A Visit to the Samsung 837

On my way back from Whitney Museum, I stopped by at Samsung 837.  I’ve been inside couple times already but haven’t had a chance to experience Oculus. It was raining earlier and was a weekday so it was a quick stop by.

They had 3 things that the visitors can experience with Oculus. 

  1. immersive photos (I didn’t do this)
  2. immersive video experience
  3. 4D roller coaster

Because I am in the IXD program where I constantly hear about virtual reality things, played with Google Cardboard, and went to Tribeca Film Festival early this year, the immersive video experience wasn’t something amazing to me. I was not sure what I should focus on. Story? Quality? Possibilities? 

4D roller coaster on the other had was pretty interesting. It really reminded me of the rides that you take at Disney World or Universal Studio, where you look at a screen and the seats move so that you are tricked to be in that space. Personally, I didn’t really like it, because it just made me really dizzy—possibly caused by low frame rates—but two people who sitting next to me and were experiencing the same thing were screaming and really enjoying it. 

One thing I disliked most was that I had to hold the device with one of my hands because it was too heavy that it was restraining my movements for both the video experience and the 4D experience and I would accidentally hit the pause button on the side of the device every now and then which was really annoying. 

Mystery Solved!

Well, apparently, not all the sensors on top of lamp posts are photocells.

The red lights are a type of sensor that detects changes in the electric current and if there is anything unusual happening, the red light blinks. Also, it sends a signals to the government agency that in charge—NYCDOP in this case—to request a repair. 


Mysterious Orange Discs on Top of Lamp Posts

Since I moved to NYC I've started walking everywhere and soon noticed a glowing red light on top of public lamp posts. I could not find any pattern on the lamp posts that has it and has not. Also, the red light-emitting device's shape was so irregular so I just thought it as some sort of call out thing. 

I guess there were a whole lot of people who look at the sky often and saw that red light. One day I stumbled on to find out the answer to it from one of my random searches; it is a photocell. So, what it does is, it detects the ambient light and knows when to turn on and off the light.

Fun fact: you can actually turn off a lamp post using a laser at night. lol

Talking to People You Don't Know, Using The Internet

As part of one of my MFA classes, I had to reach out to people in two different methods; by sending a cold email and by a warm intro. 

I was not used to all these, so I didn't know where to start. So I started thinking about the most basic things. What am I interested to know that I am not sure where to start? Where are these people? Do I know anyone who can connect to them? 

I am interested in museums and how the experiences and interactions in museum spaces are designed. So I went through my linked in profile. I didn't have any connection to people who work/worked at museums.

Then I remembered going to a housewarming party last year and briefly introduced to a friend of my friend, Jackie, who was at the time interning at the Whitney Museum. So I talked to Jackie through a chat and asked if she can introduce her friend (at this time, I didn't even had the person's name) to me by briefly describing why I want to talk to her. Then it worked out really quick. Jackie just told me, 'K', then invited me and her friend to a new group chat that Jackie briefly introduced us to each other and let us talk after. 

After this, I got some confident of reaching out to people so that I googled 'museum interaction designer'. From one of the search result, I was able to get to the designer's personal website. I wrote her an email saying who I am, why I am reaching out to her, and what I want to learn from her. I waited couple days biting my finger nails. Then I get her email back! She was not surprised by my email. She actually said she gets a quite a few cold emails from people who are interested in the field she is involved. And she even knew one of the instructors who teach my MFA program. What a small world. 

Anyways, I have made schedules to talk to these two people I reached out to next month. I am really looking forward to it! 

What is a Memorable Experience? I don't Know (yet).

Have you ever thought about when and how a new memory is built? It probably is really simple. A new memory is made whenever a new thing happens. Let’s keep this simple system in mind and think about what people say, especially of my parents’ age, ’this year flew by so quickly again’, especially near the end of each year, I hear this a lot. This can mean that they’ve been just really busy that they concentrated in whatever goal they needed to achieve and didn’t have time to look back until now. Though, I have somewhat different analysis on this. Considering I rarely hear this quote from young people, I think it is closely related to new memories and new experiences. 

To let you know first, I am not an expert on memories, but I’ve heard this somewhere that people think time passes by so quickly because there are no specific moments they remember about a day, a week, or even a year. For example, every moment for children is filled with different places, people, and activities and those moments are most likely be a new experience since they have less memories to compare from. So children’s days are filled with multiple new experiences and the days seem longer. 

Let me tell you my own story. I’ve air travelled countless times so that I don’t even remember most of the times what I’ve done. I, however, have very vivid memory of my first 10+ hour flight. It was July, 2000. It was during the first summer vacation of my middle school. As part of a student tour group, I flew from Seoul to Rome. I was really angry about my seating because I was anywhere near my friends. I set at an aisle seat next to a couple who were on their honeymoon. They asked me couple questions like, how old I am, where and why I am traveling. The flight was really smooth, barely had any turbulence. Other passengers complained to the flight attendances for my friends being loud. I can just keep going on and on. The thing is, it’s been 16 years since this and I don’t find it anything special about this other than it being my first long flight.

As people grow older, especially the ones who don’t force them to trying new things, everyday life can be filled up with the moments of the places you’ve already been, food you’ve already tasted, people who you are already familiar with or share common interest with and experiences you’ve already go through. People say an experience is never the same because it always changes due to different circumstances. I agree. It will never be the same. I think it is just the matter of it being worth a new memory or not. 

How can I make a memorable experience then? Because we now design experience, designers have the power to control it. Can personalizing every experience be the solution? Then what happens after the experience being fully personalized that every experience a person goes through is predicted and any unexpected pleasant surprise that the experience is not a memorable experience, but ‘just’ another experience? What will be the balance between the expected and unexpected experience then? From the memory, new memories are built most likely whenever something unexpected happens but from the experience, expected experience can be a good thing.

To wrap up, experience, similar to memory, is hard to measure, and hard to define the right value of each good or bad experience. Everyone goes through different experience even with the exact same one. Also, if we specifically target one persona, then I think it goes back to how much the experience have to be personalized. 

Go Crazy In Grad School?

One of my classes ended early March. One feedback that was given to everyone was why not go crazy with concepts and ideas when you are in a grad program. There is no risk you are taking.  I’v been thinking this quiet a lot recently. I’ve been preparing for summer internship position and going through projects I’ve done past 7 months. 

As a interaction design student, I would say probably 99.99% of the projects come from doing research. Whenever I go to a new class, almost every course has a slide with the famous Henry Ford's quote.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Then, what is the balance between taking in the research and the customer’s need versus going for something totally new? Where does research start for that? How do you validate that? Or does ‘go crazy’ mean have an extensive research done and brainstorm concept with your hunch that the crazy concept will be the one the users need?

It is really confusing to me. As a person who has a fine art background, I was all about expressing myself with my intuition. I came to this program for validation. Supporting ideas with research. 

I am guessing this ‘going crazy’ feedback can be taken in very differently in real life situation where there are money involved with each decision you make with your hunch. But shouldn’t preparing for those situations be part of graduate school? Also what about apple when they first launched iPhone and app store? I am pretty sure they did ton of research and knew what they were doing, but as a leading company in HCI and UX, how much of those were supported by the research?

Now as I write this down, I think I was using the word ‘research' somewhat confused with 'user testing’. Thinking back, crazy things don’t always arise from research but could be from ah-ha moments. Those projects may lack in research, but they get user tested and get validated. 

Well, I have about a year left with doing something crazy and trying new things that could be risky to even try in real life (maybe not). I am going to push myself to go outside the boundaries of what people wants rather than what people may need.

The Box 1

Packing to move and unpacking to settle down is lots of work and many people find it very stressful. Even if you hire some professionals for this process, you still have to give the final touch to adjust minor things. I moved last January from California to New York. It was a long distance moving that I had no choice but to pay someone to move my boxes.

The struggle started right after they left with all my boxes. The biggest problem was that I had to sleep on the floor without any proper bedding for almost a week because the boxes took about a week to be delivered across the country. 

Once I got to New York and got every boxes, another stressful moment arrived. I was left with about 30 boxes (not counting any furnitures) to unpack. The movers left me a paper they documented, but that didn’t help me much since it was hard to match the markings the movers did to the box and the paper. I also didn’t know where to start.

I am hoping to reduce all these stress by having this product, ‘The Box’ (I’ll probably name it better later). As an initial concept, I am thinking this as a package of all necessary supplies that a mover needs. This includes items as essential as toilet paper and pens—so that you don’t have to force yourself to go out and explore the new city to look for a place to buy those items—and items as specific as a mover’s checklist and sticker set to organize yourself while going through this process—so that you don’t need to worry not having gas and electricity the day you move.

From the interaction designer’s view, I would like to provide a journey that a customer would have a feeling of ‘opening a christmas present’ in a sense that this product is both expected and unexpected simultaneously. Also, the size of the container box is just a bit smaller (10-1/2” x 8” x 5”) than a flat rate USPS box that it could be easily sealed and sent to the new place so that it will be waiting for you when you arrive.

After the initial pitch of this product, I got great feedbacks. Here are some:
  -Different packages based on who it is for and where this is for, city dwellers vs. suburbans and amateur movers (college students and young professionals) vs. family with children.
  -Suggested items such as sheets, labels for boxes, mover’s checklist, shopping list, tips, bite size surprise presents
  -Packaging it as a pre-housewarming present for oneself, friends, and family.
  -Filling in the box in their own and making a DIY moving box.

I am open to any other feedback and your own moving stories. Please feel free to drop me a word!

Why So Many Ah-ha Moments Happen in the Shower?

There so many ah-ha moment happening in the bathroom. to be more specific, while I shower, this magic moment happens. 

(Its a little side track story but when I sleep, I dream both in Korean and English. When I dream in English, I use some words I don't know of. It is just really really weird. I sometimes have to look up the definition after I wake up).

Anyways, back to this magic moments, I asked why bathroom, what's so special about it? I was thinking why that happen. I also thought of if there are any other specific moments that I often get lots of ah-ha moments. Those all are when I am feeling relaxed and not really concentrated in getting new information. Why? Shouldn't new learnings give bright insights and great findings? 

I remember a book I read last fall, "Where Good Ideas Come From" by Steven Johnson. I am not 100% confident if I fully understood the book and remember it word by word (also I only read the half the book), but I still could find something that answers my curiosity. I first was really confused what he was saying in the book. To me, what he talked about was just too all over the place. Then at some point the whole book (or up to the point where I read) made sense. He says  the magic moment doesn't just come from nowhere. It comes when the connection between ideas are made. Ideas could be from decades ago but the connection just happened that the real juicy part happened now. So for me, lots of those connecting moments happen when I'm at specific settings. At this point, I felt like I vaguely know where I am going with this thought process but still not too clear. So I asked 'Why' again. 

Why does the connection happen more often when I am not in the process of taking in new information? Answer to this is because I am almost always busy doing something. To be more specific, 80% of that business comes from staring at some sort of screen, my phone, laptop and TV. Now, I know that I simply am not letting myself time to go through the dots I have and chance to connect them. 

Well, then why am I always using those devices? It's probably because I'm really struggling to catch up with what's up with the world. What's the trend that I need to know, what's the big news or social news I should know of, what's the opinion toward those, etc. ... Then is it the matter of unorganized informations I am exposed to and me trying to figure out what's really relevant to me? Then it comes to the personalized contents based on my preferences. I think it is the balance of wanting to discover new things and wanting to know only the relevant contents.

Thankfully, we all now have access to many platforms that let users to get personalized contents as well as choice to explore new topics. I think this concept is not new at all, but I am in the beginning of reorienting my lifestyle and trying to spend time more wisely using all these.

Presenting Myself to the Public

The time for applying for jobs (specifically summer internship for me) came. From the very first day I made my portfolio and filling out applications, the hardest part of all was writing cover letter and introducing myself in words. If you read my previous posts you probably already know, I am not a good writer and do not enjoy writing most of the times. I am not good at using big and fancy words and I still can communicate. I communicate well with visuals in addition to the writings. That's real me. 

But anyways, I have no choice but to write about myself to let people know how I am a unique human being who cannot be replaced by anyone. So I write about myself. Big question I still can't solve arise here. With my writing, I want to impress people, I want to be represented as a funny person, I want to be an ideal person to collaborate/work with, I want to be the creative one, I want to be the smart ass. The list goes on and on of how I want to describe myself. So, instead of me being real me, I am only 3/5 of me when I try to only pick my talents and characters that fit into the company's ideal person. I am not lying when I describe myself. But I mix and match my skills and personalities, just like making a new persona based on myself. And new personas appear with every companies I apply. With all these different personas I made, I am not lying. I'm just carefully selecting how to present myself to who I don't really know. 

My online presence is not that strong. I recently started Twitter, even though I haven't posted anything, I recently downloaded Instagram, I rarely write about my opinions to Facebook (except checking-in and uploading photos). I do understand the importance of these social networking platforms. I just am still figuring out how to share things online. Because I am not a good writer and because those reckless opinions live forever like scarlet letter, I am very conscious about posting anything online. Also I still have not figured out how I could share a meaningful opinion toward social issues without being too close minded because I am sure that I am not considering all the factors that caused the issue to rise. Addition to this, I am also trying to figure out how to leave a cool comments about what I've done without sound too spoiled or not in a bragging manner and write an awesome story about the memorable trip to an exotic places. ...  And what if I am a quiet person who likes to keep my opinion to myself and to my close friends rather than sharing it with the whole public?

I watched a Korean tv show yesterday. The panels of the show talked about how PR-ing of oneself has become a market opportunity for Koreans that there are institutions for teaching the job seekers how to write cover letters and do job interviews. Then what is the whole point of all these PR things when people are not really themselves. How are they differentiating themselves withe their true, unique nature when they are just some parrots that repeat after the instructor who tells what the idea answers are to each interview questions. 

I am not too sure how to end this post, but my final thought is that I am still trying to understand and have some answer to how I represent myself both online and offline (I am mentioning offline because I do behave differently when I'm with different groups of people, which is similar to how I am pulling out different persona to different companies). I'm sure there is no right or wrong in how people show themselves in different platforms and spaces. I'm just saying that I'm trying to figure out how to frame myself to be seen as a funny, creative, honest, hard-working, and smart (and many many more) person to people because I am very concerned about my own presentation to others.


Why Am I In School Again?!

I started MFA Interaction Design program at School of Visual Arts about half a year ago, September of 2015. So far I am pushing myself the hardest to pretend to be extroverted and being inspired by the world everyday.

When I first decided to come to school, I was excited, but at the same time scared. I don't like talking in front of people. I freak out and get nervous so easily that I stutter a lot to the point that I can't present my ideas clearly enough. Interaction Design required lots of public speaking in front of both small and big crowd. When I was in Seoul, Korea, I was a secretary for my church's youth group that I had to go on stage and make announcement in front of near 1000 people every Sunday for 3 months. Guess what, I never got better at it nor got comfortable at it that I even had to mark commas to where to breath after reading word by word. Well, enough of my being a scaredy cat story ... I was also excited to be in school again! I was excited to meet new people, to learn new things, to inspire myself to do thing with that I didn't know/aware of, and to get a new job title after school!

Anyways, back to why I chose to study again. I wanted to have myself back. I was loosing myself. I was loosing my name. I was just becoming someone's family member. Mainly because I was confused with what I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to a sculptor. I wanted to be an artisan. I wanted to be an educator. I wanted to be a graphic designer. If a thing has too many meanings, it just means ANYTHING/NOTHING. I was in that situation. I wanted to be anything/nothing. This was in my deep consciousness until very recently with the shallow cover of myself repeatedly thinking that I am happy and satisfied with my life. 

In the field of User Interaction Design, there's the method of asking 5 whys. I did that to myself to find what I really want to do.

Why do I want to be an artist, an educator, a designer?
Why do I want to make things?
Why do I want to express myself? 
Why do I want to to connect with people?
Why do I want to listen to people?

My finding was that I want people to not waste resources. When I say resources, it means natural resources and importantly, TIME. 

Interaction Designers begin the design process by researching where the core problems are and looking for insights. I love this part. Even though I am an introverted person, so I don't love starting a conversation, but once I am in a conversation, I love listening. I learn by listening to others. I understand the world better by listening to others. I see the world better by listening to others. Also I love watching people and catching small things what people do differently from majority of others and I love seeing small gestures that lots of people miss. This is why I am here at SVA IxD. I love minor details of lives of people. They are so different even though most human being look the same. Looking and listening to people and correcting myself my assumption is wrong and learn from it and being happy when my assumption is right. 

This is really worth my 2 years of time just learning and empathizing about people and process to design for them.