Monday, September 28, 2009

NTY 9/24/09 Does This Pencil Skirt Have an App? and Vietnam Finds Itself Vulnerable If Sea Rises

Does This Pencil Skirt Have an App?
In our technologically advanced society one of the new ways marketed at trying to lose weight is an application on the iPhone called Lose It! This nifty little application helps make goal encouraging graphs that track your progress to your weight loss when you count your calorie intake. There are other applications such as LiveStrong that lists the calorie content of 450,000 foods. It is a lifestyle change just like any other diet but maybe it will help encourage our overweight society to think about what is consumed.

Vietnam Finds Itself Vulnerable If Sea Rises
Climate experts find Vietnam to be among the most at risk to be affected by weather disruptions and rising sea levels due to global warming. It is unfair that developing countries like Vietnam are suffering the consequences from the actions of developed countries. It just shows that our choices and actions to have an impact on more than just ourselves. Vietnam could potentially have large sections of land be submerged underwater if the sea level rises approximately three feet. There could be social and econonic impacts to the remaining area if living conditions aren't sustainable. Vietnam has already developed a sensible national program that includes an attempt to integrate environmental concerns into development plans, and the construction and reinforcement of dikes. The dikes, however, could pose a potentially worse problem of trapping waste and polluting the remaining land if sea levels rise three feet. The people of Vietnam aren't worrying about the future too much but it might be something they should start worrying about if they needed to evacuate and relocate to another country.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NYT 9/22/09 In Vaccine Additive, Benefit and Doubt

There isn't enough of the H1N1 vaccine for everyone in the world. Right now the wealthy countries are the ones that will get the vaccine and a small amount or 10% of the U.S. vaccines are being sold to other countries. So there is a debate on whether to use adjuvants to the vaccine which would increase the potency and the amount of vaccine available because people would need less. However, the adjuvants haven't been proven to be safe, there is currently nothing negative found against it but there could be unknown risks. Other countries have opted to use the adjuvants to increase supply but the U.S. is opting to refrain from it until it has been proven to be safe and effective. The negative consequence of using it could be that people will be wary of an unknown substance and would refuse to get vaccinated. So there is some pressure on the U.S. to use the adjuvant but for the moment it will not be used to keep people interested in getting the vaccine and to make sure that it works.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My project-Awareness

I decided to do my first project on the issue of awareness. I for one never considered half the issues we have discussed in class because I didn't know about them and I didn't know or think about alternatives to my actions or their consequences. So I brainstormed about how to make people think about their choices. I really liked the bumper sticker that spells out the word coexist with religious symbols because it gets a message across in a simple word. I based my idea off of this and came up with the words Consider Alternatives and incorporated symbols and drawings to represent things I would like people to think about. Symbols I used include religious symbols, global warming, recycling, a light bulb for electricity, smoking/no smoking, free trade, boy/girl sign, cars, organic, bamboo, radiation, religion vs science, drinking and drivin, drugs, vegan and oil. I had researched a whole bunch of symbols of social issues I am interested in but these seemed to fit the design best because of their shape. I added text around the words Consider Alternatives to explain some of the issues I would like people to think about and in case they aren't familiar with the symbols they can understand the message through the text. I think that people get comfortable with their routines and aren't willing to think about other ways of doing things unless it is marketed towards them. For example the whole going Green movement. People weren't all jumping up and down about being environmentally aware until advertisng made it sound attractive and they were face to face with information about it. So I think my graphic words will help to bombard people with more things to think about.

World Press-9/21/09 China Expected to take the lead on climate change treaty

China has been hesitant in the past to agree to a plan that would reduce emissions of green house gases. China emits the most green house gases followed by the U.S. in second. China still doesn't want to decide on exact numbers for its reduction plan but it is a step forward that will hopefully encourage the U.S. to also step up and make an effort to cut down on emissions.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NYT 9/15/09 "New York Eye 'No Smoking' Outdoors, Too" and Hawaii Tries Green Tools In Remaking Power Grids

New York Eyes 'No Smoking' Outdoors, Too
This article was about just what the title says, the idea of implimenting no smoking rules in public outdoor areas and in this instance they are discussing no smoking in parks. The other alternative idea being thrown around is having designated smoking areas. The idea behind this proposal is of course with the best interest of health but there are many smokers that don't seem to be happy about the proposal. Second hand smoke is a very serious social issue and health risk so in my opinion I think the proposal would help health conscious people to avoid unwanted smoking encounters.

Hawaii Tries Green Tools in Remaking Power Grids
I thought this was a relevant article on social issues since several people had written energy and resources or related issues on our top ten. Hawaii is trying to make use of its natural resources and environment by utilizing heat from the volcanic rock beneath the clouds of steam created by the lava and sea to generate electricity. Hawaii is also using giant wind turbines in key locations to generate energy and the other islands all have at least one energy accent including waves, wind, solar panels and a plan for biomass energy from crops on Kauai. The ultimate goal is for Hawaii to generate 40 percent of its power from these methods by 2030. Its a big task but a necessary one to protect natural resources and hopefully the rest of the country will be as aggressive with conservation efforts soon.

T.A.O.I.- ch 6 Prototyping is the Shorthand of Innovation

So basically what I got out of this chapter was that prototyping is Amazing! because it keeps ideas flowing, the physical prototype speeds up troubleshooting problems, people are visual learners and are more easily persuaded by 3D objects vs written statements and many great products have been invented through the use of successful prototypes such as the Aerobie football and the Apple Duo Dock. Who hearts run on sentences? I do!!! Prototyping also makes projects that seem impossible managable as well as working on questions before you have the answers. Accidental discoveries are more likely to occur when fiddling with a prototype and new innovations are sparked by the thought process. Like I said earlier prototyping is awesome and from what this article says we would all most likely benefit from it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ch5 The Art of Innovation

This chapter had a lot of unusual and creative ways for fostering creative thinking environments. It stressed the importance of having fun, rewarding people, inspiring people through whatever works and keeping spirits high. It discussed the value of good morale and how to inspire good morale through groups that people want to be in and are excited about. It talked about group dynamics and the different personalities that make up 'hot groups'. It had a lot of unconventional ideas about how to create the perfect brainstorming, creative, productive environment. This chapter seemed to express ideas that really understand the essence of what makes the creative thinker tick and how to keep that creativity flowing. It comes down to basic human needs and happiness and keeping the energy throughout fun times and fun work. It seems like an awesome place to work and I think other businesses could really benefit by taking more of these ideas into account.

NYT 9/9/09 Driver Texting Now an Issue in Back Seat

This article discussed the increased risk of multitasking while driving focusing mainly on using cell phones and blackberries to talk, text and check emails. Talking on the cell phone while driving was one of the pictures I took of a social issue and I do feel that it is a real concern. Many people if asked will say that they are safe drivers even while texting and that it isn't a problem. However, they don't necessarily see themselves swerving on the road because they are focused on something else. Anyway, the article discussed how "back seat drivers"/spouses, friends, etc who discuss their concerns with the multitasking driver may have more of an impact than laws on this issue because they watch over the driver. In Washington the National Transportation Safety Board made a rule that employees could no longer make calls or text while driving on official business of while using company cell devices in their own cars. So maybe more laws outlawing phone calls and texting while driving are coming in the near future because it is a danger and a risk that can be avoided.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brainstorm eco ideas

Hybrids, consumer generated power, household recycling plant, green rentals, eco-chic entrepeneurs, etc.
Some awesome ideas people came up with...
Tree-Free Pencils
Why use virgin wood when old newspapers work just as well? Made from 100 percent recycled rolled newsprint, these pencils are green to the core. Cost: $18 for a pack of 48
Recycled Paper Notebook
Don't toss paper that's only been printed on one side into the recycling bin. Bind the sheets together for a quick, handy notebook. 1. Cut the paper into uniformly sized rectangles. 2. Stack the pieces blank-side up and punch two to three holes along one edge. 3. Grab an old shoe box and cut two pieces of cardboard the same size as the paper. 4. Punch holes along one edge, keeping them aligned with the paper holes. 5. Sandwich paper between the covers and "bind" the book using key rings. 6. Cover the cardboard with old carpet samples or colorful contact paper. Cost: about $3
Bamboo Washcloths
Renewable bamboo isn't just a substitute for wood. Fabric woven from its fibers is absorbent and naturally antibacterial, making it ideal for washcloths. or Cost: $8 to $12 Designers using green materials in their art-...just when you think you can invent the wheel you realize it's already been done. :oP

The Art of Innovation Ch.4

The Art of Innovation proposed a lot of interesting ideas about brainstorming the positive how to and the negative imagination squelcher. It was like reading the result of a brainstorm on brainstorming. It had some good ideas about how to keep ideas fresh and how to make the atmosphere open to new thoughts as well as how to prevent a lack of brainstorming.

Cradle to Cradle

I really enjoyed reading Cradle to Cradle. I like how it put the industrial revolution and how we came to our present manufacturing situation into perspective. It really makes one think about products we never question and what gets put into them. I for one never thought about the toxic chemicals in my shoes or materials in my computer. Noone ever made me consider before what toys, furniture and clothes are made out of and I trusted our country to have regulations that would protect my health and the health of others. I am naive and reading these articles just makes me reconsider everything I ever knew. I enjoyed this article because the writing style was humerous and informative. I liked how it examined everyday products we don't think twice about using and how our society developed into its production ways.

Social Design This was a really interesting website that creates smart products for the greater good. This had an awesome article on social design, the role of design, and it gives examples of social design projects such as the Project H Design we talked about, IDEO redesigning the Money Maker Pump.


This is the definition I got from for creativity.
1.the state or quality of being creative.
2.the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
3.the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.

Design Skills On Fast Company's website it lists 10 skills designers need to succeed including: Passionate curiosity, imagination, objectivity and self awareness, crisp communication, effective storytelling, flawless execution, business acumen, global awareness, context and talent. I think this is an all-encompassing list that really defines what qualities a designer should possess to be the most successful. A designer has to have a multitude of talents that include the drive to discover, perfect and create with a purpose. I think when you get into specific design niches then the skills become more specified to that career but in general this list seems to qualify for anyone that is in a design field and the 'design skills' that they should possess.

NYT 9/8/09 Lush Land Dries Up, Withering Kenya's Hopes

There is a drought in Kenya that is making living conditions very hard for the people there. There is little to no food, a scandal over a corrupt government selling off grain reserves, and delayed international aid to avoid mass hunger. I'm sad for the people there because international help to provide food is scarce since the international relations with the government is tense and that means that nearly 4 million people are going hungry. World hunger is a social issue and so is the negative relations with other countries. It puts my life in perspective to hear stories like this one. Yeah it may be harder to find a job but I'm not going to be going hungry anytime soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Design Skills

What is 'design thinking'?
I liked the definition provided by Tim Brown, "Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity." Fast Company gave a thorough examination of design thinking and broke it down into steps 1. Define the problem 2.Create and consider many options. 3. Refine selected directions 4. Repeat 5. Execute chosen option.
From what I have read I got the impression that design thinking is just the term applied to what many and all artists do in their sketch books. They think about the problem and try to brainstorm as many possible solutions as they come up with until they discover one that seems to stand out as the best option. Then it is just taking the idea and tweeking(sp?) it until it becomes a working product.

Social Design-'Green racing car' WorldPress

Here are some innovative British designers that created a racing car powered by chocolate and steered by carrots. It was created out of waste materials so it truly is helping to reuse and reinvent our trash. The designers don't believe the car is a solution but it is a step in the right direction for individuals that race cars and want to be more environmentally conscious. A good example of designers putting their brains together and supporting sustainable design.

9/7/09 Farmers Sell Wives After Crops Fail-(North India)

This article was highly disturbing for numerous reasons. For one thing it's sad that farmers in North India are so poor from having failing crops due to erratic rainfall. Two, it's both sad and disturbing that the solution the men come to is to sell their wives and that there are other men willing to buy them. I don't know anything about marriage laws in India or their customs but it just seems to me that this kind of thing shouldn't be legal. What is worse is that the women are trying to escape from their new "owners" because they aren't happy about the situation and/or didn't even understand what was happening because a good deal of them couldn't read the marriage contract.

Do Good Design

I just finished reading the first sections of Do Good Design and I like how the author's message is for "designers, for those who buy design and for those who consume design" because its not just one party responsible for the current design issues and solutions. I never really took the time to consider the impact of design but from reading this article and the other articles we have been assigned for this class it has made me consider from all angles the part it plays in life. It's a little surprising to hear about how much influence design has over things. I really loved this book so far. I like how it examines work from various designers and discusses the impact they have on the world. It speaks about issues of kind of false advertising or twisted messages and some of it is really appauling. I like how this author uses concrete examples of problems poor design causes such as the ballot incident in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. I think this author makes an impact by presenting real examples of problematic design instead of hypothetical and vague descriptions. Designers really can help influence positive choices if they chose to. I found it interesting to read that all tobacco advertising likely to be viewed by children in Canada is illegal where parents have to filter what their children see in Western societies. Just another example of the positives and negatives of living in different countries. Yeah it's great to be able to make our own decisions but at the same time exposure to things has the power to sway decisions too. It is like a slap in the face to our human civilizations that brag about all our modern advances and such when we are so behind in preserving the earth and our resources that support our modern technology.

Design Activism

The intro and chapter 1 of this book discussed the impact of design and how it influences our societal values as well as our perception of reality. It linked design to capitalism and brought up the issue that nature can't sustain the current standard of living forever. It talked about the idea of sustainable development as an approach to restoring the depleting ecosystems and it maps out ideas for design activists to consider when using design for improving both humankind and nature. Design is basically linked to all the different forms of capital and therefore it is important to understand capital and activism in order to become immersed in potential design solutions. I was amazed at all the different branches of capital that designers have the potential of influencing. I think this book is really helpful because it lays out all the possible opportunity areas where designers can make a difference and create sustainable designs. This book seems like it would be really helpful for design activists because they can so easily see the breakdown of areas where they can focus on making changes and instead of wasting time searching for a cause to support they can simply pick one area and spend more time designing something that will improve life. It is a little scary to think of the time crunch we have to make changes in so many areas before resources become depleted and species become extinct etc. due to the current standard of living humans have created without previously considering the impact of their design decisions.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Social Design

I checked out the sites on the Selected Bibliography and discovered from that Social Design is design for the greater good. The members of Design 21 are from across the world and they collaborate to make positive changes in what they design and create for society. The areas they focus on improving are education, aid, poverty, community, environment, communication, arts & culture, peace and well-being(health). It seems like a really influential site and I think that it is a great idea that they hold design competitions to inspire healthy competition for worth while causes. This site seemed to be on the cutting edge of social design in its goals and its drive to improve society for the future.
Another one of the recommeded websites I checked out was It focuses specifically on the problem of climate change and it has a great slideshow outlining the problem, causes, effects, culprits and how designers can go about being involved. It makes the point of design being such an integral part of our lives and that leaves the designers to start being part of the movement for social change. I like how this site speaks to different groups of designers including students and gives a little advice about how to get involved and make decisions along the line of sustainability.

When I just typed "social design" into google I came up with a large such result and discovered that there are numerous individuals and organizations supporting and becoming involved with social design. I came across Social Design-social & technical consulting which is a designer named Chris Halaska and Jocelyn Hollander, a sociologist, who work together to provide their services for various aspects of social design projects. I included this comment just to mention a few designers involved in the social design cause. Another site I discovered was Social Design Notes. It is a site dedicated to collecting notes on the built environment, graphic design, product design, architecture, the decisions we make, and the impact they have. It's just an example of more people attempting to make searching of social design easier by creating one place in which to find various examples of social design.
I will post more later on my search findings.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NYT 9/2/09

There were several articles in the paper today that I feel were about social issues. I read Plenty of Data on Sex Offenders, But Registries Are Just a Start, which discussed the case of Phillip Garrido and how registries focus on high risk offenders. There are so many offenders that it is impossible to keep a regular watch on them all and the goal is to one day distinguish which are going to be potential problems in order to keep children and citizens safe. Another article I read that I thought was interesting was Call to Jury Duty Is Striking A New Fear: Financial Ruin. It discussed the various reasons and hardships that citizens are facing and are using as excuses to get out of jury duty. It explained how its been harder to get people for jury duty because of the financial times and how it would be counterproductive to force people to perform their jury duty anyway because it might result in an unfair trial. This is a social issue because we need people for jury duty to have an unbiased opinion yet for some people it is financially not possible. One last article I read and found relevant to current social issues was Taking Big Rish for Big Payoff, Industry Seeks Cancer Drugs. Cancer has become either increasingly common or increasingly identified. Either way the lack of solutions to the numerous different types of cancer is a problem facing society. Pfizer is the world's largest phamaceutical company and they are focusing their efforts on a narrowed population of a particular gene affected in order to approach the world problem of cancer one small step at a time. With so many mutations it is impossible to develop one cure all cancer treatment so this company is hoping to tackle a small, specific population in order to find a feasible cure. There was also a small article on the ever popular issue of health care discussing various possible directions for a bill that was somewhat informative on the current debate.

Designers, Visionaries + Other Stories Intro

I just finished reading the foreward and introduction of Designers, Visionaries + Other Stories. I think this book examines all angles of sustainable design and addresses many key points on the topic. Sustainable design has become increasingly in demand and this book seems to be very direct and up front about how designers should go about being involved and collaborating on all available research. It covers all aspects on the subject including reasons behind the increased demand for sustainable design, the lack of collaboration between designers and researchers(one of the purposes of this book being to have a central resource of available information), the way designers should approach sustainable design and all the criticisms of it in order to make people think. I think it is great that this book covers many unanswered questions about sustainable design as well as posing counterarguments to designers/readers in order to fuel creative juices. It gives direction to the movement of sustainable design. I liked the information in this book so far but I feel that it is a bit wordy at times.