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Design brainstorm from 2007

Find a Dentist

Who else might want to work on it?


Audience: patients of dental care

It is difficult to find systematic information on dentists and dental care (also arguable true of many other health professionals...). This project would seek to combine what I would designate as official meta-data (e.g. dentist name, fields of expertise, years of practice, university attended) and user-contributed information (e.g. fees for specific procedures, comments on bedside manner, general review comments). With a bit of effort, anybody in Ontario can look up this official metadata from The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO). However, there is no patient feedback or information available through the Colllege. This will be a knowledge media community to help patients find dental care that they can afford and the kind of service that meets their needs. Partially, this project is inspired by the potential (rather than the mildly disreputable practice) of websites like Rate My Professor and the need to find dental care that doesn't render me broke. There is also something like for undergraduate courses at the University of Toronto called the Anti-Calendar.

Virtual Health Companion

Kristine, Ruth, Celine


Building on the 2007 Smart Book concept, the Virtual Health Companion will assist patients (e.g. teenagers living with diabetes; stroke, cardiac & orthopaedic rehabilitation patients) with developing  knowledge and skills about evidenced based health care practices.  Health Care consumers are more computer savvy and this virtual medium will assist patients and families to have health care information at their fingertips.   The Virtual Health Companion will promote positive patient care outcomes in the management of their condition. This innovative technology will contribute to optimal results such as, time and resources savings and decrease readmission rates, in an already overly burdened Health Care system.

Personal Searchbot

Whose idea was this? Michelle & Monica Resendes
Who else might want to work on it? Alison


An online identity that does the searching for you. It uses an AI and based on your profile and preferences, will search the internet for pages that you would be interested in. For example, if you're looking to make spaghetti for dinner next week, it will add spaghetti recipes to the search list and look for the best ones for you. It can remember your choices over time and tailor the searchbot's offerings to your favorite resources.

The online identity could be visualized in the form of an avatar, who has a personalized environment to store the "choice" search results into a library. E.g. the avatar could have a kitchen where future search would only apply to kitchen related information based on personal preferences.

Social Network for KMDI students

Whose idea was this? - jim
Who else might want to work on it?


This is related to our own community, how we clearly are a knowledge community and we do have a social network. But its not necessarily working for us. We have a facebook group, but haven't really used it much. We have a wiki, but don't really use it. We have a google group, but don't really use it. And yet we have this wonderful community of peers that seems as if it would be a perfect candidate for a social network - including when they get out into the professional life - staying in contact as an "alum" of KMDI. This design idea would be to do some knowledge engineering of the existing student community, our goals for the community, and the available tool suite, to come up with an improved service.

unarticulated idea revolving around affective learning

Whose idea was this? monica
Who else might want to work on it? MonicaR, Dori, Celina


i haven't got a concrete idea yet, but i'm really thinking about our in-class discussion on october 9th about affective learning and digital technology/ online environments.
here's an interesting "ted talk" video that focuses on gaming and affective learning, especially starting around minute 10:00.
are dating sites a kind of affective learning? does one learn "how" to choose a partner?
... ideas welcome.

p.s. i'm also generally interested in all things "memory:" (anti)monuments, memorializing, experiential museums and sites and the implications of these.
p.p.s. this also has me thinking about robot pets (such as Aido) and robot babies that are used for parenting classes. a little digging also reveals "paro the therapeutic robot seal" !!!
(MonicaR) - I'd love to take a closer look at some innovative museum sites (Barbara would be a great resource for this!); looking at these sorts of resources with ideas of affective learning in mind could be really interesting.

experiential museums/ sites are generally designed with the intent to create empathy in the visitor, to allow them to "put themselves in the place of another" and gain a sense of what it may have been like to exist in that time/ place/ situation. while this is always an impossible and contested task, i'm interested in the potential for 'learning' empathy.

3G Social Networks Sites

Whose idea was this? Foteini
Who else might want to work on it?Sofia, Jessica, Alison


Third Generation Social Networks. Social network sites have become extremely popular especially among children and young adults. SNSs constantly change to accommodate the increasing amount of users who register every day. How will SNSs look like in 10 years from now ?

What if the time spent on SNSs was not always wasted in funny applications?  Here is a [list|] with the most popular applications available on Facebook.All sound cool, but is any of them useful?3G Social Networks can potentially bring together all our online daily activities which involve interaction with other people. A social network is built everyday among us and the people we email,  us and the bank tellers, us and our family doctors, us and our and so on...Why not use the SNS to do online activities with these people?

(Alison here) It would be interesting if third generation social networks  could build on the suggestion that (I think) Bruce made in class (and I apologize if I am mis-attributing or doing a poor job of summarizing here). Facebook users can currently design applications for the network using php, etc. But to my knowledge the source code for Facebook itself is proprietary. Could there be a third-generation open source social network? This would allow users better control of their information and allow them to develop the framework of the social network itself - the code of the network itself could be mutable and be custimized to users' needs. It would be great if this 3rd generation SNS had an interface/structure that could be manipulated or accessised by non-programmers. What would be the point of an open source 3G SNS? Well, we've discussed a number of the drawbacks with current SNS - privacy is a huge one. I think an open source design might allow users more autonomy & say in shaping how they communicate with SNS.

Lets design SNSs from scratch!

Photo - Email retriever program.

Whose idea was this? Dori
Who else might want to work on it?  Monica


I'm not sure if this considers a legit design - but I wanted to have\develop this thing for a while.

It is basically a program that allows someone to retrieve an email by clicking on someone's (face) picture.
In example: let's say I am Facebooking and find a pictures of some one I like\want to email but, I don't have his or her email address.
Then, this program will form an online search for that face's photos that have been tagged or just have somehow the person email's attached to it, and then the program will show me that person's email address.

It is kind of like what intelligent forces are using to detected terrorist in a big crowd

(when surveillance cameras take pictures of faces and scan them through "wanted" databases...)


Whose idea was this? Antonio
Who else might want to work on it?


Moved to.. [here]

Immersive Mentorship

Whose idea was this? Michelle
Who else might want to work on it? monica Rafael Ruth


This idea came to me in my online learning environments class. We were talking about how technology could facilitate legitimate peripheral participation (LPP), which is "a theoretical description of how newcomers become experienced members and eventually old timers of a community of practice or collaborative project" ( Mentoring provides a way to show newcomers how to do something, and also show acquaint the newcomer to the culture and values of the community. With immersive environments, students can practice skill-based knowledge through virtual learning environments before 'moving-on' to real life situations. For example, for surgery residents, there are big learning gaps going from reading about knee surgery in textbooks to observing the surgery, and then to actually performing the surgery.

My thought is to combine aspects of mentoring and virtual practice to supplement the learning process. The mentor and mentee could arrange to log on to the program ahead of time, as the student 'practice' the skill (e.g. pick up a scalpel with their mouse, make an incision on a virtual patient...etc), they would receive instant feedback from the mentor. As well, they would have to opportunity to ask questions through chat, should any come up at any point during the session.

It would be interesting to see whether something like this will work in practice. We definitely have the technology to make it happen. As a side note, it could be mentoring added to this knee surgery site: A high fidelity version could also be made with 3D models and the like. Imagine going through the activity in the link with the help of an online mentor.


Online goal-setting/self-coaching tool

Whose idea was this? Rafael
Who else might want to work on it? Michelle, Dori


Several attributes of the Internet make it a promising platform for online personal goal-setting/behaviour modification/lifestyle management tools. Just as programs exist to help people budget and manage their money to attain their financial goals, this program will act as a platform for people to project their goals, articulating them within the language of a graphical interface specially designed for the visualization of incrementally realizing goals. While related concepts already exist to help people quit smoking or lose weight, the ambition here is to contruct a more general and flexible representation of a person's lifestyle, to help bridge the gap between actual behaviour and aspired lifestyle. Thus, the program would involve a self-reporting functionality, whereby people update the program with regular indications of how they invest their time. Portable devices (cellphones) would probably be the appropriate device for this. Thus, whereas Google Calendar is an application for recording appointments, the proposed application would help people incubate their goals, by tacitly aiding the convergence of aspired behaviour to actual reported behaviour. Opportunities for collaboration would enable people to coach each other as they pursue their goals, and to contribute templates modelling best practices in how certain types of goals might be might be best broken down into substeps. In this way, the program would be an aggregator of pragmatic life-wisdom, a digital successor to storybooks, fables, and archetypes which also convey, in general and easily applicable form, advice that might inform an individual's life decisions. Thus, two key aspects of the proposed tool are visualisation (interface design), and opportunities for collaboration.


Virtual Traveler

Whose idea was this? MonicaR
Who else might want to work on it? Jessica


I was thinking of a design idea that would allow potential travelers to take virtual tours of possible travel destinations and to access useful information, added by past travelers, about those places along the way. Usually it's the bits and peices of info about a place that only those who have been there can know about that are the most valuable ones for potential travelers, but these details can be easily forgotten or overlooked unless someone asks about them specifically. The objective behind this design idea is to give future travelers a personal feel for the place they are looking to go to through other people's personal experiences of that place. Travel forms and blogs help with this already, but this idea would provide a different platform (not a threaded discussion) that would make mining useful information easier for the user. For example, users could zero in on a specific location and navigate it through tagged photographs and digital images of the location; users could also add their own tagged photos of specific locations and sites, and then add their own stories where appropriate. For example, if I zero in on the Greek Island of Mykonos, I could be taken to an interactive photograph of the main dock, and through various links embedded in that image access people's stories of what happens after you step off the boat (ie. backpackers could learn just how easy it is to get a place to stay in the first 2 minutes on land, others could see exactly how expensive a taxi to their hotel really is, etc). Sort of like an online photograph album /Lonely Planet type thing that's free and doesn't weigh a ton (so if you're packing light you don't need to put a 5 pound book in your backpack or spend a fortune slogging through forum threads at the internet cafe)

Online practice in programming

Whose idea was this? Sofia
Who else might want to work on it? Alison


I got this idea by the programming lab where I am a teaching assistant for this semester.I realized that many of the first-year students have trouble understanding some basic concepts about programming and that the lectures are not enough for improving their understanding.I know that that's how university is : you have to work on your own in order to learn things and don't expect your professor to be as close as your teacher at high school was.But, in my opinion , programming is a slightly different task from the others. It is extremely easy if you can understand its nature and extremely difficult if you don't. That's why I think that it would be helpful to have an online tool accessible by everyone,not just university students,where people could practice programming. There should be lots of tutorials and it would also be helpful to have an online interactive tool that would guide users across some easy programs.At that moment there are a lot of forums that relate to programming issues ets but none of them is suitable for a beginner in the field.Moreover it would also be interesting to have a section about kids. I believe that people are more able to learn programming as kids than as teenagers. That's the case with all the physical languages and why not with the programming languages as well? So it would be nice if there was a site where kids could find an entertaining environment for developing their programming skills...

Campus Context: Detailed Campus Information System

Whose idea was this? Matt
Who else might want to work on it? Kristine


Audience: students, instructors, administrators, support staff, visitors.

An institution like the University of Toronto is comprised of one or more campuses, each comprised of buildings, which are in turn comprised of rooms. Imagine a system that facilitates access to a wide array of information relevant to these spaces - represented like the layers in a GIS. A classroom - take our classroom as an example - could be associated with such diverse data as the room's schedule and availability, number of electrical outlets, or specific classes that have been conducted in the room. All of these 'layers' are relevant to the spatial reference of the room and are linked through the common spatial reference of the room. The same would hold for any spatial entity, large or small, throughout the school: lecture halls, libraries, dorms, elevators and stairwells, study carrels, and entire buildings.
Such a system could engage the community to collaborate, learn about and understand 'campus space'. The system could be constructed on three basic foundations:

  1. GIS system to manage the spatial database;
  2. Integration with existing university information systems linked to attributes (e.g. equipment, furniture, schedule and availability) relevant to campus spaces: i.e. a 'mash-up'.
  3. Aggregation of community knowledge relevant to campus spaces.

The complete system could be accessible through multiple user interfaces for different usage scenarios - delivered through web browsers and mobile devices. Mobile devices that use location-based services would offer an excellent opportunity for members of the knowledge community to collaborate and learn about nearby spaces when they are contextually relevant.

This idea is rooted in facilities management systems, taking an application such as Smart Campus in Your Pocket (SCYP) and emphasizing the notion of a layered information system.

Virtual Neighbourhood

Whose idea was this? Jessica
Who else might want to work on it?  Foteini, Sofia


This was an idea I had while trying to find an apartment to rent in a city where I didn't know anyone. There was general information on the web about neighbourhoods, but they told very little about what it was really like to live there. Toronto has several websites which outline the areas of the city, but none of them give a complete overview. The city of Toronto has the social profiles of the neighbourhoods, and there are several blogs which outline the positive and negative aspects of certain areas. What if there was a system for Toronto, which combined apartment rental websites with virtual tours of not just the inside an apartment, but the neighbourhood surrounding? The site could have an element like google maps street view, photos from flicker, personal testimonials from residents living in the area. It could also include a blog element and a rating system. This site would serve as a more accurate overview of areas to live in Toronto.


Dynamic Visualisation tool for Collective Brainstorming

Whose idea was this? Rafael
Who else might want to work on it? Michelle


I'm interested in designing a visualization that facilitates group brainstorming. Specifically, individuals can contribute ideas to the visualisation, and as others add to those ideas or "vote" for them, the visual representation of the idea increases in size. The tool should allow for non-linear development of an idea, with many people contributing or influencing the field of ideas simultaneously. the tool would reveal convergence of interests, needs, or aspirations among strangers in real time. Sometimes people need to see something articulated before they realize that they themselves are of like mind. That is what makes this tool different from a much less dynamic tool which relates people by analysing their answers to a pre-written survey.

The usefulness I see to such a toll is twofold: on the one hand, it allows multiple threads of ideas to be pursued simultaneously  (without interference), and it allows people to connect with others whose interests/concerns resonnate with them. On the other hand, contemplated as a whole, the visualisation offers an emergent meaning, by visualizing, at a glance,  the distribution and relative popularity of ideas. From the broadest view, similar ideas are collapsed together and separated from their authors, which allows the flow of ideas to occur "democratically", independent of the autority of the person who came up with them. This is inspired by concept diagrams, games (such as scrabble), network diagrams, elections, chat rooms, and rating systems such as digg)

One version of such a tool was explored as the final activity of the Semantic Aggregation class which was help earlier in this course.       

Michelle: I'm really interested in the idea of brainstorming, as it's such an important aspect in the creative world and in designing creative products and applications. It would be fascinating to see this tool in action in a Face-to-Face environment such as a Smartroom. Another thing to consider may be applying traditional tips for brainstorming such as having a stage when no idea is reject yet (i.e. no voting) but questions could be asked about them, and then when the number of ideas hit a critical mass, the voting mechanism activates? Another tip for brainstorming is ensuring that all participants are well-fed or at least not hungry during the session, but until computers can deliver food to us via the monitor, well...there's not much we can do about that (smile)

History of Democracy

Whose idea was this? MonicaR
Who else might want to work on it?


Inspired by today's class(smile) - this immersive environment would explore the evolution of the idea of democracy.Each "level" in the virtual universe would be represented as a different historical era; the environment would be designed to help contextualize and illuminate the historical understanding of the idea of democracy (ie. the bustling agora of Athens, inside the Parthenon, etc). Computer agents in the form of both central and 'unknown' historical figures (ie. for ancient Greece - Plato, Aristotle, an average Athenian, a slave, a Spartan, or even talking statues of the gods, images in paintings) can speak out and provide information. Primary and secondary sources embedded within the environment (letters, anecdotal stories, historian interpretations, literary works, images/photos, treatise, etc.) can also provide information as students navigate the space.
Students would have to complete a series of tasks and missions before the student can advance to the subsequent historical "world". Missions will be cumulative, so that the knowledge generated from past missions will be activated in subsequent missions; also, demonstration of the concept of democracy as an evolving and changing idea will also be necessary for advancement in the 'game'. (Maybe students can take on the role of various figures they encountered in past "worlds" and hold debates with figures of a different era...?) Knowledge and insights students gather during the game could be added to a group knowledge database that can include an interactive graphical timeline (via MIT simile web widgets)
Students would ultimately end up in the contemporary world where the 'game' structure would change somewhat in that the study could transfer from an exploration of the history of "democracy" to the engagement of an issue that can be investigated in real time.
Students can either i.) create their own variations on contemporary "worlds" that illustrate the understanding of democracy as it exists today (a world representing the recent election, for example)                ii.) participate in an environment along the lines of what Jim presented in the immersive environment brainstorm where issues are represented in rooms, and voting on an issue occurs through participation and interaction in that room.

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