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Chigusa Kita

Page history last edited by chigusa 14 years ago

about me



Reading responses

Week2 This paper is very informative, because we rebuilt our curriculum in our university, and added some freshman PBL classes. One thing missing here is the consideration of high school curriculum. At least in Japan, more and more PBL based method is introduced in grade schools, so that general PBL could be "Deja vue" for students. How to make it more coherent to theory learning and basic knowledge and skill training should be seriously considered.
Week3 Assigned paper was a Prelude of a book, so that we can just get the general idea, not detail. But the idea to define "design" most broad sense is clearly conveyed. Having got that notion, we can start thinking about design as the fundamental human intellectual process to "imagine that-which-does-not-exist" and "make it appear in concrete form as a new, purposeful addition to the real world." This reading material made me curious about the whole book, which covers many dimensions of "design", and the lecture, too.
Week4 This paper has clearly stated how important to have a flat structure in creative workspace. Historically speaking, it has been worked out in many places, including technologically innovative groups such as legendary Xerox parc in the 1970s. In Pixar-Disney case, "postmortems" system is unique and something easily forgotten in many other places. The fact that this mechanism to "learn from past, especially from failure" has been working out is really a good lesson to any other groups.
As the author believes "creativity must be present at every level of every artistic and technical part of the organization," the notion of "creativity" in this paper means something not from one brain, but from the proper function of the community of talented people. This is very important, and is true for any person who has a real experience in the creative activities as a group.
But all these strategies in this paper, including "publishing academic papers," "directors' peer culture," are easier said than done. It may be only achieved in a situation where most of the members are brilliant by themselves with the right space to publish the outcome and a fair amount of budget. At the same time, however, we should admit that not so many groups in such a wonderful situation could not establish Pixar-like circumstances. Because in such cases, someone tend to hold a hierarchical structure which is common to the well funded group.

Taking this opportunity to write this late, after the talk itself, I mixed the reading and auditing responses in this.

From the paper, we have already had the "creative cycle" idea, imagine -> reflect -> share -> play -> create -> imagine ->..., but the social side of Scratch was out of this spiral-cycle notion.  Especially how kids "re-mix" from previous works was actually very insightful.  And the difference between Scratch and Squeak is also very interesting, as I had an experience of observing squeak community in Japan.  As the author pointed out, Squeak was optimized to be "a modern implementation" of smalltalk and actually it has more strong traces of turtle graphics of LOGO.  But actual users, kids, started using Squeak as a "media authoring tool."  The shift Scratch took is very reasonable in that sense, and the fact that authors are thinking about altering Scratch into Javascript or Actionscript base.

To conclude, I would like to return to the paper: the notion of Froebel's Gift in computing age is striking.

The Froebel's Gifts are so provocative and flexible that kids can notice the nature's order, and at the same time be creative.  They are still used in kindergartens, but current kids' environment may need high quality alternatives that represent new notion of "nature," which includes cyberspace.


This paper was very interesting, as we have formed a research group on "how computers became scientific tool": I am focusing on historical part, and my colleague is science philosopher. In that study, we have been looking through how the first computer simulations were done. On this, visualization is also a key. This paper is related to our concern. And the theme of this paper reminded me of a philosophy paper "Can computer be an artist?", though written in Japanese. The author categorized and analyzed creative activities and some of them are possible for computers but he insisted that fundamentally artists tend to think through hands or body when creating art pieces, but computers cannot do that process. This has a resonance with the passage in this paper, "The upshot is that, often, humans are able to improve their thinking and comprehension by creating and using external representations and structures. By working outside, they change what is inside and interactively they can reach new thoughts."
And the part mentioned "digital natives" saying "it would be clear why most young people can no longer do much arithmetic in their hands" is exactly I have been thinking through reading this paper. External assistance alters human ability, and it is obvious from history, and our rapid dependency on computers may result changes in human thinking process. Should we intentionally educate younger generation to do things without computers? (Maybe a little bit off from the main point of the paper...)


What we can learn from this paper is multiple, including how to write an academic paper with a development of real-world tool case study. In this viewpoint, how the authors discovered the keyconcept to evaluate the tool, Cognitive dimensions of notations, seems something to ask for the author, as I have been interested in the knowledge flow over the boundary of the academic domains. But also from the "design thinking" point of view, which is the main focus of the class, there are a few interesting points can be found in the paper.
For example;

  1. How authors decided the initial variety of mark types
  2. How authors decided the visual principles of Protovis, not mentioned in the paper
  3. How authors iterate the design of the tool from feedback
  4. How users learn from examples
Thus, it would be very provocative, and productive to have conversation with the author in class.

The paper for this week has written from marketing approach, which was new to me. But it is surprizingly correlating to the areas I have been familiar with: History of innovation, STS, design theory, and so forth. Classically innovation studies show us about the how adaptation goes over time. But having read this paper's approach, we could point that this classical approach is tech-centered. Of course, there are many researches done by multi factors analyses, and described the process from many dimensions in the area. But as this paper showed, marketing, or service approach could be more easily user-centered analysis comparing to classical innovation studies. At the same time, this approach is more tech-centered than STS (Science and Technology studies), which is heavily inclined to social constructivism. I found that this paper's approach is in the middle of the existing literature, and has a "healthy, and constructive" argument to the system developpers, which could be the most significant strength.
I also inspired to use the concepts presented in this paper to explain "user orientation in social systems", combined with other concepts from design theory, "congnitive fixation", or STS, "social construction of technology".


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