Week 5 Assignment

Part I: Reading Reflections

In this reading, Jan Chipchase established a common ground that people are evolving with the digital age and analyzed the reasons  why what we carry has changed over time. He ended the write up with the big idea that our tools and our ideas of survival are constantly evolving. Its is great that tools are evolving – they give us a reason to carry less, to shorten the hassle of packing, a shorter list of things to bring in our pocket and a freer mind. The big question he has ended with was “How do we create tools that really matter?”

Why do we carry what we carry? If I were to take a trip exploring, and had only three items to choose from in my current handbag to bring with me, I would bring my keys, my mobile phone, and a PayPass card, because I would need my keys to exit the house, my PayPass/ATM card so that I do not have to keep changes, and my phone, to keep me occupied and connected, to people and space (through google maps). If I were allowed 4 items, I will love to have a mobile phone power plug. I mean. I will love to know that I can be connected for an infinite amount of time.

The tools we create now have to adhere to a huge set of requirements to allow us to fully utilize our resources. Time is an important resource, hence our ubiquitous devices and almost seamless digital networks allow us to retrieve information faster, at any time and anywhere. It creates the actual value of working faster in order for us to reduce waiting time. The author mentioned that apart from reducing load, we can reduce the risk of losing things, and the cost of replacing things. To allow people to use more while owning less. Digitised information and the internet platform reduces the need to physically carry anything more than a device to retrieve data. But I think many would disagree that this is the way to go – because digitising our information puts us less in control of the data we need and rely on. A mistake made in coding could delete our information at worst case scenario. For example this year, a man named Marco Marsala accidentally deleted his entire company managing more than a thousand clients by a single line of code called “rm -rf”. The basic code will delete everything it is told to. The “rm” tells the computer to remove; the r deletes everything within a given directory; and the f stands for “force”, telling the computer to ignore the usual warnings that come when deleting files. The mistake is simple, and the coder now knows what is wrong, yet it is not in anyone’s power to retrieve data.

I am not sure but I felt that this was similar to the author’s experience with losing his iPhone in a cab – a sense of losing a portion of the connection. He was frustrated not because of losing the phone but the fact that he knows through live data that the phone is around him, but out of his reach. If we rely on data clouds we do not own, it is pretty ironical that we feel a sense of loss at something that is not really ours.

Question: How do we mitigate the sense of loss over things that we think are ours, but actually have no proper control of?

Perhaps I am thinking too grimly. But another point I want to make about “We are what we upload” is – Google’s algorithms feeds us information which is most related to our searches, or contents of our emails etc, much like the example on Amazon mentioned by the author. So when we type in a search word, only a subset of all related things to it on the world wide web will appear to our screens. It is as though a person is placed in the same box and have to breathe in and out the same air which has gone through his or her lungs many times before – information becomes stale, and boring to the user alone. The saying goes that we are what we consume – the same type of information that is fed to us may limit ideas and creativity, and maybe limit the way that people identify themselves.

Question: What kind of tools matter more to us – controlled information or freedom to all information?

Part II

  1. Based on the lecture on Place, Location, and Ubiquitous technology, post an example of a product, service or design concept and post it on OSS.
  2. Look at the examples for part 2 posted by classmates and write a comment, response or question to their post.

Concept: Tactical Sound Garden (2012)

Project Website

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