#OccupyWallStreet Reaction


No Comments

Share this post

When this movement began, I have to admit I didn’t know much about it. From the outside looking in, I went along with how the general public and viewed portrayed the movement: a disorganized group of young people without a cause.

As soon as I stepped into the square, I felt completely absorbed into a new community that was self-sufficient and encompassed an entirely different mentality than the usual hustle and bustle I normally feel throughout NYC.

OccupyWallStreet Site


The energy and vibe of the square promoted one of inclusion, excitement, and sincerity. It’s probably the best definition and example of an open source community.  There’s an info center for those that are curious about the happenings of the day, an arts and crafts section to visualize and vocalize your beliefs. Holy crap, there is even a media center and library!


Media Center


Suggestion Box
Sites of OccupyTogether


There’s two things I noticed immediately:

1. Information and staff was more kind and more readily accessible than at the place of higher education that I pay thousands of dollars to, semesterly
2 The food available is more plentiful and nutritious than my fridge at home.

This doesn’t seem so disorganized to me.

I was trying to figure out why these feelings of inclusiveness and general solidarity felt so nostalgic… until it finally hit me. This felt like Obama’s inauguration. I had acquired tickets to the event and drove to DC with friends to experience the monumental event and that feelingwas the same. I had never seen such a vastly diverse quantity of people in one place for the same cause. The gentlest bump elicited an “excuse me,” smiles were plentiful, and people were so willing to help each other. The environment felt comfortable and familiar as we united behind the campaign of “Yes we can.”


Obama’s Inauguration


Obama symbolized hope and change and we rallied behind him in order to make these things happen. He didn’t get himself elected, it was a large group of passionate, inspired people that did. Unfortunately, since Obama took office, we transitioned from “yes we can” to “yes you [obama] can.” We relied on him to fix everything, and to fix everything quickly.

..which brings us to now. A different type of movement with the same ideals, making certain that our voices are heard so that SOMETHING changes. I can only hope that  a president who was so supported and moved by a passionate group of people that believed in him will return the favor.

As I watch my student loans accumulate, and my friends with masters degrees submit to low paying jobs and internships for lack of better opportunity, I can’t help but to wonder if my pursuit of happiness will end in the guest bedroom of my parents’ house.



Read more



No Comments

Share this post

After watching a screening of Gasland at school, I was inspired to change gears for my final project in Major Studio to do something to combat hydraulic fracturing in New York’s watershed.

Hydraulic fracturing is a volatile and a pretty much unregulated way of extracting natural gas. The trailer for Gasland above, and this image explains it pretty well.

After my initial presentation to the class, Melanie resonated really strongly with using maps to tell a story. I still believe that face to face interaction is the best way to drive the point home, so here is the next iteration of my process:

I garnered a lot of interest from classmates that wanted to get involved. Kenny wanted to partner up, and Heather & Graeme from Victoria’s nanotech class also were super interested. From there we decided to split up. Graeme & Heather would be working primarily on the public intervention part, Kenny would spearhead figuring out the google map and I would be split in both parts. We also got started in the social media realm by creating a facebook group and twitter account. We followed both hydraulic fracturing supporters and those against it.

I attended the Sustainability Awards to get a better feel for what the environmental activist community was doing to fight this legislation. It was a little extreme, which made me realize that I would need a different tactic to pull in the rest of the population that would be interested if they knew more about the issue. Kenny, Heather & I headed to a rally held by NYU students against fracking. We held interviews and filmed the scene. Heather had our logo and social media information printed on business cards and we handed them out to interested parties.

Kenny & I presented the following presentation to our guest crit:

It didn’t go over as well as we had liked. Part of it was that we were a bit flustered throughout our presentation. We had focused so much on the time we’d spent on the rally and our social media efforts, and not so much on the map we were working on. Our major critique was that it was too much activism and not enough design + technology. At this point, we realized we were trying to do too much, and we should drop the public intervention part of our project and really start iterating our map.

We had initially wanted people to contribute stories and we would curate and edit what we could find, but after our crit, we were inspired to look more at pulling in feeds from social media. When reflecting on our own experiences with this project, we realized that we had relied a lot upon twitter and google alerts in finding the latest trends and information about current events.

Here are some layouts I worked on for our map:


Even with honing in on just the website, we realized the website was doing too much. There are plenty of websites that already explain what fracking is and what can be done to help. So we chose to excise that from our site and really push using alerts and twitter. Here is our final product:

Our final crits were a success! Our guest crits liked what we were trying to achieve with our project. One crit that we were really intrigued by was transforming what we’re doing into a social activists kit– an easy way for a person or an organization to start a movement. Interesting idea, and I really would like to continue it further.

Final Presentation:

Read more

Social Media Fellowship with NYC Mayor’s Office


No Comments

Share this post

From the NYC.gov site: The Mayor’s Office of Adult Education welcomes the 2011 cohort of the Social Media in Education Fellows. Eight NYC graduate students will develop social media projects to foster digital communication of information, ideas and other content relevant to the City’s adult education system. The Fellows will collaborate with College & Community Fellowship, the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education and the New York City Council, the New York Public Library, and the We Are New York Community Project.

I was partnered with Elle Yuan from the Teacher’s College at Columbia University. We had approximately 6 weeks to speak with our organizations, conduct interviews, design a solution, iterate it, and produce a final deliverable.

Elle & I with Kunchok Dolma, one of our WANY mentors.

Our organization was the We Are New York Community Project. WANY is an Emmy award-winning television series that helps adult learners speak English. We decided to design for the volunteers that make WANY so successful. The currently lacked an organized, central network to communicate with each other and with WANY employees aside from phone or email. We designed an online social hub that features a live chat, forums, news feed, events calendar, classroom map, volunteer openings, blog, and links to Youtube, Facebook, & Twitter that facilitate ideas/resources/experience sharing among volunteers. This website provides volunteers with as many options as possible in terms of communication through social media platforms.

Walk through of site

WANY was pleased with the beginning stages of the site structure. The success of this project is based up on the positive feedback received from test users and their excitement towards creating similar systems for WANY participants.

Going forward, the site needs to be developed to incorporate not only volunteers, but participants and general users. We had also suggested creating an interactive lesson plan system designed as a game. Students would be able to interact with each other over the web, compete in cooperative collaboration exercises, get real-time results on their homework assignments, and provide a mobile and dynamic home for their learning curriculum. Another area of suggested research and development is incorporating international version of social networking to better transition international learners into their current living environments in New York.

Download our policy memo here.

Though brief, this experience provided great insight into working for a governmental entity. Paul Kim and Marlee Ickowicz did a phenomenal job putting together this program. In addition to working with our organizations, we had many wonderful guest speakers (Clay Shirky, Cindy Gallup, and Emily May to name a few) come and speak to us about social media.


If you are curious about a breakdown of our process, check out or week by week breakdown here:

Week 1:

1. Turning study guides into interactive learning games (stands out to Pauline. Gaming around conversation groups)

  • instant grading
  • guess & check
  • monitor progress
  • cooperative competition/collaboration with other students

2. Implementing QR codes as a method of marketing/outreach
3. Visualizing group chats/communication domestically & abroad (
4. Utilizing international social media platform like QQ in connecting the immigrants communities
5. Incorporating mobile phone texts into the exiting social media platform the WANY uses, since a lot of ESL learners might not be familiar with social media tools like Facebook and Twitter; but almost every one has a mobile phone.
6. Mapping tool (nyccares)- volunteers and participants

1. Revamping youtube channel
2. Design layout for new website that promotes information + interaction
3. Maximize efficiency in sharing information between teachers/students
4. Develop mapping tools to visualize resources available for volunteers

  • ex: resource centers, volunteers, study buddies, etc…

Week 2:

Elle & Hirumi meeting notes:

  • items to focus on:
    • 1. mapping visualization
    • 2. explore text based services
    • 3. extending marketing to international social networks
  • disseminate survey to students/volunteers

Group Texting:
Group Size: 25 Maximum
Possible model: Large groups → subgroups → Individuals

About QQ:

Wikipedia -Tecent QQ

QQ could be used as our pilot program in reaching out to people who are still using their home countries’ social networking sites.

(Besides creating groups on QQ and other marketing efforts that could be made, maybe we could reach out to the company directly to see whether there’s any special channel could be created…)

1. Turning study guides into interactive learning games (stands out to Pauline. Gaming around conversation groups)

  • instant grading
  • guess & check
  • monitor progress
  • cooperative competition/collaboration with other students

2. Implementing QR codes as a method of marketing/outreach
3. Visualizing group chats/communication domestically & abroad (
4. Utilizing international social media platform like QQ in connecting the immigrants communities
5. Incorporating mobile phone texts into the exiting social media platform the WANY uses, since a lot of ESL learners might not be familiar with social media tools like Facebook and Twitter; but almost every one has a mobile phone.
6. Mapping tool (NYCcares) specific volunteers-

  • putting up classes (how full classes are)
  • choose sites
  • find subways/directions for class sites (googlemaps API for public transport)
  • signing up to be a volunteers

Prototype of website: include interaction tools (game, mapping tool).
Send out updated survey of website catered to volunteers/teachers.
Expanding mapping tool to volunteers/site sponsors eventually.

International Social Networking Sites:

  • Cyworld: A South Korean social networking site similar to MySpace
  • Renren: Chinese’ Facebook
  • QQ: Chinese social networking portal
  • Orkut: Originally created by Google to compete with MySpace and Facebook, it has mainly caught hold in Brazil.

How to set up a short code: http://www.ehow.com/how_4836576_short-code-sms-text-number.html
1. Register and obtain your short code with the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA). This organization handles the registration on your short code number and makes sure your code works for all cell phone carriers that are associated with CSCA.

2. Your short code can be randomly assigned or you can choose your own, as long as it is available. Once your short code is set up you will be able to set up mobile marketing and your SMS platform.

3. Establishing your own short code is a great way to market your business. Try to find a code that spells out part of your business name so it’s easier to remember. The fees for your short code are paid monthly.

Beluga.com (with location identification function)

For next week:
Social media components:
how it will fundamentally affect the population

Week 4

4Square Specialist – Elle
Wordpress Magician – Hirumi

Emailed all current volunteers.
Need to email past volunteers and newsletter recipients

Focusing on creating a page for WANY volunteers

  • include forum
  • availability
  • customize 4square badges for checkins
  • collaborative cooperation/competition between class sites
  • visualize checkins on page
  • 4square based games/challenges
  • mayor of WANY badges

Ultimately extend this platform to students of WANY.

Upload photos from mobile device to website (class-based activities)


Week 5

Custom badges not quite available on 4square API, bigdoor gamification toolbar added in the meantime. Volunteers can login via facebook and earn points/badges for interacting with website.

Bugs in forum, need to explore more.

Perhaps integrating a flickr area for teachers to submit pictures directly to website.

Forum fixed! Any guest can search and post ideas.
Photo albums from FB page can be imported; however backend maintenance is necessary
Group text feature added; site manager must moderate dissemination of texts

Take out extra forums
How to get sign up to get involved


Brief notes for ourselves
A video capture of the live chat in action
some data visualization of our survey responses
Some mock-ups for next steps

To do for Elle:
User feedback (forward that after H sent that to me)
Ask the team for specific locations of classes for the mapping tool

Memos: deep dive, more details; a tool to give to the customer (WANY); operational questions; what are the requirements; not just philosophical stuff
anything should be in place
instructional menu

Read more

Windfall Farms


No Comments

Share this post

Site analysis of a NY based farmer.

Sneak preview of our project:

Final Writeup & Deliverable:

Our group decided to interview Farmer Morse of Windfall Farms in the Union Square Farmers Market. Initially it was the giant green bus and the abundance of green vegetables that drew us in, but the more we spoke to Morse and his staff, the more we found them to be an incredibly kind and enjoyable bunch.

We as a group had a great time learning about Morse and his farming process and decided to harness that energy into this project. We decided to go beyond creating a video presentation and assembled an interactive video experience.

The farmers’ market is so dynamic; no two visits are the same and no two people have the same experience. These unique site visits are what we  attempted to recreate in our Windfall Farms Treasure Hunt. We wanted to give our AUB counterparts agency in uncovering facts about the site and also about Farmer Morse. We analyzed the site from a multitude of perspectives in order to integrate visual cues, textual analysis, video interviews, infrastructure, and public access. The treasure hunt allowed us to consolidate all of our various diagrams and pieces of media into one platform and hopefully achieved an enjoyable educational experience.

Click here to access the map.

Read more

Food Diary


No Comments

Share this post

This assignment is from my CityAsLab class:

You are what you eat
To get the semester started we’d like for you to introduce yourself. But this being a studio on housing and food, we’d like you refrain from reciting your CV and instead show us what goes inside your mouth. This first exercise is a visualization of the relationship you have with food in Lebanon. We need to see our food in our environment in order to react with an appropriate design. This not only provides a great perspective for yourself, your classmates, but our colleagues in New York City, as they will as well introduce themselves to us in terms of the food they eat.

Document your eating and buying habits for a period no less than 5 days. Utilizing a number of different medias and documenting tools how can you present to us a visualization of your food consumption patterns in relationship to home and school. Where do you buy it, where do you prepare it, where do you eat it, where do you throw out the waste?

I’ve always found food to be the highlight of my day. I think my love for food comes from my family. My mother is an amazing cook and can throw down everything from delicious Sri Lankan food to Thai noodles to good ol’ New Mexican cuisine (and yes, New Mexican is different from Mexican or TexMex). Our family gatherings revolve around food and then more food, and then eating even more food. My frequent visits to Las Vegas during my college days revolved not around the black jack tables, but which buffets we’d be dining at. There’s something incredibly special about making your own meal and also enjoying a good meal with other people. I love food and I envision the perfect job to be Anthony Bourdain’s. My friends have nicknamed me “The Beast” because of the amount of food I would put down in any given situation. In actuality, I’m not sure if that’s because I like eating food a lot or if my parents have engrained the “clean your plate there are starving children in Sri Lanka!” in my head. Regardless, I am embarrassed about sharing my true routine of food consumption with the world.

Since I went back to school, I’ve found that I’m working on projects around the clock, few hours are dedicated to sleep, and I frequently use this schedule to justify poor food habits. But this semester, I’ve been trying to plan my grocery shopping better and cook my meals for the week on the weekend, however it’s only been semi successful; I usually drop off towards the end of the week. As you’ll notice my weekends and early week look pretty good (Sunday – Wednesday). But later, (Thursday – Saturday) is a little sketchy. Thursday and Friday are also the days where I’m loaded with classes, so I’m sure that attributes to my poor food choices or just not eating much at all.

Picture taking and sticky-noting were my main methods of documentation for this assignment. I had a sticky note on my igoogle page and I just listed everything as I went through the day, which was easy enough since my laptop has become my official sidekick. Sit. Stay. Good boy, laptop.

Most of the food I use to cook with comes from Trader Joes or Chinatown. Neither is really in a convenient location for me, but I can find fresh produce in Chinatown much cheaper than anywhere else as well as seafood…if you go to the right place. Trader Joes has as an abundance of self-proclaimed organic products and is also cheaper than other grocery stores. For both places, you need tough skin and strong arms because they are ALWAYS crowded and you need to move quickly and furiously to sidestep the meandering Chelsea shoppers or the impressively strong Asian grandmas. Although I must note that I do stop at Food Emporium if I need something on a whim.

Some things I noticed:

1. I either eat a lot (“lot” meaning super large servings as opposed to many meals) of food in one day, or very little food at all.
2. Days with coffee constitutes less food intake
3. I’m a serial snacker and a lot of food comes charging in during the late hours of the night.
4. I work while I eat. All. The. Time.
5. I find myself eating with other people usually if its over the weekend or I’ve brought my food to class; otherwise its eaten in front of my computer or vegging out to whatever rerun is on TBS.
6. I drink more water when I am on campus.
7. A good chunk of food is starchy. Boo.
8. No food + long day = angry Hirumi (This is a special note for my future roommates and collaborators for the summer.)

I initially struggled with how to analyze the data, so I compiled a detailed breakdown of my information into an excel spreadsheet.

Breakdown of every morsel consumed.

From there, I quantified my servings based on origin and put the results into a pie chart.

Food consumed broken down according to origin.

I was happy to find out that the largest portion of my consumption is food that I prepare at home, which comes from Trader Joes. I was able to recycle most of the packaging form that waste, but what really bothered me was the amount of compost I throw out with trash because we don’t have an organized composting system for residences in Manhattan. If I were able to compost, the amount of trash I would be sending to the landfill would be extremely small. Such a depressing realization.

Here’s a quick video summarizing my meals. I didn’t have pics of everything, so if you are looking a detailed breakdown of my diet, please see the excel screenshot above.

I honestly need to do something about my serving portions. If I suffer from any deadly sin, gluttony is surely the one. From that, I came up with a Flash game idea, but I ran out of time. It was entitled “Feed the Beast” and the object of the game was to feed the girl all the meals until she exploded. See sketch below. Perhaps another time, friends.

Read more

Hungry Hungry Hippocrites


No Comments

Share this post

Goal: to critically consider how tangibility and physicality affect the functions of an interface.

The House of Representatives recently voted to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood. I was livid, to say the least. Before attending Parsons, I worked at an institution of higher education in San Francisco in student affairs. I cannot count the number of times I have counseled female students and advised them to go to Planned Parenthood (PP). It’s unfortunately categorized as an abortion provider and nothing else. Take a look at this tasteless ad that appeared in SoHo, NYC right around the voting period.

What many fail to realize, or fail to consider as important as abortions, are the many other services PP provides.  Physical exams, cancer screening, STD testing, and contraceptive dissemination are all available at little to no cost to many women. By cutting funding, the people that are hurt the most are low income women, single-mother families, and young females.

I really wanted to make this issue somehow fit the goals of this assignment. The debate is always volatile and everyone fighting over it are usually people that don’t need it. Politicians have great healthcare. Most politicians arguing against funding are men, and probably have never even set foot into a PP clinic.

All of a sudden, this idea popped into my head. This political debate is like a game of hungry hungry hippos. It’s a volatile environment. Everyone is yelling and fighting to win. Watching these debates is like watching a Hungry Hungry hippos game because people honestly lose their shit.

First presentation:



In the end, the people who really need PP aren’t the ones making the headline. And so I’m taking the platform of Hungry Hungry Hippos and turning into an educational game. People assume one of 4 roles and try and get their family through the game without anyone getting sick or dying. It’s sort of like a healthcare dependant Oregon Trail.

Read more