Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Melody's Echo Chamber, The Power of Red & A Map A Day

Weekly Update 2018-47: The power of pain in the music of Melody's Echo Chamber, the power of a red pen in marking student papers and A Map A Day - maps of all kinds right in your Instagram feed.

Music: Melody's Echo Chamber
Melody's Echo Chamber is the main project of French musician Melody Prochet, who has collaborated quite a bit with Kevin Parker and Tame Impala. It's really no wonder I find her music so hypnotic and catchy, she has learned from the best in neo-psychedelic music. I do love her earlier work, but a terrible accident in 2017 caused her a broken vertebrae in her neck and spine as well as a brain aneurysm. Tragic as these events were, Prochet managed to channel them directly into her music. Her 2018 album Bon Voyage is a tragically beautiful piece that I just can't stop listening to.

Many a drum was smacked this past week. My first practice with the band on Tuesday went ... well, pretty poorly, only one solo practice the day beforehand could not get me into the place I needed to be. But it definitely pushed me to (gladly!) stay late at work practicing on Friday and yesterday. I am honestly so blessed to have access to this kit, I cannot explain my happiness. I did notice my shoulders and shins were hurting a bit over the weekend, so I think I need to reassess my posture a bit.

This weekend marked my friend Niki's birthday, and to celebrate she forced 9 of her closest friends to trap themselves in a tiny room with her and figure out how to escape together. Luckily we made it out without getting into fistfights, which was awesome.

I also checked out the 114th Annual Santa Claus Parade with Niki and Matt, both of whom had never seen this parade before! I suppose after three years of it I am something of an expert, so I took them on the tour of the staging area. I was super stoked to hang out with Mr. Peanut again, and he even gave me a Peanut Pencil!

I don't know why I like this costume so much, I just do.

In addition to more practice this week, I'd like to look up some YouTube videos on posture and even some technique. I really believe you can learn anything from YouTube these days, so it would be nice to create a learning plan for after the Holiday Party. I want to be able to
  • listen to songs and pick apart the rhythms faster (I can do it now but it takes a long time for most songs)
  • pick rhythms up in my muscles faster (usually I have to start more slowly and work up to full speed)
  • more easily improvise, use the toms and cymbals effectively
  • become more dextrous in my rolls and flams and paradiddles and such
I am looking very forward to a phone call with Alec Levin, cofounder of Toronto's very own UX Research Collective. I have had the opportunity to work closely with a UX Researcher on a couple of projects and it is amazing to see what they can do. I love to watch their methods and processes and the way it ties into the rest of the process as the backbone of the solution. Of course I must conduct UX Research in my own job, but I never get to spend as much time as I'd like on that stage before I have to move onto the next. Companies that believe in splitting out and dedicating the roles in this way are the future of the design landscape in my mind.

Random Thought: The Power of Red
In our 21st century politically-correct world, everyone has reason to be upset about something or other. Just the other day I learned about a school in the U.K. that has banned the use of red-coloured ink for marking papers. I'm sure all of us have had the experience of receiving back a marked assignment, only to be welcomed with a slew of red ink to let us know where we've fallen short of the curriculum. According to the article linked above, teachers have been requested to use green or purple instead because they are softer, more calming colours.

As asinine as it may sound to some of us, I actually found this social phenomenon to be interesting on a number of levels. First off, I wonder if any user testing was completed to back up this hypothesis. All of us, this writer/designer included, require constructive critique to improve ourselves, and red has been the colour of choice for many years to reflect our errors to us.

Taking a step back to examine red in a general sense; it's certainly strong and provides a great contrast against the black text on white paper that was the design choice of many of my grade-school assignments, arguably moreso than green or purple could be. Red is the colour of error (especially in UI design) and demands our attention. For this reason, it is used sparingly and only when danger must be communicated to the user about future actions.

Lots of red, and rightly so. You don't want to remove Period 1 English by accident!

The learning and growth that comes from heightened embarrassment of our mistakes can be seen as a good thing. Continuing the classroom analogy: if you've ever taken a risk by raising your hand in class, and subsequently been laughed at for providing the wrong answer, heaven knows you'll never forget the right answer for the rest of your life.

In the same way, I feel that the strength of the colour red can be seen as an effective tool in minimizing future errors (both in user interface and in returned assignments). Maybe it's the way we feel about red in our society, the colour of mistakes, of failure, of wrong. But what's so bad about being wrong? All of these instances are an opportunity to learn and grow, and better yet to pass our learning onto others. I personally feel that red is a good visual representation of that growth.

Since I am lucky enough to be in an educator position for the foreseeable future, I can choose to continue using red in the hopes that it will serve my students well. 

Inspiration: A Map A Day
Who doesn't love a good map? I sure do. Maps are such interesting, useful, endlessly unique visual tools that allow us to find our way around a new place, concept or really anything. So many things can be mapped. There's no way I am alone in this thinking, especially considering the Instagram account A Map A Day. Exactly what it sounds like, the instagram account is dedicated to sharing a new installment of a map every day. These can range from geographical maps to word clouds to pretty much anything.

I love this map above of un[person]ned bicycles being pushed until they fall over. It makes such a lovely pattern.

Anyone can make a map to reflect the things they see in our world. This one really tickles me - supposedly every American city can fit into this construct.

I've always wondered how timezones fit in with actual borderlines - this one is so lovely and interesting, it could easily be wallpaper (though probably not in a bedroom).

For more awesome maps right to your Instagram feed literally every day, follow @amapaday.

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