Fan Group Observation

A fan tweeting about the signing event

So the both of us went to attend a book signing for a YA author named Ryan Graudin, held at an indie bookstore called Books of Wonder. Jade has no previous knowledge about this author, while Shannelle’s very familiar with the fandom, but she wasn’t expecting it to be so small. There were about 20 people attending. She was following a Twitter called YA Book Events NYC, who had been live-tweeting the event as well sharing updates like how the event was starting a little later than advertised, or pieces from the talk. From the angle of the photos, we guessed that she was one of the two people sitting at the front in the second column of seats, which didn’t really matter, as they were friends.

Shannelle found out about this as she was lining behind a relatively well-known book blogger, known as Alexa, and the two people we were guessing to be the YA Events tweeter went up to her, along with someone else, and started chatting about books. Shannelle managed to hear Alexa complimenting someone else about her readings speed, and she even saw one of them hand over an advanced reader’s copy (ARC-cheap editions of a book sent to media for review purposes ahead of the publishing date) of Batman: Nightwalker over to Alexa. Since the author’s Marie Lu, it’s definitely an ARC that’s very, very in-demand.

Fans waiting in line for signing
Taking selfie with the author

So arguably, these are the big-name fans, and we’re guessing they’re in the middle-aged demographic. We didn’t really spot someone who looked like a teen (what does a teen even look like?), although there was a middle-aged man, and including us, we were definitely the smaller players. Again, since it was small, there wasn’t really a chance for people to assert their hierarchy, like people waiting in line before Hillary Clinton’s signing event at Barnes and Noble in Union Square. From Shannelle’s previous years being in the online fandom, she argues that those are far better group cohesion activities, especially with how people show off the ARCs they receive from publishers, and offline activities like signings can be a way to show off hierarchy–I was at this event and you weren’t!–if the author is big enough.

Terms on Universal Principles of Design

4 Words: Closure, Good Continuation, Law Of Prägnanz, Proximity


The principle of closure states that whenever possible, people tend to perceive a set of individual elements as a single, recognizable pattern, rather than multiple, individual elements. The tendency to perceive a single pattern is so strong that people will close gaps and fill in missing information to complete the pattern if necessary.

The elements are perceived !1ollstlCillly as a single pattern first (circle), and then as individual elements

When simple, recognizable patterns are not easily perceived, designers can create closure through transitional elements (Le., subtle visual cues that help direct the eye to find the pattern).

Closure can be used to make us perceive objects or patterns using the smallest amount of information. Our minds are so eager to fill in the missing information that it can be done with very few elements. Use closure to reduce the complexity and increase the interestingness of designs.

Creating Effective Closure:
  • Positive and negative space
    This can be achieved by looking for the hidden forms in the negative space of a design or within type. Additionally, removing elements from the foreground can create interesting negative shapes, and in doing so, simplify a design.
  • Contrast
    Create a strong contrast between the foreground elements and background. As always, black-and-white creates the best contrast, but you can also experiment with complementary colors for strong contrast as well.
  • Color
    Color not only adds life to a design, it also can be used to reinforce relationships, especially if using abstract shapes to represent forms.

    Reducing elements and using negative space simplifies NBC’s current logo (the right one)

    Negative space forms the forward-moving arrow in FedEx’s logo

Good Continuation:

It asserts that aligned elements are perceived as a single group or chunk, and are interpreted as being more related than unaligned elements.

Our mind chooses the path of least resistance, perceiving lines as continuing along their established direction. The ability to accurately perceive objects depends largely on the perceptibility of tile corners and sharp curves that make up their shape. When sections of a line or shape are hidden from view, good continuation leads the eye to continue along the visible segments.

Create Effective Continuation
    • Avoid disruption, or use it to your advantage.
      To encourage movement, avoid elements in your design that might disrupt the established direction of movements, such as too much white space between elements or large graphics or images. Conversely, you can use disruption to focus attention on an important element or to signify the beginning or end of a section or grouping.
    • Ensure good alignment and consistency between elements.
      Make sure that the elements establishing direction are aligned well and consistently styled. Poorly aligned or inconsistently styled elements will either undermine the direction of movement or cause the eye to lose the established direction.
    • Use cues to suggest direction.
      For horizontal scrolling, such as we saw in the App Store, indicating that there is more to see to the left or right to help establish the direction of movement.

This linear arrangement of the rows and columns of these various apps makes the app icons seem more related than other elements on the screen, such as the time display, the battery indicator. Continuation can be used to imply a direction to follow when space is limited. Play this short video to see it in action.

Law Of Prägnanz:

It asserts that when people are presented with a set of ambiguous elements (elements that can be interpreted in different ways), they interpret the elements in the simplest way. Here, “simplest” refers to arrangements having fewer rather than more elements, having symmetrical rather than asymmetrical compositions.

Both sets of figures are interpreted as Simple overlapping shapes, rather than a more complex interpretation – e.g., two inverted “L ” shapes and a square, and two triangles and a five-sided polygon

Therefore, minimize the number of elements in a design. Note that symmetrical compositions are perceived as simpler and more stable than asymmetrical compositions, but symmetrical compositions are also perceived to be less interesting. Favor symmetrical compositions when the efficiency of use is the priority, and asymmetrical compositions when interestingness is the priority.


It asserts that elements close together are perceived as a single group or chunk, and are interpreted as being more related than elements that are farther apart.

The grouping resulting from proximity reduces the complexity of designs and reinforces the relatedness of the elements. Conversely, a lack of proximity results in the perception of multiple, disparate chunks, and reinforces differences among elements.

Proximity is one of the most powerful means of indicating relatedness in a design.

White Space

White space guides the user’s eyes in the intended direction, creates contrast and makes a lasting impression.

Hype Type Studio business card

The card above is a good design example which makes great use of proximity as the information is all related. Take note how the studio name and its descriptive text are grouped together, which makes perfect sense as these three lines all have a connection to each other — the name of the business and what the business does. Now look at the second paragraph — this contains all the contact information about the business.

Creating Visual Hierarchy

Hierarchy is conveyed by the way in which elements are grouped and sub-grouped. For example, a grid-based layout, with appropriate gutter sizes, allows for plenty of room between sections, and in many cases, it forces the designer to implement principles of proximity without even thinking about it.


Preparation For Phase 1 Project

Datasets: Documenting Hate News Index (Raw Data)FBI Hate Crime Statistics

A hate crime is a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.

Google News Lab, recently released a tool meant to further that mission: the Hate Crime Index. Created with data viz studio Pitch Interactive, the Index uses machine learning to automatically collect articles that cover racism, bigotry, and abuse.

The project is important because, according to ProPublica’s larger Documenting Hate project, there is no reliable national database of hate crimes. The Index is primarily intended to help journalists, researchers, and civil rights organizations get a broader view on the national situation. There’s a serious lack of data about hate crimes: Although the FBI is required by law to collect hate crime data, local jurisdictions are not required to report incidents to the federal government. As a result, the FBI’s data is patchy, incomplete, and practically useless.

In Rogers’s view, it’s the job of data journalists, like his team at Google News Lab, to fill in those gaps and bring accurate and complete data to people. The Documenting Hate Index leverages machine learning and Google’s trove of search data to surface the first layer of data quickly and easily so that journalists can use it to bring the increase in hate crimes since the election under greater scrutiny.

As Rogers puts it, there are plenty of amazing local reporters who are picking up on hate crime incidents in their region, but those reports never get seen elsewhere. The Index offers journalists the ability to connect isolated incidents to the bigger picture of what’s going on in our country today. “Anything that brings truth and facts and data to this issue is important,” he says.

Good And Bad Design

Good Design: The MTA MetroCard Vending Machine

New York’s iconic ticket vending machines, designed by Antenna Design and featured in the Museum of Modern Art, have always delighted the design appreciator in me.

MTA Vending Machine
  • Clear digital and physical mapping: The mappings inherent to the interface and physical structure strongly contribute to the machine’s usability.

Touch screen – Black

Cash & coins section – Green

Metro Card section – Yellow

Credit/ATM Card Section – Blue

Change/ Receipt – Red

  • Instant feedback: Every press of an on-screen button results in an immediate change in screen state (like flashing effect and moving texts to the top menu bar), letting users know that their inputs are resulting in actions.
  • Low risk of making mistakes: Various slots each have unmistakable physical clues for how to operate the machine. Insertion areas for ATM cards, MetroCards, and bills all feature distinctive shapes that do not permit the accidental insertion of the wrong object. The coin slot is designed to accept only coins. The receipts fall into a compartment with a hinged outer door, which clearly permits dispensing as opposed to insertion. There’s also an image of showing which direction we should insert the metrocard in for refill.

Bad Design: The Washington DC MetroCard Vending Machine

  • So much information on one machine, no hierarchy, overwhelming to userS. Ticket buyers are confronted with an overwhelming amount of information yielding an unguided flow of user interaction, causing traffic jams at the machines.

  • Price chart hard to read, causing back up at the machines.
  • Does not have multiple language options
  • New farecard amounts automatically start at $20.00, users have to manually adjust the price in the window to the fare and click all the way down to the price they want.


3 Mins Presentation

I am a fan of indie games and for this following 3 minute, I’d like to share my so far favorite game with you. The whole gaming experience would take approximately one and a half hour, and it has no traditional mechanics, no goals or objectives. Instead, it tells the story of a person struggling to deal with something they do not understand.

No matter if you are a game person or not, you might have asked: What are games? “A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome.” Stated by Eric Zimmerman and Katie Salen. However, The Beginner’s Guide is trying to deconstruct the traditional system of gameplay rules.

After The Stanley Parable was released, many people criticized the lack of the fundamental mechanism with only “making choices” as the gameplay rule, but The Beginner’s Guide further stripped this basic mechanism to present each level as a unique game prototype (e.g. the basement in which we can only walk backwards, the stairway that becomes harder to climb as it gets higher, the endless cycle of house cleanup chores etc.) Level designs in this game are smashing the players’ inherent expectations for the puzzles, using “unfinished” as an excuse and means of to challenging our basic acknowledgment of games. Actually, the gameplay we usually talk about is just like designers deceiving players, since however obscure or covert a puzzle design, a game with basic business logic will always give players the key to unlock the puzzle. The relationship between the designer and the player is not like the dungeon lord and the fighter, but a pair of a sober and unconscious conspirator in a game that is predefined.

However, The Beginner’s Guide revolts against the deceptive essence of “game” itself. For example, when walking towards the beam that differs from the conventional setting for the ending, Coda devises a rapid rise of the player’s perspective. Penetrating through the walls, from the top the player can overlook the entire level, which breaks through the shield layer between the game designers and players and let players own the ultimate perspective that far exceeded the main view, the third-person view or even God’ s eye view: the designer’s view. This game endeavors to challenge players’ cognition of the definition of games through elaborate level constructions. In chapter 13 “Mobius”, the only way to prevent the occurrence of the disaster and the arrival of reincarnation is to select the sentence: ”I can’t keep making these.” While the blind in this level are marching on normal conversations corresponding to this scenario, the key to the exclusive answer rests with the player jumping out of the delineated context and standing in Coda’s point of view to reveal his voice. The identity as a player coincides with it as the game designer again. Coda assimilated his emotion into game design and what he did is not depriving the player of his rights but allowing him to express himself through the games he created.

Describing a game designer’s mental experience by level designs, what Coda confronts is exactly what every human must face: the conflict between the initial value of creations and the individual social value, as well as communication plights among people, in which were never dabbled by other games. So who does a game belong to? This game shows the delicate relationships between the designer, the critics, and the audience. Coda’s creations originate from the resistance against gamers’ authority and he designs several tricks to prevent players from moving on. His creativity remains silent under siege by the press and players and refuses to incarnate the individual social value, just like the old but tough, bulletproof machine. Meanwhile, by hiding the existence of the original designer, Wreden falls into the struggle that he intends to inspire himself for the creation and not be interrupted by the critics and wanton conjectures outside. On the other hand, he inevitably wants to share whatever he explores in game design to more people and find validation through feedback from the outside. Furthermore, what roles do the audience play in this game? It worths pondering whether the personality of Coda we perceived is a true portrayal of the designer or only the imagination scraped together from the game itself.

Roland Barthes claimed in his essay “The Death of the Author” that the author’s intentions or the contents themselves are meaningless unless the articles are endowed with various interpretations through the behavior of “being read”. While Roland gives full power to the reader, he erases the existence of the author and the text itself. If it were not the success of The Stanley Parable, we would not even see how much agony Coda feels when losing all drive for creation right in the spotlight. It is true that a piece of work may lose infinite possibilities without interpretations of any audience, but it does not mean that these contexts never exist. Even in the absence of a player, the level design and narrative modes have broken many banal habits in the game industry.

Going back to the question, what are games? Perhaps they are just like what is indicated in the last scene of The Beginner’s Guide numerous eccentric and unique pieces that construct the immense universe of games. And the reasons why this universe is so captivating are the nonstop explorations outside the boundaries and the continuous voices of sincere hearts.

Reading Response: The Medium is the Message

This week’s reading assignment is two chapter clips from Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, by Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan’s famous rhetoric is that “The medium is the message”, the content which medium delivers is not of his top concern, or that he believes that the role of the content simply can not be compared with the medium itself when speaking of the impacts on the human. It makes me think of the role of a traditional newspaper (can be in digital form) and the news feed on a social media app. Even though they are talking about the same specific news, the medium itself is also passing the message: politics vs. entertainment, mainstream vs. public, serious vs. popular.

If “The medium is the message” pushes the role of media from behind scene to the stage, then McLuhan’s bold view that “characteristic of all media, means that the “content” of any medium is always another medium” really makes me excited. Broadly speaking, in every new media environment, they all include the old environment of the previous age, just like electric media uses the mechanized environment for the content. While in the narrow sense, the “content” of any specific medium is another medium, the extension of our organs are completed in the transformation and processing with the each other parts.

It is because of one medium becoming the content of another one, the influence of the medium will be much stronger. Only when this medium is compatible with other ones, can it be widely disseminated and people can feel the shock it brings. As people gradually started to shoot videos using mobile phones, it is only a small range of entertaining themselves by playing with some home videos; However with the rising popularity of the internet, the phone recording videos are often placed on the whole public network for the audience to click and choose. The widespread video of an Asian passenger focibly removed from the United Airlines was exactly showing that internet made the kind of explosive senation effect. The power if social media and Web 2.0.

Although McLuhan strongly emphasized the great role of the medium, he did not pessimistically believe that the medium would be able to dominate the fate of mankind. At the time of the hybridization of the two media, it would be the time of reavelation. And it is the similarity of the two media that makes us stay on the border, which wakes us up from the state of narcissistic numbness.

In addition, he also mentioned the arts and artists, which he believes that artists can consciously adjust the various personal and social factors, to adapt to the new extension. We can tell that McLuhan really admires artists from his large quotes from writers, playwrights, musicians who have the ability to perceive new technology in advance. I think he is emphasizing a sense of the whole or a field theory, that is, his heart to wish the returning state of human. Because the artists have the overall consciousness, they will be able to correct the sense ratios before beaten to numbness by the new medium. And if everyone can reach the kind of collective unconscious state, to percieve with the overall sense of perception rather than a specific sensory, then even if new technology or new media comes, we can still calmly deal with, not then hypnotized into the state of numbness where we are not aware of.

Blippar Doge Demo

Blippar doge demo from mostlyHarmless on Vimeo.

I am a huge fan of doge, so this week I’d like to bring my favorite meme to life.

At first, I created an animation using Processing and exported it as GIF. However, I found it no way to show any gif on Blippar (it only shows a blank white image). So I have to change another plan and save some frames of my processing sketch.

GIF created through Processing

I removed the black background of the images and turned them into transparent using photoshop for better AR experience.I tried to make a stop-motion animation using these images, unfortunately, I didn’t find a way to arrange the time for showing up of different images. So I had to change the original idea and make separate scenes for my story.

Scene #1
Scene #2
Scene #3