2019-11-19

    Thesis: One out, but one in

    This week has been a fruitful and struggling one. Debating with myself, getting feedbacks from faculties and residents, doing tons of readings and searching as references, and more debating in my head...

    The readings, projects, talks and more resources I had was helpful. Let's try to document these materials first.

    Research materials

    To develop the two possible ideas - code learning platform for graphic designers and communication app for people with opposing ideologies - I have, the most helpful materials I looked into can be roughly categorized into 1) existing projects or organizations, and 2) talks or articles.

    Existing ones

    Taiwan is having critical presidential election in January, 2020. Attempting to mediate the tension and conflicts between polarized supporters, Taiwan Public Television Service Online and group of developers created this platform to facilitate communication between supporters of different candidate.

    Fan talk talking platform from Taiwan Fan talk talking platform from Taiwan

    This is essentially the form of conversation I wanted to build for the communication app idea. I haven't been paired up with the other user to talk since I registered last week, so no feedbacks in terms of the real conversation yet.

    The critical problem of this kind of app is marketing. How do you convince and incentivize people to use this app? To attract more users or people to care about social issues, I always believe that better branding might be the answer. Fashion Revolution, which advocates less consumption and refection to fast fashion trends, is doing awesome job on packaging conventionally "not-cool" concerns about environment and humans in a fashion way. The branding strategy is required.

    Fashion Revolution Fashion Revolution

    Found this list of people who attempt to build working environment with diversity and inclusion. Reading through the list and various organizations or companies trying to eliminate discrimination or bias was very inspiring. The most important thing I learned is that this process of transformation takes time and iterative exercises.

    Talks

    In this TED talk, William Ury tells a story about his approach to resolve conflicts in Middle East area, and his organization abraham path, which attempts to facilitate conversation by inviting people to walk through mid-east areas together, urging interactions with different groups of people.

    He has this idea of walking together, because he thinks as people walk, it's a side-by-side instead of face-to-face interaction. This side-by-side walk makes two people talk with less tension comparing to face-to-face conversation, and looking at same scenario in front of them provides sense of peace.

    This idea of talking while walking is really intriguing and inspiring.

    Ideas development

    I've been keeping notes, thoughts and questions inspired by the researches and feedbacks from people in my notebook. It documents the how my ideas got progressed step by step.

    Feedbacks and thoughts Feedbacks and thoughts
    • Chat app is not the best format to facilitate conversation; should seek for better solutions
    • Plain code-learning platform for graphic designers is too boring
    • Need to narrow down
    Thoughts about communication app Thoughts about communication app
    • System change: the metric we used to make choices needs to be reformed - from profit to public good (feedback from Joey)
    • We need the ability to spot problem at work, and having the courage/ability to against the wrong decision
    • To eliminate unconscious wrong decision, intervention in the decision making moment is required?
    Thoughts about blockchain and learning platform Thoughts about blockchain and learning platform
    • Thinking about intervention brought me to my interest toward blockchain technology; maybe I could play with blockchain application?
    • Teaching designers to code is good, but actually visual design is more important in the hand of users and harder to master. What if the platform could be a two-way thing for designers and coders, to learn from each other?
    Thoughts about communication art installation Thoughts about communication art installation
    • Some interesting ideas to play with side-by-side walking idea and communication

    Communication app out. Blockchain in.

    At this moment, after tons of thinking about the ideas, I decided to give up on building communication app (or related topics) as a thesis project.

    Few reasons for me to make the decision. 1.) First, most of the feedbacks I've received are shaping the final product of the idea into projects more like an interactive installation or art work. Though I do have several interesting interactive installation ideas, which I really want to develop them in future, my personal goal for my thesis project at ITP is to build something more practical. 2.) Second reason is that I'm actually not comfortable at talking to people all the time. The more I think about building a communication app, the more I feel insecure about selling it, because I wouldn't even be comfortable using it all the time in the first place.

    Learning platform for visual designers (and maybe coders?)

    On the other hand, though building a learning platform seems not as unique as communication app, this idea, which is about sharing knowledge, is always more exciting to me. The goal of this thesis project is to enable users of this platform to disrupt the industry, which is the system change that I'm looking for.

    Blockchain

    I've been interested in blockchain technology since this summer, and have done lots of research on it. The intention to understand blockchain was because how media's describing it as a game changer of the Internet, and how blockchain could solve some problems that's impossible before.

    Of course blockchain won't be the perfect solution. I know that for sure, but it is no doubt the most ground-breaking emerging technology in the decades. As technologists in ITP, we might need to interact with the technology, and this time we could make right decisions, or reject bad design choices, in the dawn of blockchain era.

    I want to learn more about the technology, and I'm excited to play with it. At the same time, I'd love to expose the good and bad of this technology to our community, intriguing more conversations and thinking about blockchain.

    Making final decision next week

    Conclusion of this week: I need to make a decision on one final choice of my thesis idea soon. More research and more works are required.