Want to innovate? More importantly, do you want what you design to actually be built, and used by real people? Amos Winters, an engineer from MIT, makes a great case for the value, and power of user-centered design in this TED talk where he presents his under $200 off road wheel chair.
Such a brilliant case study! It would have been perfect for our book--Interactive Design: An Introduction to the Theory and Application of User-centered Design. Maybe we can include it in the next printing. ;-)
Wow! Great review on Embody 3D for our book:
Simply put, Interactive Design is one of the best new interface books on the market. It is comprehensive, easy to understand and extremely relevant using case studies and modern mediums to help connect with the reader. The book is designed for both students and professionals as the concepts are timeless in nature and although some of the topics can be fairly technical the way the book presents information using nice full-page quotes, beautiful diagrams and feature works makes it easy for even a novice to take on board. Although most of the examples cover graphic design interfaces like portable computers and website interfaces, it is absolutely relevant to product designers. The principles are very much universal, things like competitor analysis, user-path diagrams, research, testing are all great ways to improve your product designs. Unusually I don’t have any major faults of this title, so that is definitely saying something! Although it is heavily branded as being a theoretical book the information takes on its own lessons and breaks up the information well. The title is not text heavy or extremely weighty at 224 pages, so for true theologians this might not contain the analysis and literature references you may desire. However for the 99% this book hits all the right spots!
...aka me. Well, not me exactly, but the character I play in the upcoming movie--The Ghost Club, directed and produced by Hank Blumenthal.
In the ninety minute long Ghost Club feature, the crew of a reality TV ghost hunting show encounters actual ghosts. Ninety minutes is plenty of time to tell the story of this fateful encounter, but there is so much more to The Ghost Club than just one investigation. The Ghost Club is based on a real organization that included members like skeptic, Harry Houdini, and true believer, Arthur Conan Doyle. The characters--Jimmy, and his team--each have rich back stories, and relationships. The Club's investigative approach includes the scientific method, and devices cobbled together from the various technologies the hunters have used over the past 200 years.
To tell the complete story of the movie, additional transmedia content was created for viewers to discover, so they can learn more about the world of The Ghost Club TV show, ghost hunting technology, and the characters. As the co-writer of the movie, much of the responsibility for creating the stories told through this extra content fell to me. Hank's team created augmented reality games, webseries, and websites for the Club, me, and my fellow team members.
I also acted in the film, which provided me with additional opportunities to play with transmedia. I had a lot of fun fleshing out Jimmy's backstory, and personalty. I created a package of transmedia content from comics, to videos that helped to communicate who Jimmy is. He's sarcastic, obsessive compulsive, and a bit of a drinker, but still a fairly lovable guy, just trying to keep his reality TV show on the air, and his team focused, and paid.
Some of the content I created to introduce Jimmy, and his world includes:
The Skeptic's Diary, a web comic, which tells the story of how Jimmy became a professional Ghost Hunter:
Jimmy's twitter account:
And video of Jimmy's individual ghost investigations... don't try this at home folks:
This content helps viewers learn about the world of The Ghost Club, and connect with its characters before they watch the film, creating, what we hope, is a richer, more interesting, and more entertaining story experience.
AKA the series formerly known as Wing Women, has made it into the finals of the TV Reset Project over at ZoomTilt.
When one of Stacie Capone’s friends told her about an odd job she once worked trying to set up hapless single guys for success on the bar scene, it was a set of facts that, to Capone, seemed well worth exploring further in fiction. The result is “The Pick Up Chicks,” a romantic comedy web series that follows three female friends as they juggle some less-than-typical small business obstacles: falling in love with clients, being hired by ex-boyfriends and getting accused of running a brothel out of their Brooklyn apartment.
The next step is to shoot the pilot. Watch this space. It'll be coming soon.
Isn't it about time we found some other way to protect and personalize the accounts with the various sites and services that have become such an integral part of our digital lives? Facebook, Twitter, email, instant messaging, our bank accounts, shopping sites, our phones, and soon our TVs and appliances all require us to sign in to use them. There's got to be a better way than an easily crackable, forgettable, and frustrating string of numbers, letters, and ascii characters. We're already seeing new ways to do this--unlocking your Android device with a gesture, or facial recognition, for example--but it's not enough. It's time our devices, and accounts recognized us, and only us. Biometrics seems like a good solution for getting rid of passwords.
Or how about a palm scan:
There's got to be a better way. What do you think?
Inspiration for all us creative folks. Whenever I think too much. I say, "Stop thinking. This is a very dangerous moment." - Maria Kalman
More from Maria:
Allow your brain to empty. Take a walk. Wonderful things happen when your brain is empty. Feel your body going through space. Walking clears your brain, and fills your soul, and makes you quite happy. Be open to what's happening around you. Be surprised.
Or "You can have my buzzword when you pry it from my cold dead lips..."
Despite my web 1.0 bias to the term (we beat "convergence" into the ground at every pitch, client meeting, and presentation back in the late 90s) I had a great time at the NY Film Festival's first ever transmedia conference--Convergence.
If you work in advertising, or media and entertainment, "transmedia" as a buzz-word is approaching the late 90s beaten-like-a-dead-horseness of "convergence", but I'd be willing to bet most ordinary folk have no idea what the word means.
At its simplest, what transmedia means is to tell a single story/story experience using different types of media and formats (if you want to get all buzz-wordy, we call 'em "channels" or "platforms"). For example you might tell your main story in the form of a movie at movie theaters, but you might expand upon the world you've created, explore sub-plots and characters, and even do some much needed exposition as a cartoon on TV or the web, in novels, comics, video games, and even games in the real world.
Star Wars is the media property us horse-beaters talk about when we talk about transmedia. In the Star Wars universe (storyverse) a regular old audience member can watch the main story unfold in the 6 blockbuster movies, but more engaged fans have so many other places they can go to learn about the Star Wars world--The Clone Wars TV Show, video games--including the awesome ones created by LEGO--in comics, and novelas, not to mention the legion of fan created content that's out there... which may not be official "canon" but I maintain is still a valuable chunk of transmedia.
I could go on... and I will, in future blog posts. Why? Well, mostly because in some form or other I've been "converging" and involved in the creation of transmedia properties for the past 15 years or so. Not quite as long as the term has been around--Marsh Kinder first wrote about transmedia in 1991--but long enough to have accumulated some thoughts on the subject.
I'd love to hear what you think, what's transmedia to you?
Just got my first copy of "Interactive Design: An Introduction to the Theory and Application of User-Centered Design" from Rockport Publishers, the textbook that I co-authored with Andy Pratt. It's beautiful. Can't wait to read it... even though I wrote it. Hmmmm...
Available from Amazon
From the USA Today, today:
Here's a new way to get kids to pay attention: an app that lets you watch TV and play games at the same time.
Today the Cartoon Network releases CN 2.0, a free app for the iPad that features a way to play one of several games and TV shows simultaneously.
Pretty cool, no?
The coolest project I worked on last year just showed up in the app store.
Now you can watch your favorite Cartoon Network shows and play Cartoon Network games, all in the same easy-to-use app! Simply turn your device to flip instantly between watching video and playing games. And on the iPad, you can even use the split screen mode to watch and play at the same time!
Last year I worked with the fine folks at Funny Garbage, and the awesome team at Cartoon Network, to help design a ground breaking new iOS app. What's cool about it other than the fact that you can watch full episodes of Cartoon Network shows, and play some awesome games, and other than the fact that you can do both of those things at the same time?
What could be cooler than that?
How about this--the CN app is the first one that recognizes the orientation of the rotation of your iPad, so that when you turn it one way:
you can watch full episodes and live TV from Cartoon Network.
BUT when you turn it the other way:
you can play games. Pretty nifty, huh?
Of course that's not all. We are talking about Cartoon Network after all. There's also a nifty meta-game that you play by watching videos, playing games, and combining the items you get from watching and playing to win cool collectables:
This was definitely my favorite project of 2011. I'm really proud of the work we did. I'm so excited it's in the app store. Download it! It's fun.
Following this weekend of some great performances of 3 of my one act plays, I decided it was time to get my writerly act together. Towards that end, I just posted a list of all the one act plays, monologues, feature screenplays, and short stories that I've written in the past decade (give or take a few years, and a few things I've written).
Wanna read any of 'em?
Three of my favorite one-act plays are being performed this weekend!
My friend, Tony White, actor, director, producer extraordinaire is putting up what are arguably the three best one acts that I've written. Come take a ride through the autumn leaves, shove your way onto a crowded subway, and take a late night stroll through one of NYC's most storied parks. It's sure to be an interesting trip.
Producers Club 358 West 44th Street, NY, NY (Bet 8th & 9th Avenue)
Friday August 3rd @ 8pm Saturday August 4th @ 8pm Sunday August 5th @ 7pm
Reservations: 646. 430. 8978 or email: email@example.com
On of my favorite clients of 2011 just launched their iPhone app. I'm excited to take it for a test drive!
Routehappy is a bit like Yelp for airlines, airports, routes, and flights. Their goal is to make air travel better by giving flyers a voice through reviews, and ratings.
In 2011 I spent several weeks of intense consulting time with Routehappy’s CEO refining and clarifying their UX vision, and brand identity. I’m more than proud of the work. I’m a huge fan of the site. As someone who has always considered the black box of booking flights completely mysterious–there’s got to be something more to consider than just price when you book your flight–Routehappy is a breath of fresh air.
Pre-order Interactive Design: An Introduction to the Theory and Application of User-centered Design /
You can pre-order Andy Pratt's and my book--Interactive Design: An Introduction to the Theory and Application of User-Centered Design--on Amazon. The book, published by RockPort Publishing, will ship September 1st.
User experience design is one of the fastest-growing specialties in graphic design. Smart companies realize that the most successful products are designed to meet the needs and goals of real people—the users. This means putting the user at the center of the design process.
This innovative, comprehensive book examines the user-centered design process from the perspective of a designer. With rich imagery, Interactive Design introduces the different UX players, outlines the user-centered design process from user research to user testing, and explains through various examples how user-centered design has been successfully integrated into the design process of a variety of design studios worldwide.
- You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
- You gotta keep in mind what's interesting to you as an audience, not what's fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
- Trying for theme is important, but you won't see what the story is actually about til you're at the end of it. Now rewrite.
- Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
- Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You'll feel like you're losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
- What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
- Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
- Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
- When you're stuck, make a list of what WOULDN'T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
- Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you've got to recognize it before you can use it.
- Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you'll never share it with anyone.
- Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
- Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it's poison to the audience.
- Why must you tell THIS story? What's the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That's the heart of it.
- If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
- What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don't succeed? Stack the odds against.
- No work is ever wasted. If it's not working, let go and move on - it'll come back around to be useful later.
- You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
- Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
- Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d'you rearrange them into what you DO like?
- You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can't just write ‘cool'. What would make YOU act that way?
- What's the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
What would you add to the list?