Participate: Designing with User-Generated Content

Princeton Architectural Press sent me a copy of Participate: Designing with User-Generated Content by Helen Armstrong and Zvezdana Stojmirovic to review and I couldn’t wait to crack it open! One of my favorite features of the book is fittingly the participatory element, the book exercises.

This book, for me, was a great overview of participatory culture. We cannot deny that the public longs to connect and to contribute. How many hours a week (a day!) do we spend on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, etc…? All of these are internet sites that allow folks to participate, and behind every one of these sites are designers that make it happen – that create the platform to allow the input of user-generated content.

The book is separated into four sections: Community, Modularity, Flexibility, and Technology. Each section then gives 4-5 examples of participatory projects which utilize user-generated content, not all of which are internet-based. There are some great analog examples such as the Art House Co-op’s Sketchbook Project and the fill-in-the-blank greeting cards of Ellen Culpepper.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in design and participatory culture. It was a great read. Now, I’m off to work on some of those book exercises!

Purchase your own copy of the book over at Princeton Architectural Press ($24.95)


Before I jump right into 2012 I wanted to take a pause and reflect back on 2011. It wasn’t until I started going through the posts from my old blog that it really hit me – damn, I had a pretty incredible year. The last couple of months, around the holidays, are always terribly stressful for me so this was a lot of fun to focus on the GOOD. Here is a list of highlights, but really, you could just re-read my old blog, because 2011 was pretty awesome. Thanks for reading!

> I became a member of the union Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts (ILSSA)!!

> I attended a talk by Todd Hido over at GEH and he signed my copy of his book A Road Divided.

> I went to a screening and Skype-talk with Bill Viola!

> I went to a couple of outdoor screenings. Hot dogs and old movies? Yes, please.

> I watched an artist knock himself out for his art.

> I played BINGO with a bunny and watched films on the side of a bus.

> I really enjoyed learning from and working with Jen Bervin and Jason Fulford.

> I attended the Contemporary Artists’ Books Conference. Learned a lot.

> I enjoyed browsing the The NY Art Book Fair.

> I wish I could have spent more time at the Mary Shelley Facsimile Library. Love.

> I fell in love with the BMW Guggenheim Lab while it was in NYC.

> I had the pleasure of participating in fieldwork with spurse!

> I met Abbey Hendrickson of Aesthetic Outburst in person! She’s the sweetest.

> I rode around in a camera! I helped make a test strip. Fun stuff.

> I attended two SPE conferences. Nationals in Atlanta, GA (I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Sherwin – he reviewed my portfolio) and Regionals in Syracuse, NY.

> I stopped by Spark Contemporary Art Space to see two exhibitions curated by Shane Lavalette of Lay Flat: Meta Revisited and Studious. Shane was one of my portfolio reviewers at the Regional SPE conference. It was nice to finally meet him.

> I had the pleasure of meeting Ron Jude of A-Jump Books. He reviewed my portfolio at the Regional SPE Conference. Speaking of A-Jump, I bought a set of all of their titles at the VSW Auction! Score.

> I went to the Everson Museum of Art to see From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America. After viewing the exhibition I attended a talk by Alec Soth himself. Left with a lot to think about!

> I learned to letterpress! …and I’m now obsessed.

> I started working on my first book! I hope to self-publish it this year.

New Year goals? This year I decided to make a birthday list instead! This year is going to be insane and I really cannot stress enough how I want to just take it nice and slow. I’m entering into my last year at Visual Studies Workshop. Where has the time gone? I start Grad Project I in a few weeks and thesis research begins! I’m excited. I’m terrified. All normal emotions right? Those of you who have already earned an MFA – any advice?

Hello 2012.