You're So Smart

Making Of: An Interactive Book About An Asian Stereotype

In my everyday work, you can usually find me applying interaction design principles within the context of digital, screen-based media. More often than not, apps and screens are typically the name of the game. 

So when our wonderful professor, Christina Wodtke, recently challenged me to explore what interaction design could mean within the context of a storybook, the paper crafting-obsessed 12-year-old inside of me was more than delighted to give this project a shot.

To be more specific, Christina asked us to make a
pop-up book that
sheds light on a stereotype

I decided to pick a stereotype that I have heard countless versions of in my life so far:

  • "Why don't you know that? I thought Asians were smart."
  • "You're you must be good at math."   
  • "Oh, of course you got an A. It's because you're Asian."

As ridiculous and frustrating as some of these experiences have been, I was excited to get to work and help people better understand why even this "good stereotype" can be harmful. I wanted to know... how could I invite someone to experience this stereotype? How could I guide someone to manipulate the paper in a way that would help them gain a little empathy for the characters?

But more importantly, I wanted to see how I could turn a mere pile of paper, tape, and ink into an emotionally resonant experience.

I started out by collecting a few stories from others on how this stereotype has affected them. I started to weave together some of the scenarios that stood out to my interviewees into a cohesive story. Enthusiastically, I dived into making rough paper prototypes and explored how affordances, signifiers, feedback, and mental models could bring this paper, and this story, to life.

I spent quite some time mapping out the story and trying to be thoughtful about the kind of interactions that I built into my book. Despite being covered in glue, marker, and tiny paper cuts, and despite my room looking like a paper shredder had exploded in it, I had a great time making this book and I learned quite a few things along the way.

Here's a peek at what I came up with.

Code Systems - Telegraph Networks

This week, I took a dive into understanding how a telegraph device works and working with my partner, Emily, we took a stab at constructing our very own device and establishing a communication protocol. 

I brushed up on Claude Shannon's Mathematical Theory of Communication, and used it to help me understand how telegraph transmissions work and to devise my own code table for the device that we built. 

We tested out our telegraph device and were successful in transmitting and interpreting the message we were given!

The week after, we took it one step further and thought about how we could design a network for all of 16 of our classmate's telegraph devices to communicate. 

Exploring Theme & Variation in Base-2

Learning how to count in binary and visualize base-2 counting with a little javascript animation

Theme 1: Organization by Base-2 Counting

64 Variations of a six-sided element, organized by Base 2 Counting


Theme 2: Organization by Visual Reflections

64 Variations of a six-sided element, organized by visual opposites

Let's Design a Game!

This week, I explored how games can create compelling, satisfying, and enjoyable experiences. How can the game design and interaction design disciplines come together to create a fun game that includes cards and resource management, with an outer space theme?



Ideation & Prototyping

Rules of Play

Ambient Heirloom

This week, I received a prompt to design an "Ambient Heirloom." After thinking about the qualities of an heirloom, my teammate Emily and I set out to create a rough prototype of a set of VR goggles called that could allow you to capture moments in your life that would allow future generations in your family experience exactly what these moments in your life were like.

We called this idea the "LookBack."