This past week has been full of new connections and new ideas! On Tuesday I met with a few people from Stamen Design who kindly spent their (delicious ramen) lunch talking to me about my thesis. It was really helpful to get a different perspective on my projects and talk with people who live maps. (Sidenote: the office is filled with beautiful maps, well-loved plants, and natural light!)
Wednesday afternoon I went to the Hybrid Lab for a paper circuits workshop taught by Natalie Freed. As basic as our first exercise was (see the animated gif above), it was so satisfying to make something so simple that turns on a light. This workshop had me excited for projects post-graduation, so I can add some interactive elements to my paper projects. I thought of one idea for thesis involving thermochromic paint (see below), but I am not sure if I will have time for it before the semester ends.
That same night I went back to Stamen for my first Maptime meetup, a weekly gathering of people currently creating maps and those just starting out (me!). I met some people working on interesting projects, including Damiano, an Italian designer who has a startup based on his Interaction Design thesis project that creates subjective maps, very similar to thoughts I have had about mental maps! Maps have always been magical to me, so I am looking forward to attending more of these meetups in hopes of learning this mystical language to create my own. Between these three encounters I collected so many links to fascinating projects and apps that I could not see any words on my browser tabs by the end of the day.
This brings us to today! I met with Scott and unloaded my idea-filled brain on him. We talked about my review and where I stand with my core idea, which now centers more around being open to being lost instead of having to be lost. I realized that most of the ideas that excite me would eventually make it harder to get lost because you would ideally build your mental map through the process. I think this is a good thing, so I am running with it. We also talked about keeping the technology separate from the concept. I am in a weird position at the moment where I have a device that has some functionality, but not being an engineer/programmer, I don’t have the time to learn everything it would take to make my ideas fully functioning products by the end of the semester. Afterall, we were warned as we started our thesis that we should be trying to learn too many new skills, but use our strengths. I feel like I have spent more time on skills that are not my strengths (creating 3D objects, coding a GPS/compass), and want to make sure I spend time on the overall visual design of my ideas. As I move forward I have to decide what is necessary to show my concepts.
One of my main tasks this week is to track everywhere I go and how long I spend at each place. Today I turned on three tracking apps and hopefully after looking at the data I get from one day I can decide which one to stick with so I don’t completely drain my battery.
Here are some new ideas inspired by my visits to Stamen and the paper circuits workshop. I can’t pursue them all in the time I have, but they have they have my gears spinning:
- Use the same homing compass, but instead of pointing to a place you should go, each light would represent a section of the city to explore. The lights would change color based on how much you have explored different parts of the area. This could be cataloged by logging specific locations or hidden items in each area. It could also be themed so you specifically try to explore cafes, bookstores, different kinds of trees . . .
- Make the compass into a watch of sorts
- Create paper maps with blank spaces that people need to fill in
- Experiment with thermochromic paint to create some kind of heat-activated paper map (hypercolor maps!)
- Think of other ideas for paper circuit maps
- Play with the idea of map as an authority. Maps are meant to help you find your way . . . what happens when you can’t trust a map anymore?
- Save memories to locations and send people to those locations without knowing the destination ahead. It would be like a memory scavenger hunt
To-dos this week:
- experiment with different tracking apps and track everywhere I go for at least a week
- figure out how to read the data from tracking
- find testers willing to track their moves and share that data with me (this may have to wait until next week after I see what apps I can work with)
- put a button on the homing compass so I can set home locations on the fly
- explore TileMill
- go to the next Maptime meetup
- write more research synthesis and the preface + revise what I already have