Following on from the excellent Gary Hustwit documentary film Helvetica, about the typeface Helvetica (doh!) is the documentary film Objectified. This is the trailer for the film, which looks like it covers more conventional (and possibly less interesting) design territory. (Thanks to Hannah Harper for the link.)
I stumbled upon a great list of mainly web 2.0 tools that can be used for design research, but it seems to me some of those tools can also be of use to our U101 students. http://digitalresearchtools.pbwiki.com/
We already have identified many of those links, but there are some new tools, such as: "iSpring Converter: free
download converts Powerpoint to Flash so you can upload your
presentations for easy viewing in e-learning sites or your Web site.
(Free)" Some students might be more comfortable using PPT for some tasks ... (I know people that draw in PPT!) or http://www.ecai.org/: which might be a helpful analysis tool for students in the Global Block.
There was a 'sensational' report about a the construction of a piece of
art by Alberto Giacomett. They scanned one sculpture and instead of
iron bars normally used to straighten the statue, they found a drill,
wire and a rasp and a wooden board! Basically, he build the statue with
whatever he found and then turned it into a piece of art.
Well, I think this 'sensation' might turn out to be more common practice then thought of. But then I also think that this found brings out the affection that lies in quick and dirty prototyping. You need to get it out there, with whatever means available at the moment. Nice example, I think.
I saw 'Natural World: A Farm for the Future' on BBC2 last night (it's on iPlayer for 7 days) and was drawn into its intelligent exposition of modern agriculture's dependence on fossil fuels. The programme, with the premise that this was unsustainable, looked to find different ways of producing food, and it was fascinating. The examination of the roots of the problems we are facing threw up some surprising ideas. One was not to plough fields! The reasoning being that each time they are ploughed and exposed to the sun, the fertility of the soil is slowly lessened, over decades you end up with dead soil and a reliance on artificial (fossil-fuel derived) fertilizer. It's well worth watching, with 'Design' being mentioned many times. I've transcribed a little sample below.
[Narrative] "I can see how you can grow cattle without ploughing and with natural fertility, but how do you grow everything else we need? Well, it seems that there are a number of people around the world who've already grappled with this problem. They've developed a system known as permaculture. Britain's leading expert is Patrick Whitefield. Permaculture seems to challenge all the normal approaches to farming."
PW: You know people often think that there are two ways of doing things, one is by drudgery, and the other is by chucking fossil fuel at it. Now permaculture is about a third way of doing things, and that is by design, by conscious design.
Presenter: So you're designing the labour out, or you're designing the need for that energy out?