Tag Archive | technology

Assignment 5: Proposal

­­­­­­­­­­Our RSA brief asked us to identify a daily journey, either our own or other people’s, and investigate ways to improve it and make the experience better for many people. We were to think of the economic, social, or environmental issues people face during their journeys, and we were encouraged to address these issues. Although the brief was quite specific in that we were only to research daily journeys, it still allowed for a broad range of ideas – travel to college, university, work, and shops and services, by foot, bicycle, bus, train, and car. It also allowed a very wide range of ideas to be developed, as the solutions could be used to improve any area of the journey – the brief would accommodate redesigned vehicles or environments, activities or accessories to better use commuting time spent on public transport, and even advertising or communication campaigns to inform people about different types of travel.

Team 8, consisting of myself, Kristen Neillie, Kirstie Snowdon, Esther Farrell, and Steven Lee, began by brainstorming different daily journeys, focusing on modes of transport like walking, driving, and using public transport. We then brainstormed to find as many issues with these modes of transport as we could, and we found many. The main problem areas we found were issues with public transport, problems created by other people, environmental factors like adverse weather conditions, and problems with self-preparation.


Brainstorming journeys and why they're stressful.

Eventually we decided focus on the daily journey to work or university by car, and through brainstorming we chose to highlight and try to solve problems and issues associated with road rage.

We thought that road rage was an area not really acknowledged or brought into the public eye enough as a day-to-day problem. Although a lot of people look at road rage as being a minor problem, it can cause people to act very aggressively, drive dangerously, and it can sometimes be the cause of accidents. We thought this was an area that deserved investigation, and needed solutions.

Road rage occurs most in busy towns and cities or when a person’s stress levels are high, which fits in to the brief of investigating daily journeys and commutes. Statistics show that traffic jams, pot holes, and even weather conditions can cause us to become stressed and behave in ways which you wouldn’t do normally. In the US approximately 2,500 accidents a year are the direct cause of angry or aggressive drivers; studies have shown that as many as 50% of all road accidents could be attributed to road rage. This goes to show that road rage is a bigger problem than we might initially think, and that there is a need for more extensive research into the problem.

As a team we brainstormed again to come up with ideas for solutions to aid in dealing with road rage, and produced lots of ideas.

More brainstorming.


Moving away from our more abstract ideas (flying cars and Futurama-style mass transit tubes) we focussed on three more doable solutions that came up during our brainstorm – stress balls situated in the car, air conditioning perfumed with calming scents, and an in-car CCTV system to record your behaviour. We chose to develop these ideas over others because they are quite simple and inexpensive, but they could have a large impact on drivers’ moods and behaviours.

To better our understanding of the problems we were looking at, Esther and Kirstie investigated more into the psychology and statistics of road rage, Kristen investigated the use of stress balls to help relieve stress, Steven looked at aromatherapy, researching the effects of different scents on peoples’ moods, and I researched video recording and online communities for use in learning about and changing your behaviour.

Through development and peer feedback we made several adjustments to our original ideas. We realised that letting go of the steering wheel to use a stress ball, albeit with one hand, would be quite dangerous while driving, so we decided that our stress ball would have to fit on to the steering wheel so the driver could access it instantly. This could be a very cost-effective and fun way of tackling stress as it happens. We moved from using the car’s air conditioning to using a simple air freshener design, like many people use in their cars already, which again is cost-effective and simple.

We realised that having a dedicated in-car camera for recording the driver’s behaviour would be quite excessive, so we developed the idea to incorporate a smartphone with a front-facing camera, which many people may already have. The phone could be fixed to the dashboard using a plastic holder, making it easily accessible while driving, and our application could be opened with the press of just one button. We also discussed the app starting automatically when the driver becomes stressed, using some sort of heart monitor, or when loud noises or quick movements happen inside the car. We didn’t develop this idea much further, but the application could be started before the car is even in motion, to reduce any distractions whilst driving.

Application prototype 01.

Starting up the smartphone app is simple.

To sum up, we propose to produce a stress ball-like product that can fit onto the steering wheel of an automobile, so it can be used to provide stress relief while driving. We would also produce air fresheners scented with camomile, bergamot, sandalwood, and rosemary, which are found to be particularly calming on peoples’ moods.

Finally we propose to provide an online service and smartphone application to record and share videos, and connect with other users, to share and learn about their behaviours. The service could be moderated by psychologists who provide advice, and through prompts help the users to reflect on and learn from their behaviour.

Application prototype 02.

An online community for connecting and learning.


Burns, R. G., Katovich, M. A., 2003. Examining Road Rage/Aggressive Driving Media Depiction and Prevention Suggestions. Environment and Behaviour Journal. 35 (5) pp. 621-636.

Dula,C. S., Adams, C. L., Meisner, M. T. and Leonard, R. L. 2010. Examining Relationships between Anxiety and Dangerous Driving. Accident Analysis and Prevention. 42(6):2050-2056.

Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Huang, Y.-M., and Hsiao, I. Y. T., 2010. Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (3) pp. 78-92.

Huneycutt, J. 2010. Road Rage and You [Online] (01 July 2010) Available at: http://ohsonline.com/articles/2010/07/01/road-rage-and-you.aspx  [Accessed 05 December 2011].

Lupton, D., 2002. Road Rage: Drivers’ Understandings and Experiences.  Journal of Sociology, 38 (3) pp. 275-290.

Park, J.-Y., 2011. Expression and Connection: the Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Writing Process into Social Network Sites. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7 (1)

Wickens, C. 2011. Age Group Differences in Self-Reported Aggressive Driving Perpetration and Victimization. Transportation Research, 14 (5) pp. 400-412.


Process into practice: knitting!

Machine knitting!

This is a domestic knitting machine. Pretty intimidating.

This week begins our block of ‘process into practice’, where the whole class is split into three groups, and over three weeks each group alternates a week of knitting, a week of printing, and a week of mixed media. I’ve been knitting. It’s great! It’s frustrating at times, and I kind of feel permanently cross-eyed from concentrating so hard on all those little needles, but it’s fun discovering what the knitting machines can do. From doing a fair bit of hand knitting in my time (my house is packed full of half-knitted things – a shawl, a scarf, mittens, and an octopus, to name a few!) I have a good idea of how the stitches work and things, so I feel like I’ve picked things up relatively easily. Of course, after things went so well the first day I got all cocky, and then on day 2 I dropped approximately a million stitches. So that was good.

From being a hand knitter and crocheter, I’ve been used to measuring yarns in terms of double knit, Aran, lace weight, or wraps-per-inch (where, funnily enough, you measure your yarn based on how many strands fit into an inch) and have never really understood the “2/16” way of labelling yarn. Having spent some time nosing around the yarn store I think I have a better understanding of it, but it still hurts my brain, so here’s a handy blog post I found that explains it. I also have some difficulty in translating my hand knitting know-how into machine knitting, like if I wanted to increase or decrease my number of stitches. Since these are only single-bed machines, we can’t do ribs or anything, just plain stocking stitch, so I’d like to learn about how to use a double-bed machine. I am also very excited to learn about punch cards for making patterns, and I hope we get to experiment with these this year.

Casting on.

Casting on using the e-wrap technique.

Casting on is the easiest thing in the world. After you’ve figured out how to thread up (yarn up?) your machine, stringing the yarn up from the cone through a few wire loops (reminiscent of a bugs’ antennae), you pull forward the needles you want to knit on, and wrap your yarn in a little ‘e’ around each needle. This is called, as you would imagine, the e-wrap technique. Once you’ve done all the needles, you fix the yarn into the knitting machine’s carriage, which is the part you pull across the machine bed, and is the part that does all the hard work.

The knitting part is also pretty easy, actually. You just pull the carriage across the machine bed, and it knits! Magic! The exciting, difficult, frustrating part is when you start manipulating the knitting. You can do pretty much anything you want to, which is bad for me, because I want to try absolutely everything. I know I’m supposed to be sampling to supplement what’s in my sketchbook, but I just want to see what the machine can do. I’ve made eyelets, ladders, tucks, double hems (where you make ‘tunnels’ in your fabric), and added in extra short rows of contrasting colours. It’s been very exciting so far, and hopefully on tomorrow I can concentrate on making one or two finished, well-made, relevant samples for my sketchbook. Hopefully I can also wash and block all my samples, so they stop curling up.

Some knitting.

One of my samples, using a 2/14 lambswool and a 2/16 mercerised cotton.

I think I need to learn to calm down a bit – rather than flitting from one technique to another, and getting excited about learning how to use punch cards and double-bed machines and everything I possibly can, I should really just concentrate on properly translating my sketchbook into my samples. It’s fun though.

Unfortunately, it’s dark by the time I get home these days, so I haven’t been able to take any decent daylight-y photos of the samples I’ve done so far. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to lay them out nicely in the knit room and snap a few good shots.

Assignment 3: Looking Up, Looking Down.

For Change by Design’s 3rd assignment I chose to research more closely the areas of learning through video playback and using online communities and mobile devices for learning, in relation to our chosen subject in assignment 2 – road rage. I also sourced a couple of articles on road rage in general, as I feel it is beneficial to understand the psychology behind road rage. I spent a fair bit of time in DJCAD’s library computer suite using CrossSearch, a service which allows Dundee University students to search through databases, library catalogues, electronic journals, and information held on external websites, and which I must admit I found frustrating at times.

I have produced an annotated bibliography of books and articles which I think are relevant to my area of research:

Cheng, G., 2009. Digital Video for Fostering Self-Reflection in an ePortfolio Environment. Learning Media and Technology, 34 (4) pp. 337-350

Here Cheng studies whether digital video playback affects the level of self-reflection and peer feedback in online learning. This study found evidence to support the use of video as a reflective tool in an online learning context.

Galovski, T., E., Malta, S., L., Blanchard, E., B., 2005. Road Rage: Assessment and Treatment of the Angry, Aggressive Driver. American Psychological Association.

This book examines the psychology of road rage and also looks at cognitive-behavioural treatment for angry, aggressive drivers.

Gordon, C., 2009. Reviewing how distraction involvement is coded in the New Zealand crash analysis system [Online] (Updated 17September 2009) Available at: http://www.internationaltransportforum.org/irtadpublic/pdf/seoul/3-Gordon.pdf [Accessed 2 November 2011].

This article contains many relevant figures about road accidents due to distraction while driving – we don’t want to create a service that requires too much attention while the user is driving (e.g. using a mobile device while driving, not keeping their mind/eyes on the road, etc.).

Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Huang, Y.-M., & Hsiao, I. Y. T., 2010. Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (3) pp. 78-92

This article considers the online knowledge sharing networks that have been made popular by the advent of Web 2.0, which easily facilitates interaction with other people, and looks at matching learning partners with similar interests and specialties.

Park, J.-Y., 2011. Expression and Connection: the Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Writing Process into Social Network Sites. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7 (1)

In this article Park looks to improve the quality of reflective learning on social networking sites by introducing individual reflection and collaboration into the learning process. This could be useful for our service because we want people to be able to look back on their behaviour and learn from it, rather than just create a log of things that have happened and move on.

Patterson, P. G., McColl-Kennedy, J. R., Smith, A. K., Lu, Z., 2009. Customer Rage: Triggers, Tipping Points, and Take-Outs. California Management Review, 52 (1) pp. 6-28

This article recognises that road rage, school rage, and customer rage are becoming increasingly common in our everyday lives. It examines the underlying psychological processes of stress, explores the triggers that give rise to rage behaviours, identifies the tipping points for incidents of anger and rage, and explores the extent to which these circumstances and coping behaviours can be generalized across Eastern and Western cultures. It also talks about actions that can be taken by managers to prevent customer rage.

Robelia, B., A., Greenhow, C.,Burton, L., 2011. Environmental Learning in Online Social Networks: Adopting Environmentally Responsible Behaviors. Environmental Education Research, 17 (4) pp. 553-575

This article focuses on environmental issues – greenhouse gas emissions, etc. – but it could certainly be relevant to our service too. The authors studied the use of an application in Facebook and found that self-reported environmentally conscious behaviours increased during the users’ use of the application.

Yeh, Y.-C., 2010. Analyzing Online Behaviors, Roles, and Learning Communities via Online Discussions. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (1) p. 140

In this article Yeh looks at online learning communities, and identifies the main behaviours and identities that can be found in online communities. The main behaviours found in these online communities are creating a positive attitude, providing opinions, and providing reminders about assignment-related work, and the main online identities found are information providers, opinion providers, and troublemakers.

I have also compiled a list of journals and online resources relating both to design in general, and specifically to textiles:

The Design Journal is an international journal covering all aspects of design, and is published 4 times a year.

Made, part of the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network, is published three times a year.

The International Journal of Design publishes research papers in all fields of design, and is published 3 times a year.

National Geographic is always worth a browse.

As is Discovery News.

And the good old BBC.

Craft Scotland, the home of Scottish Craft, is great for exploring crafts and the community of designer-makers in Scotland.

Crafts Council aims to “build a strong economy and infrastructure for contemporary craft”, “increase and diversify the audience for contemporary craft”, and “champion high quality contemporary craft practice nationally and internationally.”

Textile Forum aims to cover as much of the textiles industry as possible in vivid detail.

Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture is published 3 times a year, and “brings together research in textile studies in an innovative and distinctive academic forum for all those who share a multifaceted view of textiles within an expanded field.”

Textile Report delivers “extensive trend information for the whole textile and fashion market” 4 times a year.

Purple Fashion is a French magazine on fashion, art, and culture, published biannually.

Selvedge “covers fine textiles in every context: fine art, interiors, fashion, travel and shopping”. Published 6 times a year, it’s always worth a look.

This Looks Shopped.


All I can see now is Hello Kitty.

I can tell from some of the pixels and from seeing quite a few shops in my time.

This week us 2nd year Craft and Design students are being inducted into the world of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I’d used Photoshop a bit before, as part of my Textiles HND at Dundee College, and also at home, but it’s good to pick up some new tips and tricks for image editing and manipulation. It can be difficult to keep up when trying to follow the instructions of someone who really knows what they’re doing, though.

Yesterday I scanned several sketchbook pages, which is quite a feat if you think about the size of an A2 sketchbook compared to the size of an A4 scanner! I spent a while both yesterday and today clicking about, playing with layers and filters and all sorts of technical wizardry, and eventually came up with a couple of pages that I didn’t think were completely awful. I tried to stay away from making too much repeated pattern, as I feel that my sketchbooks are full of that kind of thing, and I wanted to produce something a bit different, and a bit more abstract.


I went cross-eyed doing this one.

I know I’m probably going to be lynched for saying this, but after two days of working on a Mac, I kind of can’t wait to go home to my trusty Windows machine.

Assignment 2, part 2.

Following on from my previous Assignment 2 post, my team met up at lunch time on Monday for one last bit of discussion and mind mapping. We picked three of the possible solutions for road rage that we brainstormed last time, and made a mind map of how they would work, and how they could be used.

Mind mapping.

Mind mapping our solutions.

We decided that our three best options were:

  1. a stress ball installed as the gear knob in your car
  2. the air conditioning in your car being perfumed with calming scents, like lavender
  3. in-car CCTV, with a camera attached to the rear-view mirror, so that you could play back video of your journey, watch your behaviour, and learn from it; there would also be a service attached to this – an ‘app’ where you could track your progress in learning to deal with your road rage, and a forum where road-ragers could post and talk about their issues
Mind mapping.

A mind map of our 3 final solutions.

I think that all three of these solutions could be used together – squeezing the stress ball could trigger the air conditioning to come on, to cool you down and chill you out with a wee burst of lavender, or your own chosen calming scent, and of course, later on you could review the CCTV footage of you raging in your car and begin to work on your behaviour and learn from your road rage experience. Squeezing the stress ball could even trigger your smartphone app to put a note with a time stamp and a geotag in your calendar, so that you could see if you become stressed at any particular times or places in your journeys.

I have quite enjoyed working on this assignment. It’s been refreshing to work on something that doesn’t entail sitting and working in my material matters sketchbook, and it’s also been a new experience for me to work as part of a team.

Euthanasia Coaster

I read this article, “Suicide by roller coaster”, the other day and I really can’t stop thinking about it. It’s such an odd and interesting idea – a euthanasia roller coaster – and I wonder what led the designer, Julijonas Urbonas, to invent such a thing.

In response to a comment on his video, Urbonas says:

Please note that this macabre insight was made in and for the context of the exhibition “Human+” which speculated upon the future of humans. In that case the coaster is a sci-fi black humour. Originally this dystopian insight was inspired by a few sci-fi stories such as Kurt Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House” where euthanasia is a citizen’s patriotic duty, and the movies like “Soylent Green,” “Children of Men.” Thus the coaster could be also seen as a tangible design interpretation or equivalent to the literary versions of the euthanasia machines found in these stories.

I’m actually finding it quite difficult to convey what I think about this – I love dystopian stories and novels like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Fahrenheit 451, and films like Soylent Green and Logan’s Run (I must find a copy of the novel some day), so maybe that’s why this idea has captivated me so strongly!

Week one (and a half)!

I have been a (direct entry) 2nd year textiles student at DJCAD for a week and a half, and so far I have survived. This is somewhat of an achievement, as I generally expect myself not to be able to do anything ever.

During my first week and a half, I have mostly been able to find my way around the labyrinthine DJCAD buildings and campus, spent a small fortune in the art shop (hello new pens, pencils, paint, oil pastels, paper, sketchbooks, padlocks, linseed oil, and other assorted art goodies!), been on two drawing trips (first to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, and second to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow), and created a blog (hello!) as part of one of my modules.

I have also remembered how awful I am at time management, and how much I hate the beginnings of projects, and how you should never look at other peoples’ sketchbooks because you’ll always feel a bit inferior.

After a whole summer of not really drawing much at all, I found it a bit difficult to get back into the swing of things. I enjoyed our drawing days in Edinburgh and Glasgow, although I spent a lot of time in the RBGE feeling like I was in peoples’ way – it was difficult to stand and draw, but you couldn’t really spread yourself out and get comfortable in the glass houses, because of the narrow little winding paths, and I absolutely hate feeling like I’m in the way or like I’m stopping people from being able to get their money’s worth from their (albeit free) visit!  I did take a huge number of photographs though, which I think will come in handy.  I think mostly it was beneficial to go somewhere new, somewhere I’d never been before, and see new things, and I also found it really interesting to see what my classmates were drawn to and how they work. I’m a bit of a people watcher!

Floating Heads

Floating Heads. Eerie and kind of captivating!

I really enjoyed visiting the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, home of Salvador Dali’s controversial Christ of Saint John of the Cross. It’s huge – I somehow managed to walk around the same area twice in a circle and not even realise! My favourite was probably the room with the animals (the elephant is called Sir Roger, and the baby elephant is called Kelvin!), but a close second was the room with all the pearls and the video of the last full-time pearl hunter in the country, and the room with all the armour.  After visiting Kelvingrove, and because my favourite part of visiting the RBGE was inspecting tree bark, I’ve decided that for my Material Matters project I’m going to investigate “protective layers” and “natural armour” as part of our “natural pattern” brief.


I know that grey squirrels are the bad ones, but this guy was a cutie!


I can't get enough of the macro function!

I found our first Change by Design lecture really interesting, and it seems like this is going to be a really good module to work on, although I do have a bit of anxiety at the prospect of working in groups with people I don’t know!  Of course, these things are never as difficult as I expect them to be, and I imagine most people feel the same about it anyway.

We met our lecturer Jonathan, Kate Pickering of Vanilla Ink (of whom I’m already a bit of a fangirl and Twitter-stalkerer), and Jo Montgomery of Little Riot. After learning a bit about the module and what it entails (including a farcical two-and-a-half minutes where three classes worth of students had to seat ourselves in alphabetical order) we were given a wee talk by Jo, who introduced us to her project, Pillow Talk, which aims to connect long-distance lovers in a way that isn’t keyboard- and screen-based (“Screens are rubbish!”). I really enjoyed listening to Jo talk about her project, which she is obviously very passionate about, and I think I appreciated her talk even more because I had seen her degree show project and found it really cool to see how far she’s come in such a short time.

Lastly, I really appreciated our introduction to the photography studio, because I’ve never really properly understood all that technical stuff. I had kind of grasped the basics of ISO and shutter speed and aperture and stuff, but now I’m definitely inspired to step out of ‘auto’ on my camera settings!