Documentation & Reflection

Week 3.33 Entry 28: You Can (Not) Fail Fast - Scattered Thoughts on Project Direction

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Tue 17 March 2020, 9:56 pm
Modified: Tue 17 March 2020, 9:56 pm

Parts of DECO3801 last year focused on the idea of failing fast, the thought that to know whether your idea is successful or not, you're sending it out into the real world early, and often, because early mistakes can be corrected before you get too heavily invested in an idea. Essentially, catching problems early means the difference between having to 2.0 an idea to start again, or being able to wing it and have something fitting the Architect's Vision in your hand immediately.

Speaking of winging it, there's a risk, ... a margin of idea motion (if that makes sense), of changes and adjustments I think one can make, before the projects find themselves being a blazing barrel bizzarely blasting through stratosphere, slowly angling straight downwards into oblivion. Failing fast is meant to be something that gently nudges you away from that reality... but too much "failing" can end up feeling like all options have been exhausted, and only a half hearted compromise is left.

We're still investigating and trying to figure out what we can do for the presentation next week but privately, I've been reviewing ideas I've had before even sharing them with my group - at which point, well, it's sounding ridiculous as I say it, but maybe the ideas need a chance to get a breath of air before I declare them to be explosive rockets headed for the abyss.

With the things I've managed to create recently, be it a Digital Musical Instrument thats supposed to simulate a baton that plays music - or a tool to teach medical students how to identify different stages of cancer progression... it's certainly felt like I shot for the stars with the possibilities.

But well, as evidenced by how I haven't talked about these unique design opportunities yet - theres a lot to break down with regard to how they went. I would say that I failed, but it's more nuanced that that, they were just succesful in unusual ways - things that made them cool as ideas, but were personally unsatisfying to me.

But that ambition being so large and subtly pushing the idea toward imperfection... is hard to come to terms with. The Architect's Vision specifies a pretty particular thing, and failing fast would mean that theres chances for that vision to be denied. You realise small parts that need to be adjusted often, and eventually, the vision shifts to accomodate compromises. So much so that its essentially a different idea altogether.

Looking back at some of my thoughts on Bash's Q&A, perhaps something I'd not considered fully aside from the variety of the work, simply having a lot of stuff out there, a lot of small failures telling you something about different spaces, gives you a chance to mastermind something new out of their ashes that couild only have come from a combination of failures leading up to it.

But well, I dont want to only feel like I'm failing... sure, theres lots of success, but success is expected. I think performance metrics, as a student, as a business etc, means that you cant just not put a number on things either. Maybe the way forward is simply better categorisation, sure you got a 3 on that, but a 7 on this, which is good.

Well, provided I can address my binary perception. As it is, something that's a 9 is basically a 0 to me, because it's still imperfect. Theres no such thing as something that cant be improved, but this... inability to accept anything less than flawlessness from my own efforts is going to continue to be an issue.

Thought Train
  • More coherent reflections would be better
    • Might want to consider a little longer at drafting instead of just putting this out stream of conciousness
  • Investigate David C Roy's kinetic sculptures to see how the Engineer and Architect can be the same person

Week 3.33 Entry 27: You Can (Not) Escape Deadlines

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Mon 16 March 2020, 10:25 pm
Modified: Mon 16 March 2020, 10:26 pm

So why not prepare things ahead of time instead?

We may be in a bit of a time capsule being here in week (null), but that doesn't mean there still isn't a chance to think through what we're really going to do haha!

I went over some of the discussion the group has had over the weekend, and took the liberty of making notes of what happened. The actual intent is to catalogue what has happened - it's easy to lose track of where we've been, especially after an unexpected break that comes immediately after putting the pedal to the metal.

  • Planktons computer wife from the cartoon, Spongebob Squarepants - and what made that character sassy?
    • sarcasm and dry humour
    • non reactions, not very emotional, very task oriented
    • rarely relying on facial expressions, it was the tone of voice that made that sassy
    • maybe more of an example of verbal sass, with physcomp, we need something that also looks sassy too, preferably
    • taking a look at the adorable tiny robots Alonso made, there's clear,
  • Alonso Martinez's robots - very cute tiny robots that sit on the desk
    • More importantly, built with a philosophy of having a personality trait or several
    • for example, bouncing on the desk, or being a tiny creature that you can interact with
    • while theres lighting inside Mira - and gaze detection too... those actually kinda took away from the main appeal, the initial simplicity
    • Perhaps its worth it to nail the look and feel (the persona?) of the technology before designing it?
    • but emotional goals are going to be interpreted differently by different people... what if people think it looks uncanny?
  • Some key ideas that might be useful
    • a meaningful physical interaction that is laborious and or memorable
    • like cranking a hand shaft to operate drawing software
    • some manner of feedback from the system that could make you step back and think about what's happening
  • Perhaps teaching software that sasses you by interrupting or messing with your learning?
    • show you the perspective of differently abled people
    • the idea that something out of their control affects their performance, but they still get yelled at anyway
  • Causing chaos through technology by exploiting social conventions
  • what if technology made you interact with different people?
    • dad bot, always disappointed in you
    • some sort of intervention for socially awkward people?
  • What counts as being sassed, vs being annoyed?

  • Technology that follows you around and sasses or interrupts specific interactions
    • like a wall of eyes that follows you around, accompanied by a shopping card that deliberately brakes its wheels to stop you from grabbing junk food
    • in a way, technology bullying you
    • perhaps the bullying could serve a purpose?
    • what if for every decision you make in person, some piece of technology gets right up in your face and asks you why you made your choice?
    • in some ways, this is basically how some marketing surveys from online retailers can be pretty aggressive
  • Animal mimicking technology
    • and also, animating technology
    • how should a piece of technology fold up, deploy, move, etc?
    • move away from static PC's and such
  • The three laws of robotics
    • From Isaac Asimov's novels
    • some robots in fiction sacrifice themselves for people, because peoples lives are perceived to be more valuable
    • what if we had an interaction built around robotrules, and breaking or disabling them?
  • At some points, perhaps text discriptions are unnecessary?
    • maybe a focus on just the detail, the image in one's mind of the interaction is enough to go off of?
    • The boxing robot that taunts you for example, being trash talked while sparing with it is very easy to visualise, so maybe the interaction would be easier to recall too?
Thought Train and Carriages
  • alright, we have all this, maybe drafting or illustrating them will be helpful
    • picturing and storyboarding things can vastly change an interaction, you can see... stress points by "drawing the next few frames with your mind"sorta
    • uncertain what happens if I've lost the

Week 3 Entry 26: Week 3 in Review

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Sun 15 March 2020, 3:31 pm
Modified: Sun 15 March 2020, 4:29 pm

1. Work Done and Relevance

This week consisted of taking the ideas and themes from last week, cutting down those ideas into little giblets, and then throwing them into the communal wok to see what permutations we could make of them. In hindsight, with some of these I think there ended up being ... a feeling that "I have to add something meaningful to this"... but especially in later rounds, this internet resulting in too many ideas being on the table, and a whole bunch of them being ignored unintentionally.

This led to a feeling of the board being quite cluttered. Some ideas worth discussing got tossed aside for being too complex to read, or just because the host miscommunicated them and / or didn't want to be hosting.

We also formed teams, and I think a critical part of this was just trying to understand our teammates as people - rather than the descriptive "team". With so many interactions to hold every day, it's faster to dismiss and ignore people than get invested in who they are - so I don't hold it against anyone - but when it comes to people you're going to be working with over a long period of time, if they don't feel like a priority t get along with, then every interaction becomes a chore.

An unfortunate downside of working with a dozen or so teams throughout your syllabus... you're going to end up blanking out a vast majority of them once you leave university and putting them behind you - unless you keep in contact with them. To that end, I'd like to work hard to make this process as painless as possible, complementing what my teammates do so that we can leave with something interesting.

2. Work to Do

We've had a whole lot of ideas, discussion thoughts on where we could go with the project... but decisions and research are still ongoing. The downside to this is that it can seem like progress has halted, when in truth it's just ongoing but in multiple directions. I should collate what we have into some brief notes that the team can use more easily.

3. Things that Inspired Me

Less so than before... while I saw a number of new pieces of technology this week, nothing really struck me as "that's awesome"

a. Mira by Alonso Martinez

Tabletop robots that are super cute - I really liked that something so simple - uncomplicated designs could convey so much emotion just with angling eyes, and the smoothness of their movement.

But more importantly than that is the whole approach and process that led to them being created... Bringing life to creatures by focusing on their movement, as opposed to their features, like being able to talk or use information. A subtle combination of aesthetic appeal and mechanics that works enough to provide the illusion that the thing you're looking at is a small creature, rather than a bundle of electronics.

Thought Train & Carriages
  • Help
  • Fix up the notes and such for this afternoon
  • Some sketches of yesterday mornings brainstorming would be nice

Week 3 Entry 25: A Cacophony of Voices, and Still The Machinery Halts

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Sat 14 March 2020, 10:32 pm
Modified: Sat 14 March 2020, 11:28 pm

Something doesn't come from nothing. Millions of people have screamed into the void, blaring ideas and thought into every design space one can think of, and even several design spaces most people wouldn't.

That's right - once again, it was time to look into research, to see what already exists in the space. I think a flaw in doing this however, was just blindly jumping in to a number of different topics a little too early

This lead to a more frantic approach of .... come on. "surely there's something here that's relevant to what I want to do".

I knew it was time to stop when the realisation popped up again of - MAN, we have to create something unique, playful and interesting, and yet here I am sifting through these monoliths of basically garbage, that exists to qualify maybe the 20% of the paper thats actually something that we can get a lesson out of.

The actual thought was not this coherent, it was just "why I gotta look at so much paper to make something fun".

Likely, a sign of burnout, but also potentially just a need to use more narrow filters, or possibly different filters altogheter.

For now it's time for a break. I think there's a chance to be disillusioned by research. "this idea is too hard, we have nothing to go off... lets just change and do something else". This thought line leads to a bland, meaningless project, that no one wants to do, and that the teaching team knows is a sham too. But yet - we persist through it because of the idea that we've made our bed, and have to lie in it now.

But I like the ideas I have at the moment. they're not ready for the sacrifiial pyre just yet... so tomorrow I'll look at the same issue again, with a different telescope, hopefully.

Week 3 Entry 24: BATA SKWAD - A Tale of Shoes and Sass

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Fri 13 March 2020, 8:14 pm
Modified: Fri 13 March 2020, 8:32 pm

Wednesday was when teams were allocated, allowing for the opportunity to meet the people we'd be working with for the rest of the semester. I found my teammates

Who Am BATA - and Course Expectations After the Fact

This is the team.

BATA, an acronym of everyones names, and also a brand of shoes.

Imgur Spirit animals

Initially here I'd written about us introducing ourselves, but in hindsight, I realised that keeping that it feels more meaningful to keep that private...

I did learn some interesting things that potentially could affect our projects however, like that one of my teammates enjoys using Ableton, which would be a good opportunity to include music or tunes into some of our interactions, if we choose to, later.

Because we can't completely know what others think, it's sometimes hard to recall that there's a possibility we share more things inb common than might be expected from the surface level. If using ableton is something me and a teammate have in common then, perhaps my conclusion might be that there's other things I have in common with other teammates?

While I'm on friendly terms with dozens of people, I feel like it's unfair to say that I'm friends with them, so perhaps 3850 is more of an opportunity to make new connections, and gain an insight into the world from angles I wouldn't have expected.

Because it's placed so far into the syllabus, there's a sense of... "this is the end" of being here, like a final hurrah before entering the death spiral of the working world - so I'd thought there'd be limited opportunties to engage with people, as everyone grinds away at getting something done before a step into industry..., so the realisation that these opportunities exist leaves me unsure of what happens next

Ground Rules

Before the start of any enterprise, there's expectations to meet. The team discussed both what's considered the "normal" and "safe" situations, things where changes are alright and don't have much impact... and what would be considered "critical" or "urgent", more serious topics that would need to be put to a vote. The conversation from there shifted to the methods to deal with issues.

Timelines, and when people were free, as well as expectations for tardiness were discussed, but we also went over combinations of teammates whose work would overlap with each other at different times. For example, it wasn't possible for every teammate to be working together every day of the week... but we could find a way for us to reliably have combinations of two or three people available to work on the subject outside class hours.

Further, we also had additional meeting times set up, a time of week after studios will have been completed where everyone will have had a chance to grab a short break, and be able to come back to discuss further steps. This way once things get hectic, downtime between our studios and the next time a teammate could work on things wouldnt enter the realm of several days.

Early Ideas

Reflecting on an earlier post, our topic, sassy tech, could be said to be technology that responds to a users actions in a cheeky way... so we started out by brainstorming some examples before a more substantive discussion scheduled to be held on the weekend.

These was a group effort however... so it doesn't feel too fair to discuss the ideas as a whole here, that's almost like taking credit for our collective work...

Instead, I'll just detail some of my interpretation of what we did.

Imgur Imgur Imgur Imgur Imgur

Essentially, the early interpretations of our potential work to address the theme, was that we'd be creating a physical device or ... creature (?) that would respond in an unexpected, cheeky, or otherwise almost malicious way (barring actually harming users).

The intent - surprise, but also potentially frustrate whoever was interacting with the device or creature (or experience), with an unexpected response. For example, a text processor or blackboard, where one person misspelling a word in a paragraph changes the occurence of every word in the document or on the board to be the misspelling, sorta, making fun of the error.

Sarcasm and cynicism played a part to an extent, like a boxing robot that would belittle your punching skills, to act as a sparring partner potentially. Essentially, the interaction doesn't have to be a fun time... there's potentially a chance to add negative reinforcement into it...

Steven also brought up how sass doesn't always have to be negative... which reminded me of how there's always the idea of playful sass - for example, pretending that someone doesn't know how to read when they're about to look at an article - then having a laugh together about it.

Worth revisiting later, but I think for now... I'll look into some examples of sassy tech and serendipitous reactions from academic sources.

Week 3: Project Inspiration Refinement - Kitchen Kriminal Rekaptured

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Thu 12 March 2020, 5:45 pm
Modified: Thu 12 March 2020, 5:56 pm


A social robot that consists of a knife, app and "scanner" for use in the kitchen, to improve your cooking skills. An increasing amount of people have trouble learning to cook the later it is that they start[1], and this idea intends to be an intervention into that space.


Select your recipe, then simply go through it step-by-step until the meal is complete. As you progress through cutting things apart to use for cooking, an LED indicator on the knife, and the "face" (and speaker) on the scanner indicate if you're "doing it right".

Imgur Imgur

The scanner and knife sensors record your actions. Afterward, you review what you've done against what was expected of you, on your smartphone. This pushes the cook to consider what they can improve on the next time they work on the same meal.

This concept focuses only on the aspect of cooking using the knife correctly (for now), and because there's a variety of ingredients one might cut, it wont be a single use tool, unlike the initial concept.

Project Inspiration

When previously volunteering at a homeless shelter, a common issue is that older volunteers need to teach new ones how to cook. This led me to the thought - surely there's apps and tools already developed to do just this?

Cooking Mama is a game game that teaches one how to cook. However, it only teaches the steps to take, and doesn't improve your physical dexterity and safety awareness with cooking tools.

Previously I stated the idea of "smart cooking tools doing everything for you" being something I wanted to avoid, I've found an example of one here. Sure, the Kuvings blender makes it extremely easy to cook and disassemble materials... but there's no room to make a mistake or chances to fail... it just feels like the blender replaces you.

At the same time, Peeqo inspired the scanner, with the idea of a small device that watches you and has reactions that can change how you act... it sasses you essentially.

With Rekaptured, the idea is that you go on cooking as you always have, and there's additions to your process that don't overwhelm you - and the opportunity for you to mess up your meal. You're collaborating with the tool to complete a somewhat complex task.

Initially the concept revolved around the knife talking to you. But cooking environments can be loud and chaotic, it was important that feedback had both a visual and audio indicator (angry and happy tones on scanner), and, that if there was talking, it could be ignored while cooking.

Feedback also needed to be able to be revisited later. In this case, if a mistake is made, the scanner and knife react, so the cook knows to check the app later to see what went wrong, and can reflect.

[1] (Background reading on learning to cook)

F. Lavelle et al, “Learning cooking skills at different ages: a cross-sectional study,” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 13, no. 1, 2016. DOI:

kitchen #socialrobots #smartdevices #sassytech #cookingutensils

Week 3 Entry 23: Reapproaching the Project Inspiration Refinement

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Thu 12 March 2020, 1:54 pm
Modified: Thu 12 March 2020, 2:22 pm

Until now, I was concerned that the main issue with my project inspiration was the interaction, or the tool itself - but on speaking to Lorna it's actually about what happens around the tool instead, the activity. What does this let you do?

So, instead of the interaction (the knife responding to you) being unacceptable, I really just needed to focus on the detail and process. I suppose in this case, it wasnt worth throwing out most of the things that made the tool real, but I've placed an emphasis on trying to deal with

What I had before - You have a kitchen knife, pick it up, and it keeps track of three things, proper grip, a safe angle, and a appropriate amount of force. But none of those had specific interactions, so I'll be working on storyboards for those, demonstrating how the interactions flow in greater detail. The important things, there's a clear piece of feedback, thats both visual and auditory, and then after the fact, there

Theres an issue here of a potential Gulf of Execution and Evaluation with the way the interaction is right now - someone might use the tool - but they wouldn't know what exactly they did wrong, because snarky comments from the tool aren't a substitute for detailed feedback.

I've talked about the context of the tool now being something to use to train new volunteers at a homeless shelter, to stop them from making mistakes... I think the next step is to think of a place to use it... is it going to be something that people use at home? Or is it a tool for a warm up exercise? It's kinda sad if it's just a one time thing - and then the knife is unusable.

Week 3 Entry 22: A Look at Looking at a Job

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Wed 11 March 2020, 11:36 pm
Modified: Wed 11 March 2020, 11:43 pm

Bash Isai, a veteran designer who pursued UQ's MID joined us today, and I thought it would be good to consider what I reflected on while hearing the Q&A.

A point of interest to me was that when the class in general was asked... no one said they wanted to be a UX designer or interaction designer, a fact I know isn't true because I've spoken to coursemates and heard of their aspirations before. I think the quietness from this portion of the session was because people weren't expecting the question. Personally, I didn't raise my hand either as I was afraid of becoming Mad Man, but an equally valid reason could have been that in a room full of people who had different balances to what they bring to the table, can anyone truly be said to be suitable to be one? What is UX?

On a lighter note, I posit that it's far more enjoyable to sink into the background unnoticed in general, the primary reason why my complete outfit is always entirely black. I've even gone to such lengths as to have 5 sets of the same outfit, like a childrens cartoon character, opening their wardrobe to see just duplicates of the same thing.

Recruiters, Apparently the Best Friend You Haven't Had

Bash highlighted the need to have a network of recruiters - including the fact that you have to have a personal relationship with a recruiter... I suppose an intimidating consideration, perhaps the reason I've failed to obtain any positons I've applied to in the past year is because I've been trying to do it all myself?

But a relationship based on trust like so... it's hard to come by. It's hard to stay consistently concerned about a large number of people, particularly when you're interacting with dozens of people every day. There's only so many tribesman you can have. Does your recruiter get elevated above other people, simply because through them, you become able to be "a guy" from the phrase "I know a guy who knows a guy" to someone?

For interviews... he said to not just accept a position a recruiter gives you talk to them, show your portfolio and so on... so perhaps its a whole discussion... This portion I could agree with, you're showing off what you can do, everything needs to be on the table, or you're going to be undervalued. It certainly feels a little depressing that finding the right place to get a job involves a middleman however.

Figure Out How Much You Need Before Job Search

I would argue this extends beyond the monetary value you require from the job, it's the experience you're looking for, and also the potential morals you have to compromise. How far should one be willing to go if asked to do something questionable?

Plenty of people feel the ability to live comfortably merits not thinking too hard about the ethical implications of their job, I think. Bash mentions how people value their 9 - 5's, so it's not a stretch that there's individuals whose entire lives are go in, fix a problem, address the challenge, and leave the office at 5 pm. Sure, there's care and effort going into creating whatever that thing is, but depending on the situation there isn't enough time in the world to consider edge case scenarios that lead to extreme harm... and as a result many creators are reactive about reducing harm, rather than proactive.

You're Not Good Enough if You're Not Hired

I can't find any reason to disagree with this even when Bash claimed it was untrue. Whenever I apply to something and get rejected - my default reaction is just that "I must have done something wrong or made a mistake somewhere".

There's a standard I'm not reaching perhaps? But how can one know the standards? It feels like when people think fo UX Designers, they want either software engineers who read, or someone to design their poster or website. Expectations are different everywhere and it feels like its possible to burn out just trying to keep up sometimes.

"What Can You Do For Me?"

Some would say the Interview question to always expect. Bash says you need to be able to say "I'm gonna make your life easier"... but to me it just feels like for this generation - it's no longer about raising the plants right so they bear fruit, the fruit needs to be ripe and of a good quality before you even see it - when it comes to having a job. All the questions revolve around how the new burdens can contribute a larger bottom line for the company, and it's not a collaborative effort where the company benefits from new ideas and perspectives coming in.

Putting that aside, a job can be great, but there's only so much ... how do I say this politely... shenanigans, one should put up with. It's possible the people at your workplace might not be the best to work with, I've had experiences with colleagues using slurs or spitting at the floor when I walk into the room, back in Malaysia. In this case, what can I actually do for the company? It would be wearing me down just to have interactions with such people, let alone completing complex tasks.

There's also the reality that unpaid internships seem to be the dream of every other manager or recruiter. "You're working for exposure / experience" is frequently touted at places that offer neither of those things in sufficient quantity, where someone joining the team actually costs the recruit money. Some may argue these internships are an opportunity to build relationships and get people to like you so that you get future opportunities.

A damaging mentality mirroring an abusive relationship. "Hey, they treat me like garbage and my life isn't improving, but maybe some day it'll get better, and sticking with them all this while will have been worth it".

"You Need to Identify What It Is That Makes You Unique"

Before one even gets the job, there's an expectation that they know what to do, which is fine. But uniqueness... cannot be fixed or improved on. One can improve their skills, but not be unique (one of a kind). I'd say I'm not unique, plenty of people can do what I do better. In fact, one can easily find all the contents of this post in the collective minds of the class, there's just a hesitance to share the ideas because of a fear of judgment.

A response I wrote to a prompt on bothersome technology recently made me consider - perhaps in the future once our lives are worth even less to society, before we become a financial drain on the government, we'll have the option to euthanise ourselves after completing our education. I would take the option, because my response to "What makes you unique enough to continue to be alive?" is "nothing". The same arguably applies to jobs as well, I would respond the same way, and by not having the job, am one step closer toward the edge of the metaphorical bridge.

People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) aren't working toward a job, and as a result, aren't contributing to tribe. Therefore, tribe logic dictates they do not belong to the tribe. They must be removed from tribe. ... The logic that usually wins is the perspective "people with no jobs just shouldn't be allowed to exist" (whether in society or in general). An almost inhumane logic, but not an uncommon opinion.

A depressing realisation, but it's good to be reminded that this is how things are, and there's likely not much to be done to change it.


An activity was part of this talk, everyone had to write 50 words about themselves, then cut to 20, then to 13, 6, 3, and 1, with the one word supposedly representing oneself the best. I would prefer not to go into too much detail on the activity as a whole as I can't say I'm proud of the description I came up with, but unintentionally ended up with "teaching" as my word.

There's teaching myself, improving what I can do by comparing my work to examples. But there's also teaching others... by having explanations I would usually give myself when describing something, and saying them out loud. There's more to it than that of course, but all that makes it quite complex, so we'll leave it at that. This second round was an opportunity to say something once again... but in truth I just thought "teaching" sounded too pretentious to share.

Selling Oneself as a Brand

In a way, everyone is an influencer now, with their own personal brand (representing what they can do). One might not be unique, but perhaps the illusion of being that can be obtained when a certain image of ones self and skills is crafted. Bash says people might not want what you sell (of yourself), and I can imagine that - different people have different jigsaw puzzles, and simply forcing you in when you're not the right fit has some messy consequences.

But on the bright side, the talk about influencers and portfolios... as well as how portfolios are clickbait... reminded me of some of my recent illustrations. A lot of people judge the sum total of your work from a single project, the same way that some people might judge all my art just by the thumbnail of one of my illustrations. as a result, recently I've been working on making almost all of them have... a different flair. They all do something specific, but have recognisable similarities.

Some are based on prompts, some are creatures, others are attempts to try out patterning or shading and still more I just drew candidly. Each has a different function, but because I made them, it can be said they're all "my work"... and I can leverage them to show off the best ones... something I'm actively doing, since even here, these are a selection, rather than every illustration I've shared in the last week on instagram.

Imgur Imgur Imgur Imgur Imgur Imgur

So, if I'm influencing peoples opinion of my art by sharing it online, perhaps every time I pull up old projects on my mobile phone, I'm doing the same thing? Perhaps the presentation of projects I've designed is the same way, I show off the cool parts, or at least what worked, and discuss what didn't (arguably the more interesting part). Now the person around me has a better idea of what I can create, and I'm more likely to both... leave an impression, and demonstrate some skills. I've "influenced" them, and now they're a fan of the brand, possibly willing to buy (hire) the product (me).

I suppose there's been a lot to think about here... and with that all in mind, I'll get to reviewing whats coming up next, more thoughts on the group work we got done over today.

Thought Train and Carriages
  • Going over what we discussed as a group with a fine toothed come might be worth bullet points instead of paragraphs, cause the charter is already its own document
    • team charter - personal thoughts on logic for what worked
    • spirit animal megazord
    • prep material and ideas
  • some thought on collaboration styles and cooperation
  • finishing up refinements for the project inspiration...

Week 3 Entry 21: Examples of Sassy Tech to Use Later

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Wed 11 March 2020, 12:09 am
Modified: Wed 11 March 2020, 8:49 am

While looking into sassy tech (my domain of choice)... I had some issues identifying tech that fit my vision of "sassy" ... to me it had to be technology that had specialised reactions to prompts. Getting sassed would mean an unexpected reaction meant to break the regular interaction flow.

Some social robots occupy this space, paying attention to peoples reacitons or tones of voice, and then responding with specific actions.

But this doesn't feel ... sassy (just responsive). To me, the tech had to not only react, but react in a condescending way, to fit under this category. Something unexpected that makes you think about the interaction after the fact. An alternative definition seeks to classify any tech "with a personality / atttitude" to this marker, which is part of why I selected the following examples.


A machine that responds by using gifs on it's faceplate

  • Much of these reactions feel... preplanned and scripted
  • Additional google sleuthing reveals it's likely because they are
    • I believe that Peeqo can only respond the way you've programmed it to
    • This ... customisation aspect kinda lessense the impact of its condescending responses to me.
  • you're deciding how it sasses you by setting the machine up
Spot Mini
A walking robot initially designed for assisting troops in carrying weight over uneven terrain, later converted to be a consumer product, and supposedly reacting to you when you approach it, while being concious of obstacles.
  • Another example of sass... thre's a certain... personality and consistent set of actions the robot takes
  • Similar to a dog in some ways, does "cute" things
  • Some... animation design so to speak
    • the way it flips over
    • its actions tapping on the ground or navigating around (particiularly in this video) - its unclear how much of this it does on its own?
    • there's aspects with no functional benefit to the "animations" like how it springs up, but that do look aesthetically pleasing
    • some "fakeness because the video is scriped"
  • The intent: Seemingly get it out as a niche companion (?) among other things
Thought Train and Carriages
  • Need to find examples of more sassy tech
    • More examples in general
    • but also tech with stronger and clearer responses - it doesn't really feel like you're being sassed enough with these

Week 3 Entry 20: World Cafe, Galaxy Brain

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Tue 10 March 2020, 11:16 pm
Modified: Wed 11 March 2020, 8:46 am

Setting aside the refinement, as I've realised that the parts I really need to focus on there is the activity, not the tool... We had a session of world cafe today - reminiscent of DECO3500 but with some... improvements I would say. The benefit of a larger class meant more ideas, but also more perspectives so that the ideas that did get presented were more vivid amd varied.

In light of recent reflection where I considered the consequence of format consideration, I'll go with a bullet list of what I considered to be the more interesting points for each round here...

Round 1: Musical Things
  • A quick start, cause everyone was excited perhaps, the first round the group still felt fresh and excited.
  • "A musical instrument is a musical thing"
    • a thing that producs sound is an instrument
    • provided there's control, anything can be an instrument
  • Musical prosthetics that make sounds
  • Doot (trumpet sounds) as communication
  • A musical tunnel that reacts to your movements
    • Would speed affect this?
    • Also sounds like an opportunity for trippy visualisation
  • Just wearing a music suit with bits of instruments on them
    • No need to think up completely new usages of instruments
    • simply adaptations of instruments, grafterd onto a suit kinda thing it seems
  • Kick Drum with literal kicking
    • So taking literal actions and making them instruments
  • Taking activities you do in real life and generating music based on the data, like your running path generating a unique track you can share
Round 2: Enhanced Mundane Spaces
  • What is mundanity?
    • "repetititon and tedium"
  • Musical instruments - tedious for children
    • have to repeat same musical notes, not very exciting
  • Mundanity of packing bags
    • packing things can be a tedious process
    • too many things make going around for the day tedious
    • too much extr weight, can't even use the things being carried sometimes (like chargers not being tested and tagged)
Round 3: Enhanced Mudane Spaces (Host)
  • Making cars more involved - people tend to zone out
    • more involvement in general, there's lots of tasks people lose focus at because they're so dull or repetitive
  • Driving Dungeon
    • an enclosed but safe location to practice driving
    • replicating conditions while driving... how? (unfinished point)
  • Kindergarden jail
    • Teach discipline by recording every action
    • children that break the rules get set to time out
    • recording of mistake replayed over and over until they learn
Round 4: Musical Metrics
  • Pretend to be a construction worker, make music with fake construction tools
  • So, turning data and information into music through various methods
  • Musical playground
    • Things like monkey bars and slide becoming instruments
  • Turning graph into a slide, customise graph, get a crazy slide
Round 5: Creative Learning
  • A variety of topics to learn
    • color theory
    • math
    • artistic skills
    • how to drive
    • being ambidexterous
  • the methods for learning however... those were harder to think of, what makes for a successful learning experience?
    • using texture to trigger certain associations
  • A bear that falls apart when answering questions wrong
  • In hindsight I regret not taking charge with more drawing ... speaking out ideas and brainstorming here was great but it feels like I just help put down a small wall of text
Round 6: Guided Movement
  • I would argue this rund was ... our least successful table session
  • combination of factors
    • not the hosts fault as there was too much to summarise
    • a lot of existing suggestions were abstract tech descriptions about locating common things, rather than promoting interesting movements
    • we kept going around to see what could be modified..., but no real thoughts on how to break these complex down or use them successfullly.
Round 7: Change Through Discomfort
  • So, forcing a break in habits so that people stop doing things that are damaging to themselves and others
    • Smoking damages / changes the colour of your clothes and or accesories
    • A fridge that requires a prompt to open, lock out wasteful roommates from grabbing food from them
Round 8: Altered Landscapes
  • many ideas focusing on transforming the campus through mixed reality, so.. literally transforming the landscape
    • seeing the university at night during daytime or vice versa
    • lighting being different, or the atmosphere or mood being mismatched between what you see, and what you hear
    • admittedly you'd have to be in a space where you're thethered because processing day and making it look night is a rather.. large task
    • drawing inspiration - take a picture of your friend, then draw them to show them off on the building
      • so getting people to take a closer look around things they see
      • not just a giant screen taking up space, but promotes some form of reflection and consideration of parts of the environment people pass by... provided the focus is around everything in the area, and not just drawing your friends funny
What Went Well?
  • Especially in earlier sessions - collaboration where we could get everyone doing something
  • Free flowing ideas and not many expectations
    • arguably lost later on as more and more things were on the butchers papers, perhaps this became a bit overwhelming.
  • using silence, holding back and waiting could sometimes trigger some group members to contribute ideas - most of the time being proactive still would have been the ideal however
What Didn't?
  • A tapering off of ideas in the later rounds
    • I think it was because people needed to be more careful with suggestions
    • Takes more time to think through an idea than just lay one down
  • Many people gave up on drawing things after the second and third rounds, myself included (because the papers were more filled, there was less space to draw things out too
  • A lot of text, reading everything could be fatiguing
    • many times everything from the previous x rounds would be ignored in favour of something completely new with no baggage
    • needed to engage more with what we already had rather than what we could have
    • not a bad thing, but it meant some potentially cool ideas got dusted
  • Directions - text was all over the place - might have been somewhat disorienting
  • We didn't end up sticking to the instructions, some portions of refinements we simply continued with different approaches to ideas, or tweaks and improvements, so some thoughts on making it practical, but still dreaming quite big
    • maybe we were intended to think of each third of the three mega rounds just as different forms of brainstorming
Thought Train and Carriages
  • A little concerned at how long this took to go over
    • even just covering important details... not much success at reflecting on them, but gathering the bits and pieces to use later for other things was helpful
  • spent a bit too much time trying to refine this post...
  • inspirations in progress, it's its own post for now... chosen domain will be discussed there.

Week 3 Entry 19: Additional Ideas for the Refined Project Inspiration

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Mon 9 March 2020, 11:46 pm
Modified: Mon 9 March 2020, 11:51 pm

Now that we're aware of some common mistakes, I've written down a bunch of thoughts and restrictions that might help me arrive at a more substantial refinement later.

New Design Restrictions
  • Must have an appropriate weight
  • Training device cannot take up excessive space
  • Sound feedback...
    • cant be something that talks to you because detailed sound is hard to hear over the din of the fridge or the stove being on high
    • conversation volume can get pretty high too
    • brief, quick responses like beeps and chirps would be helpful
A Potential Solution from Unexpected Inspiration

Until now, a lot of the thoughts I had were from just the context of modifying a existing kitchen tool into doing something strange - but looking at the common mistakes, I realised... a bunch of them have to do with the tool being held being improperly balanced or held, or having their weight shift, and then not being able to respond in time to prevent injury or damage to the tool.

From there, while looking back at notes I've been making for a personal project, I recalled a tool that did just that... a policemans expandable baton. When fully extended, it's weight isnt just concentrated in the rounded grip at the bottom, but distributed over its length (because not all the material is in one place). I believe his is what allows those batons to be swung when extended, but not as easily when compressed.

Additionally, before going for a run, while warming up, I realised - you warm up before exercise - so maybe there's a way to warm up before cooking? Some way to ensure that you know what kind of mistakes to anticipate and expect when cooking?

Finally, the useless box. A device that refuses to allow a switch to be stay turned on, and progressively gets more stubborn and resists this, by opening a "hatch" on the device to release a creature that turns off the device.

The Basic Idea for What Happens Next

So, here's what I envision the refinement will be... I still imagine it'll be useful for volunteers, but instead of teaching them clear cut scenarios where they just practice how to use the regular tool...

They'll follow through the process through some instructions, holding a weighted baton.

At random point, parts of the baton quickly extend outwards, shifting the weight distribution through the tool, and simulating the tool slipping, getting loose or just falling. This can be mitigated if the baton is gripped correctly.


Before heading to the kitchen, a new volunteer has to pass the "baton test" to make sure they're aware of how to handle the tools, or at the very least, know of the common accidents that happen while cooking.

Two thirds of the batons length are at the front end, meaning shifts there (as would be seen on the ends of regular tool) are more noticeable than shifts on the handle of the baton, which is where they should have a good enough grip to mitigate movements anyway

Thought Train and Carriages
  • Refine the above
  • Tool needs more... personality in general, specific actions it does in response to the user, that are consistent
    • Instead of literally saying something, a specific chirp or beep that indicates success or error in completing a task would be sufficient.
    • Tool needs to have sound prompt feedback
  • Need to consider if volunteers also get one to practice at home, or if its just a tool at the shelter
  • baton and weight design needs to make more sense
  • thinking of the different ways weight will be distributed to simulate different tools

Week 3 Entry 18: Function of Refined Project Inspiration

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Mon 9 March 2020, 7:44 pm
Modified: Mon 9 March 2020, 7:44 pm

Right, we have a direction we can go in, - "We're designing a to train young volunteers at a homeless shelter to cook"

We also have a visual list of tools that would be useful to train people for - a knife, soup ladle, meat tenderizer, frying pan and grater


Next, we need something we can train people to do.... or perhaps not do?

Common Mistakes With Common Kitchen Tools

Not a definitive set of them, but trying to recall some common accidents and issues I've seen or heard about first time volunteers having when they've used these

  • Kitchen Knives
    • Improperly balancing the knife, so it slips from their hand and into the wall ahead
    • a loose grip while cutting, so the knife slips out when they try to cut something
    • using too much force (a la a butchers knife) which dulls the tool
  • Soup Ladle
    • slipping while holding the ladle - soup on the floor
    • too much soup in the ladle in general
      • spilling hot soup on their clothes
      • pointing at something with the ladle, flinging beans across the space
  • Meat Tenderizer
    • dropping it, almost on their foot
    • missing the patty and denting the counter
  • Grater
    • ... had heard about someone using it to grate the metal kitchen counter, leaving the table covered in scratches and grooves
      • thats more of a mistake with supervision
    • cant recall many from when I was there ...
  • Frying Pan
    • swinging it too high, often its not necessary to lift it at all, its okay to just use a spatula to move the food about - especially sausages.
    • scraping a spatula too hard on the pan, damaging the coating
    • fingers touching the edges of the pan
    • hitting or tapping the sides of the pan while waiting for the food to be sufficiently heated.
Brief Breakdown

The grater is the tool I've heard (or seen) the least amount of issues with... so perhaps its not something that really needs someone to be trained to use it... but with the kitchen knife, ladle, tenderizer and frying pan, their misuse either has the potential to damage the tool (or workspace), or cause hurt to themselves, making me more inclined to want to complete something that counteracts that.

Thought Train & Carriages
  • It's obvious now that there isn't just one tool that can fit all these different situations...
    • multiple training tools used together may address this
    • maybe the tool can be modular add little bits that make using them different?
    • what if part of the tool is virtual?
    • can I still bring back some aspect where the tool judges your work?
    • training happens in groups, so other new volunteers watch someone use the tool, maybe I could think up something that takes advantage of this?
    • I need to consider the weight of the tools... it has to be sufficiently heavy that it doesnt feel like you're just air guitaring with a plastic stick

Week 3 Entry 17: Streamlining Project Inspiration Refinement

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Mon 9 March 2020, 6:54 pm
Modified: Mon 9 March 2020, 7:16 pm

Before I progress into sharing some ideas for reapproaching the concept... I thought it would be useful to clear some roadblocks for myself... not wipe the slate clean, but reprioritising.

In the previous post, there was a little bit of thought into the situation I'd intended to address, so I think it's best to lay down the conclusions I'll be sticking with, so that at the end of my refinement, I can compare the presentation of the initial pitch and refined one, to see what happened.

In this case some solid components are:

  • Instead of just "designing a tool to teach knife safety", we're "designing a tool to be used to help train young volunteers at a homeless shelter to cook", which is less specific but has a detailed context.
    • Optionally: There's limited space to store tools at a shelter, the tool shouldn't be a large machine or terminal.
    • Optionally: It doesn't have to be one tool that does everything, it could be a set of tools that can be stored together
  • The knife talking to you to correct your mishandling of it isn't interesting, so it should be removed - its not playful if it simply says catchphrases and so on, its the interaction that has to be interesting
  • The idea needs to be more safe so it can fit into realistic situations - it would be awkward to be having a conversation with your tools, while someone else approached you to talk - I'd pictured the tool being used while alone in a quiet place before
Addressing Ideas Differently

Words aren't always the best way to convey ideas,.. especially if your thoughts can't match them sufficiently. As much as I'd say "I'm good at English", it's still my third language, occasionally I instinctually use Malay to describe something in my mind, and then translate it as I speak, which results in a description that even I don't understand on reading it a second time.

So, I'll use pictures instead. Images make it easier to just throw out a whole bunch of thoughts, so long as I'm the only one that's interpreting them.

Set Up

Before continuing in more detail on a pivot to the idea, it's best to know what already exists. So, here's a set of tools that I would say are used most commonly in shelters. Now there's a simplified picture in mind when I think "tools".

Thought Train and Carriages
  • the diet at different shelters might mean that the food cooked there uses different processes
    • maybe other tools are more common at other shelters that I haven't volunteered at
  • presentation of the training tool
    • is it one or a bunch
    • does it even need to have realistic parts
    • no more tool talking to you
      • something else should make it interesting
      • how to get people to empathise with the tools?
      • what were common mistakes people made with tools?
  • I shouldn't be using tools interchangeably for the thing I'm proposing as well as the existing utensils

Week 3 Entry 16: Early Thoughts Refining the Project Inspiration Concept

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Mon 9 March 2020, 2:18 pm
Modified: Mon 9 March 2020, 3:46 pm

Looking back on the pitch presentation, there were a few issues not only with how I had presented the idea, but also with the core of the interaction.

What Worked All the Other Times?

Going back to the roots of some of my more successful design efforts, those often involved choosing a domain, investigating it by talking to users, and then coming up with a proposed solution. Skipping out on that second step, comes with the risk of assuming that "because the idea is in this domain, it will be obvious that the users will be x".

And What Happened Here?

In this case "because it's an idea about teaching people proper knife safety, it's for people who don't know how to cook". A mistaken assumption, I've made a few connections before arriving to that, and retracing those will be helpful in presenting the concept better.

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

So, to look back at where I think I went wrong, I'll revisit the mini-journey that led to having (and possibly fleshing out) the idea.

The starting point was "design to enlighten in the kitchen using x with the property of disgust". I'd interpreted enlighten as "learning" and "informing". From kitchen, I got "kitchen tools", like a frying pan, soup ladle, or cooking knife. And from disgust I'd gotten "anger, disappointment".

A few combinations later, a knife that teaches you knife safety by berating / chastising you.... But there was a step I skipped over in between those - a personal experience that led me to think that this would be necessary.

The Real Life Situation that Made It Seem Useful

Occasionally, I volunteer at homeless shelters around Brisbane. Different shelters have different tasks and responsibilities that a volunteer can help with.

Some volunteers help with preparing meals, and others help with engaging with the community, specifically, talking to the homeless citizens who come from around Brisbane.

Further, weekends tend to be the days where the highest volumes of volunteers arrive. Many of these tend to be mid-late teens or young adults, who have little to no experience using basic kitchen utensils, let alone cooking. Often the reason they are there is because it's an organised event of sorts... so they're unsure of what skills they need - it isn't their fault, many of them are volunteering for the first time on the day they are there.

The result, often a more experienced volunteer is put in charge of directing or training these small groups (usually, safety training for using utensils, and how to cook the meal of the day). This unfortunately means less time for them to actually do some of the regular volunteer tasks - as they have to make sure that the newer volunteers are successful at picking up skills in a short time.

An issue that's besides the fact that teaching well is a learned skill, and sometimes the wrong volunteer gets assigned to training over an extended period.

Young attitudes are... unpredictable - extroverted new volunteers may pester older ones (even ones not training them), or be very chatty, wanting to make small talk while doing their tasks. These habits aren't always appreciated.

So, now there's a situation where the new recruits are - in several ways - unintentionally getting in the way of volunteer work, which reduces the care the homeless receive.

Eventually, some of the more experienced volunteers stop coming, and while they are replaced, the connections they've made to the homeless citizens cannot be. These vulnerable citizens can build a certain bond with those they speak to, and because of their situation, trust issues are common... so you have homeless citizens who simply choose to go to a different shelter.

My idea was that at least to address the issue of needing to train each new volunteer in knife safety, a tool to do so would be really handy.

But the above is a really complex, very detailed situation... so I assumed it would be sufficient to say "young adults dont know how to cook, this tool guides them in the first steps toward it".

Where Now?

To pivot the idea into one that's more relevant to the theme, I think a good place to start is to look at the tasks that happen at the shelter, and focus just on making some improvements into the flow of the tasks.

That is to say, ignoring the dynamics of volunteering, what would be helpful in helping those tasks go more smoothly?

I've unintentionally imposed on myself the need to make this a tool that trains its user... so how about focusing on the bigger picture, rather than just teaching you how to use a knife correctly, there's other tools in the kitchen too. I also don't want to completely transform the concept, only retool it, no pun intended.

Different Types of Everyday Tools at the Shelter

Some examples may include the frying pan, for bacon and eggs, the ladle, for porridge and beans, the grater, for cheese and certain vegetables, and the mallet for hamburger patties... aside from the kitchen knife. Each of these tools has a specific way to use them, and something that walks you through using them correctly may be useful.

Where Will It Be Used?

Besides this, the target audience are inexperienced cooks who are young adults - so where would the training tool be used? If it's at the homeless shelter, it shouldnt be one that consumes electricity or takes up valuable kitchen and storage space, but if it's simply at home, then they'd likely only benefit from using it two or three times, before moving on to the real thing...

Thought Train & Carriages
  • Don't think too hard about the giant problem, focus on the specific situation
  • Doesn't need to be a specific tool
    • Doesn't have to be usable for actual cooking, doubly so for sharp and heavy tools that can actually hurt you
    • Maybe it's a set of tools?
    • Maybe it doesnt even need to be a physical tool? Just a prop with mixed reality?
  • Where to use the tool?
  • Is it going to be costly?
  • What can the tool do that "air guitaring" using the actual ones cant?

Week 2 Entry 15: The Folly of A Definitive Breakdown

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Sun 8 March 2020, 1:13 pm
Modified: Sun 8 March 2020, 4:29 pm

For the past several days - I've been drafting, redrafting and rewriting a specific post that covers my thoughts on the themes that were highlighted as the results of this weeks sessions... in an attempt to get a "definitive list" of thoughts ready ahead of time.

A process that I've come to a certain realisation about - I've technically had several journals for this course until now, physical one with sketches and notes from class, one on my personal drive where I write submissions before making posts here, and this. But the entire point of the online journal system is to have everything in one place.

Plus, journals are supposed to be our thoughts, as we have them, there's a lot of freedom in format, presentation, and content... and so going for more than a dozen or so essays ... when I could have just had bullet point lists for example, for the theme list... well, it's not working smart, rather just putting my nose to the grindstone until I have what I need.

There's a depressing element on spending several days trying to articulate thoughts, and then having to delay sharing them because their presentation is insufficient. Am I doing enough work? It never feels like I am.

"Well, what I need to do is just have a big ol' post that covers everything I think about these themes, that'll make it smoother to discuss them"

Was the thought I'd had. But in truth, I could write and think of as things as much as I want, but there's no value if there isn't a clear output from it. Which is besides the point that you can't have one piece of work that does everything for you anyway.

Although university serves as a place to try out new things and be exposed to unusual ideas, it feels like I'm failing to achieve acceptable results so long as I'm still running in circles.

So, moving forward:

  • if I do go with forward with those essay posts at all, I'll reconsider the format and simplify them
  • thoughts dont need to be followed down every thread, some incomplete ones can be returned to later
  • not answering every single question immediately, some things are worth keeping in mind, but holding off on a conclusion until I discuss with someone else is acceptable too

Which should help with feeling like we're making progess, although... well, the dissatisfaction at not doing enough remainsinescapable.

Theres no such thing as a finished product, and so expecting one out of a journal posts (of all things) just sets me up with unhealthy and excessive expectations that get me nowhere.

Week 2 Entry 14: Week 2 In Review

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Sat 7 March 2020, 9:01 pm
Modified: Sun 8 March 2020, 4:24 pm

1. Work Done & Relevance

This week consisted of additional preparation, with a significant amount of time spent on pitches and theming. We also worked on soldering, and had a look at reviews for our pitches.

I suppose it could be questionable whether this week end recap post is even necessary... I'll keep writing them for now, but the main points of reflection for most activities are on their own individual posts throughout the week.

2. Work to Do

The next step involves completing my draft post on my interpretation of the selection of themes that were arrived to - this will help me communicate what I'm thinking at the table once we start discussing potential projects at the world cafe...

I also have ideas for refinements to my existing concepts, but being unsure what next weeks in class tasks are going to be, perhaps these refinements are unnecessary. It's a mixed feeling, on one hand I want to improve the ideas so they can be the best versions of themselves, but on the other ... maybe there's better uses of time, like looking at existing research in the domains of the themes... which would let me make informed suggestions on technologies that might be suitabe for each theme.

3. Things that Inspired Me

Through this week, the other subject I take this semester DECO2200 involved looking at images and art that could be said to inspire ones own personal style.

Now, that subject involves selecting images around visual style, but to arrive at a set of images that I wanted to emulate or improve my style towards, I had to first spend parts of the week considering how and why these images were meaningful to me.


The above is a style board made as part of DECO2200's tasks. I've spent a bit of time trying to justify why these images are things that inspired me or got me thinking, - after all, these creations dont necessarily address a problem,... but I'd argue thinking about why I wanted to emulate these counts as being inspired by them. After all, my goal is to eventually create something that has elements of, or perhaps improve upon them.

a. 36 Days of Type - The Letter K by Karan Singh

There's a lot to be said about how simple things can be made to go wrong in so many ways because the appeal, the simplicity, is overwhelmed by too many incongruous elements. This motion image is an example where that didn't happen. Although the underlying theme is depicting the letter K, and there's lots of moving parts, the artist has gone ahead and tried to tell a short story of a sort of... vibrant fantasy land, where there's shifting blocks that are simply part of architecture.

For the project, I imagine the idea is that a lot of different moving components may exist on our exhibition piece, but none should distract from the whole, and the primary intent. Singh's website

b. Colorworks Series | Backgrounds by Victoria Joh

This series of background art makes use of simple shapes and bright colours, but using visual focus to draw our eyes to specific areas of the illustration. In the same way, it's possible that a 3850 project may be a combination of disparate elements, but highlighting a centerpiece diegetically (via positioning and visual arrangement... or just colour theory) to achieve some goal.

Things get messy when prototyping, and end up all over the place... But a design balanced with a sort of focus, let's us draw the users attention to a specific part of it first, which can be both a functional benefit (people always look at this area before doing taek x), or a benefit to presentation (no one noticed all the messy wires sticking out the side, taped to the desk). Joh's Behance profile

c. Robots - the 2004 I, Robot Movie by Dan Platt

The robots in I, Robot strike a balance between sculpture, and humanoid figure, while only somewhat falling into the uncanny valley. While Computer Generated Imagery has improved since then and they do look slightly less convincing now, almost 20 years later, the idea that robots don't need to look exactly like us (just close enough) for us to form empathetic connections with them and begin to treat them like people was fascinating to me.

Social Robots are a particularly strong interest of mine, and although I'm trying not to push my intent to make something of the sort into the course, knowing that there's not just considerations into, but even mainstream media that has successfully demonstrated how a robot that's like a person could look and function, means I have sources to draw from when thinking of designs... which spurred me to consider other portrayals of machines. An article on I, Robot's digital effects

d. The Excalibur Warframe - from the game Warframe by Digital Extremes

Much more abstract and intrigue filled are the machines from this game, where the microscopic robots compose the figures that you play as (to simplify), which appealed to me because it brought forth the idea that technology doesn't have to look like technology, it doesn't need to "look like a robot" to do things with machines do... smooth lines and silhouettes that only allude to what the design does, until its in action, can create aesthetic appeal.

With that in mind... What should be stopping us from creating technology that looks like a tree, house, shirt, rock or wind tunnel? Addressing technology as a method to get us to something interesting, something that can captivate people, while still offering some practical use to them, could very well be exactly what we do here. Warframe's website

e. Portal 2's Concept Art by Valve Corporation

In an age where smart devices are advertised for every step of ones life, the question, "what if the entire location was the machine" gets brought up occasionally. What if we lived in a world where these giant, landscape spanning machines are central to our daily lives? Like if every device had to be connected by hardware?

One can forget that they're mired in a dungeon of technology of sorts, because of wireless, but if we were literally encircled by doodads, if we could see the connections and bits and pieces that make our daily technology possible to use... It's possible to think we'd still have the same issue as with ccomputers from the 70's or so, where their building spanning designs made them overwhelming to be around.

The implication for us... well, maybe trying not to add to the "tech dungeon" as much if we can, or if we have to, what we create has to be done with the intent to bring genuine value to people, and not just throw in something that we assume people want. Half Life / Portal OverWiki showing some art form Portal 2's development

Alternative link - original breaks due to underscores

f. Brutalist Architecture

To a much lesser extent than the inspiration for technology, and just a follow up for the research on portal's environment design, I looked at brutalist architecture.

With the idea being that, alright, if it would be a nightmare if we were literally surrounded by tech... so what would be the bulkiest, most utilitarian kind of way to construct structures to hide that?

Particularly in focus, using heavy, exposed concrete as a prominent feature... which didn't give me much to take away from, but I did benefit from the realisation that perhaps it isnt a bad thing for the technology not to be hidden, exposed architecture in Brutalism, after all, is pretty much the same as the dozens of exposed wires, boards and arduinos that were a feature of some of my previous DECO course prototypes... if the focus is just functionality, and being a proof of concept, maybe the perfectionism of "hide everything" could prove to be a heavy piece of impedance throughout the semesterBrutalism on Wikipedia

4.0 Closing Thoughts

In hindsight, there was more I could have done this week... especially with regard to revising my concepts. Additionally... there were sources of inspiration I left out because although meaningful, it felt like the reasons those things made me want to do specific things were invalid, very surface level... at least compared to the style board exercise and the investment I had in finding specific pieces to feature on it.

Week 2 Entry 13: Mad Man Kill Tribe, Tribe Kill Mad Man

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Fri 6 March 2020, 9:45 pm
Modified: Sat 7 March 2020, 7:10 am

After some consideration, I consider it fair to say that if one were to look at some earlier idea generation posts, it could be said that I'd deliberately went with what I'd consider the safest idea for the recent pitch session. The context of a knife that gets mad at you feels like it's far more socially acceptable than a cage match with an interview machine, or a water fountain that forced you to reflect on yourself because you need to improve. "If people think I'm crazy because of my ideas they'll reject me".

A Logic that Can Justify Anything

Few will literally think someone else in their vicinity is crazy, and people already dismiss each other for any number of reasons anyway. We subconciously judge each other and decide on a hierarchy of who we'd like to work with - this might not even be apparent to us, but there's a hidden selection process that goes on in our minds, and usually when someone thinks up a name when it's time to form groups, well, that's because the rolodex in the minds of the selector has already been spun through and just so happened to land on people with traits that were useful.

This isn't discrimination,... it's a survival tactic to weed out "Mad Man". In a tribe, a member that acts unpredictably causes the most risk for disruption - and a chance that "something bad or dangerous" will happen - an undesired outcome. "Mad Man Kill Tribe if do this, Tribe Kill Mad Man first!". And thus, "Tribe Friendship Ended with Mad Man, Now Safety is My Best Friend". Removing unpredictable factors is part of risk management, and so there's a set of expectations to fit into to not be considered a risk (Mad Man).

This leaves you with a more limited space to work with, its not that "wow dawg, look at how big my brain is, these guys cant even fathom how perpendicular my neurons are" but instead that the more bizzare and abstract an idea gets, the further away Man stands from Tribe. Everyone wants to feel like they belong and matter, like they have something they can do for 3850 Tribe, and so confronting the reality that what you say has a strong impact on people's impressions, there's a passive self correcitng that happens to make sure that place in the Tribe stays undisturbed.

Tribe So Hard and Got So Far, But in the End, It Didn't Even Matter

Relating this to personal experience, from time to time I have the opportunity to talk to people about the discrimination I experienced from growing up in Malaysia. Over there, in most everyday situations, I would automatically not be part of the Tribe, being a minority. While the countries minorities aren't actively jailed for being minorities, other forms of persecution is commonplace, and there's always an air that things can go sour at any time . But regardless of how progressive people in Australia claim to be, any time I begin talking about how this discrimination - it inherently causes discomfort - if not silence in response. As a result, I now make less of an effort to talk about how things are back home, and the vast majority of people assume that I've had the same experience as them, being treated fairly and with respect - but to me this consideration, or even small things like people remembering my name and not using a slur are unexpected and new - even a year or so into being here.

The point here is that by talking about how one isn't part of Tribe elsewhere, one loses the opportunity to be a part of a different Tribe. Whether its a one time negative experience of having people throw stones at me, or more commonly - just having people pull at my hair when I wore a headscarf - these, among others - are experiences that are too distant from the minds of the average person here for them to relate with, and inevitably lead to a cut off in communication that makes me change the discussion to receive acceptance and a response. I perceive that in the same way, a risky idea will result in the same situation, as accepting as people are, there's a limit where things are too personal or confronting for them to engage with you anymore.

Going Beyond Tribe Logic

For these reason among others, I've left "people I want to work with" empty on the course form for week three. I have plenty of people who I have some excitement to work with, but that's because I've spun the rolodex, and have expectations of who they are going to be.

This places undue expectations on the selected members, in my mind is a flash frame of the people, that expects them to fit within its narrow confines. People can ride beyond or fall short of such expectations at any point, expecting not to be surprised by those around us is more than a little unfair. I would prefer to instead share the opportunity with someone I don't know, - a blank slate - to see what we can achieve when the cards are more obscured from view

I do sadly have people I don't want to work with... there's a certain feeling of guilt that I've decided to put their name down on that list - it's one chance less at having them prove me wrong, and maybe the negative experiences around them were a one time things... but at the same time, I feel like there's certain lines and boundaries that are fair to set up, so it's best not to dwell on this topic.

Closing Thoughts

An idea that was more honest to my will for the course, would have made it easier for people to know what I really want to do... but there's a veneer of inauthenticity that one must wear to fit in any social situation, and even if "inauthenticity" makes it sound bad, having it enable my continued presence here means that it's just one of the many rotating masks of impression management we all put on to reach a comfortable compromise.

Week 2 Entry 12: Reviewing the Reviews

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Fri 6 March 2020, 8:55 pm
Modified: Fri 6 March 2020, 10:18 pm

Reviewing the feedback I've received, I'd initially thought that the negative feedback outweighed the positive, and that most people, like me, thought that the idea was complete garbage. I consider the vast majority of my work to be at this standard. However, this was untrue when actually counting up the number of positive and negative responses (vs indetermined responses that were just ticks for the caregories of relevance and communication)

The pace of my pitch (and possibly the fact that I went up first on that day) meant that several students couldn't understand my idea - I wouldn't blame them either, because their feedback was in broken english, it likely meant that it was their second or third language.

I think it was rather inconsiderate of me to not consider the fact that I'm presenting to an international audience, which would mean adjusting not just how quickly I present things, but also the visual assistance I use (I didn't bother with a detailed poster), and the cultural considerations of what information is most critical. In a way, preparing for a presentation is like preparing a design for your users, just with that design being something you speak instead of visually demonstrate.

I need to be more compassionate next time... which is not asking for a lot, but it's quite a bit easier to brush it off and say "bah, they should just get better at english" , which would be the response I'd have given to this feedback had I received it two years ago - but ignores the fact that people have different and complex circumstances behind why they have trouble with the language.

Furthermore, it's more than just the fact that the time given to provide feedback was limited, there were several thoughts that were half finished that I thought were interesting, but couldn't make sense of without additional context. I think that if I spoke to these people in person, we'd be able to come to something useful, because the reasoning would be more apparent. If they treated the activity the same as me, then it would be a side task, something to keep them active while listening to the pitch, rather than fading out of the classroom during the downtime, so no harm done.

Of the ones that were positive, much of the reaction was that this device would be useful for someone who didn't know how to cook... that was my target audience, but I'd assumed that the implication of "It teaches you how to hold a knife" was that" someone who doesn't know how to safely use a knife, cannot cook.... I think I overestimated how much would be delivered with each line of the pitch.

Another common thread of feedback was that the device should be more "smart", in that it should do more things with scanning and tracking you, or having additional functionalities... but in truth, I feel those features, while interesting, would require the idea to be a smart kitchen instead of just a social robot thats also a knife...

This, to me takes away from the aspect of "you're working with the tool to make something, it's not just a smart tool that sits quietly the entire day until you press a button and it finishes a task for you". I may have a future post that covers potential additions... but looking at the themes we have, it feels like Kitchen Kriminal is probably headed to the electric chair, and I may have a new ... thing to work on in its place.

In hindsight, I think I could have said more on this topic, but in keeping with some more resolutions to just post what I have, and revisit ideas later when I have more to add, I'll sign off on this here as I have an additional post ready to go.

Week 2 Entry 11: Where Now

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Thu 5 March 2020, 10:55 pm
Modified: Thu 5 March 2020, 11:20 pm


While it was only a two minute presentation, for next time, I'll probably hold off on explaining my ideas elevator pitch style... I didn't fully appreciate the difference between that and pecha-kucha style pitches until I completed all my talking points, and still had a minute and a half to spare. I even had extra lines prepared, but then decided on the spot that the jokes from them likely wouldn't land now that the main points were all covered. Quite amatuerish after two years of giving a variety of different types of presentation, but it's behind me now... so I'll let it go.


Yesterdays critiques were more brief than the one from the day before, I made it a point to just focus on the selling points of the different ideas rather than trying to provide laid out points. I think because of how rapid fire the pitches were meant to be, meaningful feedback in the moment was... difficult, but it wasn't necessarily possible to finish up feedback after the fact because... well, you'd have just heard 30 presentations, the content of individual ones feel a lot less distinct once you've absorbed that much information.

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I did have some favourites, DigPhoto resonated with me (mostly because of the intent), because of it's focus on reminding you of positive experiences in the past was something I think would be genuinely helpful. It's quite easy to get mired in depression when focusing just on the now, and forget that there are occasionally good times worth recalling. Like you're drowned by a cavalcade of nonsense distracting you from what you should actually be doing

I interpret that there's a strong amount on focus on living in the moment on social media, and if the current moment isn't good, then your life must be terrible (usually followed by - "please buy our product so you can change this")... so this idea struck a chord with me.

Bus Composer appealed to me for a similar reason, it can be sapping taking an hour or two to get to where you need to be, simply the novelty of having something fun you can do on the bus on the way to your destination, a brief brightness in your day before you get off at your stop, made this feel awesome. Plus, it kinda reminds me of the vehicles in childrens cartoons from when I was a tiny human, where not every part of the world had to have a logical function, and there's just silly details that you notice for one or two scenes before it continues to the next location. A trigger for a sweet memory - making it meaningful in my mind.

Live Social Feed (Name Pending?) was also pretty cool. I draw as a hobby, which means looking for either inspiration from real life (by watching people) or, from other peoples art. Occasionally, I also find a place on campus to sit around and just observe people, to understand them better. This type of creation would make it so that I could do all of those things at once, observing things from peoples feeds on the building, while observing people observing the buildings, while drawing things based on being inspired by a large number of things.


A second round of post it notes to collect themes went around next;

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We had even more people for the second theming session than the one the day before, which had some benefits, but also, I would argue, drawbacks that countered them so severely as to make the session ... a priority topic to review at the end of the semester. I would say there were too many chefs, meaning that the group broke off into small collections of people, not all of whom wanted to be up front and writing on the board.

After one of my attempts to contribute, I'd say that this included myself. While I made some suggestions for themes, none of them were deemed suitable enough to be put on the board, so I walked away to see if I could contribute to a different conversation. It felt a bit like rather than having a discussion, I was having to convince the guardians of the markers that my perspective was also acceptable as a theme. This felt adversarial instead of collaborative, which I know wasn't the intent..., but it was certainly the result.

Even if I feel my contribution could have been useful, I couldn't care less about the main task after the repeated shutdowns.

On the bright side, it seemed like more people were willing to speak their minds and not hold back on their reservations on this stage of the process, than on Tuesday. Despite not being able to bring forward any of my themes, I appreciated this additional honesty fom my peers. Most of the time there's a lot of... "go with the flow, this is what the teaching team wants us to do", but there were some points raised by my peers that I didn't realise until someone else said it, that helped me reconsider what I did and didn't like about both the pitches, and the process.There was... an apparent fatigue from things being messy and all over the place (but, well, thats design for you), but I felt my concern at feeling unable or unwilling to contribute more than I'd already done echoed in more students.

In a literal sense, I am not these people, I can't see their perspective completely how they see it, unless they tell me what they think. But to smoothly operate in this society, we all live under the same rules and tradeoffs. There's hundreds of things we share in common, even if on the surface level theres a few major differences - which means we have a strong start to genuinely engaging with each other, rather than letting pleasantries dominate the conversation and only briefly touching on inner thoughts.

Having someone impulsively say "I hate this because" - followed by venting - lets me reevaluate what parts of the session were useful to me, and the collective.

A collection of themes was produced at the end of the session, although... I can't really say I had much of a hand in deciding on them, only some investment in how pitches were grouped under themes.

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For the next post, I'd like to wash off the lingering dissatisfaction with Wednesdays session, and focus instead on what the chosen themes mean to me. I think interpreting them on my own beforehand will be useful for next weeks exercises, and have some tangential sketches prepared that relate to the themes which could be their own suggestions too - if not simply a direction for preparatory research into the spaces the themes occupy.

Week 2 Entry 10: Project Inspirations - First Exposure, Second Guess

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Wed 4 March 2020, 1:20 am
Modified: Wed 4 March 2020, 1:25 am

Yesterday, we started with looking at the ideas people have had over the first week. Aware of the fact that this is just a bouncing off point, it felt a little early to give strong or detailed criticism about any of the ideas.

Obviously the following quite the unfair assessment , but there wasn't a feeling of being awestruck by the potential of any ideas, although I did see some ideas where I could picture myself contributing significantly to an amalgam of them.

That being said, particularly meaningful for me were ideas from the dozen or so designers who were students of mine in a previous course, it was exciting to see the industrious spirit toward design they had there carry forward here, I can't wait to see what they make next.

We didn't have many horrific ideas... I was sorta expecting to hear more things that made my bones rattle in disgust and intrigue at how we could make something really out there, a real life thing to inflict upon the world.

I guess it's because it's still early in the semester. People want to put their best foot forward, and not be remembered as a sociopath. An understandable position, I think I make many people uncomfortable, and as little of that as possible would make finding and maintaining groups easier.

I even went with my safest, most milquetoast idea to do the same - maybe once we are more familiar with each other, it'll be cooler to expose our more twisted machinations.

Sharing an idea is like exposing a part of yourself, a bolt of electricity bursts out of your mind and onto a piece of paper. Hm, actually, is the idea in truth really just a part of you? Perhaps this fear of sharing something that troubles people is because of the perception that when people reject your idea, it can sometimes feel like they reject you?

But it's nothin' personnel kid. People rarely hate you (I hope). I think even when they dislike the idea, they rarely come to a wide eyed, narrowed pupil realisation about you and recoil in horror, just because you said a thing. Maybe the vast majority of people tune out unintentionally, and are just involved enough that they can keep track of things, but strong emotional reactions, positive or negative, are to be earned.

I was captivated by Seamus' idea for Smoker Baby. I envy the will to bring it forward. The kind of thing that makes me wake up at 11.50pm even after I headed to bed early, to start writing about it. I hop around my apartment in anticipation at how crazy we could make that. Like, having the doll be on a podium in the middle of your house, a pedestal where you cant reach it, and if you smoke, it breaks down, and you cant do anything about it. You now live with a skeleton doll, that you wake up to every morning.

A deteriorating voodoo doll kinda thing isn't something you hear about every day, and I almost want to pick this up and turn it into an amalgamation of small "oh nos" that make me seriously reconsider my life up to that point. Like giving the doll a bunch of extra arms, and animatronic components, so that it literally falls apart if you pick it up after smoking...

Er... alright, might have dwelled on that for too long.

Reactions weren't even excessively strong, maybe there was room for A Cog for the Machine or Panopticon Go-Karts after all.


Ideas from early in the first session stood out the most, likely because it still felt fresh to hear the ones that came up early. Critiques only being two minutes or so long meant that for some of them.

Especially in the second half of the session, I found myself feeling less willing to give detailed and concise feedback... it felt like some of my critique there was a bit too nitpicky on ideas that were otherwise alright.

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The theming session that followed was... alright. Could have gone better I think having everyone in the room work on it individually meant that there was... a lot stepping on each others toes metaphorically speaking, and more repetition than necessary.

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An endless sea of ideas... just waiting to be butchered.

I didn't feel too useful after putting down two or three post its, and took a step back to reflect for this entry rather than participate in the arranging of the post it notes into themes. Maybe the issue was just too many hands in motion, going in different directions - so parts of it felt incoherent.

I found myself more helpful when trying to break down my thoughts out loud. A chance at conversations and some exposure to other people' perspectives, and explorations on what happened today, and even last year too - given Allison mentioned some projects last years students came up with.

I'd be inclined to say this tendency to pull back and think was more useful to myself, than the collective, so for tomorrows session I might try doing something different - although I think that in this kind of activity I'd simply be strongly inclined to pull ideas toward a topic I want to cover for my project, which again isn't great, but it's not as... disengaging as just hopping out.

Maybe we could have people with explicit roles - everyone still writes down their points, but we have people whose tasks it is is to collect post it notes into themes, and people whos roles it is is to place those post its in the final positions. Then, after x amount of time, the roles get switched

Here would have been a good time to break down the common themes... I think I'll need to follow this up tomorrow with a collection of all the ideas... I feel like some of my perspectives may have... less legs to stand on once seeing what the remainder of the class has in the cards.

Week 2 : Project Inspiration - Kitchen Kriminal

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Tue 3 March 2020, 2:10 am
Modified: Tue 3 March 2020, 2:15 am


A knife that is a social robot. Use it wrong, and you'll be chastised - becoming a Kitchen Kriminal, if you will, because you're breaking knife safety rules. The intent, the knife engages in a brief conversation with you depending on how you used it wrong.

An increasing amount of people have trouble learning to cook as the later it is that they start[1], and I believe one of the many opportunities to address this starts with the simple act of handling a kitchen knife safely.

From experience, there's at least three interactions are at the heart of using a knife safely - proper grip, a safe angle so the edge does not chip, and appropriate force to smoothly get through ingredients and reduce dulling.

To a lesser extent, a response to the topic of Human Technology Symbiosis from Week 1. A significant amount of smart technology simply expects to be let into your home, where it sits idly the whole time, until you tap a button to activate it.

I wanted this smart tool to be more engaging than that, even if it only has humourous retorts to you misusing it... It's a companion rather than a substitute. "You" are using the smart tool to get a task done, and it helps you do that, rather than taking "you" out of the process entirely save for hitting a button.

Project Inspiration

Modified from an idea in response to the prompt "design to enlighten in the kitchen using x with the property of disgust".

Additionally inspired by the idea of how in horror movies, the antagonist may be compelled by their tool of choice to chase down unsuspecting individuals. I didn't have a specific film franchise in mind... just the idea of it being very creepy to have a sharp object that talks.


[1] (Background reading on learning to cook)

F. Lavelle et al, “Learning cooking skills at different ages: a cross-sectional study,” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 13, no. 1, 2016. DOI:

kitchen #socialrobots #smartdevices #parody #designfiction

Week 2 Entry 9 - Communicating Concepts in Successful Ways

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Mon 2 March 2020, 3:45 pm
Modified: Mon 2 March 2020, 6:29 pm

Seeing as the poster is what I'm working on as we speak, a discussion I've had with several people is how to get across whatever ideas I have more effectively.

I think one possible weakness in my methods so far is that the more complex my idea becomes, the higher the possibility that in order to focus on one thing, one defining aspect gets singled out, that I completely ignore other portions of the interaction or concept. The result - half formed ideas

This may be part of why I've neglected the interaction portion of the criteria from my selection of ideas from before... Interaction with technology necessitates a certain give and take, you give an input, and receive a result - which is lacking in what I've done at this point.

In a prior post, I talked about the Architect's Vision, the ideal in mind and intent for whats supposed to happen. In contrast was the Cartographer's Vision, a surveillance of how things are now. In this case the intent to "make something amazing" has somewhat taken over the reflection consideration of where and how the ideas are going to fit into an existing context.

Speaking to Awais about the methods used in the cards from last week, I'd found out that he also had other tools in mind, like rubix cubes, among others - games of different kinds. There's a degree of familiarity with these tools, whether its shuffling cards, or twisting a cube, that potentially adds a layer of interest to a discussion, as these are things people have done before.

Using those examokes it was possible to see - how Awais' vision might have been to see how a rather... bland activity of idea generation could be augmented by including familiar aspects to introduce prompts. The communication of intent in that conversation was successful because demonstrating those tools for the prompts, the cards and cube , I could have an image ofhow they could be used.

Another part of effective communication is 'telling a story' visually. Much of what I've made for the course so far consisted of standalone illustrations that I've since patched together in a sequence to show off an idea. These kinda function like a storyboard... doodles and sketches are pretty quick ways to get ideas across, but the downside to them is that it's easy to get carried away and forget how framing the images within a specific context. There has to be a clearer relation between different images so the reader can more easily understand my intent.

For an example of an illustration with context, instead of just having a picture of a car robot of indeterminate size, I could have sketchs of several of them next to buildings, people, or in different locations.

Alternatively, instead of just having four pictures randomly related to the same concept... thinking of a storyboard as having a "camera" that "looks around" and focuses on different aspects of an illustration is helpful too. So instead of 4 disjointed panels, I could have one long, continuous panel that starts with a wide shot of an area (giving context for where the concept will be used), then pull back to a user having a problem (showing what w're trying to address), followed by a zoom in on, perhaps a tool they have, that we've created, (showing how it might be used), before zooming out and showing the potential result of using the tool we've created effectively.

I'll look at that form of idea presentation moving forward - thinking of concept explanations the same way as one would think of a video... but at the same time, it still feels a little odd to just sacrifice the ability to use quick sketches to make points briefly, so I'll use it to supplement what I have, as opposed to simply acting as a replacement.

Week 2 Entry 8: Soldering Induction

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Mon 2 March 2020, 2:29 pm
Modified: Mon 2 March 2020, 6:23 pm

Today, we went ahead and soldered some circuits. This was a several step process that is.... somewhat incomplete, I still need add on a few components - but getting the thoughts down while theyre fresh is what's important for this post.

Because it's easy to forget the rules - for later I'm having them here anyway. We made sure everyone had safety goggles on and had covered shoes (and neatly tied hair), necessities for entering the lab. We then went over soldering lab etiquette, including that no one is allowed to allow someone else into the space, as that could lose you access to the space.

For the soldering process itself, the steps were:

Making sure protective glasses were on, ensure all items being worked on are on the appropriate workspace to avoid damage to furniture

Test everything out on the breadboard (pic related)


Note: Typically, the demonstration in the image would be a bad idea. Do not connect the circuit with your bare hands, as your hands will become part of the cirtcuit. This lets you become a lightning person. For this demonstration the amount of electricity is not sufficient to hurt you

Another note: Connecting a circuit to power can overload components depending on your power source. Always make sure the appropriate resistors are in place before completing the circuit, or else risk them being fried*

Turning on the ventilation fans for fumes, check that the soldering tools tip is not dented, damaged, scratched or split. Scrub against the metal alloy in the holder for for good measure. Repeat this scrub each time the tool is returned to its holder

Making sure the soldering tools areat a 350 degree temperature, indicated by a beep - this confirms they are suitable to be used to solder (do not adjust the temperature). The ones in 207 have an LED indcicating this temperature

Making sure the components are secure on the veroboard, brush the tip of the tool against the component leg, and have a suitable length of wire handy. the heated component (which is hard metal) attracts the soft metal.

Aim for conical shapes (pic related), not rounded ones. Some components (like LED's) can benefit from being slightly higher off the board. Extra length can be removed later.


(Some solders of varying quality.)

In case the solder blobs end up spherical instead of conical, heat up the solder, and use a desolder tool (looks like a syringe) to get rid of the soft metal. Alternatively, use a solder wick, which acts somewhatr like tape.

Unlike the breadboard, that has strips of metall connecing lines in a row, you need to solder connections on the veroboard (pic related). Be conservative with flux, see if you can push the existing flux to link without dislodging the components, before adding more.


Turn off the soldering tool, and tidy up the work space.

Week 2 Entry 7: Concept Development - Throwing Out the Garbage

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Mon 2 March 2020, 12:53 pm
Modified: Mon 2 March 2020, 1:05 pm

I've spent an excessive amount of time running in circles around the ideas I had the other day, and so it's time to break them down and see what did and didn't work.

While it was a great opportunity to speculate and wonder about these ideas where I thought "Hey, wouldnt it be cool if this was a thing!!!"... I was supposed to be working on a concept and not concepts. In hindsight, none of these were good ideas, they need to at least be passable, and I should have been more focused on the brief when thinking about them.

For now, the pros and cons of each individual concept.

1. Angry Kitchen Tools


  • short, quick interactions - wont overstay their outcomes
  • movements are straightforward
  • grabbing, pressure, angle and repetitious actions can all be measured using rudimentary sensors


  • Has to differentiate from other, existing smart tools
  • Sensor calibration shenanigans (I know were avoiding implementation specifics, but it's still worth considering)
2. A Cog for the Machine


  • Understanding how people rationalise and accept technology
  • Getting people woke to the idea of job scarcity and underemployment
  • strong, negative emotions, a chance to start up interesting conversations


  • being locked in a room is anxiety inducing, which is intended, but perhaps such an idea does more harm than good
  • answering questions is boring - the structure of the questions matter just as much as who is asking hem
  • the research into
  • arm wrestling a robot isn't a substantial interaction
  • putting people in an unwinnable situation inherently biases them against tech
  • not an interaction that can be returned to... only novel the first time
  • Too many what ifs
3. Reflecting Fountain


  • ??? This one was a bit too half baked


  • Interaction is a little brief
  • Posture correction is much more... passive than something like watching an ad. It's not an interaction if they just have to stretch out.
4. Panopticon Go-Karts


  • understanding the impact of social robots that have no empathetic characteristics on peoples perception of machines
  • it'd be funny


  • literally not an interaction
  • eye contact and gaze detection is notoriously hard to handle, need lots of cameras
  • way too passive, people forced to interact with these machines
5. Life Switchboard


  • Perform a straightforward action to get a result
  • Somewhat unusual mode of interaction
  • Meeting new people creates a social space, what kind of ground rules would people set up?


  • Movements in the interaction are too small and inconspicous, its more of a situation than an interaction
  • Too much room for abuse
Closing Thoughts

These were really basic risk benefit assessments - but there's a clear throughline with the problems with them, I've focused a little too much on the concepts and what ifs, and not enough on how people fit into the situation.

Typically, I'm used to researching for specific users first, and then narrowing down into an idea from there, so the opportunity to simply design in any space may have gone less well than expected.

With that being said, the idea with the most tangible interaction for now is angry kitchen tools... which unfortunately is the idea I'm least interested in.

Understanding the reality that most ideas are going to be thrown out and transformed later on... perhaps there's some value in just having something presentable through a more refined version of that idea, rather than having a concept I enjoy be the first foot forward, particularly with how abstract most of them are.

Week 1 Entry 6: Concept Development - Having Lots of Bad Ideas to Have One Good One

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Sun 1 March 2020, 11:56 pm
Modified: Mon 2 March 2020, 2:54 am

By now I've doodled out some of my ideas a few different ways, and I want to... put it in ink so that I start narrowing them down.

Among the five ideas highlighted in my week reflection post, were the following ones that I've since invested more effort in. The idea being, each of these would be written in such a way that I could easily tweak them to be their own concept for presentation, but only one survives to later.


The intent behind having all these different ideas on one page, is that Im weighing them against each other and evaluating them somewhat often while comparing them. The downside, as indicated by the size dedicated to each individual idea... I have a bit of a clear preference. In hindsight, equally sized panels for all the ideas would have been a preferable choice.

Besides that... well, I've excessively focused on my area of interest... social robots. Even if I wasn't interested in other ideas, I should have had themes that made sure that not all of them had common ground.

1. Angry Kitchen Tools

You walk into your kitchen, prepare some ingredients, and pick up a knife to dice some vegetables. Then, it starts talking to you. You've grabbed it too loosely, so it chastises you, because slipping while holding it could lead to a nasty cut. Next time, you'll know to be more mindful of that grip.

We see smart tools everywhere these days, but none of them are ones you're handling directly. How well do these smart devices fit in your life? Do they actually serve you and act as net goods? This idea seeks to introduce a smart device to a person that accompanies, rather than replaces them to complete a task. Essentially, a kitchen tool to teach using grip, angle, and speed to

Plus, I liked the image of a knife speaking directly to you, which sounds like an idea from a slasher film. The novelty here comes from the tools reactions to you as you cut things.

2. A Cog for the Machine

Plenty of people practice for interviews. But what if your interview was a confrontation with an actual, humanoid machine? Would you have the courage to face down against it? Have we as a society become too accepting of software replacing roles people handle?

There's a rise in automation and how it's replacing people in numerous jobs... Even recruiters themselves are being replaced merely by automated scanners that read over resumes and automatically reject people.

What if you could put a face to the name of the machine that rejects you? How devious would such a machine be? One way I thought this would be possible was if youre in an escape room scenario with your interviewer, a robot, where youre locked inside with it. You answer a series of questions until its satisfied, then arm wrestle it, to win your job. Of course, the manufactured outcome for this idea is that no matter what you do, youll always have the wrong answer for all questions, and lose the arm wrestling match...

I could imagine a situation where corporations either make the machine have no identity, so that people project onto the machine to justify their inability to satisfy it - or crafting a very specific image that's 'brand safe'.

For this concept, the idea is that you can't escape, you're locked in a room and have to "fight" this machine, or else you've lost the chance at the job. The twist being, your loss is the intended outcome. The people in charge of the machine are nowhere near you, you face a thoughtless, uncaring opponent whose only goal is to pin you against a vague standard.

3. Reflecting Fountain

You head to a water fountain to refresh yourself, but it forces you to go through hoops to use it. Gaze into your reflection screen as it tells you what to do.

Granted, the thing it wants you to do... adjusting your posture -isn't a big deal, but the fact that one has to modify their actions to satisfy an arbitrary condition, is it enough to make people decide not to use it? Do they try to find some meaning or justification for satisfying the machine?

Inspired by the ridiculousness of how some fountains and sinks have eye-tracking to make sure that you're paying attention to an ad being displayed on a screen that has to be watched to use them.

4. Panopticon Go-Karts

Surveillance in some ways is accepted as a norm, but what if the surveillance was much more easily apparent? A lot of surveillance involves either your personal device, or

What if acknowledging surveillance, even if only by eye contact, immediately caused you to be more directly tracked?

This idea revolved more around monolithic, opaque screened vehicles of sorts, that would track you around a specific area. The exteriors are opaque glass, and each vehicle has cameras inside it detecting specifically the gaze of onlookers, pursuing the first onlooker that sustains attention on it long enough to trigger a software switch.

The panopticon ( is the idea of a tower that allows for the observation of prisoners which pushes them to behave a certain way, because they cannot see into the tower that watches over them. Somewhat similar to this idea. However, instead of people in the tower that might possibly be observing them, when someone is noticed by these machines, there's clear feedback theyre being watched as they pursue and accelerate towards the targets.

Further, these monoliths are aggressive and target people indiscriminately, but are much less imposing than a giant, impenetrable facade of a building that the original panopticon is. Because they're not in a central location, it's harder to know where they are, and why they follow you, than a tower that stays in place, so people in the area are left more on edge as the machines follow them.

5. Life Switchboard

Meeting new people without needing to look at them. A concept done so often, that there's dozens of apps that do it at the tap of a button. But what if it wasnt the tap of the button? What if you needed timing and a reasonable amount of dexterity to speak to someone, and furher, had no information about them?

Facebook and Twitter allow people with profiles to put their thoughts out to anyone who can listen, but anyone, means theyre speaking to the world at large. What if you instead were directly speaking to people?

Much jest is made about how in the "old days", communication was easier when you spoke to people in person. It felt like it would be hillarious if we could use redundant technology to do what you can already do on twitter like Lorna mentioned regarding the rotaryphone used for Facebook.

Inspired by the idea of switchboard operators (, people responsible for connecting calls through in the early days of telecommunication - that incidentally could listen over the line and hear private conversations.

Instead, here you're connecting to people, its a public conversation to someone in the same general location as you, that other people can join. There's a possible novelty here being having no idea about what kind of conversation you might find yourself in, and also, a conversation going continously across several hours, with different participants dropping out and in to the line.

Closing thoughts

I've ended up spending... a little too much time on these ideas, and not enough rejecting them, breaking them down, then transforming them into something new and usable... and documenting the thoughts that went behind them wasnt too helpful either/

Finding ways to articulate thes ideas didn't vastly accelerate my progress in arriving at something for the poster... Next up, I need to edit these down to be more coherent, and make sure that one of them fits the criteria of the brief more closely.

Week 1 Entry 5: Week 1 in Review

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Sat 29 February 2020, 8:15 pm
Modified: Sun 1 March 2020, 12:15 am

1. Work Done & Relevance

I believe these posts are meant to look at individual work over the week... but for the first week a large portion of our work revolved around group discussion.... so I'll include those activities while reflecting on what happened instead.

In general, the contacts felt quite short, I attribute this to some changes in habit that I made for this semester, primarily, writing when listening to course content.

Keeping my hands moving means I'm not getting distracted or disengaging, cause it demands more attention to get the content onto paper. The downside... feeling more fatigued after the fact than usual. Even with supplementary sugar it is a little draining to keep this up the whole way through.

Tuesday's Contact

The group activity on Tuesday involved breaking down concerns and expectations for the course, which to me was an opportunity to be clear about my intentions. In previous courses I'd simply go with the flow and work on whatever project the team decided on. This wasn't enjoyable, I have no interest or attachment to those projects after completing them after they were done.

To me, the activity was a chance to bring up things I was genuinely interested in, making it clear to potential teammates what I'm going for this semester.

Because the brief mentioned 'playfulness', the ideas I brought up were related to certain themes. It's hard for people to picture what social robots are, or how design fictions relate to existing spaces - in the past I found that if the idea is too abstract, potential table discussions quieten really quickly as everyone tunes out.

But if instead I say "I wanna build a giant robot" or "I want to make nightmares real", there's a chance to start a discussion as people try to figure out what those things mean.

While I think this comes off as pretentious, we did end up finding some common threads and general goals to bring forward to the classwide discussion.

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Wednesday's Contact

There were two big activities today, a group discussion on HCI grand challenges, and idea generation for potential project inspiration.

I would say the group discussion was acceptable - it was focused around Human Technology Symbiosis. Our discussion went through mostly how tech trends like how much tech decides things for you, and who the tech works for... i.e., for technology to be symbiotic with you, it should be serving you and not mostly its creators, creating an imbalance of power. Some highlights were:

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I'm a little concerned at my ... activity during the discussion, this first couple of studios everyone's been... a little shy. Im unsure if its because the semester is new, or because my presence in the discussion is overwhelming enough that people dont feel they have room to speak. I did take some action on this... by just not saying anything for some portions of the discussions - that just resulted in everyone going quiet however.

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The next activity was idea generation, we received some prompts to work with, starting with prompt cards for the entire group worked on. A combination of the cards were used to pick an idea.

It was interesting to see how there was some constraints, so that we wouldn't try to come up with anything too out there, but options also felt limited because the spaces on the cards felt quite... general. It also had another downside... although unlikely, it was perfectly possible for every item on a card to be something one wasn't interested in, which could feel like wearing kid gloves while working on the concepts.

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Next, We worked on some concepts alone. I preferred this opportunity to just... engage in the prompts as compared to the discussion, it was a chance to just have an idea without justifying why it was good or moral - it felt like with the group activity, too much time was spent on "fluffing" ideas to have a positive, happy outlook. But people are complex and feel many things. Sometimes a message is stronger when you deliver an ideological 'shock' to the user.

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Finally, refining concepts... which was so-so. I blame this on being the last major group activity of the day... but it took longer to come up with tweaks and adjustments for these concepts than just making up new ones.

Perhaps this was partially because of the 4 levels of limitations, it felt like the selections of words in the cards for the fourth trait, "unbostructed", "nostalgic", "ephemeral" etc was the biggest obstruction, those words are so niche, that finding a way to get everyone to be on the same page on what they mean was a task in itself... what it means to be "ephemeral" for example is pretty unique to individuals experience.

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2. What's Next

First off, the concepts, I'm not necessarily planning to use the ones that came from discussion during idea generation in class... Because most of those ideas were so far out of my interest area, that it feels disingenous to work on them. It was certainly useful to think of the ideas within the confines of specific limitations of course.

I've had brief sketches done for a few of them to give me something to start with, but going through a selection or expanding on ideas for it is what I've been working on over the weekend - separate posts coming soon.

3. Project Inspiration

One piece of technology I looked into the most was this set of arms worn as a backpack, which would be controlled by a partner over the web.

In some ways, it's a social robot - my main area of interest. But at the same time, it facilitates collaboration, because you could have someone literally point things out to you, and communication, now you no longer just see the things your friend is saying, but also how they're acting, supplemented by the robot head also attached to the arms.

4. Presentation of Review Posts

After writing all this up, I was a little concerned with the length and lack of detail ... but considering the need to keep the posts up, I thought I should post what I already had, rather than continously waiting for the right moment and the "perfect week review" to become possible.

Technically, week 1 is still ongoing, but placing a line down and working on activities that follow up what's already been done makes sure I'm not just running in circles doing the first few activities without making progress.

Week 1 Entry 4: Initial Thoughts on The Seven Grand Challenges

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Fri 28 February 2020, 6:05 pm
Modified: Fri 28 February 2020, 11:02 pm

This is a copy of my notes after reading up on Human Technology Symbiosis from Monday, initial impressions and thoughts, a breakdown of the group discussion will be in the weekly reflection post.

I broke down the major points for the portion I read based on the headers of each section.

Meaningful Human Control
  • I interpreted this as the idea that people should be making the meaningful / tough decisions
    • "humans in the loop" seemed to be the general idea
    • transparent interfaces make clear what decisions were made and why they happened, keeping people accountable
  • if an interface knows who made a decision, responsibility can be assigned to specific individuals
  • that being said, how much should tech decide? is there a threshold of seriousness before a human should take over? Who decides where that threshold is?
  • plus, technology fails, what happens when theres an error when an ethical choice has to be made?
  • as cool as transparency is, there's a lot of information
    • constantly being pinged for decisions can make it stressful to use tech
    • some form of prioritisation is inevitably going to have to exist
Humane Digital Intelligence
  • supports and respects individual and social life (what does this mean? My perception of social life is meeting friends for lunch once every three months, should ask the humans at the tables in class)
    • I guess the above could mean moving away from modern platforms where "engagement" is king, so they try to keep you on there as long as possible
  • respects human rights...
    • a tough one, who's to say the people using it won't subvert human rights?
    • plenty of countries "reinterpret" what rights belong to everyone
    • where I'm from discrimination based on race is normal, but because it's far reaching government policies that disadvantage me as a minority, or everyday people being rude, dismissive or mad when they see me, and not something as severe as direct violence, the government can be said to adhere to most human rights, even if the quality of life is demonstrably lower for certain citizens
      • policies that target minorities even unintentionally, by making connections their creators make, just enforce inequality
    • in the future more rights may be declared universal too
      • the right to access the internet possibly
      • the right to specific medical treatment and procedures that we cant even name atm
      • what happens if someones insurance claim for an impairing condition has to be approved? not every health case is the same
Adaptation and Personalisation
  • software that works specifically for you, and no one else, tailored to your taste and habits
    • some technology has databases of archetypes of users....
    • what happens when the tech thinks you are a type of person you aren't, and catalogs / treats you differently because of that?
      • e.g. Youtube clogging your entire feed with videos similar to ones you've watched recently, some of which might be of lesser quality and have inaccurate information (incidentally the source of several major conspiracy theories)
  • the extreme variety of use cases, you can't make something that works for everyone
    • perhaps more options or customisation is the way of the future
  • how "general" or specialised is the technology suppposed to be?
Human Skills
  • Technology has to suppport problem solving, memory and decision making
    • essentially making up for things in such a way that it saves the users' time and brings value to their lives
  • What if tech is designed to support people to make a decision, but that decision is the wrong one?
    • some forums and communities are blamed for the incitement of violent events, is it the fault of the technology and / or it's creators for being vulnerable enough to be subverted and misused
Emotion Detection
  • Technology understanding peoples reactions and feelings
  • could this mean that tech will have to know specific emotions and interpretations of them?
  • how would tech adapt to a sad, angry or happy person?
    • raises the possibillity that tech could be used to manipulate people, because it changes something to match people's reactions
    • a double edged instrument, especially when the mechanics are unclear
Human Safety
  • compliance standards and rigorous testing are necessary to make sure the tech doesn't outright endanger people
  • a recent example... the scandal of the 737 MAX
  • maybe technology needs to have a built in component that allows for anonymous flagging of decisions that endanger lives?
Cultural Shift
  • most technology isn't simply going to be proliferated immediately
  • care and consideration needs to go into how it's going to be used, and the 'public face' of the technologies
  • perceptions and assumptions will be hard to change
    • people are justifiably anxious and scared
    • individuals making decisions on technology need to be held accountable
  • Introducing technology too early resulting in a bad first step forward that sours people to new tech
  • Zoomers absorb and accept tech differently than their elder peers (related, are we zoomers? are we the people that accept tech the most or is it one generation forward?)
  • making sure tech isn't too easily accepted is important too... don't want people to blindly accept whatever tech they get for convenience
    • imagine the government pushing out a software update that censors all mention of potatos from the internet, and no one questions it
  • the division of tech and worlds getting smaller
    • people stop interacting with things they don't like and end up in an echo chamber
    • an attitude of rejecting new tech, even though technlogy enables a lot of modern life
Concluding Thoughts

Reviewing the article overall... I certainly double taked a few times due to the fact that I misinterpreted the article... the wording and complexity of the prose meant that reading it the first couple times only exposed me to it... I'd argue I'm still trying to understand it now. There's perhaps something to be said about needing to get used to the ... ornamentation of the writing and how long it takes to get to the message... but perhaps the issue with understanding it lies in my command of the language rather than the way the paper was written.

Week 1 Entry 3: Visions of Grandeur and Srs Bsns

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Thu 27 February 2020, 6:05 pm
Modified: Thu 27 February 2020, 6:22 pm

Theres a tendency that exists throughout the design process, a way to look at the project with ... an expectation of what we're aiming for it to be. Essentially, there's a composite vision of what the project is going to do, with constituent vision

The Architect's Vision

The Architect has an expectation and intent for what the finished project is going to be. They're thinking of what the building is going to look like, peering into the future.

Essentially, The Architect has some concern for how the project works but ultimately, they're more concerned with how people use the space / creation *

(*Note: Not to imply this is the truth of modern architecture - just an example)

The Architect's intent is "x must do this" which means it has to be supplemented, no one should be "just the ideas guy" in the context of the course. And so to dovetail into that;

The Engineer's Vision

The Engineer's vision is "how does it work", they have an understanding of the mechanics of the design and the minutiae behind it.

Because there's no "definite" way things work, this view of the project is much more short term, it's an immediate understanding of "alright, this is how it's working at the moment". Essentially, the path toward realising the Architect's vision is through this, and the constant change means the initial intent may be compromised along the way to make it possible.

Not necessarily a bad thing, changes and compromise so that you have something beats not having anything on hand that you can pull data from. The burden of making sure that there's an output falls here, so it's a balancing act.

The Cartographer's Vision

A Cartographer surveils the area, and has an understanding of "*how things are now", where everything in a general area is located, and potential places where changes can be made safely.

Before the project starts, we need to know where it's going to fit in, it has to be purpose built. The design shouldn't aim to "break in" to a space and change the world there, without us first having a clear idea of what the normal is.

Presumably this is why the brief wants us to take a look at everyday situations, more specialised and niche situations require more consideration, and there has to be care taken to ensure we're not stepping into a design space that's so complex to get information about, that it becomes impossible to get meaningful ongoing feedback.

Throughout the design process, there's a need to step back and try to look at things objectively before making a decision. A Cartographer sees things as it is, but there's no way a single person can know the entirety of the lay of the land. Although their view is objective, it's not ominiscient, which goes for us as well.

While working and in the moment, it's sometimes detrimental to just steamroll through a tough task, when there's possibly alternative interpretations and approaches... and I guess thats what the staff at both Innovate and the course can help with.

This is beyond the fact that to an extent, there's a room of experts to pull from in 3850 - each student has a direct sight line towards specific things that are going to be useful when dealing with more specialised topics. (provided everyone engages in the course earnestly - in week one I think everyone was still a little shy).

Srs Bsns

All this is fine and well to think of, but some would argue that making such comparisons is kinda ridiculous, I'm not in any way an architect, engineer or cartographer, these are all just metaphors. It could be argued that for a student to be making such large leaps between what we do, and how these highly skilled professions work, is to overstep the bounds of decency, so perhaps the way to think of these should change over the semester.

The intent though, is to think about how these separate visions split and collapse into each other along the way, like a kaleidoscope of thought, into reaching the final design we can be collectively satisfied with. Perhaps at the end of the course, I'll have realised a way in which the combined Visions here form its own form of perspective , where the individual components aren't distinct fields of study.

Week 1 Entry 2: Harmful Attitudes toward Design

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Thu 27 February 2020, 3:03 am
Modified: Thu 27 February 2020, 3:54 pm

The first couple days of physcomp have come and gone, and yet, concerns and anxieties I've had even in the first few weeks of the uni remain, haha.

Often they're irrational, there's a drive to "just get it over with" , that comes from any number of things, which prevents the project from being the best that it can be. I'm hoping that by addressing them early here I can safely recognise when these attitudes pop up during the semester, and take steps to stop them from impacting on the project negatively.

Is that all?

The ever present concern of "wow, I've been here for a while now, is this all I've been able to do" seems to linger the strongest, for one.

Because I know every individual step I took to work on my projects here so far, they can easily seem completely meaningless. There's no intrigue or mystique to what I've made, because I'm aware of all the shortcuts, gaffa tape and hotfixes that went into making something that seems more or less workable ready for various presentation days.

That doesn't mean that the idea is a bad one however, it just means the execution could do with more work. It's a little unfortunate, but university constraints mean that vast amounts of knowledge have to get compressed into limited amounts of time, with several high intensity deadlines at once - putting a hard cap on what can be achieved.


Strive for the best, but don't blow out all the lights and trip the circuit breaker to do so. Really, the only result is that once all that happens, I start to grow to hate the idea itself, assigning blame to its complexity for why stress is encountered.

It's burnout. There's a point where we have to stop, evaluate whats going on, and decide how to sustainably meet the goals we set. It's just that in the moment, it's faster just to keep the pedal to the medal and brute force until something is done... and so it's usually best if you have a teammate that notices and tells you to hit the brakes.

Whether that's usually the case though, well...

External constraints

In reality the above is a side effect of the artificiality that comes with universities being treated more like a job factory than what they really are, a place to fail without crashing and burning. Everyone has a limited amount of time to be here and "succeed" at the job factory, so that they can go out and be useful to society.

There's societal pressure to get a job, because "unless you have a job, you are a parasite and are worth nothing". Society deems there to be no dignity in just existing, so obviously "continuing to be at uni is undesirable" /s.

That leads to a collective subconcious rush to the end, "only the end result matters", and so the perception of the idea and course can transform into an ugly thing, that the course and project is an obstacle that doesn't even matter, the sooner the end is reached the better. But that just leads people to not make the most of their time to learn.

Sure there's lots of limitations, but the urge to rush to the end and "read the last page of the book, so that you can start with the next book" just makes what we do here hollow.

It's best to remain cognisant of that time ticking down, but not be swept away by it... otherwise we just accidentally work against ourselves.

The scale between 0 and 1

While I have a laser focus on all the things I didn't manage to achieve, because observers seeing my final work have been able to get a glimpse of the vision behind some of these ideas. What I've worked on has been relatively acceptable enough that we could say "close enough" and call it a day...

It isn't supposed to be treated like a binary "everything was perfect, success", or "this one thing didnt work, it was a complete failure", but that is the kind of perception that tends to rise up instinctively... and pushes towards the even more depressing idea, "everything I do is garbage", which is only partially true.

In truth, it's more like a radial chart with different stat distributions depending on the project, one idea might have a little more success at area x than another, but the other might do y better.

It's small victories, its possible for parts of the project to fail sure, but also for parts of it to be a success on their own, and ideally we want to take those successful things, and rocket forward with what we learnt so that the next time, the project as a whole is better.

Understanding who this is for

These projects, they're proofs of concept, but my recent experience in interviews seems to show that employers dont care about experiments and explorations of space - when showing them what I've worked on ... the questions all steer towards the inevitable question -"how fast can you get me a finished product". The type of statement that inspires a disappointment at not doing better... like all that time was wasted.

But finished products, they're a myth. There's no such thing as a perfect idea, and this urge to rush towards them just distracts from finding out more about the space and engaging with the project earnestly. As depressing as it is that we don't get that job afterward, we're working on these ideas to polish our skills, understand spaces better, or bring novel contributions forward.

To that end... working on it to impress specific people or get validation from anyone other than the users and ourselves is a little strange. We and the users have to be okay with the project and what it does first, anyone else is just a side bonus.

The conclusion for now

Hopefully with this, I have a small yardstick of some of the more dangerous attitudes, now that I've considered them a little. Perhaps throughout the semester, this list will grow and be more refined, but I at least know what I want to look out for.

Week 1 Entry 1: Introduction

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Wed 26 February 2020, 10:48 pm
Modified: Thu 27 February 2020, 3:54 pm

Who Am I?

Hi there, I amraj, and I would like to make nightmares real.

I'm in my second year at UQ, here on the study abroad program on credit transfer. Prior to this, I've completed Diplomas in IT and Counselling Psychology. I also have experience freelancing with web development, among other things.

I draw as a hobby, you can find some of what I draw on instagram, at , among other places.

Here's some of my recent favourites:

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I like drawing robots that are like people. In my vision of the future, every 'person' is inescapably augmented by technology. Everyone has robot parts because the technology is literally a part of them, haha. One of many nightmares it would be interesting to share, dont you think!

I enjoy drawing because I still have a lot of room to improve, and there's also many possible directions I can move forward in to do so.

Experimenting with what works and what doesnt work, until I find something that's worth sharing is pretty rewarding - every additional round of drawing I do, I learn more about what I can do better next time! (hint hint)

What do I want to achieve?

I'd like to make nightmares real, but what I really mean by that, is creating something that has a strong emotional impact on people.

I think it's pretty easy for us to ignore a lot of things around us in the hustle and bustle of daily goings on. We filter reality through a certain perception so that we're not overwhelmed by everything we encounter.

And so... creating something horrifying and disarming (like a nightmare) or subtly concerning enough that I can truly bypass that block and get through to people with some message, a vision perhaps, would be pretty cool.

When I draw, I'm delivering a pretty defined and clear image of what I'm thinking of to people who look at my work. With things that I design however, it's not as straightforward, and getting that vision across in more and better ways, is what I think I want to get from this course.

Most importantly though, that feeling of progress, that I'm slowly but surely improving through consistent and frequent investment, I would say that's the satisfaction I'm chasing - and along the way, I'm hoping to pick up a bunch more new skills in service of that!

Whether it's better use of hardware and electronics, or just more industrial manufacturing experience, I look forward to what the semester holds!