Category Archives: Research

Cryptic Commemoration

I have been working on researching the best approaches to creating the plaques that will be placed above the location of the Business PLANts in Silicon Valley.

Consideration 01: The language ~

What kind of language should be used to commemorate the burial? Should it even be the burial that is commemorated, or should it be the future retrieval? Or should it commemorate “the era of sameness” instead? My project is not necessarily about making a “time capsule,” but it is an appropriate reference as it is the only kind of burial that plans for retrieval. Here are just a few of the examples of time capsule plaques that I found on the internet:

There definitely is a formula to the way these plaques are written. Here is a breakdown of the necessary elements:

  • The name of the individual or institution this is associated with
  • The time span (when is it buried, when is it to be open)
  • Clear declaration that there is something beneath it
  • Reason for they “why now” – why is it buried at that time in history?
  • Optional: Sponsor of the burial

Consideration 02: The form / production ~

I have been simultaneously researching various vendors that might be worth going through. It is sort of funny that when these kinds of plaques are made, or plaques in general, there is little room for design – very templated. I kind of like that as it speaks to some of the signals of the end of entrepreneurship.

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Thesis Paper Draft 01

“Diegetic Entrepreneurship: A Documented Attempt at Inventing the Embodied Entrepreneur” is the first draft of my MFA thesis submitted to the Art Center College of Design. The paper establishes a new theoretical stand point on the role of entrepreneurs and the field of business, and then acts on this theory through a series of design systems. 8,758 words. 28 pages.

Competitor Analysis / Opportunity Report (formerly known as Thesis Literary Review)

My literary review Competitor Analysis is available for download – please click the image below to download the PDF. I used the assignment of writing a literary review as a way to frame the experiments I have been conducting thus far.

Conversations: David Kelley

I flew up to San Francisco for the day to attend a lecture by David Kelley, founder of IDEO and the d-school at Foothill Community College. This talk was part of a series of lectures arranged by the school to celebrate the opening of the Center for Sustainable Futures at Foothill. Thanks to a friend of mine who is an employee of the college, I was able to sneak into an auditorium full of Foothill students, faculty, and staff. The talk, a unique perspective of the inner workings of the school, was interesting in the context of my thesis direction as it consists of a series of methodologies, processes, and systems that David and his faculty developed together. These methodologies have famously lead to break-through innovations and entrepreneurial ventures by many of the students.

The following is my discussion with David regarding my thesis work. This interview is written from memory, and may or may not be accurate word-from-word, but nonetheless provides the spirit of the conversation:

Matt: I am very interested in the processes you have developed at the d-school that allows for the facilitation of entrepreneurship and innovation amongst these students – certainly there must be moments in the process in which the students enter realms of intangibility, with wildly impractical concepts. How do you filter that back to practicality and viability, and should that happen?

David: Empathy. We ask the students to take their concepts, ideas, prototypes… and introduce them to the people that will use them. What this does is it creates an empathy for the user – this inspires the development of the project. The students want to make it real for that user. This allows design to have a profound effect on an individuals life.

Matt: But does something that is empathetic, or something that creates a change, or effect really have to be a real thing, or can it be an intangible concept?

David: No. It has to be made real, it has to come back to the user. You see, my generation was more than happy with coming up with an idea, coming up with another idea, coming up with another idea… but your generation wants to create impact, you want to create change with what you create. That is how the field of innovation has changed.

**

I am interested in this concept of empathy, the root of David’s “human-centered design” as one possible, tangible, starting-point of my imaginary systems. This conversation brought up interesting ideas about the value of my work, and the idea of watching fictional entrepreneurship become diegetic business – the intangible to the tangibly intangible. How can the unreal be crafted in an empathetic way? Can fictional entrepreneurship result from a human-centered design process in order to design for people in a different way?

The Public School: Facilitation as Art, Entrepreneurship as Open-Source

The Public School is a systemic art piece, and established institution, founded by Sean Dockray. What began as a seemingly simple and tongue-in-cheek concept: the idea that a public school could facilitate a crowd-sourced curriculum and open participation, evolved into a network of schools around the world. The Public School began at the Telic Arts Exchange, another venture of Dockray, in Los Angeles, but also resides in Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Durham, Helsinki, New York, Philadelphia, and San Juan. As a school with no curriculum, The Public School operates through an interface that creates a public space for the proposing of classes, and the subsequent signing up by those who hold interest in the subject matter. Depending on the public’s interest, the class then evolves as a venue for tangible conversation and alternative education on an infinite range of topics.

Comparing The Public School to generative art, as David Elliot noted in a 2008 Interview with Dockray, is actually quite accurate. While the resulting image of generative art can be beautiful and provocative, the piece is not actually the artwork itself, as Elliot claims, but instead the by-product of the piece, which is the code or process that generated it. While the classes themselves are interesting, it is really the system as a whole, and the facilitation of it, that is evaluated as a piece of work.

”The facilitator is usually someone who gets something done, the lubricant in a process to achieve a goal. But, I think it can be more like a dirty lubricant. It can fuck up a process a little bit, make it self-reflective, inefficient, awkward, etc.” – Sean Dockray in conversation with David Elliot

Dockray offers up a unique perspective on facilitation, framing it as an art form that flips the corporate strategy on it’s head to yield interesting results. As an entrepreneurial practice, The Public School is an interesting model that provides nothing more than a space, and a framework, relying on the audience to define the rest. This take on business design begins to foster an interesting conversation around the potential for the open-source movement to be successfully applicable to the business industry, and to the practice of entrepreneurship.

References / Further Reading:

Conversations: Echo Park Time Travel Mart

I was really excited to have the opportunity to visit the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, one of several 826 stores across the nation.

“826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.”

What attracted me to this organization was their use of a fictional storefront to, in a sense, create a branded experience for the students and the community at large. Of course, in my own words, these products fit nicely within the umbrella of “fictional entrepreneurship.”

How can a storefront act as a medium for community dialogue?

Conversation Notes (in dialogue with programs director, Shannon Losorelli):

  • All products are “manufactured” on-site, designed by local artists working on a volunteer-basis. Products are the primary means of keeping the tutoring center afloat.
  • The products stem from the overall concept of the store. Once this is established, the store facilitates the design of items inspired by the theme.
  • Contrary to my initial perception, the products do not serve as inspiration pieces for the students. Instead, the products are a way to form a conversation around creativity with the community at large.
  • The products often go through a series of releases, and re-releases to iterate on the initial form in order to attract more buyers, and communicate the concept in a clearer manner.

Conversations: Stuart Candy

I had the great pleasure of picking up Stuart Candy from the airport this past week and discussing my thesis interests and investigations with him in traffic. Stuart is the Senior Foresight and Innovation Specialist at Arup, Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts, and Research Fellow of The Long Now Foundation.

LAX > Pasadena (from memory):

  • Futuring practice needs a kick in the ass. Held back by various expectations. How can a futuring practice provide more “honest” or catalytic vision reports that go beyond corporate needs … This would take a special client, “someone that would basically say, ‘scare me.'”  Futuring practice is trapped in a cyclical process.
  • Fiction is a word that carries a lot of weight – if it is used, be considerate of it’s implications. Your project (my thesis) is not about fiction, it is also not about non-fiction: it is about the bridge between them.
  • Business and entrepreneurship is a very interesting concept for framing a new futuring practice… Read “the lean start-up” book: defines entrepreneurship as a commitment to engaging with, and innovating in, the unknown.
  • Gallery setting sucks – how can works be created that engage an audience in a more intimate manner? Example: postcards from the future.
  • “Diegetic” is a good word, but may not be willingly adopted by industries outside of the literary and artistic realms
  • A process or “template” should be avoided. Always start in the form of theory and illustration that leads to more paths for investigation and exploration. Illustration ——> Exploration. Set the scenario so that you have the world, or greater picture, and then dive in to the specifics, not vice versa

Notes from lecture @ Art Center College of Design

  • Always design “things” while imagining them in their larger context. Chair –> Room. Room –> House, etc..
  • It is not about utopia, or dystopia. That is too simple. Real life is a mixture of the two… the everyday.
  • Futuring is never accomplished by one author: collaboration is central to the process of speculation and prediction. Facilitate a discussion to speak about and deepen the thinking of possible, probable, and preferred futures.
  • Futuring is not accessible (*image of a stack of papers and a bunch of graphs*). Proposed ways to make it more accessible: Trasmedia Storytelling + Experiential Structures. These can spark a conversation around the communication of an idea or concept that leads to personal exploration.
  • Making allows the threshold of imaginary and real to dissolve.