PLIX (In)visible Self: Reflections from the Beta-Testing Process 💓

Hi there, everyone! :frog:

We’ve recently completed the initial co-design of a brand new PLIX activity: (In)visible Self! We worked with MIT Media Lab researcher Caitlin Morris to translate her work in the field of interoception into a creative learning activity. (In)visible Self will engage your patrons in brainstorming new ways to interpret the mind-body connection, understand ways to depict or control this interplay, and prototype/speculate tools and experiences for making invisible processes visible!

On this thread, you’ll be hearing from the PLIX beta-testing team (a dedicated group of 15 librarians from the PLIX community), who will be sharing reflections about the playtesting process, ideas for refining or creating new learning materials for (In)visible Self, and tinkering with activity prompts and exploring new ones through remixes!

Want to join in on the fun?! Feel free to join the beta-testing team! We’ll be having several meetings between now and the end of March, including “(In)visible Self open hours” to engage in shared making time online with fellow testers. You can find dates and times for these sessions on the onboarding document, which also includes some tips about how and where to get started, and what to share on this thread.

Looking forward, and happy play-testing! :triangular_ruler::crystal_ball: :anatomical_heart:

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Hey all!
Wanted to share before the weekend. I’m a little late to the game so I don’t have materials yet, but what I was thinking a lot about during this weeks Open Space was the idea of how I embody different selves depending on my environment. Who’s ‘at work’ Allie and how is she different from ‘by myself’ Allie?

To that end, I modified a worksheet I used for a bookclub to make a ‘Mind Map’. If you’re not familiar with the idea, mind maps are diagrams for representing tasks, words, feelings, etc organized around a central concept or question. What appeals to me is that it uses a non-linear graphical layout, and allows for a kind of ‘stream of consciousness’ approach that involves writing and drawing. Here’s an example:

And then, here’s the one I did regarding my many selves, visible and invisible

I’d like to focus on how to incorporate more materials into this exploration to make it more tactile!
Happy creating, cya soon

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Thank you so much for the introduction to mind mapping. I’m thinking this is a great way to brainstorm all the (in)visible self ideas swimming around in my head!
Also, I’m running up against the “how to make more tactile” conundrum, too.

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I was super excited to get my beta-testing kit, especially since it was magically delivered to my son working at the movie theater across the street from the library!

First glimpse, so exciting… and makes me realize how excited my patrons get when they see program materials.

Ta-da!


(Thank you @Renate_Elliott for asking about all the electronic gadgets. I’m really looking forward to learning more about them.)

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Here’s what I’ve got in the works for the See the Unseen prompt this week:

My first thought was that a zoetrope is a kind of kinetic sculpture and how could I incorporate something invisible about myself into one? I also liked the fact that the word comes from “zoe” - life and “tropos” - turning

I fashioned a protoype together during our meeting yesterday after scavenging through my recycling been and digging around for a bamboo skewer:

I also mentioned that the teens I work with are very interested in dreams these days: interpretation and lucid dreaming, so I started putting this idea together:

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I love this so much! Your Dream Interpreter is a cool idea!

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Hey ya’ll!
I am Renaté from Marietta, GA. I work at the Charles D. Switzer Library as our Accessibility Services Supervisor. I’m always thinking of ways to make our programs and services more accessible and inclusive. (In)Visible Self sparked my interest in multisensory projects that don’t rely on the senses in the traditional sense. I especially liked the idea of tracking the unseen.

I received my Beta-Testing Kit right before the meeting yesterday…yay for gifts! As I mentioned during our playtesting, I was a bit intimidated by all of the electronics so I started Googling, lol. I found a few YouTube videos that I’m watching to get an idea of how it all works.

I kept thinking about emotional reactions to music and I found this article on emotions that music can make you feel.. I’m brainstorming a device that would light up in reaction to an emotion. I used the stabbing technique (patent pending) to puncture a ping pong ball and think it would be cool if it could glow, or flash to a corresponding emotion. Hoping to figure out how to use the electronics in the box to make that happen!


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@averymsnormandin can you please track my package when you have a moment? I had trouble getting a package in the past too, probably our internal mail system. Thanks.

Hi all! I ran some other library staff through a beta test of this activity. Conceptually this was a little hard for them to grasp, particularly since this was their only other PLIX activity after Paper Circuits.

I started them on the Cyborg Dreams prompt. A couple take aways:

I put out a bunch of materials that we had sourced from the Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) - basically, RAFT takes donated supplies like bottle caps and makes them available for use in STEAM kits. We bought $1000 worth of supplies, which is a whole lot of interesting things like fuzzy yarn and tongue depressors.

Staff was confused about whether we are trying to teach about sensors, felt daunted by not knowing how sensors work. Felt that the “more fantastical” element of Cyborg Dreams made it easier to understand. The Song of Myself prompt was “too close to reality”

Pictures!


This was a hunger sensor - supposed to gauge what you wanted to eat

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I don’t have a write-up just yet of my thoughts on this prompt and what I worked on on Wednesday. Except to say that I wanted to do this beta-test because it seemed harder to me somehow than most of the other activities PLIX has done.

I did want to share something I came across that seems related.
I’m reading The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig. It’s a strange little book that has evoked more than one emotion from me. I can only read it in small chunks because I need time to digest it. From the book’s About page:

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of new words for emotions. Its mission is to shine a light on the fundamental strangeness of being a human being - all the aches, demons, vibes, joys, and urges that are humming in the background of everyday life…

That quote seems relevant all on its own, but I came across two new words in this book that also gave me food for thought about this prompt.

VIADNE
n. alienation from the crude machinery of your own body – like riding a ramshackle parade float that’s run by gremlins you can’t see, who toil away in darkness, pulling strings to move your limbs, kneading your guts and working the bellows, trying to further your modern agenda using nothing more advanced than a sackful of bones and splanchnic ganglia, zapped by sparks in primordial ooze.

Latin via, by way of + viande, meat. Pronounced “vee-ad-nee.”

RUBATOSIS
n. the unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat, whose tenuous muscular throbbing feels less like a metronome than a nervous ditty your heart is tapping to itself, as if to casually remind the outside world, I’m here, I’m here, I’m here.

In music, tempo rubato, “stolen time,” is a slight speeding up and slowing down of the tempo of a piece, borrowing time from one measure then paying it back later. Pronounced “roo-bah-toh-sis.”

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Hi! I’m Clara, currently tinkering at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library System in MS. I’m really excited about (In)visible Self because it seems like the perfect marriage of some of my favorite things, introspection/ception, anatomy, and art!

Here’s my unboxed kit!
unboxing

Here are some of the ideas I’ll be tinkering with.
notes

This week I’m working on Dopamine/Seratonin Surprise. I’m programming the Microbit to light up LEDs on a picture of a brain to visually represent the dopamine rush you get when you accomplish a goal (winning the snake game). I’m currently still tinkering with programming the Microbit; I hope to share a video soon!
LED

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Those words and concepts are a trip! I wonder if ‘viadne’ applies to those people who feel that a limb of their own does not belong to their body. Kind of a dark direction but that is what I thought about.
I wonder what the word is for when you think about your own breathing and it seems to become less natural?
I feel that the creations we make from this prompt could be like bio-feedback instruments to help individuals with these kinds of conditions. If your body starts to feel out of control, could you use some kind of body monitoring device to help you feel calmer and more in control. An anxiety reducer.
My creation was more of an analog device. I called them emotional earrings. You could change the aspect of the earrings to show how you were feeling.

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I had a thought on the way to work this afternoon, brought on by what occasionally seems to be an obscene amount of hair in my hairbrush when I run it through my hair.

It’s utterly impractical, though.

So, an “invisible” process we haven’t discusses is hair loss.

If you had about 100,000 (the average number of hairs on a human head) accelerometers and a board that could process so many inputs (and didn’t mind having 100,000 little pieces of hardware dangling from your head!), you could measure whenever a hair fell out.
The average human loses between 50 and 100 hairs each day. If you knew how many of yours were falling out, you could tell if you should be concerned or not.

Like I said - utterly impractical.

#DrivingThoughts

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So I was doing my first steps without the beta-testing kit (which finally arrived yesterday-beat up and incomplete, but it is here). Bear with me because I’m going low/no-tech with this one.

Most of my approach to this is with is with the emotional/mental side of things because so much of that impacts the physical side of ourselves. So many kids and teens have trouble expressing or conveying exactly how they are feeling, so I’ve been pondering creating a system that would encourage that discussion to take place using the various senses.

It aligns a bit with things like art and music therapy (and with Renaté’s too). I’m curious about how in addition to creating art to express our emotions we can also use playlists. Or smells. Or can people use a menu of flavors as a method of expression? I feel like this might take some of the pressure off of finding the right words. And just getting it out into the universe and having some shared understanding with others can help elevate moods.

My other thing I want to find a way to track is how much I blink because my 4-year-old is utterly fascinated with blinking right now,. So I can’t stop thinking about it either.

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Hey everyone!
Posting now so I don’t forget! So today our prompt was Heart on Your Sleeve — Communicate or express an aspect of your physiological or emotional state by creating a wearable “sensor” (using either/both low- or high-tech components). I did a pretty low-tech project lsat week so this week I wanted to integrate some sensors. I had a Makey Makey on hand, which is similar to the microbit, so I worked with that interface.

Basically, when I’m at work I can always tell when I’m loosing focus because, much like a toddler, I start to fidget. This usually manifests in a tapping of my toe or finger. So, I mad a button switch using cardboard and metal fasteners, modified from a project on Makey Makeys educator page. Then I went into scratch and made a simple counter, with a conditional that reminds me to take a break after the taps get over 20.
https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/653222897/



This was a fast track way to approach this prompt, but in the future there are a few things I might want to add:

  • It could be interesting to add the sensor directly to my body, or to my shoe, etc, so that I can tap into these sensors without having to use an interface. Might allow for more ‘authentic’ taps. I initially wanted to do a foot pad, but I ran out of aluminum foil so I had to work with the smaller brass fasteners instead!

  • I’d also like to add some more code to the project, maybe add a clock so I can see how many taps I do in an hour or in a workday, or to see what time of day I’m tapping the most.

  • Seeing all these responses on the site, I’d like to move in a more abstract direction when it comes to building the interfaces. Like the hunger sensor or emotional earrings, I love those designs and I think I need to loosen up a bit :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m also looking forward to incorporating some of the other body sensing modalities we were discussing in todays Open Hours, and messing around with the breadboards and resistors.

Thanks for a great group and cya next week!
Allie

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I lose so many hairs every day I think this would give me a panic attack! :sweat_smile:

Oh and I just had a thought for this week’s prompt but not sure how it could be achieved. Sometimes when I speak to a group of people I get self-conscious and nervous–not always but sometimes unexpectedly. When this happens I get embarrassed and flushed feeling. But I get even more embarrassed thinking how red my face must be. If I could have a monitor that measures the temperature and redness of my face, it could let me know and help me to regulate my emotional response. I don’t know if this would help or make it worse!

This goes along with my interest in the biofeedback aspect of this activity. More useful for me than for people around me. Then I wondered how any of these ideas would change depending on the audience? Wearing your heart on your sleeve can be seen as non-verbal communication, or as our own body’s solution to a set of stimuli. Is it for the wearer or the viewer?
“… blushing seems to be an appeasement display. Interestingly, this evolutionary hypothesis is aligned with a recent argument advanced by neuroscientist Mark Changizi in his book The Vision Revolution (BenBella, 2009). Among other things, Changizi claims that our species unusually strong color vision evolved so that we could detect subtle hue changes in other peoples’ skin, thereby deducing their emotions.”
Why We Blush: The Social Purpose of Showing Embarrassment - Scientific American Blog Network.

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I love the idea of mind mapping and think it’s a great way to start thinking about the (In)visible self. It’s a great brainstorming tool and jumping off point.

There’s so much good stuff here. I find I struggle a little with getting started with these activities prompts. I think this could be a great activity for teens who are often struggling with finding who they are and expressing their inner selves. At the same time, it’s soooo hard to tap into that and put it out there. There’s a lot of great ideas here to ponder and figure out how to bring it to life.

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I found these prompts to be very interesting, but very challenging. One thing that kept me from sharing out sooner was that I wasn’t sure how to approach this prompt in a high-tech way. I kept scratching my head, trying to figure out how to make a relevant project… so I got some help beta testing.

these are the things we came up with:

For see the unseen, I really liked the idea of jitteriness so I made a ‘tool’ to audibly cue when you are jittery… It’s a jar full of bells that you can hold and track when they make sound. :sweat_smile:


My train of thought was that this jar could be used to track movement audibly when doing yoga or meditating, just to help you notice movement within your body. I think that incorporating the micro-bit shake sensor could be a high-tech way of using this idea.

For heart on your sleeve, I had a bit of help! My wife really resonated with the physiological/emotional state of this prompt. So she created an anxiety meter to wear on her glasses. She shrugs and her body tightens up.

The ‘anxio-meter’ is measuring where her shoulders are and there are three levels.

we are hoping we can make some more abstract projects, but also I want to make a high-tech version soon.

anyway, thanks for reading and I love seeing everyone else’s examples!
-Alan

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I had a tricky time with the Heart on Your Sleeve prompt because I kept getting weighed down trying to master the tech stuff that we just barely touched upon at our meet up last Wednesday. Which led me to 2 different thoughts (actually 3):
*I wish, in an ideal word, that the Ambassadors could all come together in person for a long weekend of learning and playing with makerspace ideas and tools and just sharing ideas and knowledge.
*Even though I’m sweating the tech stuff (micro:bit and adafruit flora) kids who come to my programs will love using these sorts of tools and have learned quite a bit of Scratch coding in school already

  • Maybe I should’ve just stayed away from the tech and played with some of the other materials in my beta testing box

But instead I give you mock ups! I had two ideas. The first was a personality test using the microbit. Using a simple “personality determiner” the participant views slides and pushes a colored button to choose which one they like best. The final score is then tallied and we find out if the participant is a dog or cat person, or a sweet or salty person, etc. etc. The teen & tweens I work with love personality tests so a prompt like this would really resonate with them.



My second mock up is an emotional accessory a person can wear, in this case a flower brooch, that shares their current emotional state with those around them. They would also wear a button which is a key to what the various colors mean (note: colors would need to match up with LED’s in real version). My library kids would relate to this prompt as well. I think mental health has (finally!) taken a forefront in their world and is something they feel more comfortable sharing and discussing.

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