Thesis Title: 

 A Periodic Table for Expressing Yourself

Problem my thesis project is addressing:

 Limitations in our ability to express ourselves (and the consequenses of that).

Point of my thesis project is: 

Technology presents an amazing oppurtunity to re-imagine and re-create forms and frameworks for how we express ourselves.

Thesis Question 

How to fold point and problem into queston

Description of Project:

Method: A Periodic Table of Expressing Yourself. Activities to help generate actionable data, and artistic expressions of your 

  • ideas
  • feelings
  • thoughts
  • poems
  • outlines
  • memes

Activity Types: Following (loosely) the metpahor of a peroidic table, I am thinking that different sections of the activities (which together make up the periodic table of expressing yourself), will have different properties. I am very genrally thinking of some of these as 

Generators– activities which generate ideas, text, visuals for use in school, work, etc. and also are generating the content which will make up parts of the other activities. 

Canvases– Activity environments with different ways to manipulate text and other data. 

StagesActivity environments for ‘performing’ your ideas. Examples: Animating words 

Secret Langauge of The Universe- Nature of code style activities. 

Meme makers- Using Fabric Js. Intakes text notes from anywhere (such as annotations from a pdf you read) and then populates them into a front end ui where you can choose different elelements to bring on to a ‘canvas’ to use it in the creation of memes. 

Media talk back – something using vide grep to make it super easy for people to cut up and ‘speak back’ to elements of video culture

Scoped and Generative- universal two-way data binding everywhere!

Living Archivewhere all your re-creations are stored and can be used in other expresson activities.

1. In their completed form as a whole element in another production. For example if you made a collage of images and words to represent how you feel today, you could save that to your archive as an image, and then use that image as a visual symbol, representation, or a digital ‘brush stroke,’ in another re-creation activity.

2) (and) you could save the individual elements that made up the product (which was saved as an image) i.e. the text elements (possibly in svg format as well) and image elements you entered, could be used to populate a word and image pool for a poetry writing expression activity in another activity block. 

Research Approach: 

I plan on invoking a sort of frontend/backend methodology for my research approach. The back-end research involves my ongoing research into anti-opression dialogics. This research is informed by a hegel-marx-bakhtin-frankfurt school-freire-boal-hooks-kelley-lorde thread of philosophical work focused on transformative interactions and interventions. The frontend research question formulated from this backend constellation looks something like:

How can digital environments and interactions be developed to facilitate the transformation of people from consumers of information into creators of reality?

My backend research also includes a thread focused on high order thinking skills, systems thinking, concept mapping,  and David Paul Ausubel’s Model of Meaningful Learning Theory from the field of educational physcology. 

The frontend research of my thesis project will draw upon my ten years of experience as the Director of Adoelscent Health Education for Lutheran Family Health Centers, where I developed and directed the implementation of positive youth development activities, focused on identity expression, community connectedness and the transformation from being consumers, to creators of culture.

I want to continue my research and try to implement the wholistic transformative method of developing safe environments with intentional activities and expressive tools to facilitate people’s own transformations, leveraging the current availability of technology that allows us to realize more fully then ever before the maginificent human ability to express ourselves and transform the world.

My research strategy for this thread began with a survey of the current climate and culture of self-expression tools and environments available on the web. I am thinking about this part in two phases; the first being a comprehensive google search, and the second a more targeted research approach focusing on tools and environments I am familiar with, or are familiar to other people. 

My frontend implementation research involves looking into javascript and python libraries, resources, and frameworks to create transformtaive user experiences through ‘artistic’ expression activities. Researching programming paradigms that focus on users being in control of their data through all stages of the interaction, including being able to mutate it on the digital screen, and take it with them from the periodic table of expression eco-system in actionable and usable formats.

Research Categories for Front End:

– storing the data

– manipulating the data

– exporting the data

Personal Statement

Why This Project

Because understanding and sharing the story of who we are is the most important human activity. And the current tools and frameworks we have for exploring and creating expressions of ourselves have, and continue to fail us. Because we want so desperately to be seen and understood, and so often feel neither. And because humans can leverage technology to develop better, more creative and complex frameworks for how we tell stories about, who we are, and why its important.

Because linear, one-dimensional, hierarchical, and traditional forms of language constrict our ability to articulate ourselves in the imaginative ways that we experience and conceive of the world.Because my best friend and brother was arrested for murder and my family had to create the language to convince a judge to release him back to our-his family. 

Because traditional family trees don’t fit my holocaust surviving, multi racial, adopted-foster-birth brother constellation, my gay dad, my bi-sexual mom, their partners, the grandchildren of their ex partners and everyone else who makes up my family constellation. And because I need tools of expression and frameworks of understanding that let me say I love my family. I miss my brother in prison. I am in a constant conversation with my ancestors and future dwellers. And have everyone know what I mean.

Because technology is a site of great possibility, where the means of cultural production are contested, and the rate of reproduction is unparalleled.

Because language, and our ability to express ourselves is unfinished, forever unfinished, like us humans, and earth, and time and reality; all dynamic and evolving systems, disguised as still portraits. So we need to paint over the portraits;write poems beneath the paintings; animate the still images; give life to our language and express ourselves beyond the boundaries of what our culture in chaos offers. 

Because we have only two choices, Chaos or Community, and in order to survive we  need to better understand each other and ourselves and for that to happen we need the tools and environments in which to imagine, create, and articulate the expressions of who we are and who we could be.