Six words: idealistic wannabe-hipster, reluctant techie. Uncertain.
More words: PhD Student, HCII. While I’m working, I’m interested in using people’s geotagged tweets and other social media posts to better understand how people move around cities. When I’m not, I’m usually riding a bike to or from a coffee shop. I like going to faraway places; spent 4 months all over India and drove a scooter around central-eastern Europe a couple years ago, and planning trips to western China and beyond.
Weekly reflections (sorry I forgot to add these in for most of the first half of the class):
Week of 10/13-10/20: Cool to see everyone’s projects. I found it instructive how looking at people, even these fake people we just made up, interacting led us to think in different ways about how this future will look. Also, they didn’t have to be very high-fidelity; cartoons are just as good as photos. Maybe better, because we don’t get hung up on details. Working at the right level of abstraction remains important. They have to be detailed enough that we can imagine them as people, but not so detailed that we focus on the irrelevant details. Something reminds me of improv comedy: you have to make characters that are interesting, but you don’t get time to come up with entire backstories.
Week of 10/20-10/24: I’m a little confused, mostly about the next project. How are we supposed to find a path between 2054 and now? I mean, how can we do it better than the WBCSD or others have done? And the readings are feeling more vague-big-picture again, which is not reassuring. I used to be totally overwhelmed when confronted with any kind of design challenge, but I’m getting better at being okay with that, but still overwhelmed now.
Week of 10/27-10/31: Oh, I get it, at least a little bit. We’re not doing what WBCSD does, we’re again taking it down from the 30k-foot level to the 5k or 10k. Taking large predictions and making them visible in people’s lives. Got it. It still seems difficult to incorporate all the different projections, but I guess you can’t be perfect anyway (nobody can predict the future, nor are we trying to) you just have to shoot somewhere in a feasible direction.
Week of 11/3-11/7: Writing the letter was actually a lot of fun. It’s cool to think through these decade by decade paths on a high level and see how well we can wrap all the parts of our future worlds in there. Getting a voice really helped too; once I thought about “semi grumpy great-uncle benign-ranting at kids on antiquated blog”, it got a lot easier to write. Feels like acting: once you can find the right character, it becomes a lot less wooden, almost naturally. I appreciate having the creative outlet here; it’s a lot different than, say, coding, or writing academic things.
Week of 11/10-11/14: Hooray, we’re talking about cities. I was excited to do the readings this week. Basically, I want to know: how do the people who are in charge of thinking about the future of cities think about the future of cities? And how can we help? I’m hoping that I can figure out my role here more, because my background and my education are all in processing data, but I’m trying to do this for cities, which I don’t know much about. (at least, compared to the professionals.)
Week of 11/17-11/21: I’m actually getting a little frustrated discussing about cities. A city seems like too big a unit to have a meaningful discussion about. Particularly some of our conversations where we were saying something like “well, city X is better than city Y” – which is like saying Monet is better than Rothko, or Brahms is better than the Beatles. They vary on so many axes! Oh well, I guess that is part of the value of this class: to get comfortable talking about big, vague things.
Weeks of 11/24-12/5 (two weeks, incl thanksgiving): Huh. Finishing up this assignment, and I did a letter from the future and a storyboard, and it all seems so boring. Like I didn’t learn anything from it – it’s just reconfirming my stereotypes of what Bloomfield could become. So I did this third thing, the NSA-style report on one individual, and it felt a little more useful, but then it’s easy to slip into sci-fi tropes, paranoia, surveillance state, etc. Plus, I kind of lost sight of the “normative” part of this. And then that’s all that came across in my presentation, which felt a little immature. Well. So it goes. Now I know.