Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Insight From Doing

Late to the party here, I know. Regardless, some thoughts...

I am struck by the similar thread of practice or iteration that can be found in both Luker (2008) and Ratto (2011). Luker introduces the idea of thinking through writing, most explicitly in her exercise at the end of Chapter 1. To her, we need to actually write in order to discover elements of what we think (I hope I haven't oversimplified or butchered her thoughts on this!). With Ratto's critical making, the focus is on the insights that come about from making a physical object. I view the practice of writing in the same way as the process of making.

The frustrating thing (for me, anyway) is that I find writing the hardest part of the academic process. I love collecting all the information. I hate writing my findings. Maybe collecting all the information is just procrastination from the actual writing process? Nevertheless, I need to incorporate writing, and the reflection that comes with it, more regularly in my research process.

Luker, K. (2008). Salsa dancing into the social sciences: Research in an age of info-glut. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ratto, M. (2011). Critical making: Conceptual and material studies in technology and social life. The Information Society, 27, 25-260.

Chicken in a jacket!


 Fig. 7 Adrian Cheok’s Poultry Internet is intended as
a means of increasing good relations between people
and their pets (
¼1x-8EzuMiqU). This image shows Cheok with the
rooster Charlie, who is wearing the jacket that allows
him to be petted remotely (reproduced with permission
from Adrian Cheok). (Galey and Ruecker 420)

Hi everybody.  First of all, I just wanted to post this image from our reading, because this is a picture of a CHICKEN in a JACKET, and that is amazing!

I do think that this picture brings up some points about ethics and technology, though.  Apparently, when the chicken is wearing this jacket, he can feel his owner petting him remotely (Galey and Ruecker 420). So I guess his owner could still pet him if he went on vacation.  However, since the chicken can't tell us what he thinks of the jacket, how do we know if this is a good thing?  The chicken might think that it feels really weird to be stuffed into a jacket and feel the sensation of being pet without understanding where it is coming from.  

I think that this ties into what Matt Ratto was saying today about making the process of design inclusive, and his example of trying to involve blind people in the process of designing blind tennis balls, but failing to make the process accessible for them.  If designers of technology are making products for people and not with them, how do we know if these products are actually useful?  I think we should think more about finding out what people (or pets) want and need, rather than telling them what they need and throwing products at them.

Galey, A. and Ruecker, S. (2010). How a prototype argues. Literary and Linguistic Computing, 25(4), 405-24.