Posts tagged “philosophy”

ChittahChattah Quickies

The Philosophy of Food Project [University of North Texas] – Food is definitely delightfully deep. This ambitious project covers such ground as Food Metaphysics, Gustatory Aesthetics and Food Identity. Rich fare. For a little mental sorbet, watch a meditative video of Andy Warhol eating a hamburger included on their Links page. Sit back, relax, and ponder the meaning of flat meats and reluctant ketchup.

The Philosophy of Food Project is housed in the Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies at the University of North Texas. It aims to disseminate information about the philosophical investigation of food; increase the visibility of food as a topic for philosophical research; serve as a resource for researchers, teachers, students, and the public; galvanize a community of philosophers working on food issues; and help raise the level of public discourse about food, agriculture, animals, and eating. The role of philosophy is to cut through the morass of contingent facts and conceptual muddle to tackle the most basic questions about food: What is it exactly? How do we know it is safe? What should we eat? How should food be distributed? What is good food? These are simple yet difficult questions because they involve philosophical questions about metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics. Other disciplinary approaches may touch on these questions concerning food but only philosophy addresses them explicitly.

Airline lets passengers choose seat partners based on social media profiles [Springwise] – A clever concept at first glance, and certainly a perfectly understandable, some might even say natural use of social media, right? But I question the utility here, and the ability to produce repeatable positive experiences in real life. Do they realize that on airplanes you are stuck next to that person for the next x-amount of hours? The mind reels with potential horror stories. I for one still want some part of IRL to be uninfluenced by social media. Maybe that’s particularly so for me, as a middle-aged presumed-introvert. I dunno… do others have a different response to this?

KLM are reportedly developing a similar service to enable passengers to choose who they sit next to on their flight. However, unlike MHBuddy, which operates solely through Facebook, KLM’s new Meet and Seat service will enable passengers to access their fellow travelers’ LinkedIn profiles as well. The Meet and Seat service will allow passengers to choose their in-flight neighbors based on their occupation, mutual interests and appearance. By connecting to LinkedIn and Facebook during online check-in, passengers will be able to pick their ideal seat buddy, although both parties will have to choose to participate in the service. KLM believe it will provide an opportunity for networking, though other reports suggest it’s more likely to be used as a matchmaking tool.

The Art of Video Games [Smithsonian] – I am seriously tempted to make a trip to DC to see this exhibit. It takes an art historical approach, considering the video game as a serious art form in it’s own right, both reflecting our culture and in many senses, helping to shape it.

The Art of Video Games is one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies. The exhibition will feature some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers…Video games use images, actions, and player participation to tell stories and engage their audiences. In the same way as film, animation, and performance, they can be considered a compelling and influential form of narrative art. New technologies have allowed designers to create increasingly interactive and sophisticated game environments while staying grounded in traditional game types. The exhibition will feature eighty games through still images and video footage.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • HERMENAUT: Fake Authenticity: An Introduction – Equaled in fake authenticity only by Restoration Hardware, which sells new-but-old-looking pencil sharpeners and fire irons to people who apparently want to live inside a catalog, The House of Blues doesn't bother to lacquer its walls with old Ebony magazine covers, like the recently deceased bluesman Junior Kimbrough did at his juke joint in Mississippi. Instead, Ackroyd & co. just bought Kimbrough's place as soon as he died and carved it up for cufflinks. That might not be exactly accurate, but it is how you feel when you step inside a HoB. They do sell "outsider art" cufflinks, though. Did you know that HoB has its own curator? who's aggressively acquired for that chain the world's largest collection of outsider art? A questionable category anyway, this kind of painting is freely mixed at the Harvard Square HoB with old signs advertising everything from shoeshines to churches, and faux-aged signs entreating you to "Have mercy & say yeah!" and directing you to the T-shirt display.
  • Zara Logue's Contemporary Design class at University of Oregon – This semester's theme is Authenticity. I'll be giving a guest lecture (remotely) on April 29.

Class Acts

Recently I wrote about a Bad Survey, exhorting design instructors to pay more attention to why and how surveys are being used by their students. I was reacting to a pretty bad example I had encountered and I ripped on it and offered some suggestions for improvement.

The students involved in creating the survey contacted me, thanked me for the input and asked if we could set up some time to talk. We spoke yesterday, and I was so impressed. Standard reaction when someone criticizes someone else (online, I guess) is to lash out. Ideally in as inarticulate a fashion as possible. But these four folks were awesome – they got on the phone with me with specific questions, not about just the survey, but about research methods in general (something they are obviously not getting from their program!), about careers, and identities when our skill sets span traditional disciplines (hello, it’s The Overlap). They asked me about my background, and shared theirs with me. They respected my time and they all sent thank you notes afterwards.

Their were no embarrassment on their part or discomfort on my part for having criticized their work. And frankly, they set that tone in how they approached it. I didn’t feel weird about what I had written now that I had names and voices to go with the work, because they sincerely expressed appreciation for the help in making improvements.

I’ve met with a lot of students, career changers, young designers, future researchers and so on. Most handle it very well, but there was something exceptional here, given how it started, and that they turned the whole thing into a win-win through humility and curiosity. They invited me to visit their school next time I’m in their area.

We couldn’t cover all that and get really deep into research, the philosophy, the tools, the approaches, and so on (and of course, that’s more than a phone call) – but they are working hard to understand how the different tools (say, an open-ended interview, and a closed-ended survey) can address different design questions at different phases of a project. One gently amusing moment was a discussion of leading questions – one student had assumed this meant a question that led naturally to the next one (and of course, that’s a good thing) rather than, as I explained, a question that presumes a certain point of view and ultimately makes it harder for the person to give a true answer (i.e., Aren’t you disappointed that Jon Stewart didn’t host the Academy Awards?).

Learning is not just the information and experience you have or don’t have (and it’s clear that there’s some crucial info these folks don’t yet have)…it’s an approach to the people around you, indeed the world around you, and I’m so excited by the approach that this group of students is taking.


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