Tag Archives: Research

Foundry @Mint Digital

Its been a while since I have blogged on here, basically because between finishing my degree and now, I’ve been doing more or less bugger all. I am happy to report that this has changed and that I now get up in the mornings and do work and stuff.

For the next three months, I will be working at Mint Digital on a project around “making things connected to the internet that don’t live on screens”, as part of their Foundry graduate design lab. Its exciting stuff, and I’m working with some pretty fucking talented people. During this time, I will be blogging periodically on the Foundry site, so if you’re still interested in following my various design writings, click on that there logo at the top of the post.

Alongside doing that, I will be working on upgrading, facelifting, and generally improving the fuck out of this site right here, so that when I’m done at Foundry, Of My Own Accord will be back and a very different beast. That’s the plan anyway.

See you in a bit.

Bing Day (Part One)

So after the critically acclaimed Google Day, I thought I should probably try the same experiment with its closest search engine rival, Microsoft’s Bing. Read on to see how the day played out…

9:00 – Woken up by alarm. Groggily reach for laptop. Straight to http://www.bing.com. No matter what happens later, I guess I should start the same way as I did for Google, and ask – “what should I do first thing in the morning?” The first search result is a very weird bodybuilding site, with a huge paragraph of text to read on morning exercise routines.

9:08 – Took a while to get through all that. As the author of the piece concluded that he would “get on (his) stairmaster” every morning, I’d best do the same. Seeing as I don’t actually have one, I’ll have to use good old-fashioned regular stairs and just run up and down those.

Stairs

9:40 – Morning workout complete, I’m bloody knackered. And the neighbours probably didn’t appreciate my storming up and down the stairs solidly for over half an hour at nine in the morning. Anyway. Bing – “what should i do after exercise?”

This search takes me to a site which tells me exactly what to do after exercising, in fact, ten things. This of course means I must do all of them.

1. Rest. 9:45 – YES. Back to bed. Thank you internet. Fifteen minute power nap coming my way.

Rest

2. Stretch. 10:00 – I feel like this would have been better before the nap. But anyhow. Best do what it says.

Stretches

3. Cool down. 10:10 – This aparently involves “Continuing to move around at a very low intensity for 5 to 10 minutes”. To be honest, that’s pretty much my normal state of existence.

4 and 5. Eat Properly and Replace Fluids. 10:20 I am going to have to digress from the list for a second here to ask what to eat…

So, Bing, “what should I have for breakfast?” To my horror, I get the exact same result as when I asked Google before: Eggs, wheat toast, half an orange (or any fruit) and an 8oz glass of milk.

It wasn’t exactly haute cusisine last time, but I’ll have to make it again. Back in a bit.

Breakfast

10:50 – Demolished that. All that running up and down stairs worked a treat for my appetite. So now, as promised, back to the list of “things to do after exercise”.

6. Try active recovery. 10:41 – According to the site, this is all about “easy gentle movement to improve circulation”. I’ll slowly wave my arms about a bit or something. Ridiculous.

7. Have a massage. 10:45 – NICE. The list recommends self-massage… Not sure what to expect when I type this in, but Bing: “what is self massage?” I get this very handy article telling me exactly how to massage my shoulders, feet, hands and abdomen. Very weird.

Shoulder Massage

And the next one is…….

8. Take an Ice bath. 11:00 – NO. I really don’t want to do this. At all. This is testing the limits. Its mid-November. It’s not an ideal time to be running a cold bath. However, in the name of frivolous internet experiments, Im going to do it.

Cold Bath

11.10 – Bath full of cold water. Time to take the plunge. Wish me luck.

Freezing

11: 15 – So. Fucking. Cold.

So to finish the so far awful list of things to do after exercising…

9 and 10. Get lots of sleep and avoid over training. 11:20 – The second one here is not really something to do, and I have already been told to rest within these ten steps. I probably wasn’t supposed to do all of those things. The best part of my morning is now over.

So far, Bing is rubbish. Part Two to follow!

Briefing Document

In the first couple of weeks of the course, we were asked to make a huge list of words associated with our subject area, categorised into the themes of “objects”, “fictions”, “technologies”, “people”, “perceptions”, “quotes”, “histories” and “practices.”

Here it is. Click on it to see at a more legible size.

Hopefully this gives me a load of research areas to go off and look into. If not, well, at least it looks pretty.

Reflections on Google Day

So on Tuesday, I spent a working day having all my actions and decisions decided by Google searches. To see how it went, have a look here. I figured I should try and analyse what happened a bit and see if anything came out of it other than the 15 minutes I wasted looking out for tornadoes.

In attempt to legitimise what I’m doing, I mapped out some of the activities I did (click for larger image):

I think the most surprising thing about the day was how normal it was. Apart from a few odd diversions, it was pretty much like a normal day off – cooking breakfast, reading the paper, tidying a bit etc. So the knowledge and guidance I was given was generally quite useful and practical. I really didn’t expect that to happen.

However, despite its relative mundanity, I felt very weird at the end of the day. Maybe it was just all the meditation, tea and bathing, but when it turned 5 o’clock and I was “free”, I felt odd and didn’t really know what to do with myself. This sensation didn’t last long, maybe half an hour or so, but it was very real and slightly unsettling.

These two contrasting effects seem to highlight nicely the conflicted feelings people have about our reliance on technology for our understanding of the world. There’s no doubt that its really bloody useful – but what happens when we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot turn to it?

I think I will probably continue to do some similar experiments over the coming weeks, exploring further our reliance on external sources for information and knowledge. Watch this space.

Google Day (Part 2)

…Continuing from the last post where I had my morning’s activities decided by Google searches. Here’s the afternoon!

12:30 – I’m getting a bit peckish now, and its probably time for lunch. So Google, “what should I eat for lunch?” First result is a website called “hunch”, which asks you to answer a few questions so it can decide what you should have for lunch. Telling it things like I want it to fill me up till early evening and that I like spicy food, it gives me an answer: Quesadillas.

12:35 – I ask Google “how do I make quesadillas?” and follow the first recipe that comes up.

This takes me to a lovely video with chef Jason Hill, possibly the most american man in the world, telling me how to make a chicken quesadilla. Invaluable advice. Thanks, Jason.

12:40 – I am missing a few ingredients from the list, so will have to go shopping again. This internet thing is expensive. Back in a bit.

13:00 – Back from shops and ready to start making this food. About to undo all the good work I did with the cleaning up earlier.

Quesadilla_1

13:20 – Cooked along to Jason, following his every last word. I can’t believe how much cheese he puts in the bloody thing. This might kill me.

Quesadilla_3

13:35 – Finished eating, very satisfying luncheon. Belly stuffed full of cheese.

Quesadilla_5

13:40 – So now I have eaten lunch and have a free afternoon. I typed in “something to do this afternoon” and got this: Look out for tornadoes. Kind of unlikely in South London. Still. Have to do what it says. I’ll give it fifteen minutes.

Watching for Tornadoes

13:55 – No tornadoes.

13:56 – Best search again with a slightly different approach. Tried “stuff to do on tuesdays”, and clicked the first result, a mumsnet forum. Seeing as I don’t have a one year-old immediately to hand, I thought I’d best do the stuff myself – “singing and dancing/messy play etc.”

14:00 – So, I blasted some music on the stereo and I sung and I danced. Look at me, I’m really going for it there.

Singing

14:30 – Enough of that. Now for the other bit – what the hell is messy play? I turned safesearch on, asked Google, and I was led to a government PDF document outlining what messy play can entail. The list of possibilities was huge, but the first page and top of the list was painting. Hand painting. Haven’t done this in about 15 years. This should be good. Best get my nice Godly shirt off and put the white t shirt on again.

Mess_2

Mess_3

15:10 – That was awesome. My hands are bright orange and purple. Just need to wash up a bit.

15:20 – Im feeling a bit tired now. Mid-afternoon slump. See what I find on Google: “what to do when tired.”

This site gives me three main points as to how to combat my tiredness:

It’s pretty vague to be honest, but in terms of actually doing stuff, I think I can probably cover most of this with the second piece of advice it gives. Looks like I’m going to do some Zen Meditation.

15:30 – Typed in “Zen Meditation” and the first result was a site with detailed instructions on what to do. Perfect. So I will spend ten minutes trying to take in how to do it, then give it a go.

Zen

16:10 – Wow. That was actually pretty amazing. I don’t know if I was doing it right, but I feel pretty good now. So its coming up to the end of my 9-5 day of Google based life. I’d best do one more thing – search “things to do at the end of the day”. I got this.

  1. Take a Bath: Taking a bath can provide a lot of healthful benefits, in addition to relaxation. To maximize the experience, play some soft music and light some candles to set the mood. Use moisturizing bath oil to ensure that your skin stays soft and doesn’t dry out.
  2. Order-In: Cooking after a hard day at work might be the last thing you feel like doing. Treat yourself every so often to delivery or take out.
  3. Make it an Early Night: Sleep is an important part of our day. If we don’t get enough, it can wreak havoc on our systems and our energy levels. Once a week, try to get into bed by 9pm for an extra good night’s.
  4. Tea Time: Drink a cup of herbal tea that contains lavender and other ‘relaxing’ herbs. A good one to try is Yogi’s Bedtime tea.

So I’m going to make a bath and drink some herbal tea to finish off the day. It’s tough work, this is.

Tea and Bath

17:00 – Bathed and tea’d up, my experiment is complete.

Analysis to follow.

Google Day (Part 1)

So the other day I decided I would spend a working day dictated entirely by Google searches, where everything I did between 9am and 5pm would be determined by a search engine query. I documented the day as it passed, and made a note of what searches and results shaped my activities. Enjoy!

9:00 – Woken up by my alarm clock. I’d best Google what the best thing to do first thing in the morning is. This takes me through to a website with someone describing their early morning routine, so I will copy theirs.

9:05 – The first thing I have to do is “wash my face”, then “stare blankly”. I can do that.

Staring Blankly

9:20 – I stared blankly into space (above) for five minutes to make sure I properly fulfilled the last task. Now to continue following the routine and eat. Simple question for Google this time: “what should I eat for breakfast?” Click the first link, to Yahoo answers, where I am given a very specific breakfast to make:

Eggs, wheat toast, half an orange (or any fruit) and an 8oz glass of milk. Nice.

9:25 – Ok so I have no eggs, and no wheat bread, so will have to go out first. I should probably wear some clothes before I do this… But what to wear? I ask google what clothes I should wear today, and get a page with a quiz: “What colour should you wear today?”

9:27 – I take the quiz and it says I should wear white, in order to gain a “closer connection to God”. I don’t have too many white clothes, so a white T-shirt will have to suffice. Time to go out. Back in a bit.

9:45 Back from shops, need to cook egg. Can’t decide how. Ask Google… Boil it. Nice and easy.

Breakfast_1

10:20 – Took me a long time to do that. As you can see, I went for an “any fruit” rather than half an orange. Finished now. Slightly odd combination of things but a decent breakfast.

10:21 – Now to continue the routine from before – “brushing the teeth, bathing and all of those…” So that’s pretty straightforward.

Brushing Teeth

10:23 – “Bathing” as a term is a little unclear, so I will have to ask Google: bath or shower? The resounding answer was take a shower. I am a little disappointed.

10:40 Clean as a whistle. You probably wanted a shower shot too didn’t you? You’re not getting it.

10:45 I found this white shirt when i got dressed again, which I think looks a little more Godly than the t-shirt, and therefore adheres more closely to my earlier instructions.

White Shirt

10:46 So now what to do? Well, I have no real plans for today. Best just Google it – “things to do in the morning…”

I find a site saying “20 things to do in the morning to have a good day.” Marvellous. I will try to do them all. Then my day will have a 100% chance of being good…

1. Wake up on time. Done!

2. Take an early morning walk or jog. 10:55 – went on a walk out to the shops again, to buy a newspaper, in anticipation of part 7…

Leaves

3. Take a shower. Done

4. Take your time getting dressed. Too late now.

5. Eat a good breakfast. It was OK I guess..

6. Drink coffee. 11:10 – got a brew on the go.

7. Read the newspaper. 11:12 – Sat down with brew and newspaper. This is actual bliss.

Reading the Paper

8. Watch the morning news. 11:13 – Got no TV, so Radio 4 will have to do. It just gets better.

9. Relax a little. 11:40 – Just done that really, but I will have a crack at the G2 Crossword.

G2 Crossword Fail

10. Clean a little bit. 11:50 – The kitchen is a bit of a mess. Cleany time. This is less good than relaxing with a newspaper.

Washing Up

11. Wake the kids up. Dont have any.

12. Wake your wife up. Dont have one.

13. Pet the dog a while. Dont have one of those either.

14. While driving to work, turn on music you like. 12:15 – Don’t have a car, and I don’t really need to go anywhere for work unless Google says so. I CAN put on music I like though. So I did that.

Ege Bamyasi

15. Try not to get pulled over. Trying my best.

16. Take your time driving to work. If I did drive, I would.

17. Arriving at work. I am working aren’t I?

18. Walk into work happy! And I am happy.

19. Speak to a close friend. 12:20 – Called up Ben. Had a good five minute chat. He’s at the science museum.

Phonecall

20. And finally, have the right mindset. Always.

So there’s the morning’s activities… More to follow in part 2.

I’m Feeling Lucky

In exploration of some of the thoughts expressed in my last post, I have devised a cunning research project to do tomorrow.

I am going to see what it is like to allow all of my guidance and direction to come from the internet – I will, for one day, do whatever Google tells me.

When I wake up, I will type in what I should do first thing in the morning, click on the first meaningful result, and do what it says. If it tells me to get dressed, I will, but before I do, I will obviously have to ask what I should wear.

Over the course of the day, I will see how useful the shared knowledge on the internet is to me, and where it leads me.

I have no idea what will happen, but whatever happens, it should at least be interesting. I’ll document what I get up to, and post it here the day after.