UX of La Molleindustria

The Molleindustria website offers a truly unique user experience because they are a company like no other.  At first glance, the website seems like a children’s game website.  The vibrant colors, childish animations, and simple layout surely look innocent enough; however, once you look even a little deeper you’ll see this is definitely targeted towards teens and adults.  Molleindustria specializes in online games that tackle controversial subjects in society.  Their games range from ousting large corporations like Mcdonalds, to governments, to the Catholic Church.  An argument could be made that, those organizations themselves are the target audience and that these games are a call for action to address the issues the games point out.  More likely, the intended audiences are rebellious teens and adults that want to “stick it to the man” or simply just play an interesting flash game.

From the amount of media attention the website has received, over 50 articles proudly displayed on their own separate page of the website, it’s clear these games are literally making headlines.  The articles range from admiring their bravery of pointing out the flaws in society to outright disgust in the messages that the game sent.  Those are the exact kind of responses that Molleindustria hopes to get from these games.  They want to bring attention to these issues, while also having fun in doing that.  Their contact page even includes an encouragement for “christian pro-life tea-partier teocon anti-porn sexist right-winger with a lot of spare time” to contact them because they “love hateletters”.

Because Molleindustria is a website, it offers easy access to anyone with a computer and internet capabilities.  The website includes over 30 games, available 24/7.  The wide accessibility of these games has definitely been a factor in their popularity and ability to make a splash on an international level.  Overall, this “hactivist” group has done a great job in reaching their target audiences, engaging users, and getting responses in order to bring attention to a lot of societal failings.

The Interventionists: Chapter 4

A large amount of this chapter is spent introducing different “interventionist” groups or people and describing one of their big projects.  Most of the groups are not very well known and consist of volunteers working on the projects.  The second half of this chapter was spent talking about interventionist practices.  It discussed tactics used and gave a number of examples including the black factory, the taxi project, and the homeless vehicle project.

Key Concepts 

Tactics- a move to be used in playing a game.  In the case of interventionists, the moves are their projects and the game is the real world.

Globalism- changes in cultural and political climate that interconnected every country.  This had a dramatic effect on the strategies used by certain interventionist groups.

Critical Questions

Are art projects the most effective way to incite the changes that many interventionists groups hope to achieve?

Would taking a more traditional, political route to change perhaps be more effective for some of these issues?

Information Architecture: Appelbaum

In this excerpt, Appelbaum describes the process of transforming a museum exhibit to make a cohesive experience between the objects on display and the space they’re displayed in.  He talks about the importance of designing the layout out so the information can be best understood, which is especially important in an exhibit on evolution.  The idea of the specimen being the star is also brought up and used to explain why graphics and texts were “compressed” so as not to distract from the fossils.

Key Concepts

Specimen as the star- the idea that what is on display should be the main focus, and the space it’s in shouldn’t distract from that.

Diagrams- diagrams can be very useful in designing floor layouts that involve many distinct parts

Critical Questions

How much collaboration and give-and-take is done between the designers and the curators when making a museum exhibit?  Do they sometimes need to sacrifice historical accuracy in order to make a more cohesive exhibit?

Information Architecture: Bradford

Bradford delves deep into how important the visual aspect understanding information is.  He talks about how ideas that are intangible and hard to understand, like a calorie, can be more easily understood when the correct visual is important.  For information architecture, he talks about the importance of how information is displayed on a page: vertically, like an encyclopedia, or horizontally, like a dictionary.

Key concepts

Word relationships- how words with similar meanings or from the same subject can be grouped so they are most easily understood.

Mappings- using simple pieces like squares and arrows, complex concepts can be mapped

Critical Questions

Are some people more inclined to like standard definitions as opposed to seeing things graphically?

Shouldn’t all textbooks strive to teach difficult concepts using word relationships and mapping to make understanding complex ideas easier?

Information Architecture: Wurman

In this introduction, Wurman describes how many people go through life without actually understanding the information thrown at them on a daily basis.  Part of this is because of the lack of good design or architecture for said information.  He says that designers need to focus more on the information and less on the “confetti” designs.

Key Concepts

LATCH- the 5 ways to organize information: by location, alphabet, time, category or hierarchy

Information Architecture- the way information should be organized so that it can be most easily understood

Critical Questions

It’s been at least a decade since this was published, why can’t I get a degree in Information Architecture yet?

Why is our society more preoccupied with how the information is displayed than the importance oft the information?

Information is Beautiful

After reading this book I could not agree more with the title.  This book is a comprehensive showing of every type of graph imaginable.  McCandless does an excellent job of showcasing information in different graphical and visual ways.  What’s really unique is how he relates the type of graphs/visuals to the content and how he even uses visuals for his bibliography and image credits.

Key Concepts

Making a Book- This was a really cool visual that succinctly captured a lot of elements of what goes into making a book such as the development of ideas and the effects on the author’s relationship

Types of Information Visualization- Essentially a graphic of graphs that shows many of the ways that McCandless showed information.

Critical Questions

While the graphics are cool and everything, is there a greater purpose behind some of the information or is he simply trying to get the information out there?

Does the way this information is displayed help people retain it better than they would if they were traditional graphs?

AIDS Demo Graphics

This book essentially documents the movement in the 80’s to graphically spread awareness about AIDS.  As the title so cleverly suggests, a main problem was the lack of awareness in how AIDS affects people from all demographics, not just homosexual males.  It showcases a lot of work done by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power which includes a number of very controversial pictures and slogans.

Key Concepts

ACT UP- an AIDS advocacy group formed in the 80’s best known for radical and controversial demonstrations to bring awareness to the public.

Silence = Death Project- famed for creating the pink triangle poster that paralleled the lack of media coverage for AIDS to the Nazi’s silencing of gays using an inverted pink triangle.

Critical Questions

How effective are radical acts such as ACT UP in spreading knowledge to every day people as opposed to just getting media attention?

How have groups like ACT UP since influenced other radical awareness groups and are those groups as effective as they were in the 80’s?

Intimate Bureaucracies

This paper is essentially a call to action for creating sociopoetic systems.  It takes an in depth look at the Occupy movements and how their organization and communication systems facilitate their goals and demands.  These movements also can be seen as intimate bureaucracies that utilizes mass distribution through social media.

Key Points 

Occupy Wall Street Movement- an example of an intimate bureaucracy that sought to change policy and politics on Wall Street.

Intimate Bureaucracy- mixes impersonal systems, like government, with warm social atmospheres to create niches for ideas to manifest.

Critical Questions

How can we change current universities to work as intimate bureaucracies?

How has the Occupy Wall Street facilitated change in other impersonal systems in our society?

Experimental University

First and foremost, I need to point out the atrocious color this text was printed on and the havoc it wreaked on my eyesight. In my opinion, this article did a poor job of articulating it’s point.  The first couple paragraphs were spent talking about experimental universities and then that concept wasn’t revisited until the very end.  It touched on a few main points like emancipation and anarchy.  The purpose of this paper seemed to be to convince us that traditional universities are only interested in profit.

Key Points

Experimental University- A new type of way to learn outside the bounds of a physical university.

Emancipation- the “intersection of life and power”, being freed of the bondage of childhood

Anarchy- lawlessness that can create chaos but not necessarily.

Critical Questions

If we get rid of traditional universities, where are doctors and other professionals going to come from?

What kind of marketable skills can people expect to learn at experimental universities?