpress 'N' Theme with modifications by 'designer' such and so.

Step back a bit ...

That said, these are truly exciting times. I love the Web 2.0 world we live in. Social media. All that. We have a short window right now of near-democratized capabilities to really say what's important, publish anything we want on the web, stand up for something good or stand up against those things we find frustrating or bad. But how many of us feel we can really put it ALL 'out there' without somehow hurting our public brand. How many people are really using this new democracy of expression to its full advantage? To say something unique and important? To find out what's next, right around the corner?

From the conversations I find myself in these days, I have the sorry notion that the ability to freely publish to the web, to take advantage of this amazing space we have to form online and real world communities, to hold certain people accountable for their contributions to our newsScape, and to just put up your real, genuine feelings and point of view to reach out ... that ability could be both underutilized and soon slipping away ( we need to stand up for net neutrality and keep our only people-driven means of communication open and free and clear ).

Anyhow, my point might be ... there are many 'worst websites' online right now. In the great Dadaist tradition, I stand up and scream with a big:

Down with the cookie cutter websites!
Down with abandoned sites and those left out of date!
Down with experiences lacking any real content or meaning!
Down with the clone! The marching detritus of free and easy templature!
Down with the sites lacking direction, focus or feeling!

Let us now take a pledge to stop pointing our fingers. We know what is bad. What's the worst. And the many reasons why. Let us come together with every bit of energy we can muster and collaborate. Yes, let's work together to build an even brighter and beautiful web. A smart landscape of online experiences and websites that:

1. Consider an audience
2. Talk to that audience in a happy, human way
3. Provide something of value to that audience
4. Exist for some purpose ... to make money, that's a good one ( perhaps the lesson from bubble burst 1.0 would be develop a business plan ) and one that most sites might want to think about from the inception of their product, service or content. But there may be a myriad of purposes ( of course )
5. Connect people ( real people to real people, no pre-recorded, robotic and faceless organizations that text you in the night )
6. Serve some greater sense of goodness
7. Sing


Links: http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Not-Gadget-Manifesto/dp/0307269647
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November 6th, 2009


06:52 pm - does the Hero have to be a leader? ::..
Animation

Image via Wikipedia


Shep Bush recently asked folks on LinkedIn 'In screenwriting, does the Hero have to be a leader?'

interesting question ... and one that i needed to answer

as much as the post pertained to the 'ani-jobs' LinkedIn Group called Animation and Film Jobs, i wanted to answer in a more general, life-oriented sense ... specifically siting certain movie characterizations and examples to point out the answer here is definitley 'no'

here's my answer


The 'hero' of a story does not need to be a leader. I guess this greatly depends on your definition of 'hero', but I am thinking of the main character or the primary target of the film or camerawork.

Although the hero or main character does not need to be a leader, as passive watchers of a film, we are following that person and therefore they can oftentimes seem like a leader.

I hope that Pee-wee Herman is not considered a leader when we watch 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure'.

The main character in '3 Colours: White' ... is he 'a leader'? We follow his life adventure. We're introduced to his world and his climb back into a productive and almost-happy life, but he is almost an anti-hero. A low movement in the symphony of life. An interesting character, but not a leader.

The characters in 'Ghost World' ... they're almost more like tour guides to a certain mindSet or vantagepoint of looking at the world. The tension comes about when the 2 friends begin to encounter other people in their town that have what most might consider a 'more normal' view of the world. Or at least a less imaginative way of seeing things. This movie is almost about absolutely nothing. And yet we follow the characters and empathize with one or the other girl in our own special way depending on which side of the fence we're standing.

And then, more famously ... 'Pulp Fiction'. Are these horrific gangsters 'leaders'? I feel there is SO much symbollic stuff going on in this movie ... the sort of 'difference between dogs and pigs' ... loveable pets vs filthy animals ... they too become our tourguides into a timeless swirling indecipherable world where the sacred and profane mingle and blur. But there are definitely no heroes here that I can see. And there is definitely a gigantic void in the realm of leadership.

And this concept ... a hero-less, leaderless environment ... this might be the state of the world today. So don't let them fool ya.



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October 24th, 2009


07:36 am - shadow theory ::..

i have this theory about shadows ... not sure if you've thought about it or not, but i was talking about it after class w/ the crew up in Mission Hill ...

so, i think of shadows as volumetric ... sort of the volumetric absence of light on the oth...er side of the bright, bright source of light ( bright or not ) ... so the shadow volume includes the area that wraps around the backside of the lit object and extends in an invisible way down to the shadow as it is projected on the ground, wall or whatever surface it fills ... the shadow itself too pours into the nooks and crannies of whatever surface it clings too ... the dits and divits in the cement on a sidewalk ( as seen here ), the grit of otherSuch surfaces, the grain in wood, the texture that makes life so much more than you anticipated

Photograph by and courtesy of Suzie Motarddelamount


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October 21st, 2009


09:39 am - the secret comedy society ::..

Young's The Hatter, 45 Wall St....


i took a trip out to New York City this past weekend to attend 2 seminars offered through Steve Hoftstetter's Comedy Soapbox ... both courses focused on helping comedians get serious about their work from both the business and web aspects of the industry ...

a lot of fantastic advice about brand and behavior ... good professional advice that anyone 'out there' could use for any profession ... i don't want to reveal too much here or get down into the dirt of what us comedians need to go through to make an honest living and get ahead ( laugh ), but i do need to describe an amazing event that i got to witness immediately following the 4 hours of expert insight and suggestions coming from the comedic and business mind of Hoftstetter

after we all learned the deep dark secrets Steve had to share with us ... we exchanged kind salutations, business cards and shared an elevator ride descent of 16 flights back down to the New York City streets ... some banter and goodbyes and then, standing still and looking up and down the sidewalk i watched the comedians, large and small, men and women each with their own demographically diverse backgrounds, heritage, life experiences and sense of funny fashion ... i got to see the comedians walk off into the afternoon armed with this newfound knowledge to help better their careers and help bring joy and laughter to people all around the world ( but mostly in the United States )

it was an inspiring vision ... an incredible feeling to think of our afternoon union in the sky ... to get the lowdown from a selfless professional in the industry ... we drank in his knowledge and advice and now we all bring this insight out into the world as we aim to kill audiences far and wide ... i felt a joy, a certain powerful sense of a dispersed community, a pride and happiness ... and i laughed a little to myself as i headed off into the slight drizzle and crisp air

related links
http://comedysoapbox.com/

http://stevehofstetter.com/












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October 13th, 2009


11:04 am - louddite
Scale

Image by carlotardani via Flickr


its almost noon on Tuesday, October 13, 2009

and i still don't own an iPod

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05:13 am - RE: Salem 'Witches'
My own creation of witch hat

Image via Wikipedia


i just saw this amazing Facebook Note posted by my good friend John Biebel ... Salem 'Witches' ... here is his original note and a very cyberSurreally crafted response ... see what you think ...

John posted: Salem 'Witches' on October 12 at 7:16am

OK, maybe someone can help me out here... for all those people fascinated by the famous Salem Witches of the 17th century, what's your opinion - were they witches?

It gets confusing since there are so many practicing witches active today in Salem. Do these modern witches stand by the Salem witches and say 'yes, they were witches and we support them'? It kinda doesn't make sense since the whole controversy is that they were wrongfully accused and therefore innocent victims of a rush to judgement. It is MORE likely that these women WEREN'T witches, and just scapegoats for an over-zealous puritan community.

So... why do modern witches flock to this place, then? It would seem to be a relic that represents the evils and sins of man's cruelty to itself...

One would have to gather, then, that those who believe there is special power in Salem DO believe that the 17th century witches WERE in fact actual witches, and that their sickness, convulsions and visions (aparently Satanic) were legitimate and to be emulated and applauded... but wait: is this the kind of witchery that they're supporting? In order to believe that these women were witches but MISUNDERSTOOD witches, well, that's asking us to believe HALF of the history of Salem, and toss the other half out (i.e., yes they were witches BUT they were not EVIL witches, as the assorted townsfolk said they were...)

Wait - this doesn't make sense, especially for those witches now who practice 'storefront' witchery of White Magic, and who are trying desperately to legitimize Magic as authentic.

Can someone explain this inherent contradiction?
Or is it simply that Salem is a nice historic old New England town where people like to hang out and buy love potion candles?


... and then on October 13 at 5:07 am I posted ...

I think the answer actually has something to do with the neighboring township of Danvers ( or as I say it, somewhat jokingly and somewhat w/ seriour New Englandesian cant ... Danviz ) ... Danvers was originally part of Salem and broke off following the horribly bad kamric energetics following the Salem Witch Trials ( or at least this is how I am recalling how the story goes ) ... the strangest part of all of this is that Danvers ( and Peabody ... aka Peeb'dy ) legend has it such that early Wiccans that fled from Great Britain to The New Land were actually Satanistically blessed by frequent meetings with The Greys ... oftentimes, real practicing 'witches' would wander off into the thick wooded patches of the now-Danvers-area forestScape and meet with The Greys and discuss potential peaceful union ( and sometimes have intergalactic bacchanalian festivals out in nature ) of the human race with these pristine and oft misunderstood otherBeings ... husbands, boyfriends and other curious ( and lustful ) men that lurked a bit along the periphery were so wrought with jealousy that they eventually brought the news of these bizarre events back to the Salem PD and there began the party raids and eventual arrests of numerous Wiccan women in the area, thus starting a wave of suspicious jailings and trials that came to be known as The Salem Witch Trials

horrible stuff

the potential promise for intergalactic union and peace was still thick in the air during the torturous questionings and imprisonment of a fairly innocent bunch of women ( and men, although the marketing of The SWTs tends to leave the male element out ... I get concerned, as a man, to think our society is so terribly frightened by the penis ... so much so as to only have it visually portrayed { or represented } in underground cinematographic film circuits of pornography ... why is it we can see breast and ass, but never { or rarely } a prick? And then why, I need to know, is it only depicted { or depricked dead } in its flaccid and sad hangning state and never in its vanglorious 'awake and ready' mode of play? hmmmm? hmmmmmmMmmMMmM? ) that came to be known as The Salem Witch Trials

and the women never uttered a word of their provocative interracial relations in the woods ... why would that be, one might ask? well, perhaps for the very same reason the government hides some of the debris from September 11 ( for further forensic investigation and study ) in hangers and other large mysterious warehouses like the ones found out off of 495 in Littleton ... do a little investigative reporting ... they won't let you know what's in there ... they won't even entertain the notion of being somewhat 'matter of fact' about what is being covered up there, how they can manipulate and hide the truth behind such an event ... very mysterious

well, at a certain point the ones that were capable of keeping the deeper secrets of these orgies were rewarded by some of the upper crust of Danvers ... they were given quaint shoppes and told how to help market the event in a more positive light ( as if early New England's pre-echo of waterboarding and other torturous 'freedom preservation' activities could ever truly be spun w/ threads of positive gold ) ... how to turn the horrible, horrible burnings, drownings and mutilation of those 13 teenage women into something more sublimely menstrual and fun ... nothing, mind you, to celebrate the wonderful 'Big O' activity that really went down in the furtive forests of 'Salem' as we know it today ... that would perhaps anthropromorphize The Greys a bit too much for our liking ( they are always depicted as these tall and rather cold somewhat sterile heady beings ... great mystics from the sky ... their visits here showing influence in some of the local nomenclaature ... Mystic River Parkway ... Ayer ... Mass MoCA ... iHOP ... and perhaps the most famous, Pizza Hut ( this is more of a visualization ... the roof and major logo brand depicting the now overGeneralized shape of their craft ) ) yes, we like to depict 'them' as being emotionless and remote ala The Vulcans from the original Star Trek television series ... the aliens are awkward, strange 'others' that are 'out there' among us



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