Consumer vs Maker

Shameful admission: I have three Google Reader accounts that I check regularly.

  • My everyday account has 100+ subscriptions covering UX, DIY, foodie topics, etc… and I play the inbox zero game with it obsessively.
  • My writing persona account has 72 subscriptions that only have to do with the writing, reading, and publishing worlds. I play inbox zero there, too.
  • My family account is where I keep my web comic subscriptions, of which I have a reasonable 20 subscriptions. I play inbox zero there as well, but it’s easier because web comics take time and they don’t update on the same days.

I haven’t included Facebook, email, and Twitter. I’ve gone overboard. Lost my balance. I’m a glutton. An information junkie. But it wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, when I didn’t have a smart phone, a laptop, easy access to the internet…

That is, when I was ten…

I’d also like to note this was before puberty struck…

I was a happy kid. Joyful. Ebullient. I spent my evenings reading classical fiction by Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, LM Montgomery, and the like. I went through the entire shelf of how-to books at my library learning all the different ways one can make a doll by hand. In middle school, my parents, sister, and I built a desk out of the old kitchen table. Each Saturday night I camped out at that desk with my painting supplies and would create  while listening to A Prairie Home Companion. I was a maker. I had results that showed how I spent my time.

At some point in undergrad, I became a consumer. I didn’t have time to create things, not like I was used to. I created little computer programs, wrote papers, built balsa wood bridges, and connected electrical circuits. I became obsessed with my Google Reader, and it only got worse in grad school.

Thing is, I am not in grad school anymore. I have more free time now than I’ve had in seven years, yet I cling to my habits of those seven years. I am creating; glance at my Flickr and you’ll see I’m making things again. Yet I still feel unbalanced.

Which means I can do one of three things:

  1. Cut back on the amount I consume,
  2. Up my level of making, or
  3. Own the fact that I’m a consumer and leave it at that.

Honestly, number three makes me throw up in my mouth a little, so I’m going to try a combination of numbers one and two. Wish me luck.

The Most Epic of Epic Technology Failure

Remember how I said I was going to do some artifact analysis? Well, it turns out that I have had major technical difficulties when it comes to recording my interview sessions. That is, my supposed future interview sessions. You see, I upgraded to Windows 7 on both my 32bit and 64bit machines. However, Skype doesn’t play nice with Win7 64bit, my primary computer. So after worrying that my interviewee wouldn’t want to wait for me to install Skype on my 32bit machine, I sent an email and got to work.

Not only did my interviewee not appear, and still hasn’t responded to me, but I also don’t have a way to record my Skype calls yet. I have done everything possible. I bought a microphone headset. That works. I bought an audio splitter because my computer didn’t have a stereo mix. That didn’t work, no matter the combination of settings or plugging hardware together. I updated the driver for my sound card, so I now have stereo mix. Only guess what? It’s recording the air waves, and nothing from my computer. That’s right, it’s recording radio. Actual, honest-to-God radio that I can’t hear with my puny human ears unless I turn a fricking radio on. My computer is picking up radio waves somehow and I don’t know how to stop it.

I just want to make a call through Skype, and record it. I want to have my voice and my caller’s voice on the file. Why is that such a difficult thing to ask for? I have spent three days trying to figure this out. Three days where I should have been working on ceramics, or doing artifact analysis, or working on my work-in-progress paper (which was accepted to CHI 2010, by the way), or anything else.

Instead, I sit here, fuming, wanting to slaughter something. I hate technology. I hate technology because it doesn’t work the way it should, even when you follow the instructions. Welcome to the reason why I’m a human-centered designer: technology-centered design makes us want to blow our brains out.

I’m meeting with my thesis adviser today. I don’t know what I’m going to say. Oh, yes, I said I’d try to have one observation and one interview, as well as… oh, I don’t know, analyze three artifacts? Well, I got one interview and a follow-up, my second interview disappeared, I can’t record future interviews, and I haven’t done any artifact analysis because I’m so frazzled I want to hurt something. I don’t like not meeting my goals. It’s aggravating. Even moreso when it’s because of a technology failure that, when you consider it logically, the technology should work.

Uh oh. Personal Identity?

It has just occurred to me that I never defined what I mean by personal identity. I am giving a status presentation on Tuesday at 7 PM, and it is Sunday at 7:45 PM. How many papers can I read about personal identity in order to form my own definition while also working on a presentation, attending class, and being an AI?

Hi. I’m Binaebi Akah, and I get sh!t done.* So don’t worry, I’ll figure it out. Just had to admit to the world that I kind of forgot to crystallize oh, I don’t know, a half of my project.


If you have any papers, names, etc, that could help, please send them along!

*I do this by going into homework-berserker-mode for a specified amount of time where I accomplish more than seems humanly possible and then pass out in bed for approximately the same amount of tme. You do not want to get in my way when I do this. You do, however, want to take video as I roar about town on my dirigible, my brass goggles glaring in the sunlight as my scarf whips behind me.

Long time, no post

Oh hai. It’s 1:30 AM on a Saturday night and I’m blogging after standing in the ceramics studio for six hours glazing my Jello Cupcake Steampunk Machine, which I’ve dubbed “The Lazarus.”

Before you shake your head at me, cut me some slack. I have wanted to blog for almost two weeks, now. I have not blogged thanks to my contracting the H1N1 flu, which essentially made me sleep for a week. I got the H1N1! Doesn’t that mean I get a little leeway? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so, either. I didn’t go home this Thanksgiving break so I can catch up with the time I’ve missed due to being ill. So I wish I could say that I’ve accomplished a lot, but I feel like I haven’t. Not for capstone, anyway.

Capstone status update

  • I’ve created a spreadsheet of persons that I would like to contact for interviews. They all have some relation to Steampunk.
  • I’ve begun filling out the HSC forms so I can perform my interviews. Even with the guidelines, these forms don’t make sense. Thank goodness I have an example to look at.
  • I volunteered to do a five-minute presentation in capstone class talking about what I’ve accomplished this semester, and what I plan to do next semester. I feel this will help me crystallize my thoughts so I can focus on my paper a little better.
  • I have begun filling out some sections of my capstone paper. I’m still looking for exemplars outside of Steampunk, so if you have any ideas, comment.
  • I had a late-night pseudo-design session with Chad at Steak-n-Shake, where we talked about our capstones and the paper that is due in a couple weeks. The conclusion to that conversation was mainly that we don’t have time, aren’t sure what we’re doing, and that milkshakes are awesome.

Capstone To-do list

  • I’ve got to write my reflections about Halloween. Yes, still. Thank goodness I took video and have pictures to jog my memory. I don’t know why I’m dragging my feet on this. I know once  begin writing, I’ll enjoy it.
  • I need to complete the HSC forms.
  • I need to start contacting people to interview.
    • Meaning I also need to write my participation request letter, etc. Sigh.
  • I need to work on my five-minute status presentation. I have a slide deck outlined, there just isn’t much content yet.

“So little to do, so much time! Strike that. …Reverse it.”

Willy Wonka was a wise man, really.

Mint Making a Mint by Selling Out

So I’m not happy about the news that is selling out to Intuit, the big bad of financial applications. See below for the email I wrote to Mint expressing my unhappiness.

We interaction designers here at Indiana University are not amused by the idea of selling out to Intuit.

As one of those interaction designers, I understand the matter from a business perspective, but as far as I’m concerned, your product is far superior and will surely suffer in Inuit’s hands.

I hope you will make it an option to NOT ALLOW Intuit to data mine my information. Personal finances are risky business; this is why I went with a smaller, free application that I felt we could trust.

The idea that a large corporation will now have access to the “data-mining opportunities present in the recorded info on 1.4 million users–a data set that’s got intrinsic value in its own right” that you,, has not investigated, is horrifying.

I’m going to stick it out for another couple of weeks to see how this plays out. But I don’t see our relationship going much further than that.

That said, I’ve heard is a good alternative.