What I did over summer vacation:

Well, I went to school.  I took two classes over summer vacation, you don’t get breaks in grad school just like you don’t win friends with salad (Simpsons, anyone?) Anyway, my classes were great as usual and I had so much fun I forgot to post what I was doing here (as usual).  So here are the final projects for those classes:

I worked on a prototype for our iterative design class “Puzzles and Prototypes.”  The game is explores game mechanics by letting players be in charge of the rules.  Players build an obstacle from one side of the table to the next giving each obstacle its own rule.  Then players play the course from one end to the other, the player who through the final obstacle first wins!  Here is a little slide presentation that accompanied the final project:

My other class required a separate blog that I have decided to keep for all of my more “journaly”  entries.  Feel free to check that out too: emergentReflections



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Catch up:

I realized that while I was busy busy working on projects last semester I forgot to post some of them here.  So just to be thorough here are the rest of my projects from last semester:

Here is the final keynote presentation for the ARG Chibaaki:

And here is a project I did just for fun from video I captured during the Spring flood on my way to school:

And here is my short video that I used for a presentation on Digital Identity:

Finally my short piece on vertigo (which my class hated and I loved):

Okay, I think that just about covers it.  To see what I’m reflecting on in my current summer classes feel free to check out my other blog: emergentprojects.wordpress.com


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Will you play a game with me?

For this week’s project, in my Play and Participation class, I went out into the streets of The Old North End to see if anyone would play with me by engaging in competitive games.  At first I thought this project was going to be a failure as I started the week off with a flu.  My nose was crusty, my eyes were watery and overall I looked (and probably was) infectious.  Who would say “yes” to a strange sick woman asking them to play a game with her?
Apparently The Old North End is chock full of nice people because every person that I asked did say yes!  I stopped ladies on the street, asked the guy at the J&M convenience store, engaged in combat with hardcore mom’s at my son’s school and even had a thumb war with James Kochalka.
We played classic games that everyone is familiar with like ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ and ‘Thumb War’ but I also engaged in spontaneous games like races and who could hold their leg up the longest.
My overall experience was that everyone was eager to play and mostly kept it friendly.  Even during my climactic rematch with Erinn Simon good fun was had by all.  Due to my personal time constraints and those of my playmates I never could hold the duration of play to 30 minutes.  My friend Kat and I played a series of games for about 20 minutes and it seemed that we could have easily continued if we didn’t both have to get to work.  Boo for work and yay for play!  I think us grown ups all need more play in our lives!

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This is my video in response to Ken’s assignment of “creating a system for injecting chance operation into that activity that makes unforeseen outcomes possible.”  For me this was walking my son to school which I do everyday.  Our “gamepieces” we chunks of show that we kicked down the street.  We invented rules around the kicking that dictated which route we went to school.  The game evolved and switched around everyday but we maintained the goal of letting our “gamepiece” dictate our direction by chance.  We did find new meaning on our way to school, we had a lot more fun than we normally do and saw interesting things and even met a few strangers.  It certainly didn’t feel “fated” as Ken had suggested however I did sense a pleasant harmony that comes when one is at peace with random circumstances affecting their life.

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The second part of our project involved us recreating John Cage’s 4’33.   For this project I sat recorded 4’33 of my life at a busy dinner with my son.  I heard different pieces of stories from the people around me.  I put some of them together and came up with this poem:

he broke my heart, i just got the fuzzies today, this is the kind of job that you can’t be in a fog in, look, if you’re gonna live in a co-op then you have to work, i told her yes but i really meant no.  if i say ‘excuse me’ it means ‘get out of my way’, are you even listening to me?



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How does chance affect my life?

This week for my Play and Participation class I was given the task to actively observe my day to day life and record two ways in which my life was significantly affected by chance.  I originally thought that I had a pretty regular and predictable life but then I remembered:

As a single mother who lives below the poverty line my entire life is significantly affected by chance.  I can’t depend on a reliable source of dependable income and am effected by sexism and classism on a random yet ongoing basis.  My child support comes from someone who sells things to other people.  So if people don’t go to his store and buy his stuff then I don’t get paid.  I can’t generate my own full time income because my son is too young to be left at home and I can’t afford child care.  Single parents who live below the poverty line are more apt to be affected by chance than those with support and a safety net.  And single mothers are often subjected to hiring bias, we get paid less (.64 to the .75 that other woman get paid to the man’s 1.00) and we are ultimately responsible for the well being of others.  So that means if my son gets sick that I have to stay with him.  This means that I have to put my work or my other obligations aside to take care of him.   From day to day I can never be sure if things are going to work out for me.  Luckily, I’ve been broke most of my life and I am a very smart and resilient person.  So I find interesting and creative ways to cushion myself from random health crisis and erratic economic fluxes that pop up.   And even though these situations of chance affect my life I don’t let them affect my mental and spiritual out look on life in general.  I’m like Dr. Strangelove, I’ve learned to relax and just love the bomb.  Alea!


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How do we get there from here?

The future is a pretty groovy place.

In the beginning there is always the question: “How do we get there from here?”  The answer almost always seems to be: “In a series of somewhat clumsy steps, with some mistakes and through the support of others.”  We never know what will be the final outcome as we journey through the process of discovery and it is this mystery that moves us through all things.  This truth manifests itself not only in our literal personal journeys through life; but also in the way that we create, and how we interact with our creations.

When we look at the history of interface design; specifically the design of interactivity between computers their users and other users and their computers,  we see a journey that began with a few curious people asking good questions.

Like Doug Englebert who wondered how to get beyond the keyboard when interacting with a computer screen.  His doodles sketched at a conference, of a device that could “roll in one direction and slide sideways in the axis at ninety degrees” became years later what we use “to select objects on a computer screen.” (Moggridge, 17)  But not without clumsy steps, probably a few mistakes, and the support of others, in this case the help of co-creator Bill English.

Once it was possible to move objects around on a screen new ways to design interactivity became possible.  Coupled with the advancement of the bitmap display it became possible to manipulate both text and the early prototypes of icons around what was being understood as the “office” or “desktop schematic”  within the screen. (Moggridge, 19)  The mouse was significant because it allowed for multiple ways to interact withing a system.  Though basic in its nature it is a major tool for design interaction, and iconographic tool that defined how we moved forward.

Interface design over the past 20 years has involved building the technological infrastructure while perfecting usability.  We had to learn what works and how to get people involved. Again it came down to asking good questions. Interactive designer Bill Verplank, realized early on that the “context of the history and future of interaction design with paradigms that serves as patterns for the way people think about the subject.”(Moggridge, 125)  His four step process begins with the motivation for design then builds on an interactive process that naturally influences the modes of thought toward the development of conceptual models.  By connecting people with the story of a design, by requiring a process of discovery,  we can  see where interactive design has taken us and apply it to interface design in the future.


The luxury of the future is that all the basic building blocks are already in place.  We’ve already built the technological infrastructure that makes new and interesting ways of designing interface possible.  A generation has already grown up accustomed to the language of user interface, comfortable with design interaction, and literate in digital symbology and the new vernacular of video imagery.  A near global cultural understanding of participatory design has emerged to be widely more accepted as a superior tool for interface usability.

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I’m ba-ack!

What a difference a break makes.  I realized over school holiday that I hadn’t had any “time off” in about 4 years.  Shameful really.  But I was glad to get recharge and get some time to reflect.  I started the new semester energized and ready to dive in to an exciting set of classes.  As I write I’m just over the 1/5th mark and already I feel like I have so many projects that I want to make, ideas I want to share, and discussions I want to have.  So I guess things are going as planned.

Over the next few days I’ll be loading up some of my latest projects and musing and linking up to some of my favorite thinkers.  Stay tuned!

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it’s the most _________ time of ____.

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wrapping it up.

Finishing my last projects for our Causes of Emergence class, down to some last fussy tweaks but it’s pretty much up and running. Check it out: rachelhooper.com.  Now when you click on my avatar you go directly to my new website, which then links back to here, because I just love to link stuff up!


screen shot of rachelhooper.com

homepage of rachelhooper.com


The learning curve was pretty steep for me this semester.  I started this program halfway through my last senior semester at Goddard (which is just a lot on its own).  I had a brand new (lucky me) computer, my first mac which has taken some getting used to.  Oh and I had limited exposure to adobe software nor was I familiar with any programing languages.  But I can now safely say that I can: build a website, program in CSS and Actionscript 3.0, make a variety of things in photoshop, illustrator, flash, and final cut.  Most importantly I learned how to learn about web production and gained a new found appreciation and respect for those who get their hands dirty under the hood of the web.

Now that I have some basics under my belt I’m looking forward to seeing  where I can take it!  Next semester starts in January 2010 and I will be using this blog for those classes too.  Thanks for checking out my emergent projects!

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