Tag Archives: change

Critical Self-Reflection_Alex Zuxiang Mao, s3377256

My memory goes back to 14 weeks ago and is still fresh on how Dr. Varadarajan “terrified” us in the first class. My feeling at that moment was not scared or terrified, but shocked at myself how vain and ignorant I had become in the previous 15 months. I have turned a deaf ear to most of the things in the world, including people who suffered homelessness and country-lessness (Refugee was the main topic in that class). Comparing to them, what had I suffered? Only a form of “Entertainmentlessness”. I felt a little embarrassed and ashamed because I didn’t know what I should have known. I didn’t want to show how I felt. So I kept silent.

At home, I signed myself up for wordpress, twitter, set up tweetdeck, hoot suite, flipboard. I was all ready for a change.


I have always thought Twitter was a waste of time (in a way) because you spend ages reading other people’s status updates no matter you wish to or not. This for example:


In the first class, I quickly learnt that I underestimated the true value of twitter: a research tool for first hand information. However, there are tactics. I went on searching for news for “Design”. I was greeted with a lot of irrelevant and useless tweets which companies used as advertisements as well as a wild range of topics in all different aspects of design. If you want to find relatively what you are looking for,  you really need to  find one useful/meaningful tweet to you and check out all the tweets by this author. This will open the door to the information you want to find in the end. Other ways (I think would be better than what I am doing) is to download compiling tweet research tools such as TwitScoop to filter through the information, which I will try in the holidays.

Summary of  tweeting activity: My favourite author on twitter at the moment is “Gizmodo Australia” apart from its HTC ad implants.


Giving Up

All of us were asked to give up something that is relatively important to us. Firstly, I chose to give up my iphone. Mission failed immediately after 30 mins as I reached out to my phone as naturally as usual to check my Wechat updates. So I re-planned my giving up. I decided to start giving up my phone on the train first because I took trains everyday and it was a perfect start to test it. It was successful. In the beginning there was always an itch to look at the phone especially when waiting at Melbourne Central station for my shocking stopping all station train. It was deadly boring without a phone. My tactics were walking around, look at what’s in the vendor machine etc. Then I had better techniques such as taking my sketch books, read assignment briefs, write down my to-do list.

I have gained great benefit from this “time-out time with my phone”. Without all the interruptions from the smartphone, I was able to concentrate much better and put all my thoughts together, re-organise my life. I also felt incredibly fresher without looking at it for this 1-2 hour time plot. So I extended the time out. I now put away my phone at 8pm, 3 hours before I go to bed. The feeling of freshness is incredible.

 The Assignments

The reason why I chose to change people’s behaviour with their smartphones was closely related with myself: my child screams when I ignore his need for attention while checking my phone and my right thumb started shaking uncontrollably after 5 minutes of texting . Because it was personally relevant, I was able to take a deeper insight into it, visualise how this would change people’s lives and feel meaningful and passionate about it.

I enjoyed my group work very much. All of us were committed. Each one of us was assigned with different tasks. The only downside of it was that I underestimated the time we needed for editing and formatting a 5 metre-long poster. This ended up with some unchecked overtexting in some text boxes and missing parts of letters even though I checked the file twice at 11:30pm — not a very good time to do proof reading jobs.

A Little Explanation on The Field Manual

This field manual aims to raise people’s awareness of the importance to use their smartphones smartly and efficiently by doing more productive activities. It teaches people what is e-learning, why is it important, how it can improve their lives and how to access and manage it.

Overall Experience

I would recommend this course to other students, especially to those who left after the first class. It is not as scary as they thought. The biggest outcome for me is that I found motivation in this class to do something that might make a change. When I hesitate, when I think “Shall I …?”, I think this way instead now : “Why not?”.

Many thanks to Soumitri and Liam for the semester.


Public and Design Activism

When it comes to public activism, I’ve got to stop being a child, and stop being scared of voicing my opinion. It’s my responsibility as a citizen to showcase myself as a change-maker, to try and improve our society in whatever way I can. Change making is about 3 things; advocacy, activism and agency. To be a change-maker you have to understand these 3 concepts. 

Advocacy: to fight for somebody. Where someone can’t achieve a better quality of life, and you step in to lobby on their behalf. For example, when did women get to vote? When did they become equal? The answer, they still aren’t equal! Look at Julia Gillard. When does a man in politics get harshly judged based on their body shape, hair colour, dress sense or tone of voice? 

Activism: anything that you do has been fought and won for you. What are you doing to give back? If nothing – are you guilty? People need to have a bleeding heart, to connect to the things inside you that drive your passion and ignite your sense of irritation. You’re no different than the people before you. You can make a difference too. The fact that people don’t care is an accidental mistake. Ask an Architect what he thinks of women being allowed on the front line. He’ll probably tell you that he doesn’t care or doesn’t have an opinion – and that is a problem. To make a real change in this world, people need to give a damn. They need to show care and compassion towards people or things that are happening in the world. These issues aren’t going to resolve themselves by people living in their own little bubble, only being concerned by the trivial problems in their lives. We have to be active public citizens. 

Agency: I’m not a nobody. I can say things – and if they’re wrong – at least they’re out there. When you feel like you can achieve something, you are an agent. We are agents for change. Statistics show that approx. 80% of refugees live in 3rd world countries. And what do we do? We put up walls, barriers between ‘them’ and ‘us’. What do poor people do? They welcome them with open arms, tell them to come and join the party. Take Tibet for example, some people left and went to India, no worries. Some people stayed. Why don’t we accept them? Because that’s the kind of people we are. 

Public Activism is not just about going and yelling stuff out in protesting mobs when you’re feeling overcome by anger or disgust. It’s about the small stuff too. As Soumitri professed “Be empathetic not pathetic”. If you’re walking along the street and a homeless person is asking for money, should you just chuck them 70 cents from your back pocket and keep walking? No. Have you got time to give to them? If so, tell them the story of your life. Share something with them. Be a person and treat them like you would your mate next door. Let’s be honest people, it’s likely to be 5 minutes out of your day, but imagine what it could do for that person with whom you spoke. There are other ways that you can show public activism, from personal experience, taking part in charity based events such as the ’40 Hour Famine’ and ‘Relay 4 Life’ are unforgettable experiences that not only promote awareness within your local community, but also have great benefits in terms of aid and monetary assistance to the companies that you are supporting. For me, another form of public activism is through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I have a large number of friends on these platforms, which I can use as an outlet for posting whatever I like. When I ‘share’ or ‘post’ or ‘tweet’ information, it is potentially seen by a vast number of young people. Instead of scrolling through a lot of rubbish on Facebook in particular, people could be learning about current world issues, as well as opportunities to be involved in their community. 

Design Activism is a tool that could potentially be very powerful, and make a difference in the way that people do or interact with everyday things. A designer is someone who is fundamentally radical. Everyone knows that we are a consumerist society battling monumental issues of climate change and global warming. Design strategies can be put into place to elicit behaviour change in consumers. Critical thinking in terms of sustainability and service design are two areas that I have recently spent a lot of time learning about. It is paramount that not only designers, but also citizens, are thinking about ways of living more sustainably, for it is our loved ones living in the future that will pay the price of our polluted earth. It is the responsibility of everyone to change the we way live and consume and dispose of things. It is not acceptable to be spoon fed, only knowing what you’ve been taught. We need to be porous individuals, constantly soaking in news and technology and squeezing out thought, feelings, and scope for change. 

The Butterfly Effect

We’re all trying to make change in this world. And we are. Everything we do has repercussions. Small actions carry and can become hugely impacting ones.


Have you heard of the ‘Butterfly Effect?’ Basically, it’s a theoretical phenomenon whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. It means that any action, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever.


Most of us do not realise how much impact we have on the world. The little actions we easily disregard can actually be affecting someone greatly somewhere else. Maybe the coffee you picked up this morning was from a place that supports unethical production methods. The $3.50 you gave them now supports unethical coffee production. Now the coffee manufacturer will spread their farming area to produce more coffee. To do that they’ll cut down indigenous trees, but those trees shelter a whole array of animals. Those animals provided food for the people in that area. So then in order to have food, the local people take up jobs working for unethical coffee manufacturers. We need to realise the impact our small actions have on the rest of our world.


This may be an extreme example, but in a way, it is true and happening today. Whenever we do something, consequences, whether good or bad, occur. We can’t stop this fact, but we can strive to create good change. We can chose to use the butterfly effect to our advantage.

Entering a paperless world

Paper is a wonderful medium. We use it in so many ways. We use it to scribble down notes, fold it into airplanes, create art with it, use it as packaging, draw on it, and store information. It’s part of our everyday lives.


Every year, and average person uses around 500,760 sheets of paper (904,375 for office workers). That’s 712.2 cubic feet of wood (1,286.2 for office workers)! We cut down so many trees for paper, with majority of used paper ending up in landfills. Only about a third of used paper ever gets recycled. The rest litters our planet, slowly decomposing over time but never being able to completely replace the trees they came from.


Imagine now a paperless world. I first heard of the term a long time ago, as a little girl, before the age of the IPhone and tablets, before Twitter and Facebook. A time when the idea of e-books were just being launched. I remember my mum talking about it, trying to wrap her head around the idea of not needing to print out every picture from camera negatives, or not having a bookcase filled with old novels, or not needing paper receipts from the shops. Then it seemed like a far-fetched idea, something that could only happen in the movies or in some high-tech experimentation lab. But today, the idea of going paperless is becoming more and more popular. Today, we have smart phones and IPads instead of notebooks and pens. We can text, instant message, or email instead of writing letters and mailing them. We view photos on a screen instead of printing them out on glossy paper. So maybe the paperless world isn’t so far off, maybe it’s right around the corner.


Think for a moment about the amount of paper we use and unnecessarily waste, especially as “designers in training”. Are there ways we can reduce this amount? Thinking about how much we use makes me realise how ridiculous it is! We’re designing and trying to figure out ways to save the world’s resources, but at the same time wasting them with out overuse of materials like paper. We’re designing ways to save nature and trees on paper, isn’t it ironic?


I think it’s time to make the decision to use less paper until we can be paperless, to a certain extent. We can reduce the amount of paper we use, thinking wisely about what we do with each sheet and not wasting it.


Paper isn’t completely replaceable. We can turn paper books into digital ones, we can draw on computer programs, we can jot down notes on our phones, but there’s something special about paper we can’t simply get rid of. I love the feel of reading an actual paper book or doodling with pen on the side of my notes. I love being able to hold printed photos and drawing my ideas on paper. I can’t be paperless just yet, but I can use less paper. I won’t be living in a paperless world yet, but maybe I’ll get there eventually.

Sticking to the Status Quo

Have you ever thought about the energy we put into trying to fit in? Observing what other people wear and what’s fashionable. Trying to keep up with the latest technologies. Finding out what’s in and what’s out. In class, Soumitri brought up an interesting and thought-provoking point. He got us to reflect on the amount of time and effort we use to be fashionable in the eyes of society.


I’m like most people, I always want to be dressed in the latest trends and be seen in the popular hangouts. I love new and expensive gadgets. I try to fit in, but at the same time I want to stand out, not to the extent where I’m seen as “weird” though. If you look at my internet browser, I have websites like Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, and Lookbook bookmarked so I can quickly find out what’s popular around the world. So I can try to become more acceptable to society.


I have been pushing myself to go with the flow, but that really isn’t my purpose. My purpose is not to just stand by and even participate in the norm, but to start a ripple and create a wave to improve the world – to be an activist in my own way.


Through the past weeks, I’ve learned that activists are not limited to people marching in rally and martyrs. Activists don’t need to be people who completely reject society, in fact, there are more activists within society than I had originally realized. Activists are people who want to make a change in the world for the better, people who aren’t satisfied with leaving the world in it’s current state.


Activist are as their name suggests, active – actively trying to improve the world. They’re not bystanders, they have a purpose and are fulfilling it. I want to realize my purpose. I want to be active and stand for what I believe in. I no longer want to be a bystander. I want to open my heart and listen to what it’s trying to tell me – to change the world.


We can all be activists, trying to better our surroundings, society, and our world, through small changes in the way we act and react to different scenarios. I need to learn to open my heart and become sensitive to the evident problems of our world. I can’t continue to ignore them and simply focus on the popular and in.


Imagine, if we were to transfer the energy we use in order to fit in to bettering the world, what could we accomplish? If everyone spent those extra few minutes, usually used to figure out what to wear daily, on more important and pressing matters, would the world be a different place? I think, yes! I think so many of the problems we ignore today, like the unequal distribution of food around the world or excess carbon emission, could be reduced and even solved. We are wasting time and energy on things that won’t make an impact or matter years from now.


I’m not suggesting we drop everything and stop caring about how we look. I’m just saying, there is a balance to how much energy we should spend on ourselves and how much we should give back to the community. We can contribute to the world in little ways, but those small changes add up. They can make a huge impact on the world. I want tot make a big impact on the world. It’ll take a lot of time and energy, but through little sacrifices and small efforts, I know I can change the world.