Archive for ‘Update’

April 9, 2012

Model for Tangible Interaction

Model-View-Control & Model-Control-Representation (intangible/tangible)

March 14, 2012

Orals Slideshow & Abstract

March 8, 2012

Building the Interface

From User Journey to Interface Actions

One result of creating two user journeys (see that post here) was a long string of actions which the tangible and graphic interface managed. However, this list included repeats of actions which could be edited into one, such as the tangible interface prompting goal buddies to “discuss” and on another occasion “reflect”.  The running list also didn’t present any hierarchy or priority for the actions which each interface managed. Lastly, the user journey began to flesh out the idea of inputs and outputs, but did not go into much detail other than labeling the actions.

In response to the suggestions of my thesis advisory meeting, it became clear that creating an edited set of actions and priorities of each interface would be an important next step. Below is a description of my vetting process, to organize, synthesize, and edit the long list of interface actions (represented in the user journey) into a discernible and manageable set of interface functions and features. Also, in this progression there is increasingly more attention put on the information flow between the tangible  interface, graphic interface, and user experience.


Step One: Making sense of a long list of actions

Take the long string of actions extracted from User Journeys and begin to edit them down into bigger categories of actions. For example the TUI produces a prompt “discuss” as well as “reflect”. “Discuss” is a more appropriate phrase because both involve conversation with the goal buddy. Therefore the category is named “discuss” and I later discover through the editing process that there are four types of prompts within the TUI: record your task, discuss your task or goal, and assess or challenge your task


Step Two: Organizing the actions to create a few key priorities of the entire system

Breaking up the actions again into more discernible pieces.  Here there are four parts: Prompting (Telling), Recording (Listening), Displaying (Showing), Confirming (Agreeing). However, at this phase there is still no differentiation between the priorities of the tangible and graphic interface. There are also some lines that are beginning to draw out possible collapsable categories.


Step Three: Assigning those priorities and actions to which interface “said it” or “did it”

Taking from the previous list, this list begins to assign some of the key actions to an interface. During this process I am not only considering where the information is coming from and which interface is “saying” or “hearing” it, but also using what I know from the User Journey to place the appropriate actions or functions to the appropriate interface, understanding that the GUI might require more attention and intentionality to check than the TUI. Here it shows the GUI would be in charge of controlling the recorded meeting times of the goal buddies: regularly (can input reoccurring date which could send you alerts) or sporadically (can notify system whenever you meet), and remotely or locally meeting. Both of these designations work best in the GUI because they are once or every couple of months kinds of actions, and would not be needed to be displayed or recorded within the TUI.


Step Four: Type it all up and continue to edit some more!

Type all of that up and begin to edit even more. For example: The GUI has three purposes to it’s display: to show logistical information, information about your goal activity which is inputted from your TUI, and information about connecting to your larger community of goal achievers.


Step Five: Print it out and map out the information flow (input/output to goal buddy,  TUI to GUI)

This map started off as a print out from the text edit document. I find that switching between all of these mediums helps me process information in another way. For example, here I realized that what the interface “displays” and what the interface “prompts” the user to to are both outputs. Whereas what the interface “records” is input which the interface must absorb. Therefore, it becomes very important to be very cognizant of how that information is being recorded and where it is going, or what it is informing.


Step Six: Continue to clarify the information flow between the two interfaces

Shortly after the last physical map, I tried to simplify and make large gestures in another map to help me understand exactly what information is being exchanged between the goal buddy and the two interfaces.  I find that by making a map (which unlike the last) is easier to read from a distance, can help me understand all of the relationships holistically. The more times I iterate on the same map, the more I understand and improve.


Step Seven: Digitize the findings by adding info to the System Map and continue to edit

also add informal information exchange between goal buddies



create 3 wireframes for each square of action combos

call out task completion

think of weekly (shallow) view and gui shallow view vs. more complex layered information views.

think about the everyday experience: ongoing action and reflection dispensed to the user, an ongoing diagnostic:
the focus is more on everyday experience rather than longterm relfection and goal management because i feel those other programs lack an interest for the everyday, whereas mine makes it easy and keeps people involved, becoming a habit and part of the social experience of working towards goal. i also think the everyday interactions create a novel experience to elicit an interest in the more complex information interface, which other programs start out with. my system values simple actions and aggregates them into a rich everyday experience shared between two friends. it takes the simplist idea: that we feel better when we are working towards something, that we understand more and have guilt less, less idealistic unreachable ideas, we are caught in the immediate action of making progress instead of planning out progress. it takes very little to begin in the process. mainly it is mediated through conversation with the social buddy aspect.

The experience of a curated goal buddy task package, receiving that information through TUI

March 1, 2012

One Week’s Narrative

Though I might have set out to do one thing this week: make iterations of possible interfaces… I ended up asking many more questions and following a different path. Here is a description of that path, and an example of one week’s narrative through the questions I was asking. Every week is different and the path seems unknown.

February 29, 2012

A comprehensive picture of the long term management tool

The purpose of this post is to provide insight into my most recent progress. I am still lacking the language to describe what I am making, and will be searching for a name for this tool. Do you have any suggestions? Send me an e-mail or comment!

Below you will find some of my most recent work to map and understand the tool, behaviors, and overall system. I will be posting a comprehensive story of this tool in a few posts to come, as I will be preparing slides for Orals on March 14th.

Description of tool

A long term goal management game centered around the accountability between two friends.

This system includes both a graphic and tangible user interface which mediates goal pursuit through reoccurring meetings with a friend. This includes mediating conversation during and apart from meetings, aiding completion of weekly goal-oriented tasks, prompting individual awareness of preferences and insights to aid task completion, offering goal-oriented challenges to complete with a friend, and publicly curating a collection of goal oriented tasks and challenges for a greater community of goal keepers.


Updated System Map

Updated Levels of Gamification

User Journey 1:  Dan & Ronnie

This journey addresses the following:

  • Introduction to product via website
  • Purchasing and linking TUI guru’s
  • Beginning to meet
  • Establishing special buddy code

User Journey 2: Chi & Jupiter

This journey addresses the following:

  • What happens when people don’t complete a challenge or prompt
  • Remote Goal Buddy Meetings
  • Utilizing curated goal lists
  • What happens when you “win”

Next Steps

This next week I will be developing a sets of interactions within the tangible and graphic interface. This will be presented as fleshed out examples of the interactive and visual qualities of the system which I will continue to develop as I compile and write on my research throughout March and April. May 1st is near but far. Every week has been like a Marathon. It is a lot of work but I continue to be excited about where I am and where it is taking me!

February 26, 2012

Free Writing

Designing the entire system

The design process must not be weighed down by  1) the product or industrial design aspect of the TUI or 2) the psychology of which questions the TUI might pose to the goal buddy to encourage self inquiry.

Therefore, It is important to consider the entire system of relationships in order to stay focused on the strategic interconnectedness of this system. These relationships are displayed in the system map, which I created after meeting with Denise. This map includes the relationship between two buddies which is mediated the TUI & GUI, and also including the influence of the greater goal buddy community.

My role as a designer of this system

My tool will not only mediate accountability between the goal buddies, but will also encourage self-inquiry during task completion period in between each goal buddy meeting.

The tool provides prompts which cause the participant to consider how they might improve their task. This might come in the form of  creating definitive deadlines for themselves, identifying a more specific task within their current task in order to challenge themselves, or identifying the most appropriate or productive conditions in which they should complete their task. (Remember the list of  questions I developed a few weeks ago.)

The result of these prompts is self inquiry. It should act as slow self-inquiry (almost perhaps in disguise) which unfolds little by little aiding the process over a long period of time.  The tool does not provide answers but mediates this self inquiry, records the persons response, and uses this as a conversation starter within the next goal buddy meeting. The artifact can also communicate between the two buddies and incite or encourage action, a challenge, or self-inquiry.

It would be easy to focus on the psychological aspect of this tool- such as what type of questions might the tool ask. However, my role here is not that of a social psychologist but a designer. For this reason I will only develop a few questions which the tool might ask to a goal setter in order to demonstrate it’s ability to incite self-inquiry. The focus will remain not on the questions as much as the designed form and how design allows the questions to be asked. Design can shift the perception, experience, and relationship to the questions. It could elicit a response from the goal setter that is abstract and interpretive or direct, immediate. Both which might prompt a new level of self-awareness, but in very different ways.

The role of the TUI

The TUI is an artifact, which connects a participant to their desire to achieve their long-term goals as well as their desire to socialize with their goal buddy. The desirability for this tool must outweigh the possible inconvenience.  It will not be a subset of another tool, such as an app within a smart phone, or a widget on a desktop, and therefore will require deliberate attention. While Graphic User Interfaces will be an extension of my tool, they will not be the central touch point. Below are some initial iterations of possible TUI interactions.

The actions, manipulations, or associated information of the TUI could be an open source structure where goal buddies might assign their own meaning or types of challenges. This is an exciting possibility which was discovered through a conversation with Martha, as I spoke about my love of participatory design. The idea that the two buddies could develop their own code of challenges/language/or actions based on a suggested structure is exciting!

The role of the GUI

The GUI will serve the function of “the rememberer” by acting as the repository of recorded tasks, inquiry responses, and progress. The widget or app will have complimentary functions to the TUI: It could enable macro and micro views of information and hold large archives of info, creating an opportunity for a searching function.
From the Bright Green post-it’s of that messy map I described what I thought might be the Qualities of The Rememberer. Read and see below: “The remember does not brag, show everything it has, or act like an annoying brother that throws annoying details in your face. The rememberer is a nurturer, though sometimes she knows some hurtful things about you” 

Game or Tool?

I am creating a tool, with gamified structure for interaction. See below for levels of mastery.

February 26, 2012

Lots of Feedback with a Speed Dating Cherry on Top

Feedback from Denise

  1. This tool is not subset of another tool (i.e.. as an app is to the iphone)
  2. The desirability must outweigh the inconvenience
  3. My work must focus on the entire system of relationships: the goal buddies, the TUI & GUI, and the greater community of goal buddies
  4. My investigation much be limited to the graphic designer’s scope, not the industrial designer or psychologist
  5. The purpose of my investigation is to figure out how the design of my tangible user interface would influence the reception and response of the goal setter, not how the question might verbally be framed differently, or how the refinement of the product might influence that process

Feedback from Martha

  1. Is it a game or a tool?: It is a tool with a gamified structure just as e-bay is a e-commerce website with gamified interactions
  2. Co-couseling can offer a good framework for buddy accountability
  3. The TUI acts as a “Boundary Object” which mediates the goal buddies conversations and meetings. Define what boundary object means in general and define it for the purposes of this tool
  4. In the vein of participatory design, people could tailor their experience with this tool by creating their own code and challenges which go along with the tool. This “code” or series of challenges would be shared between the two goal buddies and could be thought of as anything in between “trash talking” to a “best friends secret code” This participant created code could be linked to suggested actions or inquiries or could be completely made up by the pair.
  5. There must be a backstory to how the buddies are paired
  6. For Orals  I should probably have many iterations, and a few fleshed out, the purpose is to express the full story along with key decision points through my process.
  7. It would be good practice to begin transcribing handwritten notes from important texts. Doing this intermittently between iterations might help keep the blood flowing and focus strong. I will also display a tentative outline for my thesis book at my Orals

Speed Dating about TUI’s

I met with Amber’s New Information Environments Seminar class and participated in a speed dating exercise in which we debated our ideas about “one reason why tangible user interface is important to design.” It was through these discussions with my amazing and intelligent classmates that I found the following things out:

  • What I felt was the most important thing about TUI’s, that they decrease cognitive load and tap into the “metaphors we live by”
  • Some functions that GUI’s might do better than TUI’s
  • The difference in engagement between social metaphors vs. physical metaphors
  • And lastly, the discussions helped me brush up on the limitations and trends I read about in an excellent book I read this week on TUI’s

See more information on all of those points below.

Decreasing Cognitive Load:

My opening argument for speed dating was the following:

Throughout our life we are building an understanding of the world around us, TUI’s draw on that understanding, conversely GUI’s create a graphical environment which has it’s own set of physics and must be learned by the user. Since TUI’s draw on such a type of processing which is innate, when it is applied appropriately, it can decrease the cognitive load

GUI’s vs TUI’s

As I continued to speed date, we found holes within my argument. We discovered some significant aspects which GUI’s might more often do better than TUI’s. In some cases GUI’s might be more appropriate for handling large sets of memory. Enabling a zoom or any other frame to view macro as well as micro views of information also seems more applicable in a GUI. Both the zoom and memory aspects bring the third idea up: utilizing search functions.  (For these reasons my system will use an app or widget touchpoint to compliment my TUI and act as a repository for the long term goal management. )

Physical metaphors vs. Social Metaphors

If we are talking about TUI’s cutting down on processing by tapping into our embodied knowledge and experience, I think it can easily be argued that TUI’s have the opportunity to operate off of a universal set of controls, for example- humans everywhere are subject to the properties of gravity, up is always up and down is always down (I’m thinking about Metaphors We Live By by Lakoff, Johnson 1980).

However, an interesting point that was brought up when talking about the metaphor of the trash can on a GUI on a desktop computer, is the comparison between a socially learned behavior and an innate physical understanding. The Idea of the trash can got me thinking that a social metaphor might not be as universal but has the potential to be extremely engaging, and embedded within a larger context of actions. Is the social or the physical metaphor stronger? I think it would just depend on the operation that is needing to be done and the context of use.

TUI Book

This last week I also read the book Tangible User Interfaces: Past, Present and Future Directions (Shaer, Orit, Hornecker, 2009). I got so much out of it, I cannot explain it all now. However, I wanted to include the list of limitations and trends they mentioned in this book. I won’t go into detail but here is a list:

Limitations of TUI’s:

  1. versitility/malleability
  2. user fatigue (ie: using a mouse because it takes less effort)
  3. scalability/risk of loosing objects

Trends in TUI’s:

  1. Actuation (pushback, shape shifting etc)
  2. Organic TUI’s
  3. Focus on TUI’s as resources to incite and mediate action (as opposed to just being tangible solely for representation) This trend directly relates to my tool!!


Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Shaer, Orit, and Eva Hornecker. 2009. “Tangible User Interfaces: Past, Present and Future Directions (preprint).” Found Trends HumComput Interact 3 (1-2): 1-137. doi:10.1561/1100000013.

February 23, 2012

Token+Constraint.Tangible User Interface


Tangible User Interfaces give physical form to digital information.

According to Ullmer, there are three broad categories:  interactive surfaces, constructive assemblages, and token and constraints.


Tokens are discrete physical objects which represent digital information


Constraints are confining regions that are mapped to digital operations (embodied as structures that mechanically channel how tokens can be manipulated)

Ullmer, Brygg, Hiroshi Ishii, and Robert J K Jacob. 2005. “Token+constraint systems for tangible interaction with digital information.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 12 (1): 81-118. doi:10.1145/1057237.1057242.

February 15, 2012

Moving Forward and Lesson Learned

Tasks to move forward:

  • Personas
  • User Journey/Scenario
  • Development of Interface
  • Read Gamification
  • Make informed choice about the appropriate (networked) device(s) (think about context of and behaviors surrounding interaction)


Update in Response to Meeting:

Description of Tool:

A long term goal management tool which mediates reoccurring meetings between two friends in order to take action, clarify, and fulfill long term goals.

People Involved:

  • Goal Setter & Buddy
  • Greater Community of Goal Setters and Buddy Pairs
  • Goal Setter’s Role Model(s)?

Objectives of the Tool:

  1. Clarify goal (condition or state), subgoals (activities), and values through mediated conversation and activity
  2. Prompt the negotiation of subgoals and informal deadlines to make progress
  3. Provide structure to receive mutual feedback and encouragement from a goal buddy
  4. Establish an active home base for the collection of long term goals with an emphasis on continuous action and progression (versus checking off daily habits or following a list of predetermined steps to reach a clear end point)

Requirements of the Goal Buddies:

  1. Choose a reoccurring time to meet (once every week month or bi-monthly, etc.)
  2. Choose which goals they will help each other with
  3. Be willing to share thoughts and complete progressive actions to develop goals
  4. Use the tool to mediate this process


 Lesson Learned from this meeting:

I need must always make a commitment to set aside time not only externalize information, but to synthesize it for self and especially others


Feedback from Denise and Scott:

  • Huh? (See lessons learned)
  • Is the interaction only through a single point? Maybe there are multiple touchpoints
  • Consider the scale (mobile/cell) and behaviors around that
  • With scenario consider what someone comes in with, what they leave with, and how that shifts behavior
  • Show us the interesting part: how the tool mediates that conversation between two people and those meetings, What happens?
  • Weird confusing map shown on blog got me interested in the one area: The Conversator, and that now needs to be filled out
  • State the problem, what are the goals of each user


Feedback from Amber:

  • Create Role Barriers
  • Consider how to organize greater community to share knowledge about long term goal clarification and fulfillment
  • The Buddy provides encouragement and feedback, and implicitly provides accountability.
  • The Who What When Where How of the tool is fuzzy, right now it’s only addressing the How
  • Check out BizVendor, which navigates you towards relevant task management apps
  • Two levels of engagement:
    1. The greater community, which requires a more systems approach of how people might organize and share buddy  and goal making
    2. The individual level which deals with individual engagement and motivation… check out Gamification for this
  • Create Personas (which must be in pairs) and Make scenarios based on those specific needs- not everything bc of time crunch…
  • Use Personas to ground/make concrete.. for example: one person who wants to play guitar, and another that wants to find a job.
February 13, 2012

Lots of pushpins, More Conversation & Accountability

Lots of Pushpins…

This map began as a way for me to understand possible functions or “roles” of the tool I would design and the feedback loops within each part. (*1*) It was a weak attempt to begin thinking about “what it is I am making” and “what it is all about” but it was a start. See the key to explain details. High resolution photo to come.

After making this map I began to realize my objectives for this tool were unclear. What were the big questions it was asking. What was it getting at. How was it helping people. Yes it’s about long term goal management but how was it going to do that.


Lots of Questions…

From here I created and curated a list of questions which would help someone specify their long term goal. These questions were directly and loosely based off of the methodology from many different sources such as:

After creating a big list of questions, I edited these down to the more salient, grouped them, sketched them, and matched the sketch visualizations with the parts of the tool. (*2*) The questions are loosely clustered around a different part or role of the tool.

The groups of questions are as follows:

  • Goal
  • Values
  • Conditions
  • Support/People
  • Achieving Goal
  • Action Plan

An example of some questions such as the ones related to the group “Achieving Goal” are as follows:

  • Describe the state which will let you know that you have met your goal. 
  • What are some possible obstacles which could prevent you from reaching your goal?
  • How will you be rewarded when you meet this goal? How might you create a reward for yourself?

To see all of the questions view this doc:  List of Unedited Questions My Tool Will Ask


More Pushpins…

As I mentioned earlier, I tried to do a little cross pollination in my map, by matching first the sketches and then the questions with the parts/roles of the tool. This suggests both that  this part of the tool might literally ask those questions to the goal maker, or they might engage in an action which would result in that question being asked. (*3*) See the that map below.

* key *

* detail  *


A little exercise…

To move forward I began to think about how I would translate these questions into a more typical format, a time based plan for achieving subgoals. I was thinking about creating an action plan through these steps:

  1. List all of the activities you have done or will need to do to achieve this goal
  2. List all of the conditions that will be necessary or helpful in order to achieve this goal (some conditions include social, physical, material, environmental factors, see map for more details)
  3. Group and name these according to phases
  4. Within each phase create steps and designate which activities & conditions are ongoing (habits/practices) and which are one time needs or actions (tasks)

I asked Kirsten Southwell, a wonderful friend of mine and great thinker/designer to come by the studio to get some feedback. We played a little game, which I tested out first below to have a conversation about goals, activities, and conditions. Then, just as I hoped, the conversation snowballed into something deeper.
* List of goals, activities, conditions *



A conversation about Conversation & Accountability…

So this is what I found out through conversation with Kirsten…

I was focused on making a tool which helped clarify a goal into a more specific set of actions by aiding self inquiry. When we did the little activity featured above, I was wondering if maybe my ticket to clarification was focusing on not only on obvious tasks which are to be completed, but also conditions. (This in fact was one of the factors that and interviewee pointed out, to hear that sound clip see Interview 09)

However, as we talked a few things became obvious…

  1. At what point in the goal making process am I helping someone through (Martha mentioned this in the first full committee meeting, see reference to David Roe) Is someone trying to weigh different goal options, or someone who has a goal idea but a vague understanding of how to live it out, etc.
  2. My focus has been on internal awareness, but what is there to be said about others’ role in helping this process? The role of accountability  and conversation with others as a powerful tool for not only working towards a goal but understanding it (*4*)
  3. My map is way to complicated and the things my tool does must be simplified, this was obvious before I started and a result of my additive/expansive method of thinking (*5*)


Now I should…

Develop concept grounded in accountability and conversation, with parts/roles and questions facilitated by tool, and oh yeah… make real stuff


Footnotes on Process & Other Details:

(*1*) You can see all of the “parts” are athromorphized. This was a fun way for me to think about the tool in a brainstorming phase, I have also noticed refferring to a relational connection with something or someone helps me create a story and discover the larger narrative or purpose I am interested.

(*2*) I have been doodling my ideas a lot. I am noticing it is helpful for me to process information through multiple means (digital word processing, handwritten notes, index cards, colored pencil annotations, plain text edit files) The more I allow myself to re-tell the story or recap the information through the different means, the more I edit and internalize the important parts. I am just beginning to create a better flow for drawing simple sketches everyday to reinterpret or make a simple model for myself.

(*3*) I have noticed that I am empowered by making digital information physical, so that I might tangibly edit a larger set of information. It keeps me on task, engaged, and most excitedly- enjoying myself. I have tried to take good pictures in order to document this physical editing process in order to encourage constant flow within my workspace. I also enjoy the effect it has on subconscious absorption and reflection on that information. It also provides obvious breaks in my work because I am able to see how much progress I have made.

(*4*) For example… People might want to find someone’s secret… how did they do it? (ie: could you follow your role model’s goal process through twitter) This was an aspect I hinted at in the questions: with “Who else is working on this goal?”

(*5*) I am friends with an Architect. We occasionally spend time drawing while at a coffee shop or waiting in a lobby. He asks me, try to draw without so many lines. I find this an interesting challenge, because when he looks at a paper he thinks about what he wants to draw before drawing it, and only puts on the page what is necessary. Though my tactic of many lines, and an additive process might not be the best for drawing perhaps it could work better painting? I have never tried. However, I do very much enjoy collaging both digitally and with found materials/scraps. I have recently noticed a connection to that way of thinking and reasoning in my design strategy work. Get it out, and then respond to it- edit it- move it- reframe it- and try to see. I love the things which layering can achieve.