Kate & Alicia Begin to Explore the Blogosphere… with feeling!

Kate and I created a record of our story so far within this project. This is an extensive pdf document that is half powerpoint and half report. This was mostly created so that we have a map of our problem space to refer to and a plan to keep us on track.

Concept Video

This is a concept video for the project Kate Saunderson and I are embarking on as we speak.

Creative Commons License
Live Ideation by Alicia Dudek & Kate Saunderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.youtube.com.

Communicating Clearly: Isn’t Working

Grasping at the meaning of a message can leave us throwing our hands in the air.

Obfuscating correspondence during sign-mediated information interchanges between two parties, to the exclusion of the proletariat is a bourgeoisie affectation that succeeds only in disassociating and causing dereliction from the paramount intentionality of the initially initiated interaction.


Communicating is difficult. It is only made more difficult by using specialized jargon (slang specific to certain groups or situations). It is further complicated by making simple messages more complex in hopes of impressing, persuading, or generally making mountains out of molehills.

In all these long years of education, I have finally come to realize that it is a bigger challenge to make things simpler rather than more complicated. “It’s so true, distilling something to its elemental form is hard and sometimes nearly impossible,” was Rachel’s response to my probes about how she also came to this conclusion. Its been a long hard road to arrive on the side of simplicity and clear communication. In high school Rachel and I would constantly revise papers in order to “sound smarter.” We would inject our essays full of lovely words like defenestration, epiphanical, and antidisestablishmentarianism, hoping to give our writing an air of intelligence and sophistication. Little did we know this was the literary equivalent of  playing dress-up and putting on mommy’s high heels. Big words and complex sentence structures are fine when used  thoughtfully and carefully.

Above all else its important to find the core message and to communicate it as simply as possible. Cut out the bullshit because in our super busy world no one has time to sort through all the miscommunication in order to recieve the message.

I had the most amazing sculpture professor at the University of Tulsa. His name was Chuck Tomlins and he taught me one thing. Sculpture is not about adding things and building things. Sculpture is knowing how much you can take away and still leave the essence. Communication is just like sculpture you need to know what the crucial bits are and how much you can strip away before they lose their meaning. In order to construct successful clear communications we need to be able to take away the things that are in the way of the message, not add them.

There is a calling for us all, to take away instead of add, and maybe, just maybe those who listen to us may have a message to take away.

“Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.”   – Elie Wiesel

Tea Time

Eight days ago was the first day of this new semester for the Masters of Design Ethnography course and the Masters of Design course. On this first day we were split up into teams of two and assigned the task of creating instructions for how to make a cup of tea for someone who does not speak your language.

Cora Albrecht teamed up with me and we were off and running. She thought the best format for our instructions would be a flip-book (a short book where the flipped pages create an animated image). I agreed with her and we sat down to work. We worked quickly and with no conflict. It was clear to us that we had to keep it simple and leave out the words because that would go against the constraint of language. I was immensely pleased with our final effort and Cora’s hand drawings gave the flip-book a nice personal touch. Later Cora photographed our work and set it to music resulting with this lovely video. Enjoy.

I think this was a wonderful example of our quick prototyping abilities and a good way to introduce us to the meaning of Strategic Information Design. It made us immediately consider the complexities that underlie the need for strategic information design and it was fun.

Online Overload

This morning in Strategic Information Design class I was overwhelmed. Lauren Currie came to speak to us about social networking and online presences. She outlined the major web tools she uses to network online including Facebook, Twitter, Skype, blogging, and others. The discussion focused on the creation of your public professional online presence and how you can accomplish what you want to with it. I was overwhelmed and exhausted by this discussion.

I don’t want to live on the internet. I came to study Design Ethnography precisely because I was interested in studying and helping people. When I was graduating from my undergraduate university (wrapping up intensive work in international business, Spanish, and marketing) I was lured into considering a Masters in Business Administration.  I seriously thought about the implications that would have for my future and then I promptly turned on my heel and walked away. I was not going to be boxed into a gray humdrum existence as a mid-level manager. So I set out on this grand adventure to become an ethnographer.  Today I consider myself an ethnographer, and an quite happy in the path I have taken and the things I am learning.

There is a looming cloud on my horizon. I will have to put on my marketing hat again. Today has reminded me of the importance that presenting and selling yourself has, especially in an emerging field like Design Ethnography. Yet, I am tired by the thought of carefully crafting and managing this endeavor. Overall though I am going to suck it up and do it. In fact I am doing it right now by blogging thoughtfully and slowly weaving together the facets of my life. I think it all comes down to cohesion. Its so hard to be wholesome and even more to become whole while still presenting yourself to the world.

I think I will begin by listing the online services and tools that I use. Then I will decide which ones are useful and which ones I should add. I will go through my bookmarks and organize them. I will set up my homepage on my browser so that it really represents what I look at first and what I need to see when I open up the internet. I will begin to consciously manage my online time and interactions.