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For today’s Research Proposal lecture we explored the levels of critical writing (Bloom’s taxonomy):

— Remember: recalling facts and concepts;
— Understand: explain ideas and concepts;
— Apply: using information in new situations;
— Analyse: drawing connections among ideas;
— Evaluate: justifying a stand or decision;
— Create: producing new original content.

The foundations for this should be lectures and seminars, module learning outcomes, marking grid criteria and instructions.

Afterwards, we analysed Derek Swetnam’s process for selecting a topic. He compared topic choice to sharpening a pencil.

For this process, it’s important to think about our career after the degree, to talk to people, to write down ideas when they come to you, to determine pros and cons.

The subject should be narrow enough, specific, accessible. “The broader the subject, the shallower your project must be”.

A useful tip would be to switch from usual journalistic questions (WHO? WHERE? WHY?) to more critical ones (HOW? WHY? TO WHAT EXTENT?).
During the Research Proposal lecture this week one of the university’s librarians hosted a presentation about research strategies and methodologies. We learnt how to look for library resources effectively.

Some steps to help researching sources and texts are:
— Finding functional keywords (trying also synonyms, antonyms, broader and narrower terms, ideas to be included or excluded, using truncation or wild cards, AND/OR/NOT boolean operators);
— Recording your searches on a spreadsheet or suitable software (Evernote, for instance);
— Taking appropriate breaks.

It might be useful to take advantage of online databases as well. An example is Statista, which could turn out useful for a data visualisation project.



An important strategy to evaluate resources is called CRAAP: Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose.

The Currency of the publication should be taken into consideration. The information can’t be outdated and unreliable. The information should also be applicable to the case study and Relevant to the purpose of your essay or proposal. The authors, creators and publishers of the source should be Authoritative: the writers should be experts in their field and/or specialists. Determining the reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the source will also result in Accurate results. Finally, determining why the information exists and why the particular source was created is a good way of measuring its Purpose.



Through the 3D Visualisation module we will explore:
— technical skills required to produce a commercial-based proposal (15 weeks deadline);
— the historical context of the 3D Vis art form;
— the style we wish to adopt and express with our project, the kind of aesthetics… etc.

A 3D Visualisation project can be defined through some key characteristics: high/low-tolerance, realistic/stylised, altruistic/capitalistic, entertaining/informative.

My initial idea for the module is to create a 3D portrayal of a famous painting, and make it explorable online. This could be possible through a combination of modelling in Maya and coding in Three.js.

Taking this initial brief into consideration, I created a radar chart to define the boundaries and characteristic of my proposed project:



During the first lecture of the Research Proposal module, we explored the role of the designer as a creator in general and the importance of methodology. Although design is not a science but a creative field, research is still a fundamental step and it’s important for designers to adopt a methodology. Research is a necessary activity to achieve meaningful and effective solutions which consider the needs of the client and the relative brief.

The objectives of the module will be:
— Exploring respective merits of a range of academic research methods;
— Conducting the research necessary to successfully complete a written proposal;
— Demonstrating time and project-management skills.

Some relevant quotes from the lecture:

“Design is thinking made visible”

“Question what you think you know”

“You cannot thrive without passion”

My initial idea is to pursue a project related in some way to data visualisation. I would be interested in exploring the families of typefaces currently displayed in London or some city. This could provide insight into the relationship between type and the real world. For instance, it might be that some kind of typefaces are more popular in a particular area of London. This could lead to further exploration as to why. Reasons could be rooted in the history of the city itself.


One of my latest reads for the semester has been “Infographics: the power of visual storytelling” by Lankow, Crooks and Ritchie. I decided to read this book to help me prepare for next semester’s optional module but also to gather concept ideas for my Digital Media Principles infographic.

As explained in the book, the so-called Information Age has completely disrupted the way we communicate, and this is having consequences own our cultures in many forms. Infographics are the forefront of this new way of thinking. Visualising information enables us to efficiently gain insight, by employing the incredible power of our brain and visual system.

Infographic thinking is everywhere: we can say it has officially hit the mainstream. People want to be informed and entertained fast. It is also worth mentioning that individuals have also become more fluent in understanding data.

A piece of information that really stood out for me is how in 2010 Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt stated that we now create more information in two days than we created from the dawn of man up until 2013. This statistic really shocked me and motivated me to pursue the discipline of data visualisation and infographics.
During last week's session of Digital Media Practice we were asked to research into the newest developments in our areas of interest. Below are displayed the slides that I prepared for the presentation:



The main trends I found for graphic design were the use of gradients (which I will employ for my Design Practice module) and vivid colours in general. Alongside handdrawn illustration, they contribute to the overall friendly but bold tone of design nowadays.



For what concerns infographic design, interaction is the main source of novelty and innovation. Animation is still strong and taking steps into the third dimension with 3D visualisations.



One of my main sources of inspiration and influence for illustration is Malika Favre. She makes vector illustration look effortless, as if she knew something about shapes and colours that is unbeknowst to us.



One design studio I appreciate a lot is Pentagram. All their recent rebranding projects were groundbreaking and appreciated worldwide.
After learning how to use Bootstrap (or at least those functions I was most interested in for my Portfolio website), it was time to think about the design.



My first design iteration was too simple and stripped-down. I didn’t think it reflected who I was at all. This is why I completely changed the design after two weeks.



The picture above is an Illustrator rendering of what I would want my website to look like. Fonts and sizes might change but this is the overall idea. I'm also thinking about implementing some Javascript functions to make it more playful / interesting.
Gantt chart are a visual way to display tasks scheduled over time. They are especially used for planning big or medium-sized projects, which require a big amount of tasks. They help you visualising the start and end dates of a project.

I have used this kind of charts to help me organise and schedule my work for the Design Practice and Emerging media projects.





I have divided tasks according to the Design Thinking process for development.
The first step into developing my portfolio website was establishing all the content I wanted to include. My ideal portfolio had to contain:

— About page
— Homepage with project links
— A way to reach out to me
— Project pages with key development
— Possibly a blog to update with interesting concepts from lecture, excerpts from books I’m reading or similar topics.

I started from this list to build simple sitemap.



I then began to look into possible development tools. I didn’t want to use Wordpress as I already had experience with it and wanted to try out something new. A tool that interested me was the Bootstrap library: it was supposed to be very flexible and easy to learn. It’s a CSS framework with predefined classes for layout. The most interesting feature is its responsive grid system, which makes developing responsive websites really fast.

I therefore started an online course to learn it on W3Schools.



"There's Not An App For That" by Robinson, Marsden and Jones was surely the most interesting read this semester. It was mainly focused on UX/UI design and provided lots of practical examples to look up online or directly on the book.

Thanks to it, I learned that UX design is really difficult to define. In general, UX thinking is attempting to orientate designers towards developing artifacts that have real meaning and value for people.

In a nutshell, UX is seen as a person’s response when using a device, product, service, or object through some sort of interface. It is dynamic, because it changes during use. It is context-dependent, because the experience depends on where the device is used. It is also subjective: it depends on the user’s background, experiences, and many other factors.

Historically in design form has followed function. This book makes you reflect on how form affects functionality.


"Interaction design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction" is a book by Preece, Rogers and Sharp.

It was a very interesting read, especially the sections about how our brain works. I learned that there are different types of cognition, like thinking, remembering, learning...etc. Cognition has also been described in terms of specific kinds of processes. These include:
— attention
— perception
— memory
— learning
— reading, speaking, listening
— problem solving, planning, reasoning, and decision making.

In particular, attention is the process of selecting things to focus on, in a particular moment, from the range of possibilities available. Attention also involves our auditory and visual senses.

The way information is displayed can greatly influence how easy or difficult it is to attend to appropriate pieces of information. This is why UI/UX design is so important.



Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory portraying human needs as a pyramid; the most essential requirements should be met before accessing higher levels. Thus, for instance, physiological needs have to be satisfied before an individual can start thinking about personal security or forming relationships.



The same reasoning can be applied to a variety of scopes, including application design, where functionality is a basic requirement compared to aesthetic appeal.

The analysis of the Hierarchy of Needs theory led me to explore other design methods, such as IBM’s iceberg analogy for user experience. Berry explains that the ‘look and feel’ (i.e. the visuals and the way users interact with the application) are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Ahead of usability and aesthetic concerns, developers and designers should worry about building a suitable user model for the project at hand, understanding the users’ goals and mental framing.

During the second DMP lecture last Monday we were presented with a worksheet to determine our proposed learning outcomes for this MA.



The following are my current objectives and wishes for the module.

Do you want to improve your study skills or learn more about a subject area?

I would like to improve my UI/UX design skills, my illustration ones, and in general my knowledge of design software. I currently have a little experience with web design as well and would love to build upon it. At the same time, it would be wonderful to learn new skills such as 3D modelling (which is one of the main reasons why I applied to the course) and infographic visualisation.

What approaches will you use to meet your learning goals?

The first approach will surely be research-based. I’ve been slacking on research for some of my past projects and that was evident in the final outcome. I don’t want to make the same mistakes again, and would appreciate developing my own design method as part of the MA.

Do you know what the new developments in your area of interest are?

Infographic design is developing more and more 3D visualisation, so this kind of links my two areas of interest together. Infographics are also becoming more interactive, so it will be useful to learn more Javascript/JQuery or some programming language.

What are your skills and work experiences?

My skills include graphic design in general, illustration, motion graphics, a bit of 3D modelling. I don’t have any work experience related to design. I have been working in costumer service for the past two years, part-time.

What knowledge, skills, assets will help me prepare for work opportunities?

I think having a good portfolio is key. It should be varied and display all the development work.



During the Hack Day maker session on 20th September I’ve had the chance to develop the design brief about coffee and pattern creation alongside my group. We were inspired by latte art and thought about designing a machine which could personalise your drink according to your name or initials. We started out with a few sketches. According to our idea, every letter of the alphabet could correspond to a small icon/drawing. They could then overlap to form the final latte art.






We also thought about designing an app that could communicate to the coffee machine through a bar or QR-code scanner. The name of the app could be Brew-U, to focus the attention on personalisation.


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