I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD: output > “Cloudified” Scenarios

Note: the post I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD, brief: “Cloudy” presents the objectives and brief for this workshop.


After last week’s workshop at HEAD – Genève, we learnt that addressing Cloud Computing from a design perspective requires to take a detour. Instead of looking at data centers and cloud computing directly, we asked students to choose a domain of everyday life (religion, cooking, communication, etc.) and work on how this technology may influence it, the kinds of practices that may emerge and what kind of implications would surface. The projects reflect this diversity and we also push the student to adopt both a critical and speculative angle. Such requirements mean that the output of the workshop largely consists in a set of short scenarios/usage strategies exemplified by sketches and pictures. Each of them provides a subtle perspective on cloud computing by showing that the limits and the opportunities of these technologies are entangled.


Cloudified Scenarios – a workshop with James Auger at HEAD – Genève on Vimeo.


Two posts have been added later as follow-ups to this one that propose an update to the direct results of the workshop:

- http://www.iiclouds.org/20141112/iic-workshop-2-at-head-design-implications/

- http://www.iiclouds.org/20141112/iic-workshop-2-at-head-ui-proposals/


I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD: ongoing work

Workshop day 2, we’re working on the various contexts in which cloud computing and data centers can be deployed in the near future. Each group started exploring domains such as religious objects/ambiance, local communities, illegal content smuggling, urban animals and music playing.



I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD, brief: “Cloudy”

At HEAD – Genève today, we started the first workshop of the research project with James Auger (from Auger-Loizeau design studio and the Royal College of Arts in London). We’re going to spend this week with the first year students of the Media Design MA exploring cloud computing, personal cloud systems, objects and user interfaces.

In order to address this, the workshop started with a background description of the project’s purposes, the evolution of computers and network infrastructures, as well as an introduction to the current state of design objects and architectures related to cloud Computing: NAS systems, servers combined with heater, speculative projects related to such technologies. From this broad list of material we wondered about the lack of artefacts that go beyond purely functionalists goals. Cloud computing systems, especially in the context of people’s context is generally a commodity… hence a need for design interventions to re-open this black box.

Following Eames’ quote “A plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose” (as a definition of design), we asked students to start with a basic activity: to create a map of “elements” related to cloud computing. They had to choose a domain of everyday life (cooking, communication, etc.), begin by compiling “their” elements (material scale, cultural, historical, list people’s motivations, objects used to achieve it, situations, behaviors, etc.), sub-themes.

From this we discussed this ecology of elements and what aspects or user contexts they could focus on. Interestingly, students chose very broad topics: religion, communication, cooking, art performances, animal-computer relationships or music-making.   Based on this map, we then asked students to explore the role of cloud computing into these elements by looking at these questions:

  • How elements of the diagram might work with the cloud? How the cloud may influence each of these elements/the relationships between two of these elements?
  • How relationships between the elements on these maps may evolve with cloud computing?
  • What are the new situations/problems that may arise with the cloud? Implications?
  • What kind of objects will be linked to the cloud? Why? (From products to the role of the product and situations that arise)

The (many) answers to these questions led the groups to highlighting design opportunities to be discussed tomorrow.

I&IC workshop #1 at HEAD: output > Diagrams of uses

Note: the post “Soilless”, an ethnographic research presents the objectives for this workshop.


A first step in our field research approach consisted in investigating various on-line forums in which people comment/complain/discuss cloud computing services (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.). These boards are fascinating places to observe users’ practices, and the range of topics discussed is quite broad. We quickly discovered that it could enable us to build two typologies about the main usage of cloud computing services, and the motivation of users.

We basically built a corpus of messages that we categorized and represented visually with the following diagrams. They shed some light on cloud computing main use cases, namely the practices the cloud help people undertake. We intend to use them in the upcoming workshops as a stimulus/framing/inspiration for designers.



I&IC Workshop #1 at HEAD: “Soilless”, an ethnographic research

The first workshop in the project corresponds to a preliminary field research phase devoted to understanding people’s relationship with the Cloud. Given our ambition to revisit and explore alternative personal cloud systems, we find it important to investigate actual usage, problems, limits, experiences and situations related to the pervasive use of cloud computing.


Soilless – a research introduction and a field study from iiclouds.org design research on Vimeo.


Based on a series of user interviews and observations, we will address various issues related to this theme. Our aim is to have a sample of participants which practices have a certain diversity: nomadic workers, third-space users, musicians, VJs, journalists, etc. These interviews will be complemented by an analysis of on-line forums and groups focused on the discussion of cloud-related issues (Dropbox forums, blogs and social media messages discussing the limits and problems of these platforms, etc.).