Thesis Presentation

May 12, 2012

Contextus (video) launch



Humanity’s effect on the earth

The Anthropocene age illustrated.

Process does not have rounded corners.
Liz Danzico
Preparing for defense
To prepare for my upcoming thesis defense this Friday, as well as gather all of the content for my process book, I started to take inventory of everything I produced in the last year. I went through each and every blog entry, thesis-related email, papers in my file folder, my three sketchbooks, my Google docs, bookmarked websites and all of my digital files. After jotting each separate item down on a post-it, I began organizing and sorting them into roughly a dozen different categories. My conclusion: I produced a ton of material over the last three semesters! And I’m still not done producing—in fact the final couple of weeks will most likely prove to be my most productive in terms of creating tangible, demonstrable assets for my thesis.

Preparing for defense

To prepare for my upcoming thesis defense this Friday, as well as gather all of the content for my process book, I started to take inventory of everything I produced in the last year. I went through each and every blog entry, thesis-related email, papers in my file folder, my three sketchbooks, my Google docs, bookmarked websites and all of my digital files. After jotting each separate item down on a post-it, I began organizing and sorting them into roughly a dozen different categories. My conclusion: I produced a ton of material over the last three semesters! And I’m still not done producing—in fact the final couple of weeks will most likely prove to be my most productive in terms of creating tangible, demonstrable assets for my thesis.

Be mindful of how you render your maps.
Advice for me from classmate Michael Yap, Fall 2011 semester


More @#$%&! Yeah!

The visual design of Contextus is more or less complete. Here are a few key screens and states that a user would see while navigating through it. As a test, I refined my previous experiment by placing these screens into Keynote and animated a couple of screens and interactions. More smoke and mirrors…

Now all I have to do is create specific screens for an individual’s taskflow, or rather four individuals, animate in keynote and film my actors ‘using’ Contextus in various locations. And remember to replace the lorem ipsum dummy text with something more real.

They can find answers in one of three ways: selecting the day’s featured question, browsing topics or by entering a direct search. The globe zooms to their destination and provides background info. They have the choice to find related maps or info, imagine “what-if…?” or answer the question. Thematic map overlays provide more information and start to build a story around the topic. What-if takes existing data and imagines would could have happened or what will happen by visualizing how one variable can affect other variables, showing correlations and connections. To complete the feedback loop, people can answer their own question publicly or browse through other’s answers to the same question, perhaps reply and engage in healthy discourse.

View all 39 visual design screens of Contextus



@#$%&! Yeah!

After experiencing frustration trying to use TAP to prototype an iPad app, I’ve turned to Keynote (big thanks to Sera for reminding me at 4am that Keynote is available on iOS!). I’m able to simulate a smoke & mirrors version of a working prototype of the Contextus app on an iPad, complete with nifty animations and transitions, much like I did for You Are Here, my final project for Public Interfaces class last semester. The video above simply shows two wireframe screen transitions. There is a noticeable delay between screens when Keynote is first launched, but it becomes smoother with any subsequent use. Now the plan will be to finish visual design, storyboard my video in detail, build all of the screens and animations and have my actors use the iPad in location. Its a big relief not having to add animations post-production, à la After Effects.


Wireframes, round one

In my Skype chat with my advisor Shawn today, I could see his eyes light up as we walked through my wireframes. Up until this point, everything I was doing for thesis was either research or conceptual/theoretical in nature. Now Contextus is starting to get tangible and more real, and I think Shawn was reacting favorably to that. I spent a considerable amount of time on these 35 pages of wireframes, the idea being to make them as tight as possible, allowing the application visual design a quicker, more streamlined process. Shawn had valuable feedback in the logic of some of these page transitions as well as the naming of buttons and features. We talked about the What-if feature at length and how it would make more sense mapping the lowest and highest values for each set of data to the lowest and highest values worldwide (and not to Haiti’s neighbor to the east). I’ll make changes based on his feedback, add some polish to the design and test out a quick n dirty prototype in TAP, a great tool for viewing your product idea in the context of an iPhone or iPad.

See all 35 wireframes

A thesis exploration by
Christopher Cannon for the
School of Visual Art's MFA
program in Interaction Design

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