Saturday, September 8, 2018

Digitalism, Understanding Users & Artist Alley

Weekly Update 2018-36: Space-travel electronic beats from Digitalism, reflecting on what I've learned about user experience this year, and OCAD's Artist Alley.

Music: Digitalism
Hamburg-based Jens "Jence" Moelle and İsmail "Isi" Tüfekçi are the duo that make up the electronic sound of Digitalism. Moelle and Tüfekçi met at a record store in Hamburg and became friends. Later, the store's owner asked them to DJ a party, and they then began mixing and recording. It's exactly the brand of silly electronic dance music (circa the 2004-2010 era) that got me into electronic music in the first place. Especially their 2007 LP Idealism is a musical journey to say the least. It feels like the club-based equivalent of space travel, and I still love it.

This one's an obscure reach into the time capsule, but I think you'll really like it.

This week I made a pilgrimage to a very special place. Sky City Mall at Finch and Midland is a magical place with amazing snack food.

Yes, I made a custom map. I take these things super seriously!

I love to try new food, and yesterday was an exercise in gluttony. My two favourites were the peach cloudy ice cream slush, made with real peach and creamy vanilla ice cream. There were even peach bobas at the bottom of the cup! Truly unlike any other bubble tea I've ever tried.

And to top that, I tried a savoury Hong Kong bubble waffle that had cheddar cheese melting out of each of the pockets. It was crunchy, gooey, fluffy, hot, and totally mind-blowing.

Like a grilled cheese, but way, way better.

Upon my return from the final fishing trip of the summer, I realized that Fall is around the corner, and with it comes Sukkot. The holiday is part of the Jewish Pilgrimage Festival, and celebrates the end of the harvest. It is customary for people to build little wooden structures in their backyards or on balconies, reminiscent of the structures that farmers would make in their fields to live in while they conducted the harvest.

My synagogue has asked me to create some Snapchat Geofilters for their celebrations, which I think is a great use of technology to connect us back to the roots of the holiday. It was a lovely chance for me to refresh my knowledge of the holiday and learn about its unique symbols.

The etrog (a lemon-looking citrus fruit) and the lulav (a bunching of reeds and fronds) are the two main symbols of the holiday. As is the case with much of the teachings of Judaism, there are multiple supposed meanings of these symbols. I picked out my favourite one to share:
The etrog, which has a good taste and a good smell, is like those who know the Torah and do good deeds. While the lulav which has a good taste, but no smell, is like a person with knowledge, but who does no good deeds. The myrtle, which has a good smell and no taste, is like a simple person who has no knowledge and learning, but is innately kind and caring. Lowest on the rung of human values is the willow, which has neither taste nor fragrance, and symbolizes those people with no interest in gaining knowledge and no innate sense of responsibility towards others and no feeling of the need to help others.
Here are some early versions of my Geofilters. I really like to illustrate natural things like leaves and fruit.

I was also quite fortunate to find someone to trade me 10,000BTZ on Bunz for a $50 Amazon Gift Card, which I turned around and spent on books within about ten minutes. It wasn't really a snap decision but it had the carefree nature of a splurge purchase, which I don't do very often.

This week I'd like to finish and send the geofilter off to Snapchat, assuming they have some sort of approval process and need turnaround time before the holiday begins!

It's also a wonderful time of year because I finally get to participate in the annual Toronto Bike Rave, which I've missed out on every year since I moved to the city. I don't know why I love group bike rides so much, but I really really do.

I'd also like to try out a new recipe for a chicken enchilada casserole - I've really been pining for some Mexican-inspired flavours and of course casseroles are perfect for Fall.

Random Thought: Understanding Users
I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how great it's been to make strides toward user experience in my design practice. It's been about a year since I began to test this theory about myself, of wanting to understand more of the theory behind design and the big "whys". The part of it that I enjoy most is the understanding of how and why people go about achieving their goals. Not only is this understanding required for me to improve processes, but I genuinely find it interesting.

The methods used to obtain user goals and processes can vary. Of course, one straightforward way is to interview users, though of course people like to feel at ease before they are willing to speak so openly about their behaviours and habits. Herein lies the crux.

I like to begin by asking interviewees about what they've been up to so far that day, before we get into the real stuff. Usually their answer will provide at least one detail of how they felt or acted upon something that happened. I pick that out and ask them directly about their motive for the outcome. When done properly, asking this second question can instil a level of trust and understanding between us, which will provide a sense of ease for future questions. But more importantly, the structure of the question gets them to think critically about their actions and why they do what they do.

Basically, it's all about setting the stage for good outcomes. Even if the answer about their day so far is challenging, like "I didn't really do anything", there is lots to read into such as their body language or tone of voice. Maybe I can dig into whether they were trying to accomplish something but were blocked by an outside force. This will help to frame their answers to the more complicated questions.

Inspiration: Artist Alley
These days I'll take any excuse to bike over to the beautifully reconstructed Grange Park, a lovely green space that both the AGO and OCAD back onto. It's such an awesome spot that lots of people like to congregate inside. This past Wednesday was no exception, hosting OCAD's Artist Alley as part of the students' frosh week. Alumni and students had tables set up selling all sorts of artwork from pottery to clothing to art prints to enamel pins and zines.

It was awesome to see some cool work, talk to some cool people, and to see that the university promotes its students to make a living off what they love to do.

Check out the vendors and get announcements for the next installement on their Instagram.

No comments:

Post a Comment