I came to The Conference in Malmö, Sweden as a user experience designer in transition and found it not just inspiring but profound and moving, even tearing up a few times. This past year I’ve been following a a few vague, disparate leads looking for a more holistic vision of design which amazingly materialized at this one gathering. It felt like thee new new and the most interesting potential future to be a part of.
This is the first time I’ve seen ethical and effective approaches to design practice considered at all levels – from macro-economic systems, business and organizational structure, through the design process, down to UI executions and employee support. I’m not sure the word design quite covers it. There were ethnographers, journalists, chefs, researchers and artists working in a range of environments – as solo practitioners, within large corporations, at universities, and at small agencies and collectives. The Conference is not a design conference per se but aims to “explore complexity and trends in the digital world”. There is no defined medium, discipline or industry since it depends on the problem – many of which require multiple platforms and connections between organizations and silos. It’s more a sensibility, materializing based on the focus of the practitioner. Projects have the scale and complexity common in the tech/startup world without the hyper-capitalism (Uber for social infrastructure!) There’s the sophistication, innovation, and high visual/production value commonly reserved for customer-facing corporations and luxury markets, but with the goal of creating a better society.
I’ve previously mentioned posting helpful hints for working on TV UI – a less commonly explored platform with unique challenges and considerations. But you know what they say, the cobbler’s blog has no shoes. Perhaps a good starter for this topic is a big issue I come across every time I turn on one of our favorite family films (and one common among DVD/Blu-ray menus in general)… unclear focus state.
The concept of an ever-present focus in unique to TV UI and is a fundamental part of creating a platform-appropriate interaction model. Basically, one element is highlighted onscreen at all times showing you where you are in the UI. This can get complex and interesting if highlight changes trigger information/display changes or motion. Or it can be a straightforward roaming highlight on a static screen. Either way, it’s a basic necessity to show the user where they are.
Below is a video of a roaming highlight on the Yellow Submarine Blu-ray main menu. Can you see where the focus it? Eh, sorta. The default colors and the highlight state color of the menu are variable. The highlight contains a flashing, but there are also default elements flashing too. This all amounts to a rather unfortunate application of psychedelia.
If anything is a big influence on me, it’s David Lynch. He’s really into presenting something but not explaining it. It’s just ‘This is an image, this is an idea, isn’t it cool?’
– Black Francis
Art is a strange place for a teen, which is often the point. There is the budding inclination to look for *something else*. You can get stuck in the infinite searching trap, looking for what’s next or what’s weird, and gradually congeal into the much-maligned hipster. Or you can follow the promise of art and find something that speaks to you – or shows you something you need to see.
As an arty kid in the 80s, one saw Eraserhead. I was probably in jr. high. The radiator song was cool, but none of the movie made much sense and the relationship dynamics made me uncomfortable. As a teenage girl I was drawn to alt/punk culture but simultaneously yearned for stable, old-fashioned male figures (it was a very painful time). Was the movie meaningful? Was it just cool? I didn’t know. Most kids probably didn’t care. I would agonize over stuff like that. I didn’t want to be too dumb to get it, but I didn’t want to be a sucker if there wasn’t anything there.
Thanks to the The Punk Singer for making me think about Kathleen Hanna again. The film debuted at SXSW last year and is now on Netflix. She makes navigating music, art, punk/indie scenes, feminism, sexism, the media, and illness with the right balance of heavy/light, confidence/vulnerability, pro/DIY, sexycute/FY look much easier than it is. Excited to see what she does next. Makes me wanna dust off my Gretsch.
I’m trying to use more public transportation in LA, especially rail. Unfortunately I have yet to find a map of how the rail lines overlay on the rest of LA. So I added them all to a google map. The map includes currently operating Metro Rail (local light rail & subways), Metro Busways (buses with dedicated roadways) & Metrolink (commuter rail – now a separate map). It also includes known future Metro Rail stations with projected dates. For more info on fares and schedules go to Metro Rail or Metrolink.
The system has come a long way since the Blue Line first opened in 1990, however it’s got a ways to go. The most glaring hole is a route from West LA to the Valley. The 405/101 interchange and the 405/10 interchange are in the top 5 for worst traffic in the country. The Transit Coalition has an excellent proposal outlined here. So start digging Metro!
In making stuff, we seem to increasingly be looking backwards as we move forward. Culture is less about making new things than how exactly to bring old things back in just the right balance. Stealing from the past can be dismissed as lazy, but it’s an extremely nuanced process with infinite variations – figuring out the compelling essence and which parts are just obsolete or incidental. The real work of the future may well be that of curator/creators sifting through all the junk (both material and conceptual) to retain and combine things of value that resonate with the present.
You’ll have to play the game to experience a reality in which LA had light rail, local stores, no freeways, vacant land, Victorian suburbs, people wearing hats unironically and no mini-malls. But if you want to really be inside architecture showcasing craft and symbolism, see Spanish history, watch old movies and vaudeville, lament developer/transportation corruption, and hang out with junkie musicians, you can still find it in this handy chart of real sites seen in the game… :::LA NOIRE: IRL:::