Monthly Archives: February 2009

EcoBlocks

The EcoBlocks toy concept was developed by the frog designer Adam Leonard. As the designer states;” I’m trying to preempt the mess by modeling sustainable practices through play.  The challenge was how to tell that story.  I’m not sure this was the perfect example, but I think it’s a good start at instilling behavior instead of trying to change it.”

I like the idea of the EcoBlocks as though playing parents can discuss with their kids issues about sustainability and waste management. The five blocks are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost and Landfill. Each block  made of different materials that represent the notion of the process depicted on the block. I think in this way you don’t only instill behaviour to the kids, but you also  make parents to think for a moment about their waste management and wonder about their own behaviours. But I can also imagine the kid saying; “Hey mama, this doesn’t go to the trash bin!”, pushing parents to steer behaviour 😉

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Watermarks

watermarks1

Artists usually get the big picture better than anybody else and communicate though their work the significant and the essential. In a previous post, it was Chris Jordan who visualized though his beautiful work our consumption culture and the impact we have on our planet. This time, The Watermarks Project projects the rise of the sealevel on sites across the city (Bristol), and makes us wonder about the future of our cities…

Rebrand Sustainability!

sustainability1

Looking at the tag cloud on the right column of my blog, the word sustainability distinguishes with its size from the others. Obviously, I have tagged a lot of my posts with this word, which I have started to hate…What does “sustainability” mean? A buzz word that everybody uses, but nobody really understands it. “Sustainability” has started creating a “reactance phenomenon” with people getting tired of listening to this word, switching to a denial, more passive mode. But why? I will totally agree with Valerie Casey of the Designers Accord describing that the “language of sustainability” is all wrong, too firmly based in decades of shaming environmentalism and a subtractive rather than additive design process and lifestyle.

Do we really want a calvinistic future, full of moral regulations, laws, “efficiencies” etc or do we want a free life, where we can create and flourish without any guilts? I like Ehrenfeld’s view of aephoria (the greek word for “always flourishing”), but in the end does he just create another buzzword?  I think I will agree with John Bielenberg of projectM declaring that “sustainability needs rebranding” in order to become a more attractive idea that is unignorable and opportunity-based, rather than limiting.

(post inspired by core77, picture’s source: Winterhouse)

In the Bubble: designing in a complex world

I just finished reading “In the Bubble: designing i a complex world“, by John Thackara. A must read book! Throughout the book I could not stop nodding my head, agreeing with the author. It’s not that Thackara says completely new things about design, technology and people, but it’s more his notion of putting people first. Trusting the skills of this super organism that is called human, and supporting him with technology and design instead of substituting or putting him aside…

Yesterday night, drinking a beer at the bar of the cinema after having watched Synecdoche: New York, the music is unexpectedly good…with my friends we are surprised by the variety, but also the consistency of the songs…then we saw in the corner a dj in his forties, playing  music for us. Talent and experience, cannot be substituted by Itunes Genious…People matters!

Errors, mistakes and slips

I was reading the paper by Lokton et al. “Making the user more efficient: Design for sustainable behaviour” and I have my objections to make. Lokton follows a very Normanesque approach, based on affordances and scripts which in a few words are meant to prescribe the use of the artifact to the user. Lokton refers to the Errors (again by Norman), which can be divided into mistakes and slips. The first are a priori inappropriate or incorrect, incomplete models (e.g putting the thermostat higher to get warmer, faster) and the latter refers in cases when the intention is correct but the action was performed incorrectly. Lokton, as Norman, Jelsma and more, believe that affordances and scripts can alleviate the error and lead to a streamlined operation, without any “inefficiencies” in the system. 

My objection to the whole idea is that by embracing the whole idea of scripts and affordances, designers start to perceive the user as an error in the system and not as a human anymore. The approach reminds me a lot of my previous studies as a production engineer, where with stochastic procedures I had to predict when a machine will break-down and design the system in a way where errors will have the minimum impact in the production. However, humans are not machines, to design in this way.

By scripting for more “efficient” behaviour, the designer alienates even more the user from the system making him even less aware about how things works, and even dumper and dumper. For the Christ sake, lets know how a f#$%g thermostat works and that it is just a switch and not a valve!

Go!ogleGo!

info-graphic-energyGo google! go!

Google continues to be a pioneer, and comes up with with a completely new service that will change the energy landscape. Google power-meter will get the data from a smart meter, installed in the house, and provide real time information to the users about the energy they consume. In this way, the users will be able to monitor their behavior and save from 5%-15%. The software is still under development, and a BETA version is being tested. At the same time, Obama’s administration is going to support 40 million U.S home’s to adopt the smart-meters in their houses, in the following 3 years!

If this isn’t good news, what is?

More info about: google.org blog, smartcompany, techcrunch, makezin

p.s thanks for the fast update Bill and George 😉

Take the bus!

I don’t know if by this we mean collective creativity, but I love it 😀

take-the-bussnapshot taken from the hilarious TEDtalk by David Carson