Why I dont like reading digital books

I don’t think I will ever abandon the physical book for a digital one in the long run. Granted that when travelling, an ebook reader makes more sense than a suitcase of books but it’s not the same thing when you want to curl up and read it in leisure at home. I bought a tablet last year to read ebooks while on the go but since then I’ve read less digital books than the fingers on one of my hands. I somehow find the act of reading an ebook cumbersome. First of all, there’s the trouble with powering/charging up the device. Ebook readers that I am aware of just do not seem to replicate the size of the book or the number of pages accurately. To me, the physicalness of the book is something very intimate to the experience of reading. With the move to the digital, this gets lost. Further more, I am often distracted trying to keep a track of the number of pages I finished reading on the digital book but I hardly bother doing so when reading a book. Coffee table sized books look bad on a 7 inch screen and their non-existent weight makes me feel disconnected. Searching through the book is probably easier but where you once used your memory you now end up resorting to a dumb search to find that elusive sentence. Bookstores are slowly disappearing and don’t even get me started on new book smells. The physical book is truly a wholesome sensory experience and sorry technology, but you are not there yet.

Image Credit: Jose Hernandez

Third time’s not a charm

Me: this sem review will be fun no? 😛
Rasagy: Sem review? As in your blog post wala?
Me: yes 😀
Rasagy: I wonder what you’ll write in there this time! 😛
Me: exactly.. ditto to you
Rasagy: I’m not posting. You’re the one who posts sem wise. I’ll post next year 😀

Indeed, half this semester was marred by a module that made me wonder what I was doing with my life. I know, I am still a crappy designer but what I felt this semester module left me just feeling plain stupid and so I will not be speaking about it at all. Some part of this failure project has been documented here.

So here are the highlights of this semester.

We started this semester with a new faculty Mr. Venkatesh Rajamanickam, rumoured to take over as the new IID coordinator. At first we were apprehensive about how this would shape IID as a discipline. But our fears were unfounded because within the first few days itself, we realized how awesome he was and still is. I personally had an awesome time, discussing things with him. He showed me Durell Bishop’s Answering Machine which blew my mind. Someone doing such work, when I was in preschool was something I had not imagined. From this I learnt that ‘Why should something digital always mean having a display?’ Sadly, all good things tend to end and with this semester end, Venkat resigned from NID citing personal reasons- a loss, that IID will feel for quite sometime.

Moving on, one of the things that I had decided to follow this semester is try and document my projects. And document I did 😀 You can find the projects over here at the Projects page. This was good because when the time to make a jury presentation came about, I just had to go back to the posts and find the relevant content already prepared by ‘the past’ me.

Being sent to MIT’s DIy workshop was an eye-opening experience. This I feel was the central design project that I did this semester. A week packed to the brim with research, design, prototype and testing; I wish we had atleast one module this intensive at NID, every semester.

As for data visualizations, I’ve begin to realize the balance that I will try to maintain in my work anymore. Not too functional and not too arty. Easier said than done. My semester work is out here.

I became aware of real interaction design thanks to Sudhakar’s interactive classroom assignment. I intend to take this output forward.

So there, another semester goes by and am not any closer to figuring out what I want to do after this. All in all, as I look back this was not really a bad semester. I got to interact with Girish Dalvi a whole lot as part of his Grids and Layouts workshop and APCHI. Arun’s Geo viz workshop gave me a diving board into cartography. Listening to keynotes at APCHI was also wonderful, interacting with Jun Rekimoto or Alan Dix was not something I imagined I would be doing at the beginning of this semester.

What I hope I shall learn some more about the next semester is physical visualizations, tangible user interfaces and anarchistic visual design. A tall order to fulfill but next semester’s going to be a bore otherwise.

Design School : Year One

After last semester, I wrote what I had learned. At the end of this semester I was confused what really happened in that one semester. So I thought I could use this post to talk about other things that I experienced this year.

After last semester, I wrote what I had learned. At the end of this semester I was confused what really happened in that one semester. So I thought I could use this post to talk about other things that I experienced this year.

Being a Quizzer, you end up having an ego because you have all that information in your head, ready to spout out at the slightest notice. I really believe that that knowledge repo originating from a well read childhood is one of my strengths. Still I was humbled in Girish Dalvi’s typography workshop when I couldn’t answer any question that he threw at us. I mentioned last semester that reading is crucial. But this semester was when I realized that the reading stack is hundreds of books high. Actually, its infinite.

Open Elective although a major disappointment (atleast I got to meet some awesome people) had a good theme this year – Old age. Our world is increasingly getting older but most companies out there are busy trying to solve endemic problems. In one year, I might end up in the same industry and that actually made me wonder if I should try to end up someplace else where I can really make a difference.

Good research is important. Last semester made me realize that. I also realized that surveys, interviews mostly masquerade as research methods. I have lost faith in both of them while at the same time learning that custom research methods(like this one) make for better insights. I have begun to believe more in end user testing.

Talking about things make them better. I learned that getting people to critique your idea or talk to them about it is the best way to get out of that creative rut that you find yourself in. When you are working on it all by yourself you will not see be able to see what it is that is not working with your design.

I learned and built my first grid based presentation which was well received by the Jury. Except for my Cognitive Ergonomics work, the rest of what I presented seemed to have been appreciated. This is a big improvement from last semester where I was mostly clueless about the work I was presenting.

I’ve realized that the design process you follow is really important. I still have a long way to go before I learn to use it well. Working on MSR’s Design Expo this year made me realize the value of a good process. When working on Meteorites, I somehow formed a process unknowingly and it did help me to produce the end result. It’ll help you where your skills wont.

And you can learn anything given that you want to. At the end of last semester, I only knew Photoshop which I had largely picked up while at TCS. Now, I am comfortable with Illustrator and I even made a short film on Adobe Premiere Pro. A desire to create things in crunch time really helps me learn faster. Hence deadlines are good.

Hard deadlines are even better. Work only gets done if they are enforced. Most of last semester’s projects did not turn out so well because I kept procrastinating. Maybe because…

I fear big projects especially due to the lack of experience. We have not done anything big academically and I wonder how equipped I will be to deal with full projects all alone. Hope I can confront that fear this semester. Geronimo!

One of my favourite moments of last year was lying on @nid_b’s roof and looking for shooting stars. The cold, the company and the squeals when you spot a golden trail all made that night magical. Also worth noting are the Paldi campfires. This time next year, I shall be lamenting the end of 2 years and I shall miss ‘this’ life dearly.

You can read Rasagy thoughts on ‘Year One’ here.

What I learnt in the 1st Semester at NID_B ?

..and just like that the first semester breezes through.

So what did I learn? Looking back I find that most of my learning was crammed into just a few important days.

  • Everything is design; learn from good design, learn from bad design.
  • Being a student of IID, You should learn to visually communicate your ideas, so that your design speaks and not you.
  • Tune your visual sense.
  • Read a lot to justify your choices.
  • Realize the importance of colour and type.
  • If you choose a medium, do things that justify the medium.
  • Dont fall in love with your first iteration.
  • Sketch, sketch and then sketch some more.
  • Think in Context and use a scale when designing products.
  • Get out of your mindset.

These are the most important things I learnt this semester and most of which was crammed into the 4 days of Jury. I am hoping to make the most of this one month holidays so that i can prepare myself for the next semester.. just noting down learning’s is not good enough.

The Aisiri experience

The Aisiri Experience:

Aisiri, the 10th VTU fest in its as yet grandest avatar was held during the 15-21st of February at SBMJCE , Bangalore. Our College was one of the 93 colleges that took part. Our 46 member team was all geared up for what was to be our best VTU fest ever. We already had the feeling that this was perhaps our best chance to win a championship place and we were all ready to do our part and contribute to the team. Here’s a short summary of all the days and events that took place during that week.

Day -1: yeah we call this Day -1 because we were leaving for the fest a day early as we were required to report before 8pm the next day and we didn’t want to take any chances. Most of the 46 participants were going to stay for the whole week ahead while some others had decided to join us later. The Buses left College that Friday the 13th but there weren’t any accidents or any other mishaps perhaps due to the prayers offered by Guru before we left. The night in the bus was a party with antakshari played until slowly everyone started to sleep. However couple of other friends and I was awake when we went through the Ghats and were treated to an awesome sight of a moonlight night and the clear sky.

Day 0: We reached Bangalore and were the first college on the campus of SBMJCE at around 7 in the morning. Breakfast was provided to us around 9 but then things were delayed. There was some delay regarding the registration and accommodation and we were stuck in a seminar hall till almost 4 in the evening. Tired and exhausted we hauled our luggages to our allotted hostel. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we were all very happy with the accommodation provided. Day 0 thus ended with us having Dinner at the huge dining hall set up opposite the HUGE main stage. The excitement was building up!

Day 1: The events started off today. First up was the Reporting and Photography, a newly introduced event which was all about covering the events of the entire fest. The harmonic Folk orchestra was one of the main events for our team that day. Creative writing and Clay modelling took place simultaneously that afternoon while Shadow play was later at around 4. We got a standing ovation for Shadow play-the evolution of man. Most of the facilities and the venues totally blew us away! They had state of the art theatres and music systems. What even surprised us was the college hangout- Munchies which was air-conditioned, had flat screen TV’s and wait for it…. the food was affordable and yummy!! Throughout the week we hogged a lot at the place. Even now if you ask any of my team mates about Munchies, they will wax eloquent. The other major catch phrase that we had was ‘Falun Dafa is good’. Falun Dafa was one of the stalls which were setup up at the technical exhibitions and you will still hear the vtu fest people speaking it in college. ISRO, TUV Rheinland and many more companies also had stalls. Layatharanga was the Fusion band which played as part of the evening entertainment for the Fest. I missed it but I heard good reviews about it.

Day 2: Rube Goldberg Contraption*, my main event for the day was to be held at 9 in the morning. After having slept late that last night preparing for it, we somehow managed to pull ourselves together. Skipping breakfast, Elias, Ashank and I made it to the venue and set up the contraption in the given time frame. After our first 2 chances to have a flawless execution failed we were all tensed. Most of the team members were present praying for the successful working during the third and final chance. And lo and behold! It worked with only 2 errors!! Everyone celebrated. It was truly glorious! Classical dance was another main event for us. Anupama took part and wowed the judges. Cartooning had the team Navrasa and Ranjeeth’s version was amazing! Raison and Karthik got through the prelims of Buccaneers- a management event easily. Shrikiran our mimic took part in the Mimicry competition and Semi classical vocal had Ramdas taking part. Debates were the other event that our college took part on that day. Stem dance and Kalaripayattu was that evening’s program which i missed again but I watched a bit of the fashion show event that took place later that night.

Day 3: Our dance troupe performed a tribal dance with the ‘jingo baba’ prop for Folk and tribal Dance, Tabla maestro Narasimha took part in Classical instrumental percussion while Varun sang for western vocal solo. Elias took to the floor with his poster paints to present a very graffiti version of rangoli. Our main grievances were that the western vocal venue had echoes and the rangoli venue was on the open air balcony. Post western vocal solo, there was also an informal jamming session by all the participants. At the same time the JAM prelims were taking place but Rajat missed making it to the semis and beyond. Synaps headlined for Pentagram that night. The team had the most fun that night. We danced and danced to rock music. Everyone was exhausted by the end of it.

Day 4: We presented our one act play at the first slot. This is the first time that we had written an original script and had worked quite hard on it. Things however went better than plan even though we had some minor glitches. The first round of Group dance was held at the colossal Colloseum, on the spot Painting was where Ranjeeth was at work while at M-adventure Naman, Pramod and Ashank presented their political campaign. Group song Indian was where our Singers were at. Our orator Nikhil took part in Elocution. That night there were last minute additions made to our Launch Pad entry but before that, that night was the night when the ‘awesome foursome’ were performing. Siva mani, Balabhaskara 😉 , Keith Peters and Giridhar Udupa enthralled the audience with their music which stuck as impromptu but just brilliant especially Balabhaskar with his violin and their finale-their version of Hotel California.

Day 5: The dance troupe had to present the second dance which was a themed dance on AIDS prevention. The Launch pad event didn’t go too well. Quiz and Programming prelims were both uneventful, Installation kept me busy during the afternoon. Ramdas took part in the Light vocal Indian solo. Elias’s Collage entry also turned out pretty well. Kishore and group’s patriotic themed skit on Bhagat Singh was a hit. The Federation of International Students Association had a dance performance highlighting the various international dances. One of the We played Dumb charades with some of our newly made friends of SBMJCE till quite late that night. Fests after all are to promote camaraderie and healthy competition between colleges.

Day 6: Chaithra’s Creative Dance, Group song western and Mime had us running around to the different venues to cheer the respective teams. Nanditha’s classical vocal and Ranjeeth’s Poster making, Poetry recitation and Dumb charades all took place during the morning. The Evening’s program by Raghu Dixit project wasn’t as good as the other concerts. There were some sound system problems which kinda spoiled the mood every now and then. After dinner we left for our rooms. Somewhere around 12 at night we come to know that the first set of results has been announced and that we have won quite a few. I run all the way from our rooms and there’s a celebration at the main stage as we verify the prizes. We lead at that point of time with MSRIT next in place.

Day 7: The Only event that was scheduled for today was the Quiz finals. Sadly we had not made it through just missing it by one qualifying point. Charu Sharma hosted this event and our team won quite a few audience prizes. Raison won a Reebok t-shirt while Vigneshwar won a Reebok cap as well as a new cellular phone from Nokia. After the finals the second set of results were announced. We were still on top of the points table and everyone was cheering away! We had nothing to do for the rest of the day as the Valedictory was scheduled for the evening. There were performances by the Kathak group Abhinava and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. The valedictory was delayed and as a result of which we, the participants lost the chance of going on stage and accepting our prizes as our ‘dhol’ and ‘taase’ played on. As the leader board was named out backwards we had our hands crossed. But sadly we came third. The host college SBMJCE took the runner’s up and MSRIT were the Winners overall. This was kinda a dampener as everything looked as if we would have got a place. Nevertheless with 11 medals, this was the best standing NMAMIT had ever got till date. All this was possible only because of the incredible teamwork that everyone showed. We had not taken part in all the events and had a smaller team than most colleges, in spite of that we were able to come out 3rd. This is definitely a great achievement which may perhaps inspire us to do better next year. This year will be the Last VTU fest for our Fourth years, who were alone responsible for 2 golds, and 3 silvers. We will miss them next year and hope that we will find someone to fit into their shoes. We also hope that this and many more events taking place all throughout the year inspire more students of NMAMIT to take part in more extracurricular activities. Here’s to the Future.

The Winners:

Golds in Shadow play, Classical Dance, Rube Goldberg contraption, On the spot painting, Skit and Poster Making.

Silvers in Western vocal solo, Cartooning, Mimicry and Creative Dance.

Bronze in M-adventure.