Reflections on readings

Lessons from the Scrapyard
I’ve always had an interest in working with electronics, but since I never really got any practical lessons on how to do it, it always seemed like soemthing that only the technologically savvy could take on and work with. And this article really highlights what I have been wanting to do for so long, and why I decided to take this class in the first place.

What struck me most about this piece is the degree to which complete amateurs could make such creative interactions in their work, especially with electronics. The wearable challenge interests me, and as D+T students, there is clearly a need and a drive for learning these kinds of things, but the MIDI challenge is where I think a lot of magic happened. The yes/no shaking helmet seemed like the epitome of using a strange assortment of supplies to produce a robust fun interaction. In this age of gestural interfaces, it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

But the project that really stood out to me was the Bottle Violin. It was completely elegant in its simplicity, and it seemed completely intuitive as a violin, even though the parts and the principles behind it are so far removed from the string instrument. It’s particularly incredible when you think that the student had no electronics background before this. The technical issues at play aren’t exactly ground-breaking, but they are difficult at first and the implementation was a really clever use of them.

I’m hoping our class will be as fruitful.


7 Overrated Technologies
It’s funny how obvious these things seem, but how little we actually use them in real life. It really isn’t much more work, really, to do the simpler more traditional ways of being environmentally responsible, and in almost every case it’s the healthier and less-wasteful option too.

To me, though, the problem I see is that the way the “headlined” items are presented, it almost seems as if they are bad things. Sure, we tend to forget the “sidelined” items over time, but isn’t it better that we still use the new, and sometimes more improved options (eg. compact fluorescents) in conjunction with the old ways? And even if people tend to disregard the old, arguably better, ways, isn’t it better that we at least do the new ones?

The technologies listed as sidelined all require more work and thought or planning. People didn’t just forget those; they were time-consuming and difficult. I agree with the gist of the article that we should be making more responsible and consciencious decisions, but they are not something we can impose on other people. If we want more success in making bigger impacts on a personal level, we need to change the underlying problems or make the hard things easier to do.

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