· Education + Design - Gather more interviews related to higher educational experiences and create a large infographic/report/interactive object that documents and analyzes the information.
· Social Networking - Figure out a way to use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. for good (and link it to design, somehow…)
· Street Art - Incorporate Guerilla art/advertising with Social Media/Advertising (for good?)
· QUEEROCRACY - Redesign the current website with a more advanced interface.
· Mobilize - Design logo and other branding, manage user experience, and help to plan the functionality of the organization
·DoSomething - Create an updated presentation/report incorporating teen and DoSomething-related data into infographics/other visualizations.
· Continuation of Subway Map Redesign - Create a mobile app and/or a website to expand beyond the paper map. See: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/16/ahead-of-its-time-an-icon-goes-digital/#?wtoeid=growl1_r1_v3
· Books - Figure out a way to encourage youth to read despite the inundation of technology.
“See, when I paint, it is an experience that, at its best, is transcending reality. When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, of the total consciousness, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it’s all about.”—Keith Haring
Most of the comments I received on my system recommended that I reduce the amount of text that I had incorporated into the visualization. I realized that as I created the design I was still working out what I wanted to represent in my head, and writing it down helped me to solidify what I was trying to create. Instead of deleting the text after I had finished the design, I kept it in because I was afraid that my graphics did not speak clearly enough for themselves. But when I asked my crit group during class if my idea made sense, they seemed to get it. I realized that I didn’t need all of the text in there as a crutch. I decided to remove the text and just create a more in-depth key, pulling direct examples from the system map to use within the key to explain the graphic. I think during this semester (and beyond) I need to keep in mind that although I like to write and am good at articulating the ideas behind my work, sometimes I don’t need to write that much to make people understand my design. I need to work on making my designs speak for themselves.
I think I enjoyed the trip the Museum of the Moving Image a bit too much. It was like stepping back through the past 20 years of my life all in one building. From Sonic the Hedgehog to the Wizard of Oz to Kermit the Frog, they had it all. One of the most interesting parts for me was the items in the main exhibit. I have been so inundated with current technologies – motion graphics and 3D images – that I was expecting to see a lot of futuristic videos and experimental films. I was surprised, however, to see images of late movie actors and old costumes and sets. It was fascinating to see the changes that have been made with the addition of technology – but that there are still so many non-virtual effects used in current films – for example, the use of a model head and neck in Black Swan, instead of purely digital manipulation.
I loved the Jim Henson exhibit. I grew up on the Muppets and Sesame St., and it was so interesting to see all of Henson’s work from a different perspective, and to even see some of his independent work that I hadn’t seen as a child. What was most interesting for me to see was Henson’s use of early Muppets in television ads for various products. As a child growing up with Ernie and Grover, I never thought about Henson’s use of those characters to sell household cleaners or coffee brands. It was sort of depressing, in a way, to realize that these characters that I had thought of as “friends” throughout my youth were just as successful in targeting adult audiences to buy things.
As I thought about it, though, and read more about what Henson said about this advertising, my opinion began to change. Henson described what he did not as work but as fun, as something he truly enjoyed doing, a challenge he truly enjoyed solving. I thought about how this applies to my own life, skill set, and future career choices. I think that with a skill so broad as graphic design comes an even greater responsibility to do more with those skills. There are so many opportunities – just because I can make logos for commercial companies doesn’t mean I should. Just because I know how to design a poster doesn’t mean I should do it if it doesn’t make me happy and allow me to expand my creativity.
It does mean, however, that I have to let myself experiment and experience a lot of different uses for design. It’s easy to design a logo, a poster, a television ad. It’s hard to create The Muppet Show. I think a lot of it has to do with balancing skills with drive, and not losing sight of what’s really important to me. I think once I solidify that, my work will begin to reflect my priorities.
"Prayer Companion" at the "Talk to Me" MoMA Exhibition
I found MoMA’s “Talk to Me” exhibition particularly intriguing. It was an amalgamation of technology, social media tools, and visualizations, some complete and others prototyped.
It’s fascinating that social media tools and virtual systems are making their way into the world’s most contemporary museums. It really makes us question where the line is drawn between technology, art, design, and “real life”.
Now that so much of technology has become incorporated into our “real lives,” it was interesting for me to see machines that blur the lines of reality even further.
Although I was raised with religion, I am no longer much of a religious person. I happened upon the “Prayer Companion” device in the exhibit and was immediately intrigued. The device was developed for nuns in a monastery in York, UK. The purpose of this device is to “alert the nuns to issues that need their prayers.” (Talk to Me website) It’s a small screen device like a news ticker at the bottom of a television screen. It displays news and feelings from bloggers around the world.
This device blew my mind in multiple ways. When I think of nuns, the first person that pops into my mind is Maria from The Sound of Music. Nuns are not people I envision tweeting about their daily activities or signing up for unlimited text messaging plans. I was surprised at how positively and normally they responded to the use of this device. It’s even treated with some form of humanity (and affectionately referred to as “Goldie”).
This device further made me question the limits of reality in our world. For me, religion is something that people have every right to believe in, but it’s not something I can get behind. I see it as a belief, and not a way of life; as something ephemeral and intangible. It’s so interesting, then, to see these two things paired together. It can be argued that virtual communication, and the Internet in general, is equally (or moreso) intangible as religion. It cannot be touched, seen, or heard. We know it’s working (and we know when it doesn’t work). We depend on it and form our lives around it. We connect with others through it. Sounds a lot like a religion to me.
Tamar Lewin’s article “Teenage Insults Scrawled on Web, Not on Walls” discusses the latest outlet for cyber bulling – Formspring.me. Formspring was started as a simple question-and-answer website that turned into a bullying nightmare. Teenagers have adopted the site as a place to call each other out about friendships, relationships, and appearances. The site has caused a significant drop in teenage self esteem, and has even lead some to suicide. Teens continue to use the site regardless of their knowledge of its distructive and counterproductive nature.
I’ve known about Formspring for a while, but have never used it. It’s astounding to me that people continue to use the site and publicly display insulting questions and comments directed towards them for anyone to see online. What’s more astounding to me is that none of this is really that astounding to me. It makes a lot of sense – teenagers are dying for attention – to be noticed, to somehow stand out from others. In their more questions and comments they receive on Formspring (regardless of the subject matter), the more popular they are.
This is how a lot of the Internet is based for all of its users, especially is social networking environments. The more wall posts, retweets, and followers you have, the more acknowledged you feel in a very large and intangible world. It’s all about connection. The more connections you have the more connected (literally) you feel.
Regardless of format or presentation (be it in a “prayer ticker” or an online questionnaire), we are just beginning to understand the full power of anonymous, public presentation of thoughts and feelings. The Internet provides that security veil that so many wish to hide behind when they share (and receive) the most honest comments and questions. For good or for worse, this is the current (and future) state of our Internet-based society.
Although flow and happiness may seem similar, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains that they are not one in the same. He says, “it is the full involvement of flow, rather than happiness that makes for excellence in life.” To many this may seem like a heavy and daring statement – happiness isn’t fulfilling enough for a good life? Csikszentmihalyi certainly believes in happiness – the happiness from a warm summer day or a meaningful relationship, but he further states that “the happiness that follows flow is of our own making, and it leads to increasing complexity and growth in consciousness.” Flow is something deeper than happiness because it involves being so “in the moment” that we forget time, we forget place, we only know self.
I have found that a big factor of creating flow in my life is the environment that surrounds me. As much as I hate the lights and sounds of the computer lab, my productivity level always seems to get a lot done while I’m there without much distraction. It’s comfortable to be at home, but it’s also incredibly distracting. Not just the things around me, but the habits that I have developed at home. I’m more apt to check Facebook and mindlessly surf the web while I’m working at home because that’s what I do for leisure when I am at home. The line between leisure and work is blurred while I’m at home.
I also find that I’m most in my own flow when I am going somewhere or a I have a destination in mind, especially when I’m in a place where I can’t worry about other things that I should be doing. This happens most effectively when I am riding the subway. No matter if I am going home, to class, or a job interview, I immediately feel calmer on the subway. This same feeling doesn’t occur on a bus or in a taxi. When I go down into the subway station, once I’ve figure out where I’m going and get on the train, I immediately enter a sort of meditation mode. I put my headphones in and enjoy the ride. I can’t worry about the emails, calls, or text messages I might be receiving. I can’t worry about the work I should be doing. I’m just gliding underground, settling my thoughts and easing my mind. It’s a pretty great environment for me.
I was very interested by Csikszentmihalyi’s argument that “unless one learns how to use this time effectively, having leisure at one’s disposal does not improve the quality of life.” When I get into “school mode” I have the habit of becoming a different, much more stressed person. I love to learn, read, write, and discuss things with peers and professors, but the overwhelm of assignments to produce at such a high demand can definitely become stressful. Many people’s approach to this is to present a lower quality of work, but when I do that I just end up being frustrated with myself. I am fond of Csikszentmihalyi’s point about leisure time, because I have found that whenever I’m engaging in leisure activities I feel unsettled due to the other work that I have to do. Although my time management issues have more to do with taking breaks than getting work done, perhaps I need to work on effectively managing my time by finding leisurely activities to engage in that produce more of a sense of flow than of a fleeting happiness.
Inspired by Cynthia Lawson’s talk at the 140Edu Conference, I began to reflect on my own usage of the Internet. For me, it’s not about taking a break from the Internet or allowing my fast-paced life to slow down. I can’t really avoid technology.
Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m addicted to the Internet.
You could say that I was born with a computer mouse in one hand and an iPad in the other (well, at that time it was probably a Palm Pilot, but you get the idea). My parents are both incredibly connected to technology, and ever since I can remember, it’s been a part of my life. I’ve always been one of the first people with an AIM screenname, a personal email address, and an iPhone. I have very distinct memories my entire family sitting together at the dinner table, at a movie, the beach, etc., each with our own form(s) of technology out and in use. It’s a difficult thing to separate oneself from something that feels so natural.
So, the constant inundation of technology was no change step for me when I came to Parsons. I was already pretty into using Facebook to talk to long-distance friends, and although Twitter did freak me out a bit at first, after getting used to it it became just as commonplace (if not more) for me as checking the weather. Tumblr, again, was just another step. None of it ever fazed me, and after I became familiar with each new interface, it was as if I’d been using it as long as I’d been using AOL Instant Messenger.
There are, however, some obvious downsides to technology, even for an enthusiast such as I am. When I was younger and wanted my parents to or sister to watch a movie with me, I used to forbid them to be on their computers, because I feared that they “weren’t really paying attention,” and thus the connection we were sharing at that time would be tainted. Even at a young age I understood the effects of technology on multitasking and everyday life activities, including human connection. And as I have been required to use the computer more and more in school and work settings, I’ve begun to notice these somewhat destructive habits develop within my own use of technology as well.
The Internet in the days of social media is no longer just a research or communication tool. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are revolutionary not only in their technology and capabilities, but in their ability to immediately create another persona for oneself. We were all warned when we were younger about the dangers of MySpace, and the issues with online friends who were not friends in real life. On Facebook this is now somewhat of an irony. A “Facebook friend” and a friend in real life can be exactly the same (ie a best friend, sibling, etc) or completely different (ie someone you met once on a weekend-long camping trip who you’ll never meet again but can now follow through life virtually). It’s all sort of terrifying, but like anything, if used with caution and intelligence, can be a great tool.
Now I’m not trying to say that The Big Bad Internet is going to come and get you in the middle of the night and make you interact with sketchy strangers and divulge all of your personal information to the world in 140 characters or less. It’s clear, though; the power of the Internet has created a whole other world that was never imagined at its conception. If you’re not on Facebook you’re nobody, if you don’t have a Twitter account how can you know what Kanye West is talking about at all times, and if you don’t have a Tumblr, how will you be up on the latest Internet memes and inside jokes? Who would we all be without the Internet? Would we be different?
I’d be curious to find out the answer to that. Being a cynical person, I have begun to use the Internet in a somewhat ironic way. You could say that this is my “Internet persona.” Yes, I’ve tweeted my fair-share of “emo-lyrics” and posted enough Facebook albums to let all of my friends live vicariously through me. Most of us are guilty of that at this point. It’s all just second nature. But we all have the ability to change ourselves on the Internet, because as public and social it is, it’s actually the most anonymous and isolating tool we have at our disposal. It’s the second world in which we live. It’s a totally different way of life, if we want it to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Internet, more than a lot of things in my life. But I absolutely see how incredibly time-consuming and life-sucking it really can be. I’d be curious to see if any of us could remove ourselves from technology and live as we have been living with it. Is it just a crutch and a leg up, or is it something that has become vital for contemporary life? The argument from those less involved with technology is “of course! We did it for years before any of this was invented!” But would they say the same about the telephone? I think technology is a building, growing, changing idea. We will always have technology and some form of communication with others. It’s human. Technology is human.
As I write this I’m watching the ticker on the “Self Control” app countdown to 0 so I can get back on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, all sites that I have blocked myself from in a test of control and concentration. It seems to be working, although I have been tempted to check my Twitter Doc Application, which Self Control can’t block me from (a loophole!). I realize, though, as I type this, that I don’t really need to be on Facebook and doing my readings for class, I don’t really need to be tweeting while designing logos for another class.
I think a lot of it is about a false sense of connection. A lot of the time I find myself checking Facebook or Twitter just to see what others have posted, not to post anything of my own. And maybe this sounds less selfish than social, which is a good thing, but in reality, when I really make myself think about it, I realize that it’s just a waste of my time. People that are truly important to me (offline) will tell me what’s going on in their lives without the use of technology, and those who aren’t as important in my real life, well, maybe we don’t need to be “friends” on Facebook anyway.
I’ve yet to accomplish a balance between technology and everyday life, and I hope that that’s something I can do as I grow older, and perhaps become more removed from it. But, like I said before, technology is constantly growing and changing. If it’s not Facebook in five years, there’ll surely be another form of distraction available to anyone with an Internet connection.
"In an effort to bolster interest in its graduate teaching program, National Louis University will offer would-be teachers a Groupon for nearly 60% off tuition of an entry-level graduate teaching course."
“The bottom line: in just the last five years, research has shown that the possibility of combining proven public health approaches (e.g. education, safe sex practices including condom use, syringe exchange programs and ensuring the safety of the blood supply) with new breakthrough prevention strategies (including pre-exposure prophylaxis with oral and topical ARVs, male circumcision and early treatment-as-prevention to reduce HIV transmission), is no longer just a goal, but a reality.”