15 June 2010

Discovery 2: Prototypes can spark interaction

This is the second of my discoveries from the foyer of the Prototype Symposium 2010.

Prototypes can spark interaction: The work of Roy Shearer, uses Niftymitter to look at the possibility of using open source practice with physical objects. Niftymitter: an open thing is a device that transmits from an audio source to any FM radio. It is designed to be taken by the new owner and hacked, tampered, improved and can even be profited from. The only constraint is that you must release it under the same parameters, as there are no patents or copyright attached. This wild card factor allows for the strangers to work collaboratively in a way that though not new, is more predominant in today’s society. In her talk ‘From Mari to Memphis’, Catherine Rossi regales a story about a side note on instructions from an Enzo Mari furniture pack in 1973, ‘The author asks those who build the furniture and in particular those who make variations of it to send a photo to his studio’.

This practice is noticeable in areas such as software development, we had a great talk by Leonardo Bonani, ‘Tools and tool makers of the Bazaar, new paradigms in computer aided craft’ in which he discussed nature of Cathedrals and the Bazaar. The practice of making the tool that makes the object and making them both available, allowing innovators to flourish and remake products in new ways. Bonani also runs a course, Future Craft: Radical Sustainability in Product Design in MIT, in his course description he states:

“The objects we make are the channels that connect us with materials, cultures and individuals around the world. Production practices shape communities and politics. Individuals are defined by the objects they have at their disposal. At every level, designers have the power and the responsibility to define not only how to make things, but what things should be made.”

In a the practice of Design Ethnography, where the introduction of workshops and participatory design leads to new interactions with individuals, we should learn from these teachings and that of prototyping. What is the objects that we are using to communicate, does it give the individual the opportunity to speak and interact at the upper most level? After all ‘individuals are defined by the objects at their disposal’. In addition we should question, how are we prolonging the interactions and conversations? Where in our process should interactions and conversations begin and how long should they last? Should they be revisited and is this a viable option in academia and industry?

Lesson: Evaluate, then improve, my ability to select, use and create objects to instigate interactions with different audiences.

So my task now is to take all these lessons and try and incorporate them into this project. At the end of our project we are traveling back to Ireland to hold a workshop at Intel Ireland, we hope to have addressed the questions above and have a day in which we manage to pass the baton, the baton being our research completed over summer. If you would like to talk about anything just drop me a line, or make me a prototype.

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