Creating Experiences

It’s taken me a shockingly long time to become clear about what my twin passions—music and web design—have in common that makes me so passionate about them. But I’ve thought a lot lately about a couple of sub-disciplines of web design: User Interface/Interaction (UI) design, and User Experience (UX). Gradually, associations mixed and matched in my mind, until something finally clicked.

I love creating experiences. (more…)

Spotlight: Musicians without Borders

Musicians without Borders

Musicians without Borders

As you may know, my profession (as of this writing) is web development and my passion is music. (This, of course, is an oversimplification, but it maps neatly to this Venn diagram.) It’s time to take a look at something music-related that also relates to OIRED’s work in international development.

One of the teachers of the week-long workshop I attend each summer is active in the organization Musicians without Borders (MwB). As it says on their website, they are a “global network organization using the power of music for healing and reconciliation in areas torn by war and conflict.” I’ve written before about the science behind music’s power to build social connections between people, so I have no surprise that someone should try to use it in this way. But to use music to build toward such an audacious goal as “world peace” is, to me, a bold and inspiring enterprise. (more…)

Artistry versus Craftsmanship

It aint nothin' but the dog in me.

It aint nothin’ but the dog in me.

Design is weird. And design is weird because: everybody’s got the tools to try their hand at design.

Let me show you what I mean, by doing this: today, right now, I’m going to make you an architect. The top-of-the-line software tool that architects use to design their buildings is AutoCAD by Autodesk. They make a free trial of their Building Design Suite available on their website. Just download it, install it, run it, and voilà! Or perhaps that’s too much, too fast, and you’d like to ease into your new career. Some architects also make use of SketchUp Pro, which is a bit more reasonably-priced. And you can use the free version, SketchUp Make, to get started.

There it is: free software, just install it and now you’re an architect.

Perhaps not? (more…)

Communication that Goes Deeper than the Story

Two social media companies.The office I work for is part of our university’s division of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA). I recently attended a communications seminar organized by OIA’s communications staff, and I found it chock-full of meaningful information that directly pertains to my work. You see, while my work focuses on the techy solutions, as a front-end developer, I have always regarded my role as within the realm of communications.

I’m not going to try to summarize the information from the seminar; to do so would do a disservice to the great presenters we learned from. Instead, I’m going to try to apply a couple of the lessons that I found inspirational. In one of the exercises, we were asked to come up with clear, easy-to-understand messages that explain our job function. So, what do I do, really, and why is what I do important? (more…)


I'd like the emotion on the right, please...

I’d like the emotion on the right, please…

An acquaintance recently said, somewhere in public, “I wish I could just be happy.” And that statement got me musing on how my concepts on the nature of happiness have changed in the four years I’ve worked for OIRED.

…which, in turn, has derailed the post I’d intended to write today. Something about puppies, it was. I think. I forget.

It hasn’t all been a result of doing my work—web design—for an office that does grant-funded international development work, though that’s certainly been part of it. But I experience the past four years as being a period of tremendous growth for me, both professionally and personally. And I’ve had some profound experiences which also have been a factor in shaping my current understanding of emotions in general, and happiness in particular.

So while it would be the height of hubris to suggest that I have The Answer, when the subject of happiness comes up these days, I have these responses. I hope they’re worthwhile. (more…)