MozFest15, a Memoir

The Mozilla Festival 2015 was held over 3 days, last weekend. It was my first time and I can say due to the events that unfolded, it won’t be my last. The weekend consisted of a fast paced build involving roughly 500 cardboard boxes which were assembled into a library, a garage, a garden and many other structures.

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After the build stage there was a sort of science expo, this gave me a sense of whet the weekend would consist of. There was many many screen based products, tackling the web in many strange and wonderful ways. This was great, as my experience with screen based design is self-admittedly lacking. I was at MozFest of course in an educational sense as well as to promote myself as a creative designer. so this gave me the opportunity to increase my understanding and confidence in a new field.

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The next day it was time for me and my colleague (Sylvester) to present U-WAVE. We were based in the “Garage” section of the “Global Village”. So first thing we built the structures we were going to be presenting in and around out of the hundreds of cardboard boxes that we had constructed the previous day. After that was done we started talking to people about our project. As I stated before most of the presented projects were screen based, this meant that our tangible project was a big hit. Many people took great interest in U-WAVE and even returned with their friends to show them what we had created. The biggest interest came from teachers and tech savvy creatives, there was lots of questions like “so I can make this?” and “Can I use this in my class?”. I’m happy to say that many people were inspired by U-WAVE and that there was a lot of promises of people making their own radio using our tutorial.

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I love to learn and something I am not proud about is my lack of knowing when it comes to screen based interfaces. I partook in a workshop by Cyber-Ducks own Danny Bluestone and Benjamin Maugain on the second day of the event. There workshop was based around (UCD) User Centred Design in the context of App generation. Through this workshop I learned what techniques you must undergo in order to create an effectively designed experience for the end user.

UCD_new

Finally myself and Sylvester presented and displayed U-WAVE at the closing expo at the end of the day. During this event U-WAVE gained more interest than ever before. We even had someone say “I saw this online the other day! It’s BRILLIANT. I’m making one for sure!” it was a great experience to see so many people excited about the work I was doing.

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The event as a whole was a great success. I was able to learn new skills as well as hone my presentation skills. On top of all that I was able to meet many interesting and passionate people working in extremely interesting fields. I will be back next year to present again I’m sure, however next time I intend to host at least one workshop to share my experiences and skills.

Open-Source and Final Build

From the start of this project we have been planning every step to coordinate with Mozilla’s open web ideology, a state of thinking that I share. I decided to make the project available to all by publishing the step by step build process online for free. The website that I used to do this is called Instructables.com; it is a completely free platform in with anyone can publish their step by step project online for open access. I had some experience of Instructables before, I actually published my process in create my own FM Radio back in 2011. Please follow this link to view my Instructables account.

I split U-WAVES step by step build process into 11 sections. These sections can be seen below and can be found in detail by following this link

  • Downloading the OS
  • Choosing you Radio Stations
  • Developing the Interface
  • Laser Cutting the Radio Body
  • Build the Raspberry Pi Cases
  • Fitting the Electronics
  • Building the Radio Sides
  • Putting it All Together
  • Veneering the Radio Body
  • (Optional) Finishing Techniques
  • Finished Radio!

 

I feel that creating open-source content is an essential part of what we must do to further the creation and education of creative technology. With the current technology that exist it is easy for anyone to build and create anything that their minds can dream up.

Processes: 3D Print vs Lasercut

Because we are developing this radio as “Open-Source” we would like to make every stage available for download, including the Manufacture of the physical radio form. The best way to do this is by using a digital fabrication tool such as a laser cutter or a 3D printer.

 

3D Printing

3D printing is great; it allows us to craft part that we would be unable to by any other means. As can be seen from the images below the detail that this process can go into is extraordinary indeed. 3D printing is on the rise and it is a very exciting field, this makes it a great asset to present at MozFest. It is also a great may to develop the open source aspect of the design as it can be created using just a couple of files. The down side to 3D printing is that it’s very expensive at times and the lower cost materials and machines can only produce a substandard piece. I have used 3D printers a few times and I feel that the part always appears cheap and not very attractive. As our radio does not have any parts that we will be unable to make by any other means I doubt we will use a 3D printer in our manufacturing process.

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Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a fantastic process that I use on a regular basis. The process is great because you can create an extremely accurate piece without creating a great deal of mess, in record time. The process is also great for our open source dialogue as the design can be published in hopefully just one file. Because of the fast paced outcome that can be generated from a laser cutter, it makes it a great prototyping tool. You can generate a great deal of prototypes to demonstrate every physical attribute of your design with ease. We intend to use a laser cutter actively within our design process, both within the final piece and the prototyping stage.

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Radios

We started with developing a Mood Board around radios in both the home made and consumer fields. this mood board can be seen below

Mood Board Image

I have had an extensive look on-line at example of people building their own internet radios. Sites like Instructables give detailed accounts of their process and some common themes have emerged. There are many examples of radios being built out of old radios with the insides removed. This process allows for more freedom if you do not have access to a 3D printer or laser cutter. The most common process however does involve using a laser cutter or 3D printer. I believe that this process is more valuable to us due to its open-source nature. Using a 3D printer or a laser cutter we could simply put the files up onto an Instructables page our self and create an easy to use open-source dialogue. Many of the Instructables examples are very clunky and basic, they look cheap and I believe that this is the problem with the current open source processes available. The intention with our design is to not look out of place on the shelves of John Lewis.

Mood Board 2
Mood Board 2

I took a trip to John Lewis to have a look at their current product line. I feel that desk research is great if you need quick and easy information, but nothing beats actually physically interacting with the product itself. John Lewis displays a great deal of stylist and on trend products, because of this I always use them to gain a perspective of the current market trends. The styles of radios that are popular at the moment seem to all have a real wood “wrap”, as can be seen below in my photographs. This style acts in parallel to the contemporary craft scene that is so popular at the moment and it makes perfect sense to use this form of styling in our piece. I intend to prototype some of these designs to see how appropriate they feel in the context of our design.

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Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a 3.5 inch Linux driven computer system that acts much like the computer I am writing this on now.  You can plug a keyboard, a mouse and a monitor and off you go, the really special thing about Raspberry Pi however is that it only costs £30(ish)! The fact that the device is so low cost means that makers such as myself can interrogate a computer system into things without a huge price tag. Would you like your fridge to message you when you run out of milk? How about a friendly notification to tell you that granny has got home from the shops safely? Anything is possible with a Raspberry Pi, if you know what to do with it.

I will be using Raspberry Pi as a server to stream music from the internet and to the speakers in my Open-Source Internet Radio. As an internet radio doesn’t just simply pick-up radio waves, the application of a computer system is essential. The device must connect using Wi-Fi to the internet and stream music without having to look it up.

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Guru’s Day

So now that guru’s day has gone and past I have the task of making sense of what insights I gained. For all of you that don’t know of this product design tradition ill elaborate. Gurus day is a day in which we invite several heads of industry or relevant creative minds to come up to Dundee to give us feedback on our work so far. We were blessed with the presence of eleven gurus:

Tim Regan: Microsoft Research

Adam Todd: MagneticNorth

Lee Sankey: Barclays

Seaton Baxter: DJCAD

Phillip Robertson: Tesco Bank

Emily Walters: Sopra Group

Callum Brown: rAndom International

Ryan McLeod: Equator

Finlay Craig: Barclays

David Flatla: School of Computing, UoD

Gavin Brown: Sopra Group

Jayn Wallace: DJCAD

David McKay: Tesco Bank

In the several hours we had with our gurus I was able to talk to four. This may not sound like a lot, but with 60 students all trying to have in-depth conversation’s there hard to get hold of.

With each guru that I talked to I introduced my concept and the process I went through to date. This gave them a general understanding of what I was trying to achieve and what possible areas I may need help with. As most of the gurus were digital designers I felt that I struggled to connect with them with my projects essence, as I wish to develop a completely tangible interface. They did however give me a few ideas on how to incorporate a digital aspect into my design (one of the necessary factors within the now Social Digital course that I’m studying).

I feel that I can mark the day a success due to two very useful insights that came out near the end of the day. First came from Seaton Baxter, a design scholar within the university specialising in the study of natural design systems. Seaton observed that what I was trying to achieve was in a sense an already established ritual within a constantly developing world. he then went on to exclaim that in a world that can’t seem to stop we need more systems that slow us down and allow us to appreciate the world. This is what I have been trying to do with my project from the beginning but I have always been apprehensive of how to execute it. From what Seaton had to say I was able to awaken an understanding of my project that I had been ‘shrouded in mist’ in the past. This understanding has allowed me to see more clearly the direction in which I wish to take my project and made me aware of an issue that I had buried under too much context.

The second major insight I received came from Barclay’s manager Lee Sankey during the Q&A session we had to finish off the day. When discussing with the guru panel about the need for new physical objects. Lee came out with a fantastic insight into the way that that most consumers company’s do business, “Tesla would be a much better company if instead of developing new products, they developed there technology to be implemented into existing products”. Lee is 100% correct, why do we have this excessive need to create new things. The result of this culture sees us throwing out masses of still functioning and often very valuable object purely because we want the new technology. What can’t we develop upgrades instead of replacements. We need to me more sustainable in the way we design and I personally believe that this is one of the major steps to achieving this. Anyway the way that this relates to my project left me feeling like an idiot. Through all my research I have found that people like to have their own tea brewing process using their own tea brewing utensils. This whole time I have been developing my concept I have had the idea of creating a device that includes all the kit you will need to preform the tea brewing task. Why I asked myself, why I am creating a kit that has all the components when exactly what the user wants is the ability to use their own utensils. I have been for many months not designing towards giving the users something they already have. This is a waste of both resources and actually conflicts the entire essence of what I am trying to do. I sincerely thank Lee for that comment because it has enabled me to think in a completely different way about my entire design process, not only in this project but as a whole. Its amazing how much one simple little insight can awaken, it can spread like wild fire though your mind and set ablaze many equally wonderfully insights that can awake a passion within.

I am very happy with the insights I gained from the day and with be able to progress with my project I a much more meaningful way as a result.

Chinese Tea

Chinese tea culture is one of the biggest and most traditional tea cultures in the world. The word Chinese tea culture refers to the methods of preparation, the equipment used and the occasions in which the tea in consumed. Tea culture in China differs from that of Europe, Britain or Japan in such things as preparation methods, tasting methods and the occasions for which it is consumed. Even now, in both casual and formal Chinese occasions, tea is consumed regularly. In addition to being a drink, Chinese tea is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in Chinese cuisine.

There are several special circumstances in which tea is prepared and consumed in china:

  • As a sign or respect
  • For a family gathering
  • To apologise
  • To express thanks to your elders on ones wedding day
  • To connect large family’s on wedding days
  • Folding the napkin in tea ceremonies is regarded as one of the seven daily necessities to keeping away bad Qi energy

All of these factors allow the Chinese tea culture to have value, something that our western tea culture does not share.

 

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Tea ceremonies

The Chinese tea ceremony, also called the Chinese Way of Tea, is a Chinese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of tea leaf. The manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance is shown in the tea ceremony. Taoism has also been an influence in the development of the tea ceremony. The elements of the Chinese tea ceremony is the harmony of nature and enjoying tea in an informal and formal setting. Tea ceremonies are now being revived in China’s new fast-paced culture, and continuing in the long tradition of intangible Chinese art.

 

Influence of tea on Chinese culture

Tea has had a major influence on the development of Chinese culture. Chinese traditional culture is closely connected with Chinese tea. Tea is often associated with literature, arts, and philosophy. Tea is connected closely with Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Roughly, since Tang Dynasty, drinking tea is a must for self-cultivation. Chinese Chan (or Japanese Zen) philosophy is also linked with drinking tea. The eastern world is very strongly connected with the values of tea.

 

Tea ware

Traditionally tea drinkers were regarded as the academic and cultural elites of society because the practice of drinking tea was considered to be an expression of personal morality, education, social principles, and status. Increased enthusiasm for tea drinking led to the greater production of tea ware, and also significantly popularized Chinese porcelain culture.

 

Teahouse

Chinese scholars have used the teahouse for places of sharing ideas. Teahouse is the by-product of Chinese tea culture but it also the historical evidence of Chinese tea history. Currently, people can also feel such a kind of humanistic atmosphere in Beijing like Lao She Teahouse and East China like Hangzhou, Suzhou, Yangzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi, Shaoxing and Shanghai and so on. It is still dynamic and vigorous.

 

Modern culture

In modern China, virtually every dwelling — even down to the simplest mud hut — has a set of tea implements for brewing a hot cup of tea. These implements are symbols of welcome for visitors or neighbours. Traditionally, a visitor to a Chinese home will be expected to sit down and drink tea while talking; the Chinese consider having such visits while standing to be uncouth. There are several types of tea: green tea, oolong tea, red tea, black tea, white tea, yellow tea, puerh tea and flower tea. Tea leaves are traditionally produced by constantly turning fresh leaves in a deep bowl. This process allows the tea to dry with its full flavour ready to be used.

 

Teahouse

Traditionally, the elites of Chinese society have regarded particular teahouses as sanctuaries for sharing ideas. The teahouse was a place where political allegiances and social rank were said to have been temporarily suspended in favour of honest and rational discourse. As cited above, the leisurely consumption of tea was common in promoting conviviality and civility amongst the participants.

 

 

Chinese Brewing Methods

There are many different ways of brewing Chinese tea depending on variables like the formality of the occasion, the means of the people preparing it and the kind of tea being brewed. For example, green teas are more delicate than oolong teas or black teas and should be brewed with cooler water as a result. Two other primary methods of brewing tea are the Chaou method and the Gongfucha method. Chaou brewing tends towards a more formal occasion and is generally used for more delicate teas, medicinal teas and tea tastings. Gongfucha brewing is a far more formal method of tea brewing although even this method can be made more or less formal depending on the occasion.

 

Chaou brewing

The chaou is a three piece teaware consisting of a lid, cup/bowl, and a saucer. Chaous are generally made of porcelain or are glazed on the inside in order to prevent a buildup of tannins. The chaou may be used on its own or with tasting cups on the side. Chaou brewing is usually employed in tea tasting situations, such as when buying tea, where neutrality in taste and ease of access to brewing leaves for viewing and sniffing is important. This method of serving is often used in informal situations, though it can also be used on more formal occasions. Chaou brewing

can be used for all forms of teas though lightly oxidized teas benefit most from this brewing method.

 

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Gongfu chadao/ (tea ceremony) brewing

The Gōngfu Chá Dào also known as “Gongfucha” or the “Kung Fu Tea Ceremony” is a relatively famous tradition of Minnan and Chaozhou or Chaoshan. It makes use of small Yixing tea wares teapot of about 100 – 150 ml (4 or 5 fl.oz.) to enhance the aesthetics, and more importantly “round out” the taste of the tea being brewed. Yixing teapot brewing sides towards the formal, and is used for private enjoyment of the tea as well as for welcoming guests. Depending on the region of China the steps may differ, as will the tools used in the making of tea (e.g. Taiwanese-style Gongfu cha which makes use of several additional instruments including tweezers and a tea strainer). This procedure is mostly applicable to Oolong teas only although some use it to make Pu’erh and other double-fermented teas.

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Chinese tea culture will have to play a vital part in any cultural tea design that I develop and so a great understanding of its philosophy will be essential.

Herbs

 

From my early research I have developed the opinion that tea is no longer experienced as a delicate process and is regularly rushed. I started to think of a way of making the tea production process more interesting and engaging. Then a thought occurred to me, how fascinating it would be to harvest your own leafs and take them through the whole tea brewing process. This would engage and interest the user in the elegance of the production process. Unfortunately the whole process can take months and so the user would need to start making the tea months before the tea could be consumed, not very convenient at all. As I was thinking up a way of somehow shortening this process I had a revelation.

I have always been interested in the concept of creating tea from natural herbs. The concept of using freshly grown live herbs in place of dried tea leafs seems to bring a positive healthy aspect to the tea brewing process. As herbs are currently household plants it would be an easy transition from using them for food preparation to tea production.

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From conducting research into herbal combinations I decided to get my hands on some. There is no better way of learning than through physical trials; because of this I tried different types of herbal tea combinations in the hope for a good combination. I decided to go for some typical household herbs to start: Basil, Rosemary, Parsley and Spearmint. The combinations that I have developed through these herbs have had mixed reviews. The spearmint gives a very sweet and flavoursome taste whereas the parsley gives a very bitter taste.

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On conducting further research into this area I have found that herbs like Catnip, Lemon Balm and Spearmint give the best tea flavours. I have also discovered that the use of the stevia plant will sweeten your tea in replacement of sugars. I am interested in furthering my research into this field and will post any further developments as they happen.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity’s and Threats. This exercise allows you to visualise where your business would be best positioned. It also allows others to see your strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to help you better your business. The main reason for doing SWOT analysis is to point out weaknesses and develop them into strengths. I conducted a SWOT analysis of my Product and here are the results

Strengths:

  • Original Concept
  • Ethical support

Weakness:

  • Low market presence
  • Small client base

Opportunity’s:

  • Very little competition
  • New product area
  • Could generate excitement
  • Ethical market support

Threats:

  • New market niche
  • New target market
  • Possible competitors later on

This exercise has helped me visualize my business in a new way; I’ve learned that I have a lot of opportunity’s but also a lot of threats. My next stage is to develop those threats into opportunities. Below is an image of my worksheet.

My Worksheet
My Worksheet

Evidence Modelling

As an entrepreneur you will always have an idea of what you want your business to be. The issue occurs when others ask you to express this idea; it’s a lot harder to articulate an idea without drawing it out or presenting it with a visual aid. Evidence modelling is a way to understand how your business manifests through visualization. This exercise poses four questions you can run your idea through:

01 What does it enhance?

02 What does it replace/make less desirable?

  • For example, online news – with blogs and so on – is making the traditional newspaper less desirable.

03 What does it revive?

  • New ideas can change how we see and value older ones. For example, because people now mostly buy music digitally, vinyl records have changed from being common to being rare. And that means they now have a new value as collectible objects worth a lot of money.

04 What might be the backlash?

  • Could an idea become so successful it actually ends up having a negative effect? For example, if a car-sharing service is so well designed it actually tempts people off public transport and into cars, increasing congestion, then a successful idea actually ends up having a negative effect.

By working through these questions you will discover things that you did not comprehend. I completed this exercise for one of my past projects that I’m passionate about, Touchwood (can be found under the Touchwood section of this blog). From my research I gained using this exercise I discovered some issues that may occur as a result of its market presence. Below I have listed my answers for the questions within the exercise:

01 What does it enhance?

  • Visually impaired community
  • Disabled independence
  • Equality
  • Weather awareness
  • Stress reduction

02 What does it replace/make less desirable?

  • Product recognition software
  • Personal assistant/carer
  • Weather software
  • A analogue hallway presence

03 What does it revive?

  • Wall mounted coat racks
  • Demand for hallway tech
  • Hidden function devices get a reboot
  • Hallway personality

04 What might be the backlash?

  • Rapid weather change could result in an incorrect reading?
  • Possible low demand
  • High possible cost of production

This information has helped me visualize my business concept and I not have a much clearer view of where to take it next. The image below shows my filled out exercise sheet:Photo 28-02-2013 11 36 56

 

A special thanks to the NESTA team for creative the Creative Enterprise Toolkit of which this exercise derives.

http://www.nesta.org.uk/areas_of_work/creative_economy/creative_enterprise_toolkit_startups/assets/features/creative_enterprise_toolkit