Just a thought.

June 24, 2016, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Big Idea, I have a dream..., Uncategorized

“Process is as valuable as the product, method as revelatory as the Motive”

I’m paraphrasing Jessica Helfand from her latest book that I just finished, Design: The invention of desire.

I’m taking more leaps in honing a semblance of a design process in my work since last year, which feels incredibly encouraging in what I feel like my career has been headed since I decided to “do UX” 5 years ago.

I guess what I mean by that is that I’m slowly unpacking what I’ve been doing, and getting better at doing, and separating that from what I’m trying to achieve or what my clients are aiming to achieve in their medium or interface.

However, the more I understand, the more becomes a mystery as I’m reaching back to principles of human factors, human psychology, sociology, other humanitarian studies or political science to provide solutions. The feeling is recursive, but re-invigorating as I’m able to traverse through familiar and updated information equipped with new lens to interpret and design.

I’m so good at being vague but damn it if I can’t explain it better than that. Well the real purpose to this blog post was to force myself to write a chapter outline to the above book by Jessica Helfand in my own words.

Design: The Invention of Desire

Summary: The act of design is coming into age with honesty to itself as integral and inseparable from human history itself. Maybe the best summary is her analogy she supposes — Design:Civilization::Self:Society.

0. “Conscience” – Design matters because it is an intrinsically humanist (and practical, in the sense for its ability to engineer and change humans) discipline, tethered to the very core of why we exist.

1. “Authority” – A great title to juxtapose a design critique of products or solutions that are designed to help humans define their sense of self, identity, uniqueness, belonging, power, authority, citizenship, ownership, authorship, etc.

2. “Fantasy” – Helfand frames desire into the sense of play that is human-universal, and how in practice that can manifest itself into trying many ideas, dreaming different scenarios, enriching conversations, and the process of design itself is fun. She quotes Einstein, “Knowledge is limited to what we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

3. “Identity” – Helfand specifies a design problem of solutions in place today of harboring or attempting to contain human identities. First, is hopelessly shallow and navel-gazing when it requires constant curation of what you think is your identity. Second, it’s fickle as control is ultimately not in the hands of the user, and could be lost at an instant. Design here is maybe creating more problems than solving them.

4. “Consequence” – A chapter exploring the how design today sometimes frames their scope to knowingly or unknowingly be ignorant to the consequence of these designed actions. Helfand is passionate here about how humanly ignorant we are in expense of not being aware of the consequences, esp. in regard to the locks on that dangerously overloaded bridge in Paris.

5. “Compassion” – Another passionate chapter where she explores the human nature of being conceited in the practice of design. When it comes to the practice, it’s also important when to not try to solve problems but to instead impart the basic human quality of compassion instead. Not everything can and should be solved.

6. “Patience” – Probably the best chapter in my opinion, where in combination to the previous human qualities, Helfand brings up great examples where interfaces and our other modern designed artifacts have no weight, mass, or even energy to deal with human scenarios that require patience. It’s too easy to “click” and time is rarely even felt anymore.

7. “Solitude” – Great follow up chapter that explores reflection and the importance of honoring the self’s unique voice to be contributed in our increasingly connected and more neutral world. Reflection and solitude is the source of that and should be inseparable from the human feeling of experiencing something truly unique/original.

8. “Melancholy” – Awesome chapter exploring solemnity and why it’s important in the human experience. Maybe loops back into “Compassion” but is more about how to also facilitate that for the self when appropriate.

9. “Humility” – A revealing chapter for Helfand as she reflects on her husband’s battle with cancer. Combines ideas of “Compassion” and maybe the intro “Conscience” to remind about how confounding it is to practice design and participate in the human experience. It sucks/probably painful to try to remove yourself from a human experience that a designer might try to keep their designer glasses on for.

10. “Memory” – A fascinating chapter about being really honest about the capabilities and limits of human memory and its crazy interactions with “designed” memories like photographs, videos, and the crazy internet. Some fresh questions about what human memory is and what is should and shouldn’t do with regards to the sense of self (some overlap with “Identity”).

11. “Desire” – Helfand’s thesis. She asserts Desire a third of the trifecta that defines human behavior, along with Emotion and Knowledge. Communicated with human emotions appeal, want, judgement, choices, deserving… She asks “Desire might lead, but must we follow?”

12. “Change” – Basically this quote: “This is what it means to strip away pretense, to understand design as a function of who we are, not what we do. Detached from hyperbole, removed from the machine-dominated enterprise of modern culture, design is to civilization as self is to society.” Both Civilization and Society has changed in all of human history, and thus, self and design shall too.


Temporarily Able Bodied
January 18, 2016, 12:31 pm
Filed under: Big Idea

TAB or Temporarily Able Bodied is an acronym that I recently came across to describe what probably was the most enlightening weekend I had in a while. I sobbed at church at the strong but only-human reaction to my hour not yet arriving, but it has. My body is only temporarily able, and it’s being asked to do things that it may not be emotionally and spiritually ready but the moment has already arrived. Even my Seahawks fought courageously against the dying light, till the end, so I shall too.

TAB is a concept I can and will prepare for, because UX right now is blossoming under the wings of folks who can see, hear, touch, temporarily, but perhaps I can help it work when we can’t anymore.

Forced Blog Post
April 26, 2009, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Big Idea, I have a dream..., It's a mystery

Hello World

Today, I thought it was pretty ironic to see a recent post from a random blog featured on my WordPress dashboard say, “I give up. Bye.” I was going to dedicate this post to the death of this blog. FML.

Blame it on Twitter, blame it on a change of lifestyle (a.k.a. the 9-ta’-5 grind), blame it on me feeling un-creative as of late, I’m beginning to worry why this blog is in terminal condition. I hate to say I’ve been soul-searching, but at the very least I’ve read all my posts from the beginning of Jamaicanjerk at least twice this year. I think that says something, especially when I just look at it longingly…instead of going ahead and posting. Do people with 10,000 tweets ever go back and read that oh-so-significant 1st  tweet? Or was it only relevant the moment they submitted it? I know I’ve tried to inject meaning to posts here at Jamaicanjerk. I thought of it as a conversation with myself, an easy-to-access time capsule, or a scrapbook that doesn’t require you buying wavy-cut scissors at Micheal’s. I felt like my blog was a way I could remember what I thought was worth remembering by putting it out there for the all-knowing Internet to remember. I remember one of the most meaningful validations to maintaining this blog was some reassurance from an anonymous reader who found some value in what I said. That used to make me skip a heartbeat.

There are a lot of Internet applications out there, and I could argue that at some point I could reflect a true-enough representation of myself donning a utility belt equipped with Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Last.fm, Yelp, MySpace, what-have-you as I parade around the Internet. And I’m not trying to make excuses. I’m just smoke-signaling the end of an era. I think it’s unusual that I sometimes fear writing liberally on media that supposedly has no rules. I think it sucks that I can have every person I’ve ever met from the last 5 years in Bay (and even people I’ve known in Saudi and the Philippines) on Facebook and feel it’s hunky-dory that we’re only deep enough to be “Facebook Friends.” I’m beginning to feel concerned of what people think of the makeshift identity I’ve constructed with free Internet Web 2.0 apps. Either I’m becoming too sensitive to how much I’ve invested my life to public scrutiny online, or I’m becoming too insensitive to what’s really going on around my physical non-Ghost-in-the-Shell body. Either way, I think it’s unhealthy.

Jamaicanjerk added some mean flavor to my life these past 2-almost-3 years. As of today my posts are private. (No you can’t access them silly, I’m writing them in a brand new notebook. With a pen. And paper. And maybe Post-It’s) All good things must come to an end, and indeed it has been a good run. I think the best feeling to associate this with is Forrest Gump deciding that he’s going to stop running and go home. It’s about that time.

I will still be authoring posts in my new-media baby, Skulls and Spectacles, and maintaining my private Jamaicanjerk and public JarrettBato Twitter accounts for things like food, drink, love, life, art, and music. I sincerely thank you for reading my blog, I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

[Motions to pick up imaginary bowling ball, tho’ it, and get an imaginary strike.]

March 2, 2009, 12:26 am
Filed under: AWESOME, Aww that's nice, Big Idea, Just cuz, Music, Nerd it out, Space

Gosh, it’s been very long since I’ve posted. So much for posting at least once a week. It’s officially March, and I have a great day job. Still no night job but that’s always a labor of love, so I’m not worried. I’m spending my days listening to a one month old playlist, and it’s definitely time for a new one. Which means I should prepare the metaphorical Jeep for an ideological music hunt. It’s an exciting time to be getting grips with 2009, and I find myself digging my toes in the dirt for a spirited sprint to steal second base. It’s definitely something I would very much  give an internal but boisterous “huzzah” at least once a day.

Speaking of the daily I blame my lack of blogging on a definite spike in illicit online activity due to me joining the twitter army. And by illicit, I mean feeling like finding things this  awesome online should be illegal. The future of this app could be the most useful form of collective intelligence for your PDA phone. Now to get me one of them phones so I can twitpic pictures of awesome things. Palm Pre vs. iPhone?

Meanwhile, groove to some music, I’ll catch you on the flipular side.

Running in the Rain
February 8, 2009, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Big Idea, I have a dream..., It's a mystery, Rants

I almost wanted to run today, but it was raining when I finally got back to Berkeley. Curiously, I did run in the rain one time in Soledad. Maybe cuz when it rains in Soledad, the sun still shines through the clouds, since there’s soo much space is the Soledad sky. (It is happenin’ in Soledad.) Anyway, when I decide to run the next morning, the night before I would watch youtube videos of Duran, Hearns, or Iron Mike Tyson running in the rain. It’s like if they’re running in the rain I have no excuse not to run. (EDIT: and if M.I.A. can perform at the Grammy’s pregnant, fuck I’ll run 5 tomorrow. Oh my GOD.) I like watching boxers run specifically because I run like that too, more like a fast waddle or really determined walking. I also like reading quotes from Mike Tyson’s first trainer, Cus D’Amato.

“I tell my kids, what is the difference between a hero and a coward? What is the difference between being yellow and being brave? No difference. Only what you do. They both feel the same. They both fear dying and getting hurt. The man who is yellow refuses to face up to what he’s got to face. The hero is more disciplined and he fights those feelings off and he does what he has to do. But they both feel the same, the hero and the coward. People who watch you judge you on what you do, not how you feel.”


There are definitely things I have to do. I feel it now more than ever. It’s just sometimes, I feel like I just want to be there when I tell the story. Alas, there’s the thing that creates the story in the first place, which needs to happen sometime.

I need to unpack already.

Designing Engineer
December 31, 2008, 5:46 pm
Filed under: AWESOME, Big Idea, I have a dream..., Movies, Nerd it out, Space, Uncategorized

A vision of my future came just in time for the new year. Or rather, in the most recent episode of Future Cars. They say the future awaits with an increased attention to virtualization. Starting with the manufacturing side, carmakers are utilizing computer simulation to run tests that were traditionally done physically, and painstakingly. New cars would come in generations not because that was the length of people’s attention spans back then, but because the tests required for the cars to be put in the market would simply take that long. Wind tunnel, crash, and even performance tests would take years to complete, and at present, virtualization and simulation helped in greatly reducing the time a product would turnover. This seemingly shortening cycle is evident in our modern times, where (in the automobile’s case) a car’s success came in how long a person remembered a particular model’s name. Factors include reliability, performance, comfort, and luxury, but all this would sum to a word almost every designer would utter at least once in any given sentence: emotion.

The phrase “evoking emotion” is something I’ve been trying to decipher for a while now. I’ve felt over the years I’ve managed to capture and lose its true meaning to cumulatively come to what I feel is slow progress. Design was always somewhat of a “pig’s flying” or “fat lady singing” kind of concept for me, because (like the show said) the occupation was reserved for a blessed few. Only hundreds of “enlightened” individuals all over the world would emerge in GM’s sought-after design internships, and would get tested among design elites. How am I supposed to compete with that, especially with an engineering (and not art) background?

Glimmers of hope exist among  the great engineering grad students I am privileged to know, and even in the work I’ve done over the years. I will keep discouragement here to a minimum because I really do believe only action answers that existential question.

I do want to explore the interface between design and engineering. An interesting quote in the show I mentioned was that an increased focus on virtualization and simulation might eventually allow designers to “engineer” in a virtual world inside a computer (imagine a designer queueing his or her design to “rent” the virtual wind tunnel test “room” in a computer lab). Vice versa, an engineer would allow his or her engineering concepts (like the novel Naro design by Prodrive) to explore different physical designs instantly with computer simulation (4 wheels, or 3; 4 doors, or a clamshell?).

That’s what the logistical side would look like, while in the end the design would still require that emotion. Like the feeling of honoring a retired and long-running model with a re-imagined concept (Ford GT40), or knowing the exact way of shutting the driver side door so it stays closed in an epic and enlightening cross-country road trip with your grandpa. Or maybe designing a whole world for a future where your existence would be equivalent and interconnected with artificially created life, like in the world of Blade Runner.


Meet Syd Mead, the visionary behind the stunning world of Blade Runner. The ultimate futurist himself, I truly believe he is the ultimate combination of philosopher, engineer, designer, and romantic. It’s like as I go through life, I find out about these amazing people doing amazing things that are relevant to such interdisciplinary point of views. It’s like breeding a Mewtwo with a Blastoise to get the ultimate psychic/physical-type pokemon. (Inappropriate?)

Anyway, I just would like to share my excitement in my discovery of a confirmation of my beliefs. I hope your new year’s similarly inspired. See you in 2009!

The Creative Process
December 12, 2008, 1:33 pm
Filed under: AWESOME, Big Idea, I have a dream..., KRUMP, Music, Nerd it out, Space