The Creative Process in Harmony

Computer science has always intrigued me in applying what I already know and sharing experiences with teammates in order to pursue a goal in a fashion that, individually, we would fail to accomplish. Creative Computing Studio has provided numerous opportunities to invoke my artistic side, perhaps less in UI as I had initially anticipated, but in designing things based on multiple perspectives such as those that would potentially use the app and asked myself things such as “What motivates them to use our app? How can I make the data draw their attention the most in an intuitive way?” I learned to frame myself in a different context but in order to make the most progress, the members of our team needed to regularly keep an open discussion. One major takeaway from this course I found was the importance of communication among team members, particularly the way we contributed creative input. While this might be evident to many, in the past I hesitated to speak up and I gained more experience in doing so in a group of team members I had previously not known until this course. Finding ways to contribute my own skills is important and provides more perspective for the entire team. Our flexibility with scheduling meetings was helpful as it ensured all three of us could meet for all of them. If one of us had a lot of other work beyond this class, we’d work individually on design details that would be discussed the next time we all met to see which would be most suitable for our app.

Looking back, my team had a lot of ambition in crafting a heart rate tracking music app to bridge the gap between two fields that are often only tangentially related. We were hoping to innovate on something that could be appreciated by a variety of demographics based on one’s mood – a tenuous connection that is not based on any scientific backing. Putting my mind to solve such problems was certainly challenging and while my team ultimately had to pivot to a fitness app, the direction we took was born out of collaborative efforts and a culmination of past experiences. The carte blanche we are given is admittedly daunting; however, through discussion in and out of class, we were able to narrow down our project scope to something more realistic and aesthetically pleasing (which is attainable due to the changes that were made).

In class, liveness was a key concept that motivated our initial app idea: tracking one’s heart rate and suggesting music. However, our smartwatch was limited by sessions in tracking heart rate which unfortunately made our idea unreasonable to complete in time. The creative process may take numerous attempts but coming up with something that could also salvage the work that we had already done was a challenge. The ability to track distance and time for runners is crucial in order to observe improvement. The location tracking is an extensible feature as well that could be modified as a way to geotag a particular run and send it as an image. Continuing this theme was important as it continued to provide ways to incorporate something new.

The course allowed students a great deal of freedom in designing and implementing projects, with habitual checkups with limitations that are determined through feedback in each milestone presentation. I felt there was a slight disconnect in some of the confusion behind our project. In some ways the questions that were asked in class appeared to have been addressed fairly well but when the feedback came around it still was met with confusion. However, this is perhaps unique to our team since we did have some features that were conceptually introduced without sufficient explanation as to their purpose, which ultimately did lead to the pivot. It is often difficult for content creators to realize how their app may be unclear to the average user for various reasons. But the check-ins that were made at the end of class were helpful in providing us ways to make our app feasible within the time constraints while retaining its relevance to the course themes.