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miLES in Fast Company!

miLES (Made in the Lower East Side), a community-centered initiative I have been advising and collaborating with (as well as former client to a student team from MFA Desuign for Social Innovation at SVA where I teach), was featured in Fast Company today!

This “Airbnb For Storefronts” Is Creating New Opportunities In A New York Neighborhood
Operating in the Lower East Side, miLES is trying ignite the community by filling empty commercial space with interesting businesses and organizations on short-term leases while the landlords wait for the right long-term tenants.

Read more on Fast Company




#DesignThyself – Long overdue update

Less than one month left to go until Gangnam Style! I have been negligent in my blogging obligations. It’s funny how fragile a habit can be. I was blogging about my progress every week, but then Spring Break, a week-long visit from an old friend who now lives in Hong Kong, and a minor illness happened. My #DesignThyself Korean study went out the window.

I was still listening to Gangnam Style during my twice weekly commutes to and from Staten Island, but I felt like I was reaching a plateau. I am familiar enough with the song now to get bored with it and tune it out, but still not familiar enough to just bust it out a capella. A plateau is a natural obstacle in the journey towards acquiring a new habit or skill. The key is to find motivation.

I have started working with a tutor, Mini Kim, a grad student from a neighboring department at SVA. Working with a native speaker is a great motivator, since I didn’t really have anyone to talk to in Korean before besides brief retail and restaurant interactions. Also, paying a tutor helps with the sense of investment and accountability, just like paying for a personal trainer at the gym – it’s not just for the guidance and expertise, but also for the motivation that we ourselves are lacking.

The hardest part about Korean is the vocabulary. Enough of it is close enough to Japanese or Chinese cognates that I can figure stuff out, but there is still a lot that is very different. I am continuing with the Talk to Me in Korean podcasts for grammar points, but also supplementing that with a picture book called Easy to Learn Korean Language with common vocabulary and phrases. My previous phrasebook had useful phrases, but it was wordy, had small print, and just didn’t feel fun. See, designing delight matters!


COM 115 – Animated GIFs

Tonight in my COM 115 Introduction to Design and Digital Media Environments class at the College of Staten Island, we are learning how to make animated GIFs. Using this original source photo I took in the East Village yesterday, I made these three demo animations in Flash, and then exported them as animated GIFs for the web.




panda heads flood

#DesignThyself Design

#DesignThyself on

I am teaching #DesignThyself, an online class on Skillshare starting April 20, 2013. Learn how to use design principles to acquire a new habit/behavior, make it stick, and document it online. Sign up today. The first 50 students to register can take the class for FREE! Use coupon code LAUNCHLO.

Are you interested in learning about design principles to affect change? Why not start with yourself? This class brings design thinking and design doing to a personal level. Throughout the course we will each design and document an intentional and proactive personal change in our lives. It could be learning a new skill, acquiring a new habit, or quitting an old one. The personal change could be related to health, sports, language learning, cooking, reading, or emotional/spiritual/creative practice. The projects should be related to personal growth and self-mastery, but also light-hearted, fun, and social. Think of it as part New Year’s resolution, part school science project (where you are your own guinea pig), and part reality show. My current #DesignThyself project is trying to learn basic conversational Korean in 4 months and then setting off on a Gangnam Style karaoke mission at the end of that time period.

Here are some #DesignThyself projects by my current students:

Examples of blogs of my current students here:

We will draw from the fields of interaction design, activism for social/cultural change, as well as cognitive psychology. Lectures, readings, and office hours will be supplemented by local discussion and support circles.

We will blog to document the “before,” “during,” and “after” of our personal transformation and engage with each others’ transformation through smaller online group discussions. #DesignThyself is not about “self-help.” It is about using (and demystifying) design principles to deal with change in a proactive way and to create beauty and meaning out of desire and necessity.

 Sign up today. The first 50 students to register can take the class for FREE! Use coupon code LAUNCHLO.

Music New York Video

Xelle: Hologram

Hologram, directed by XELLE’s producer, Zach Adam and written by Zach Adam and XELLE, is the longest music video of all time and the first true choose-your-own-adventure, fully interactive music video on YouTube. It features 7 celebrity cameos, zombies, boobie traps, and boobies.