Archive for February, 2010

Need for research; Nomadic Work/Life

February 14, 2010

We had a really interesting seminar with Fabiano Pinatti recently about nomadic work/life in the knowledge economy and also about research methods.  For starters it got me thinking that my life has been a good deal more nomadic than many others.  Having moved 22 times before I started school probably has something to do with it.  As a result I expect to be on the move, I enjoy it and like to complete repetitive tasks quickly so that I have time to participate in other less frequently occurring activities. I get irritated when these tasks become time consuming and tie me to a particular place. As many of my necessary domestic tasks are repetitive (and therefore extremely dull) I would be a fan of anyone/anything making these easier.

Mobile phones have have started this process. They form a direct link between me and my children enabling flexibility and informality in our relationships. My children have rarely experienced the ‘waiting for a lift from a delayed parent’ that I did on a regular basis, as we are able to communicate the delay and our exact whereabouts as they happen and as we need to know, rather than make specific and inflexible arrangements in advance.

However, during the seminar I also began to realise that I have no idea whether other less ‘nomadic’ people would have the same interests.  I might be able to make a gadget that solved my own frustrations but it might not suit others.  As part of the point of such a gadget is to be useful to the world at large I will have to check this out.

I had already planned to use performance scenarios with a magic gadget to design my project more explicitly as this technique will help to contextualize it for a wider range of people than just my own family and also pre-empt user appropriation . Now I think I should also carry out some more general preliminary research to discover whether there is actually any interest in such a device at all. Perhaps my life experience is so far from the norm nobody else would be interested at all!


Dissertation Proposal: A Device to Facilitate the Smooth Running of a Busy Modern Household

February 14, 2010

These days many of us experience difficulties achieving an effective/amenable work/life balance. Communications hardware and applications have so far focussed on enabling flexibility on the work front. Those with Internet access at home are sometimes able to bring work home allowing them to combine domestic responsibilities and work commitments. However there is little beyond mobile phone technology that facilitates access to domestic data. With this project I hope to produce a prototype for a device that will address the situation.

Using Interaction Design techniques I will survey a cross section of the population to discover exactly what applications will prove to be the most useful, and how the users might want to interact with it. At the moment I am imagining that a remotely accessed shopping list and interconnected diaries/calendars for each member of the household might be popular, and that a Nintendo DS style touchscreen that reads handwriting might be a good way to go for input because shopping lists are still generally handwritten. The device will be small and light enough to live on the fridge door as this place is commonly used as a communication point in many households. I would like the device to be able to synchronise with the master calendar and the individuals own mobile phone using Bluetooth technology. The data stored by the device, as I see it at the moment, will be accessible remotely, possibly using phone technology. There may be security issues with having calendars of children’s appointments accessible via the web which need to be thoroughly examined and which is why I would like to research the possibility of using a direct phone connection.

Hello world!

February 11, 2010

I’ve never been much good as keeping diaries. I never know what to say, to whom I think I’m speaking, or why in the world anyone would be interested. So here goes.  I’ll give you a bit of introductory blurb first.

I never know where to begin when I have to introduce myself. Like being asked where I’m from, I wonder whether the question means ‘Where do I live now?’ or ‘Why do I have an English accent?’ or even ‘What part of England are you from?’. None of these are straightforward questions to answer and I am never quite certain what it is that people want to hear and what might be TMI. So please forgive instances of TMI and please ask if there is anything else you would like to hear as I am not shy.

I was born in Plymouth but as my dad was in the navy we moved a great deal. My sisters were born in another part of Devon, Thurso and Glasgow, though as the last one was adopted we didn’t actually have to move there. We grew up in Kent where I did most of my schooling.

I left school wanting to do agricultural studies at Uni but missed the arts side so much that I ended up doing History and Theory of Art. I loved college, didn’t want to go any where else but was gradually sucked by life into the big wide world. Worked at a commercial art gallery in London for a while which left me disliking London and loathing the business world.

Went travelling for a few years. Mostly round Europe where I spent a lot of time on a beach in Corfu (living in a tent under the olive trees) where I could earn some money selling jewelery and other beachey things. I went so far as to have my first child in Corfu hospital against the advice of every ex-pat I met there.

Moved back to th UK due to lack of money. And (as I am uncomfortable living amongst English people) over to Ireland 14 years ago with 2 toddlers in a 22′ Astral Luxitrailer in a snowstorm and temperatures of -10.

Having no way to earn decent money I went back to college. Software Development this time as the course was available locally and I was enjoying my first computer. Graduated in 2008 to find that the bottom had well and truly fallen out of the graduate jobs market in the west of Ireland. Was painfully bored for a whole year – saved from going completely mad only by access to the Internet. Luckily for me I was accepted onto the iMedia course at UL which is going to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

I’m all ears for good ideas as to what I should/could do next year as I do not relish the prospect of boredom and will find re-locating difficult for a while….so suggestions please!

This blog has a purpose though: to create a place for discussion of the particular topics I am studying for Principles of Interactive Media.  Triona, Fionn and I are looking at Design sensibility and what it means to be a designer.  As we get our research going there will be more posts here so please keep coming back.