Thesis, So Far
I have been pretty lax on my progress for thesis. It’s been from a few things—XOXO was one of them, but also a slow adjustment to the rapid pace of school and work.
Another thing has been my choice of platform: I have been resolute on trying to find a method that I can update from anywhere, and have been feeling my way out on the best method across various devices. (N.B., this was originally written on an iPhone, and updated via desktop.)
In any case, all these excuses mean I have some ground to make up.
It’s quite the adventure right now. As I have described to enough people who have had the misfortune to run into me, my problem is not that I have no ideas for thesis, rather that there are so many ideas it’s difficult to get them aligned.
They tend to be concentrated in some key areas, mostly around my projects from the last year, and of course my work and what I spend my free time doing or thinking about.
It’s a bad idea in general to turn the day job or the side project into a thesis, I feel; it relegates you to making work out of passion projects, or designing for yourself. But I have a long road ahead of me, and there is time to refine one of these into something that helps a wider audience.
Best and Brightest
My top ideas largely concentrate in the areas of highest concern for me personally, but it’s not all that way. There’s an “Ideas” folder that I’m curating these top ideas in, but I don’t have specific pages for them yet (TK, as they say in my line of work). Here are a smattering:
Publishing. My day job is in journalism, and I’m very interested in its future–both selfishly, for my job, and in a more giving sense to try to allow young journalists the opportunity to succeed in this industry.
Two things in particular I’m thinking about: storytelling and the creation process, and then how we decide to treat metadata for organization of those stories as they are put out to readers.
For storytelling, I’m interested in either a better composition tool or a way to train young journalists. Composition tools are kind of tricky—everybody wants to make a better text editor, whether or not that’s a good idea, even where I work. Moreover, text isn’t necessarily the best or singular form a story takes, which means the tool must be even more complicated.
I was floored by the sudden death of Dan Reimold, who made College Media Matters. We need people like him and the values and energy he embodied, and we need it at scale. This is a place where I believe I can help—I’ve made small efforts through my alma mater, but again, this needs to have a wider audience.
The second publishing/storytelling idea is another thing that sort of surrounds work, where I’ve done some of this thinking—how do we collect and present information to readers in a way that they understand and follow? We’ve done some exploration of that at my job, but there’s still a lot of thinking that can be done there.
Beerio. My Kickstarter campaign was successful, and I intend to ship an early version of my craft beer note-taking app this fall. The question that’s stuck in my head—how much further do I want to go with this? A native app? Better partnership with other craft-beer organizations? Providing a platform for homebrewing?
There’s a lot out there that could be done, and even a bunch that already exists, but it would be foolish of me not to at least explore the opportunity happening here.
Public / Private Spaces. We’re talking about the elusive—and apparently dying—third place, of Starbucks fame, in our Public Interfaces class. I’m chiefly concerned with the ability for community members to do interesting work of their own that isn’t simply a knowledge worker in a desk at a coworking space.
This might be the project I know the least about, owing to my lack of knowledge of building, health, occupancy and other codes that would be very beneficial to trying to rent or provide space, but it’s something I’d love to try to create a prototype of. In particular, I’m thinking about creative workers in physical spaces—artists, chefs artisans—folks who would benefit most from being able to display their wares in their local communities.
Among the thoughts: How can a multipurpose space with vitality exist? Could a space be created whose setup and breakdown (and costs associated with them) are minimized? Should this be event- or person-driven?
Relationships and Intimacy. We’re at a very difficult time in our history, where we’ve provided more opportunity to equality than ever, but still have not given people the tools and skills needed to navigate having helathful relationships with one another.
Particularly in the United States, we have a view towards talking about intimacy and our closest relationships that is backwards or just fearful at best, which doesn’t allow good conversation. Worse, despite this increasing equality, our society still inhabits attitudes that contradict the openness we mean to achieve.
The topic of sexual education is a taboo, and yet we seem to need it more than ever. Unfortunately, the only place we seem to be able to do so is through comedians. Is there a model, a curriculum, anyway to help address this gap and make our society better informed?
Random and Miscellaneous
I throw a lot of things into a litany of miscellaneous note-taking tools, so even those most “polished” of ideas don’t encompass it all. Here are some of the remainders of my provocations:
- Gun violence is destroying communities, a true source of terror to the nation. What could be done from a design perspective to help assist communities, help take back power and help prevent another catastrophe?
- Lifestream—a more private way to aggregate the disparate data of your life, possibly using the archives / backup of the services themselves. Is there a way to make something that provides a more responsive—and responsible—means of keeping your data for the long term?
- Ecology and improving repair and recycling: we currently do too much blind throwing out of material that could be recycled or repaired but without much insight into how that could be done. Is there a way to better inform the public about means of reuse and repair?
Again, it’s unclear where I’ll be eight months from now, but I believe in these ideas and projects, and am excited to keep testing and exploring.
9/20: Changed the link for “Relationships and Intimacy” to one I had saved previously.