Research Note 001


Writing about thinking, as opposed to thinking about writing…

As an effort to collect thoughts, practise writing and share ideas I’ve decided to journal my progress with my personal and professional research. If you’re interested in any of the ideas, experiments or projects I’ll be sharing please let me know in the comments below.

Right Tool for the Job

I’m beginning this open journalling approach on my personal WordPress blog because I believe its the right tool for the job but I’m also interested in perhaps using a newsletter, which is more of a ‘push’ – outward dissemination or an online forum like the one I’ve set up for Sonic Interactions here at

I catch myself thinking about the tools we use as creative people. We’re quick to jump to one side or another when it comes to operating systems, software and hardware, why is that? It seems, for some that have invested time and effort into a specific tool, that you have poured yourself into that tool and are justifying your own personal creative approach. Whether we realize it or not the tools you’ve chosen will shape how you create. Let’s use a specific example to illustrate: If you use Photoshop to design a website the design decisions you make will be very different that if you were to use Sketch to create a site mockup or even HTML and CSS, the material used to make websites.

Why is this relevant to what I’m researching, you may ask. Well, I’m interested in how we create/design new musical instruments and the tools that we use to think through the complexities of creating an instrument. To explore this topic in design we first need to take a look historically at how we invented instruments and then have a current survey to get a better grasp. I’ll write more about the history in future postings as I summarize and review some of the books that I’ve been reading during my sabbatical.

Research Summary

In the fall of 2018 I began my sabbatical, the plan was to create a short workshop to teach people what I had learned about creating musical instruments. Why am I doing this after years of working in and teaching Interaction Design? The answer is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that I’ve been a musician most of my life and the interactions I have had playing music with others and by myself with my guitar have been rich and nuanced. These interactions while playing music are profound, to some magical and worth studying to help us create new interactions. There’s way more to say but let’s leave it there for now.

Ideas to write about

  • A full progress log of my work over the past 5 months (it’s all in a txt file now)
  • Books I’ve read
  • Courses I’m taking
  • Instruments I’m making
  • Music I’m creating
  • People I’m talking to

If you’re reading this and have got this far, you must be a friend or very interested in this topic. If so, please share your thought below in a comment.

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Research Note 002: Tactility & the Jammy

4 Comments. Leave new

  • Yehia Madkour
    January 8, 2019 2:27 pm

    Nice. Always curious to learn how people spend their sabbatical. Music and design are both intriguing, so looking forward to reading more!

  • Glenn Sæstad
    January 8, 2019 2:46 pm

    Looking forward to see how you relate your practice to historical and theoretical perspectives! Would love to hear your UX perspective on instrument making. How does one consider usability and affordance, when our greatest instruments take years of practice to excel in? How could or should an electronics based instrument respond to play without simply imitating traditional instruments, e.g. a vibration motor to mimic internal resonance?

  • Happy that you’ll be sharing this journey, Haig. I’d be interested in learning more about how you’re approaching the process of research. The design of research is what fascinates me! Happy to chat about that anytime, hit me up! 🙂

  • I’ll be following this, and trust that the choice – the choice of content – will be a good one.

    But I love that this link came onto my radar. So much great content gets buried these days.

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