For this week, I focused on a.) trying to get the RFID tags to work, b.) rough coding of the website, c.) updates to the form
a.) Trying to get RFID tags to work was easy enough. The hard part was trying to get the serial communication to work with the server side coding. As a first step, I tried to just get the tag name to show up using p5js + serial communication but I also ran into issues there. More updates on that to come.
b.) The initial coding of the website it coming along, but I’m still not sure about the design. I am thinking I might need to do another design sprint where I just try to make as many visual identities for this as possible. I also need to integrate the visual identity into the physical set up soon.
c.) Updates to the form. The screen needs to be placed higher up. The depth also needs to be deeper.
Sharing updates to the form. It keeps shape-shifting, but I really need to formalize it soon because building stuff takes time! The form below is getting closer to the ideal form (I think).
After thinking through the previous forms and getting feedback from very helpful people (i.e. Sarah, Nancy and Tom), I realized that the form needs to be: a.) easy to put together/modular, b.) circular in some way/ reflects a circular economy idea, and c.) consider the venues I hope to show it in (ex: libraries, conferences, pop-up in public spaces and educational centers)
The below sketches/ prototype try to address this criteria.
Update: form has changed so it is smaller in scale. However, the interaction is the same as I had previously proposed. The reason I changed the form from the previous concept sketch was because I figured out more context-related questions:
a. ) Where does this live? Ideally this lives in a science museum or a public library but since I don’t think this will be the same scale of a science museum interactive, I am thinking this is more of a polished working prototype to pitch to a science museum like Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Liberty Science Center or NY Hall of Science. Given the time frame, I see my polished interactive prototype being shown at places such as the public library, education centers, STEAM after school places, recycling centers, LES Ecology Center.
b.) Is it a permanent installation somewhere? I am hoping to pitch the concept and content of this interactive to museums or educational centers that might be interested. So perhaps this interactive is a smaller scale but communicates the message. It also has to be modular and easy to travel with if I want to bring it to many places. It’ll be better if it is smaller in scale as most likely it won’t be a permanent installation (unless I can find someone willing to sponsor it).
c.) Who is it for? As many people as I can reach. Ideally, this interactive is for anyone who is over 13 years old. I can see this being something both 13 and 60 year olds could benefit from.
TLDR vs: With this interactive, the objective is to communicate: (1) Digital devices require an inordinate amount of material and labor to mine and manufacture. From the mining sites to the clean room, there are thousands of hands, chemicals and minerals that make a technological product possible. In the process of creating them there is also large amounts of waste generated that give rise to health and environmental issues. (2) None of America’s current electronics recycling options are optimal – we need better solutions for recycling that don’t take for granted the insane amount of material and labor needed to create them
Main points to communicate:
The digital devices we use require an inordinate amount of labor, materials and waste to make which also give rises to environmental and health issues. Despite all the details, negative consequences, and work that goes into the creation of tech, our current options for recycling is neither sustainable nor sensical.
Our current options of disposing includes:
(A) Toss it in the regular trash, which will then end up in the landfill or incinerator. Both these options are harmful for the environment and human health because the hazardous chemicals, such as mercury, will leach into the environment, soil and air.
(B) The other option is to recycle, which is easy to think it is the ‘right’ thing to do. However, all the elements in a device don’t get dismantled and eventually these chips and electronic components that took so much effort to create get shredded and converted to material feedstock. All the hard work, precision and materials are simply shredded. Another possibility that happens when we recycle our devices is that recyclers could be exporting to other countries (i.e. Hong Kong, Ghana) with lax labor and environmental laws. This exportation of electronic waste is awful because people in these countries are scavenging and dismantling electronic devices in extremely unsafe ways (i.e. burning the wires to retrieve the metal inside, unsoldering by melting, etc) that are toxic to both their bodies and their environment (i.e. case study in Guiyu, China). U.S. hasn’t made the exportation of electronic products illegal yet, so recyclers are able to export without regulation and it becomes a behind-the-door system that is hard to track. There is an international treaty called the Basel Convention that makes the exporting and transboundary movements of hazardous waste illegal. However and stupidly, the United States is not currently a party to the Basel Convention. They signed the agreement in 1990, but has not yet ratified the Convention.