Summer Design Technology Studies

I’m not sure on whether this summer was really long-or really short… I’ve kept myself busy tearing through books, taking notes, doodling, playing around in photoshop and discovering my own personal design process. But the results are several unfinished projects and a sense of anxiety that there’s still so much that I need to learn. It’s been several weeks since I last posted and the imaginary teacher in my head is displeased. In my last post I had just gotten the book, Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual and I have since read through it cover to cover.

This book did a really great job of thoroughly covering photoshops extensive capabilities in a well-organized and easy to digest linear manner that allows readers to see why photoshop is the ultimate tool for  image making and tweaking and how they can utilize it to enhance their own projects. And even though it wasn’t terribly inspiring it is already serving me well as my photoshop reference source and even more so after I put together notes that I took in order to describe the lessons in my own words and included thumbnail images for those harder to grasp concepts (PsMissingManual Notes). To continue engaging and advancing my photoshop skills I subscribe to 365Psd for free photoshop files to examine and got “The Artists Guide to Photoshop” for master-level creative tutorials.

I was also working on learning Drupal 7 in my last post and purchased “Drupal 7 Themes” in order to build Drupal-based CMS sites from scratch but it turned out that that books section on custom theming wasn’t as comprehensive as it should’ve been. With only 2 pages on customizing and creating new regions in the .tpl.php files I am formally retracting my previous recommendation. Fortunately, I soon discovered “The Definitive Guide To Drupal 7” which, amongst almost every other facet of Drupal 7, exhaustively covered the topic of customizing and building a site from scratch including discussing Default Regions, Hidden Regions, Module-Specific Regions, when to use regions vs. hard-coding variables, and then walks you through 2 distinct examples of implementing a new region (p.291-292). As well as clear explanations and examples on implementing template overrides, theme functions, theme hook suggestions, pre/process functions, and the render api’s alter hooks. My only issue with the book is that it doesn’t have a dedicated section that concludes its fantastic coverage of the individual theming techniques by providing an all-inclusive comparative analysis or custom site build that demonstrates the logic of using one theming technique over another throughout the site build process (similar to how css management strategies were summarized in ch. 16 pages 347-348).

Since I’ve decided to separate my postings on the technical and theoretical sides of my graphic design studies I’ll create my other post in the next few days to talk about the other more design-oriented books that I have read, what I have learned from them as well as my newly gleaned incites into my creative process and hopefully have a few more of my projects to showcase along with those that I have yet to post.


About Brandon Meyer

I have worked as a web and graphic designer and was originally a design major before deciding to transfer to anthropology with the goal of advancing to Design Anthropology. I am now moving on into my Master's in Design anthropology in the pioneering program at the University of North Texas. Even before discovering the promising field of Design Anthropology, I viewed anthropology as an avenue for design inspiration through a deeper dive into peoples lived experiences within the cultural melting pot. However, my foray into anthropology broadened my perspective and inevitably presented challenges to popular conceptions of representation, innovation, and progress. Design Anthropology is a new field between anthropology and design that has culminated from decades of collaboration in design and HCI, including participatory design, CSCW, ubiquitous computing, UX and user-centred design. Drawing from participatory- speculative- and critical-design, DA reimagines human-centred design by situating and critically engaging design concept and process with everyday life as both a resource for and outcome of design. While traditional ethnographic research continues to play a role, Design Anthropologists conduct speculative fieldwork both of, and within, codesign events as a new line of inquiry into "the possible". Exploring emerging practices, meaning-making, and assemblages as matters of concern in moments of change and innovation as well as the codesign events themselves as collaborative, generative activities. My approach therefore is not as an anthropologist working in the field of design, but to practice Design Anthropology as an emerging field within design. Following the dictum of Design Anthropology that design is not merely a final, prescribed, solution to straightforward problems, but is a temporally and socially embedded arena that inhabits a wide range of perspectives of lived experiences where practices of use are continuously improvised and recontextualized.

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