A fantastic video about the fast approaching challenges of ubiquitous computing by MAYA Design.
Menlo Internship: Open & Honest June 15, 2009 – 5:49 pm
I have been at Menlo for six weeks now, and I feel like a valuable part of the team. Today, as I was working on a site map with my pair-partner, Rich, Menlo’s President, interrupted us to be a part of an impromptu meeting with a client. Rich does this often. Rather than answer all of the client’s questions himself, Rich asks “Menlonians” to answer these questions, giving the client the most honest feedback possible about our experiences and the work created at Menlo. After only six weeks, I was flattered to be a part of this conversation and to offer my impressions of working in the Menlo “factory”.
I am also beginning to feel like a strong contributor as well. Others in the factory are noticing my skills and are very pleased with the work I have done so far. However, Menlo Innovations is not so much about the work that we do, but how we do it. This was a point we were communicating to the client this afternoon, and has been the focus of my attention while working at this company. Daily I am blown away by the honesty, acceptance and pride of the people that work at Menlo.
Menlo Website: Directions June 6, 2009 – 4:59 pm
The following are conceptual ideas for the “directions” section of the Menlo Innovations website. Menlo is located on the third floor of a small market, and is often difficult for visitors to find. Therefore, we needed to come up with creative ways to get people into the historic Kerrytown district, parked in an appropriate lot, inside the marketplace and up the correct staircase to the Menlo factory.
Menlo Internship: A Useable Process June 1, 2009 – 8:06 pm
The past two weeks at Menlo have been quite transformational. Working to redefine the purpose of the Menlo website, I have had the chance to interview some key stakeholders in the project. Although the site will ultimately be designed for the end user, of which the primary persona has yet to be determined, it is valuable to get the perspectives of these important people.
On Tuesday, Lisa and I interviewed Rich, President of Menlo. The most remarkable aspect of this interview, aside from his message, was the informality yet seriousness of the set up. Lisa and I grabbed a free table in the factory, Rich grabbed his lunch, and we sat down for an casual conversation. The passion with which Rich spoke was exhilarating. He told us the story of Menlo’s beginnings, of a transformed client, of the “hope” that Menlo’s vision can bring the software world and the professional world as a whole. I was almost brought to tears by his heartfelt words, and by realizing that I have been given such a fantastic opportunity.
I left that day realizing more about who I want to be in my professional life. It may sound cheesy, but each day I grow exponentially as a professional. The open and collaborative environment, the constant feedback from my pair-partner, the energy in the factory and the honesty and integrity of everyone at Menlo is so amazingly refreshing.
It will be my task to capture Menlo’s unique perspective in their website. I am impressed and awed with Menlo on a daily basis, so this feels like a daunting task. I am however, using various user-centered design methods to break down the task into manageable chunks—smaller iterations that can be evaluated more frequently. This process feels slow at times. It also feels thorough and necessary to fully inform the design.
Ultimately, I can’t express how inspired I am. Perhaps the euphoria will wear off in the next couple weeks, and I will do a little less gushing and a little more reporting, but for now it just seems natural.
Menlo Internship: Introduction May 18, 2009 – 1:49 pm
I began my internship at Menlo Innovations on May 11th. Menlo Innovations is a small software design and development company located in the Kerrytown marketplace in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The location couldn’t be more convenient for me, since I’m living just two blocks away from the market. A three minute walk to the market, a two minute stop for coffee at Zingermans or Sweetwaters, and I’m at work in a total of 5 minutes. How nice!
I began the week in a pretty unconventional way. On Monday, I sat in on one of Menlo’s educational classes called Agile Explained. This was an eight hour class focusing on the methodology of their design and development environment. A group of about 30 individuals from Health Media joined me and one other intern in the session with Rich and James. Tuesday was even more unconventional, as I joined Rich and James and Menlo’s art department (Brian and Ryan) on a trip down to Sylvania, OH to visit with the innovative “mind mapping” organization, Root.
Wednesday marked the first full day in the “factory”, as Menlo likes to call it. This work environment breaks all the rules, ignores all the conventions of a typical software development firm. The space is open and collaborative, with no personalized computers, desks, chairs, or spaces. When my chair disappeared after lunch one day, Brian insightfully informed me “to grab one without a butt in it.” Later in the week, he would also say to me that “at Menlo, the only rule is there are no rules.” This is really only partly true. While the environment breeds collaboration and innovation, there is also a strict protocol to follow when working for Menlo. This combination of freedom and structure seems to work very well for me so far. I very much appreciate the transparency throughout the organization and the open and honest attitudes of the management and fellow employees.
Ultimately, I am really excited about the experiences I will have this summer working for Menlo Innovations. The primary project I will be working on is to redesign the Menlo website utilizing the principles of their High-Tech Anthropology practice. The HTA role at Menlo uses user-centered approaches to inform the design of software that is extremely usable for the end user. I will be employing these techniques, which are very similar to those explored in SI 622, Evaluation of Systems and Services, as I redesign the Menlo Website.
My True Love April 4, 2009 – 1:41 pm
I just realized that for those who want to get to know me through my website, I have left out one critical piece of information: my LOVE for volleyball! I began playing volleyball in 6th grade and knew I was hooked even then. During high school, volleyball was quite literally my life. I was co-captain of my varsity team, and as a setter, I was in charge of the court. I bawled my eyes out when we lost our final game in the regional tournament thinking it would be the last time I would play competitive volleyball.
For some unknown reason, I did not play much in college. I managed to get on a couple intramural teams, however, and (brushing off my shoulder…) we took 1st place in our leagues. But still these games did not provide me with the competition I was ultimately looking for.
A LONG four years later, I ventured out to the Washtenaw Rec Center (wow, do they need some website help!) in search of some open gym volleyball. To my surprise, the level of play was just what I was looking for, and in a serendipitous moment, I met six girls who shared my love for the game and happened to need a sub for their upcoming season. I have played with these girls for about a year now (I managed to wiggle my way onto the team as a permanent member) and our games on Tuesday nights are the highlight of my week! (Thanks girlies!) Our team is constantly improving, and as for me, I have never played better.
Taggers’ Village April 3, 2009 – 1:38 pm
For a cognate course during my Master’s program this winter, I had the fun and challenging experience of designing a land use site plan. Check it out in my personal work!
When I Grow Up March 21, 2009 – 1:36 pm
I have recently discovered what I want to be when I grow up: a User Experience Designer! This field will allow me to combine my interests in people, aesthetics, and the configuration of tools and environments in innovative and inspiring ways.
ABC No Rio March 3, 2009 – 1:28 pm
I recently had the opportunity to intern with ABC No Rio in New York City. “ABC No Rio is a collectively-run center for art and activism” (abcnorio.org/about). No Rio was looking to archive their historic documents and present their exhibitions online. They had chosen the CMS software Omeka to develop this archive, and I was brought in for a very intense week-long analysis of the software. It was fantastic! Below are some pictures of the building and the art living inside.
Right or Wrong? The Simple Answer March 12, 2008 – 1:26 pm
In art, there is never a definitive right or wrong. There may be solutions that are more right or more wrong than others. I believe, however, the mark of a great designer resides in her ability to persuade the audience that her design is the one and only correct answer. In my opinion, this is most successfully accomplished with a marriage of creativity and simplicity. Often times, it is this simplicity that requires the most refinement, and which will ultimately convince us of its status as the one correct answer.