writing

select papers

Capta by Juxtaposition: a Rich-Prospect Approach to the Visualization of Interpretation Project

2020— In her seminal essay, Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display, Johanna Drucker points out that visualization design for the humanities has still not properly accommodated the nature of humanities scholarship. Given, as she says, that all data is actually capta, current approaches to data visualization are misleading in that they suggest more certainty and stability than is actually the case. Her proposal is, therefore, to revise the format of the framework of the visualization so that, for example, the x and y axis on a cartesian grid are no longer divided into uniform increments. In our project, we take up

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A Speculative Feminist Approach to Project Management Project

2019 We applied a speculative feminist approach to the design of software for project management. As we interpret it, speculative feminist design in human-computer interaction (HCI) demonstrates attention to the following six principles (as defined by Radzikowska, 2015): challenging the status quo; designing for an actionable ideal; searching out the invisible; considering the micro, meso, and macro; privileging transparency; and welcoming critique. In the context of project management, our approach to software design has therefore included the following priorities: all stakeholders have goals, but not necessarily shared goals; the line between an internal deliverable and an external project outcome is blurred;

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Information Visualization for Humanities Scholars Project

2004—2013 Information visualization for humanities scholars needs to accommodate a mix of evidence and argumentation. The humanities approach consists not of converging toward a single interpretation that cannot be challenged but rather of examining the objects of study from as many reasonable and original perspectives as possible to develop convincing interpretations (for a fuller argumentation of this approach in a digital context, see Drucker). In this sense, we can evaluate a visualization system by determining how well it supports this interpretive activity: a visualization that produces a single output for a given body of material is of limited usefulness; a

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SELECT BLOG POSTS

7 pieces of advice to my grad students

In 2001, I quit my 50k job* working as an interface designer for Canada’s 1st interactive tv provider — iMagic TV in Saint John, New Brunswick — to start a grad degree at the University of Alberta. My boyfriend and I drove our trailor-pulling, AC-less Toyota Echo across the country, stopping only in Montreal, Thunder Bay, and Winnipeg. I hated Edmonton on sight. I started my first day of grad school by meeting the supervising design professor at his downtown condo — an Argentinian of some world renown. After making tea and pouring the wine, he pulled out a piece

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+5 for a useless critique

Criticism, or critique, is a well accepted practice in design*: designers cycle (or iterate) through making-thinking-remaking, until they become reasonably satisfied with the emergent result, or they run out of time and energy (hopefully the former). At key intervals within this process, designers seek feedback on their work, usually from colleagues, classmates, superiors and, sometimes, from clients and others.** In their most basic use, critique and iteration help designers improve functionality and target look-and-feel. When done well, critiques challenge assumptions, biases, and stereotypes; push against the status quo; clarify contexts of use; and raise expectations of quality, including accuracy, thoroughness

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stretch quests: searching for discomfort, as design practice

I’m on stage. I’m nude, and I’m reading the first chapter of Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. This naked reading is my 40th birthday present to myself. I’m uncomfortable, keenly aware I am at least 15 years senior to all the other readers; that this post-baby, post-breakup body feels foreign to my senses. And I’m thrilled to be there. “I am programmed at fifty to perform childishly — to insult ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ to scrawl pictures of a Nazi flag and an asshole and a lot of other things with a felttipped pen.” Kurt Vonnegut I am a good reader. I have

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happy students, reading on lawns

In 2001, I was an MDes student at the University of Alberta. Having worked as a web designer previous to my switch to Academia, and thanks to the digital bewilderment of my professors, I got the gig of redesigning the University of Alberta’s Department of Art & Design web site. At that time, the U of A wasn’t yet as particular about its brand or as adamant to control every line of its code, and Art & Design was permitted to, essentially, do its own on-line thing. Thus, I was encouraged to think through the redesign project as both an information architecture and a

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questioning design: a strategy for the 21c

In his 1973 edition of Design for the Real World, Victor Papanek calls out advertising designers for persuading “people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have”, and industrial designers for creating unsafe, unnecessary, “tawdry idiocies” to be “hawked by advertisers”. Papanek pulls no punches, accusing design of putting “murder on the level of mass production”. As evidence he points to the industrial process and product-use that create exorbitant waste material, pollute our air and water, and are capable of causing injury and harm to a cross-global population. It is at this point that I wikipedia Papanek and

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but first, what is design?

2014, Susan G. Komen partnered with Baker Hughes, a leader in hydraulic fracturing equipment, to raise breast cancer awareness among (mostly male) oil field workers. Baker Hughes donated $100,000 to the Foundation, then painted 1000 drill bits used in fracking the specific shade of pink trademarked by Susan G. Komen. Given the carcinogenic nature of fracking chemicals, the cost involved in painting pink these many drill bits, and the cost of the Baker Hughes’ marketing campaign (versus the monetary benefit to breast cancer awareness and research), this activity becomes silly, if not ethically questionable. Bad design is frustrating, dull, or

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