Augmented reality Webby winners

I found this after checking the syllabus and seeing that I really did miss a blog post. So anyway, this is really cool. Google basically took our Vibe project and made it global, at least the graffiti part. This shows how relevant graffiti an street art are becoming to mainstream cultural expression. Good storytelling in art is so important, and this thing google did on “The Talking walls of Buenos Aires” is amazing. It’s about how walls have been used to help spread word of mouth amongst people.

Once again, thanks everyone. Have a great summer.


Group Projects

Working in groups is a necessary part of living and working in a fast paced world. Where projects and ideas can have a small window of opportunity or turning a flicker of inspiration into full fledged company requires many hands. Working together can achieve more than working alone, and open more potential avenues for progress along the way.

There are many types of group projects. Some very large where members of the same project never even meet, and some are small and intimate projects where team members spend every minute together. In any group there must be clarity and a consensus on the work assigned to team members, a roadmap, and a vision that can be conveyed in just a few words. The means of the group must meet expectations of each other and manage their own while simultaneously working towards a unified goal.

I think personal problems can arise in any group situation, from working at a restaurant to working on a creative team. People are different in many regards, which leads to many needs and expectations being balanced with ones own production rate and encouragement towards others.

Having a successful group requires this culture to be well balanced and allowing for each member to express any concerns or suggestions at any time. I can see why bureaucracies are appealing to companies, having total control can be comforting, but as in dystopic novels, it does not result in high levels of happiness and innovation.

Teamwork comes together when a group of people come together who are inclined to foster a group ethic and maintain their own nerves enough to not infringe upon the project or other peoples personal well being. A clear roadmap helps to maintain sanity but any team, regardless of the framework, must operate to some extent on faith.

Group projects are absolutely essential to progressing human cooperation and history shows that our species was team oriented from the beginnings of existence. These are skills we must foster, much like storytelling, relies on people to be together to share their ideas and experiences which creates emotional bonds and ties and as a result the work becomes more passionate in it’s final product. Many good artists collaborating on work often results in a unique gestalt seemingly bursting with energy. In the group project I did this quarter at SCAD I feel I had positive experiences with each of these examples.

Susan Cain’s “The power of introverts”

In Susan Cain’s TED Talk, “The power of introverts,” she speaks about the cultural focus on productivity and the effect it has on the individual. When she went to school students sat in rows and “worked nearly autonomously.” In today’s world, at work and in school, high value is placed on working well with others. As a result, introverts have been cast as less desirable.

Cain, herself, is an introvert but identifies with the “animal warmth” of human comfort while exploring the mind, or working independently. In  jobs, an emphasis on free-form and “think tank”  style environments have emerged. In education as well, where independent work once dominated, class activities are being broken up and distributed to teams in hopes of increasing productivity. Cain thinks this one size fits all style of education is just the polar-opposite of the previous education system that fostered solitude and quiet intellectualism.

Even though teamwork is not going away any time soon, a negative trend is emerging. Ideas can be stifled in groups by whoever speaks the most, and not necessarily the person with the best ideas. This causes a problem, but also offers some solutions. Being able to work independently while not fearing rejection is extremely important for group happiness and productivity. Practicing public speaking is also key, she says, as speaking at TED is not her natural habitat. To prepare for TED, she said she spent a year, “speaking dangerously” which increased her confidence and helped her gain new abilities. The most important thing

In the end she has three important calls to action:

1. stop the constant group work

2. have your own revelations — unplug and get inside your own head

3. Be yourself and try to show people that to the highest extent that it is possible

Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor”

This was the most successful brand app on Facebook, ever. Lay’s noticed that it wasn’t connecting with “milennials” as well as it would have liked to, and reached out through a social media campaign. This campaign asked users to create their own flavor of Lay’s. Simple enough.

To build awareness Lay’s built a pop-up store in Times Square where visitors could taste flavors of Lay’s from all around the world, and suggest their own. At the end of the campaign, the top flavors would be chosen and produced.

The facebook banner was turned into a live billboard that changed every 30 minutes to what the most popular choice was at the time, and users were tasked to “Save” their favorite flavors by promoting them on social media.

People came up with some pretty tasty sounding chip flavors like, “Korean BBQ” and “Chicken and Waffles,” and many others. It really felt like a fun and genuine way to express your love or hatred for Lay’s Chips. Even the internet got involved, creating some not so delicious flavors such as “Toothpaste and Orange Juice,” “Doritos,” and a few other meta-physical and existential ones. My personal favorite is “Dad Never Came Home.”

This campaign was held once in 2014, and revived again in 2015. After over 11,000 videos were created to taste and review all the flavors, the campaign ended. It seemed everyone at least took notice in one way or another. And when the internet gets involved in parodying something, it’s usually been a success. Despite there being many joke entries, there were just as many if not more serious ones which created a vibrant and diverse campaign with ideas coming out of seemingly every corner of the world.

Even for this blog post I can’t stop laughing at some of these, and drooling over the others. It’s a very unique campaign, and I’m still having fun with it months after it ended. Thanks Lay’s.


Technology Review’s 35 under 35 of 2015

In MIT Technology Review’s top 35 of 2015 we meet the winners of this years “Innovators Under 35” competition, and dive into the tech industries most favorable achievements and ideas. The 35 winners are split up into groups of Inventors, Visionaries, Pioneers, Humanitarians, and Entrepreneurs. Each of these to highlight the different field, and neatly organizing the applications of work currently being done. The site ends up looking like a sports roster of 2015’s top tech players, complete with artwork, bio, photos, work, quotes, and YouTube links. It makes it very easy to quickly find relevant tech people to inspire you in your own industry.

Each category has its own unique page that adds depth to the article with an informative artwork to embody the ideals of the section, for instance the inventors section features a hand lifting a light bulb, the visionary page has a pair of binoculars looking forward, and the humanitarian page shows a dove resting on an outstretched finger. Another nice touch is that each category is neatly named in the URL: “/inventors/”, “/visionaries”, etc. Through these category pages, we get a sense of how these ideas and people are working together to achieve common goals.

My initial response to this yearly event is always a sigh of relief, at least for now while 35 still looks far off in the distance, but also some anxiety mounts. The daunting aspect is that all of the individuals featured have surpassed exceedingly challenging odds to get to where they are, and come up with incredibly creative solutions, which is luckily the inspirational silver lining. The aspirational aspect of this article comes from the fact that each of the problems that the individuals shown here have addressed have grown to encompass solutions to problems on a scale exponentially beyond their own needs.

Increasing the anticipated reach of a project is the main goal this campaign runs on each year, and achieves by not only highlighting the people working to fix the worlds problems, but also highlights the problems in order to manage global and local expectations for what is currently achievable and what needs to become achievable. One inspirational achievement featured was the 55 cent microscope created by Manu Prakash to address the needs of underprivileged schools and scientists in remote villages and poor countries. This is a key example of a small product to address a developing need that is valuable on a global scale.

Tanuja Ganu, another winner, addresses the problem of underdeveloped power grids in India with an ad-hoc solution of interconnected power-monitors to help predict power-outages. The enticing aftereffect of using this technology is that it will help identify weaknesses in existing grids, and offer technological clues as to how to strengthen them in an inexpensive fashion. The boxes, which she created while working with IBM, will help families save electricity and be prepared for outages that can wipe out AC and refrigeration instantly.

Kurtis Heimerl also addresses the issue of creating reliable networks in remote or underprivileged places by creating the solar powered cellular box, which allows people in poor, rural communities to access airwaves cheaply in a decentralized manner. The catch is that its currently illegal, but this issue did not prevent him from developing it. This idea reminds me — in a way — of the One Laptop Per Child initiative which not only was a very mainstream idea to provide technology around the world, but led to many technical achievements in the wake of its existence. Without the “OLPC” the technology in netbooks would not have advanced so quickly, so we see the effects.

The boldness of these individuals almost overshadows the energy and potential of their ideas, but it shouldn’t. These are the people with their heads turned in the right direction, and we should follow them for their ideas and for their dedication to following those ideas. These people show that its possible to direct creative energy towards creating global solutions, and that solving problems in small ways can often lead to greater successes than first anticipated.

2 Lynda Videos

The first video I watched was “The Origin Of Branding” where we learn about the research and inspiration parts of making an effective brand strategy. He starts by saying that “you’ve been hired to solve a problem” and you don’t want to take any steps that the client could do on their own. The process, he says is messy, and takes a lot of looking through information, such as company values and goals.

When creating a brand image, look for 5-8 words to design by. Find the company’s strengths and weaknesses, and accentuate positive perceptions and try to have a cohesive strategy that highlights all the positives of the company as they support each other seamlessly.

The second video I watched was, “Aaron Draplin Takes On a Logo Design Challenge” where he starts a logo from scratch and talks about the steps that lead up to having final comps to present to a client. He goes through the entire process from sketches to illustrating it in Adobe. He says if you’re stuck, or have been looking at it for too long, start mocking up t-shirts, hats, or signs with the logo on it to get some clearer perspective. The most important part I took out of this was having multiple options when presenting to a client.

Even the best logos started from many rough concepts. His inspiration for his logos come from “old world” design, because he says if something worked 4 years ago, or 40 years ago, it’ll probably still work today. For his logo he takes the first letter of the company, “All Base Concrete Company” and starts coming up with some ideas to make a symbolized “A” that incorporates some aspects of the company with a timeless and solid look.

To begin, just writing the name out a couple times in a notebook is enough to get a better idea of the company and to start building your own concept. The more character you add to your idea the stronger it will be. By researching the company, finding out how old it is, where it originated, and what they do, you can make a more relevant logo because its meaning will last. The next step are the aesthetic properties.

After he gets the basic idea of an A that resembles a concrete wall, he goes into Illustrator and starts breaking it up in different ways to help visualize the ideas and see which one works the best. As he works, he keeps all of his previous versions as a show of his thought process which is helpful because when presenting he says it’ll be important to explain his design decisions with backup from his own work process.

The last thing that he talks about as one of the most important steps is having many revisions and versions available for the client to look through when making their final decision. This is better than simply having one that you, the artist, are set on, because there’s nothing to fall back on if the design fails in the presentation. It is always important in this business to be as flexible as possible because while something may look perfect to you, the client may want to see other versions just to be sure about the final product. This could include the mockups of t-shirts and hats to add emphasis and increase the impact of the presentation. In the end, everything must come together seamlessly, and he helps to lay out a process to clarify what exactly needs to go into logo creation all the way up to presentation

Sitemap, Schematic, Wireframe, Style Tiles

The four preliminary steps to creating a website involve creating a sitemap, schematic, wireframe and style tiles. Not everybody takes these steps before building a website, but if the process is important to you, so too will be these steps. Starting the process in something can be a daunting task, which is why, when broken down into simple steps, building a website can be easy. Even when working on a team, the first four steps can help create an idea in the heads of all of the developers before any serious work needs to get done.

A sitemap will be used to talk about the various pages that will be accessible on the future website. Arranging the pages visually to see how the navigation works will begin the process of arranging a functioning site, just without any bells or whistles. After this step, the site will be a navigable prototype, which helps developers see what works and what doesn’t in the process.

A schematic is the beginning of working on filling in content. It is the next step after working on the sitemap; it will contain details for each page that will be on the final website. In the beginning sites can be filled in with “dolor ipsum” text, but the process of laying out the schematic before working on the website creates a more streamlined process. It is better to worry about content before going on to the wireframe.

The wireframe is the preliminary step that lays out the boxes and places for content. This requires carefully deciding on pixel width and height of various div boxes so that when building out the site in HTML, the pixel dimensions are already known. The wireframe is like the foundation that everything gets built on top of, and will remain for the entire life of the website.

The style tiles are the last aesthetic vision that comes in the process before beginning to build the website in something like Dreamweaver or Muse. The style tiles are the art directors job, mainly. Choosing textures, colors, and images that represent the product or idea of the website. It is the style tile that experiments with possibilities that the website has to mimic properties or emotions of the source material. Inspiration for the style tile can come from many different places: the world-wide web, reality (skeuomorphism), people, places, objects, or even from your own process. Look to your schematic for possible links between visual imagery and the idea.

Once these steps are completed, you have a huge advantage over anyone picking up dreamweaver or muse with a blank slate. The only work left to do will be coding, and some copy and pasting, and your website should be a fully functioning and beautiful one.