Eric Paulos Receives BCNM Faculty Seed Grant

31 Oct, 2020

Eric Paulos Receives BCNM Faculty Seed Grant

This semester, the Berkeley Center for New Media offered a faculty research grant to seed ambitious academic scholarship in new media at Cal. Eric Paulos (EECS) was selected for his work on Lucid Learning and the creativity support system Kaleidoscope. Read more about the project below!

Research within the Berkeley Center for New Media is uniquely positioned to support and learn from other creative practices. By engaging with a broad range of creative disciplines, we can identify commonalities that transcend specific mediums, methods, and goals, to inform new lenses through which to understand creativity support tools. This proposal leverages preliminary work through a series of semi-structured interviews with 15 expert creative practitioners across a diverse range of domains including performance, craft, engineering, science, art, and design, and their use of artifacts generated throughout their creative processes. We examine the shifing roles that artifacts play, and identify strategies used across a range of creative practices. Informed by these studies, we have initiated an early prototype of a new creative, education, and (hopefully) transdisciplinary creativity support system that cross disciplinary boundaries.

Our tool is called Kaleidoscope and is modeled afer the busy, messy, but inspiration workspaces we inhabit. It supports a range of “artifact” types from text, google docs, websites, videos, images, Figma designs, 3D models, various online collaborative repositories such as GitHub, etc. Rather than to only showcase final work, Kaleidoscope is focused on capturing process, sidesteps, pivots, and all the beautify and valuable messiness that goes into any creative process. It is a new approach to documentation of creative work. Within a classroom setting, it allows for elements of assignments to be submitted for critique and feedback by other classmates, teaching staff, or outside domain experts. Within teams, Kaleidoscope helps facilitate best practices of communication, roles, and progress with distributed groups. For instructors, it provides a new lens to observe and understand participation and contribution with teams and highlight when groups are struggling. Finally, it allows students to tag specific artifacts to be automatically brought into a polished, public, portfolio showcase framing for exhibition. We have developed a prototype of this system and are currently using it (with IRB approval) within CS160, a human centered design computer science course this Fall. We are requesting funds to take our findings, iterate on this design, and deploy it more broadly with other courses outside of engineering at UC Berkeley. We have already performed interviews with the following creative practitioners — Ceramicist, AR/VR artist, Design Lead, Industrial Designers, Museum Curator, Performance Director, Physical Performer, Roboticist, Sofware Engineer, Fashion Stylist, Tapestry Weaver, Violin Maker, and Animal Researcher.

This project intends not only to expand the usage as described above but also to learn about how to best support teaching, learning, education, and creative processes across disciplines and across distances with synchronous and asynchronous learning now part of our shelter in place culture. We also plan to thoughtfully integrate various machine learning techniques into Kaleidoscope to act as a “companion” in nudging and hopefully sparking the creative process with recommended readings, artworks, and other references that can be tuned to expand or focus the creative process. Our hope is that such mechanisms can also challenge works and practices to engage with more diverse cultures and perspectives ofen less familiar to the individual domain specific practitioner.