Traces of Touch

serendipity into the oblivion

Digital heirlooms

with one comment

For a couple of days ago I read Matt Cottams from Tellart thesis about digital heirlooms. It is a very nice exploration he describes where he just digs in to the material and its properties. He has a very explorative approach where he doesn’t try to decide in forehand what the outcome is going to be but let the material guide his decisions. He shows the exploration with a piece of wood that he first straightens out and cut it up in pieces and in the end comes out with dovetails joint augmented with electronic enabling him to interact with digital devices through the joints. A very simple object but beautiful in its simplicity and its surfaces.

He also talks about why he is carrying an old set of typefaces around each time he moves. The patina and surface of them is so desirable that it motivates him to carry it with him even though he will never use them as they were intended and questions why that doesn’t go for digital objects he uses everyday. I think this connects  to MUJIcomp from Matt Jones to make desirable objects not just functional  objects. Make object that ages with grace and isn’t just interesting for a week or two. The first generation iPhone from Apple I think is one that is close to this. It has a wonderful surface which doesn’t get destroyed with use and it stands it times and the scratches it gets tells stories and at least I have still a emotional connection which goes beyond the representation of my friends and family through it. Could be that the OS gets updated so the technology can live on is a big part of it but I have a hard time seeing myself throw this one away for a foreseeable future. The patina generated is to valuable.

This open and explorative approach I think is nice and not that often seen in academic areas. Since I see CIID as a very non academic place I think an approach similar to that could work here. The contrast between CIID and “ordinary” academic get very clear when having discussion and seeing briefs for the extra course Im taking called Innovative interfaces at Blekinge University, BTH. At BTH the questions is how Im going to get creditable sources of information and to write in proper ACM style while at CIID it is so much more about the experience for the user and how to bring them into the process and creating your own way through the project and prototype the experience.Will see how it comes around…

Matts thesis can be downloaded here and the blog about it is found here.

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Written by sjunnesson

May 3, 2010 at 16:25

One Response

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  1. Inspired.

    Thanks, Matt’s thesis looks and feels solid. A craftsman detailing what he does (with thought).

    The completed thesis was much more interesting than the 25 minute video of him talking to slide pictures. An element of time – it’s what the printed matter has – and that video can lack. I think. I never feel I have the time to actually watch videos, but I revel in reading, anytime.

    (A usability question: Would it be possible to comment using markup in this field? The theme does not indicate yes or no.)

    Olle Jonsson

    May 6, 2010 at 12:48


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