It Starts

Hello, it has been 12 months and 4 posts since January 1st 2017, and it is time once again to look back on my resolutions and make some new ones. Working with children has meant I can’t be as public with my work as I like to be and the blog has suffered for that. At least that is the excuse I’m going with. This annual feature is probably the most consistent thing about me and I am going to cling to that.

Take 365 Photos of 2017

Obviously “photo a day” went out the window the second my life became school-netflix n’cry-sleep-repeat, but I did get some great shots during the summer and I adopted instagram stories in a big way, so I’m not counting this as a total fail. C+.

Hit 500 Insta followers

Blaming school again, but I’ve actually lost about 20 followers over the course of this year, and now I’m private, so it won’t be changing anytime soon.

Take Better Care of your Nails

Does paying a Vietnamese woman to do this for me count? To be fair I actually haven’t even been to see her since June…

My nails are fine.

Visit at least 5 new countries.

Hit 9 thank you very much.

New Phone, Laptop and Camera

Check, check and check.


Probably should have put a solid number on this to make it count but I didn’t so I can say yes to this without reproach.

Don’t slap, swear at or sass a child

I didn’t. At least not in an offensive way. Being sarcastic to children is the only thing that keeps me going these days, and if you say it quickly enough with a smile on your face it goes straight over their heads anyway.

Hold a handstand for a full minute

I put one of these in most years, and every time I completely forget about it until I’m writing this.

Still Blog

“I’m adding a caveat that, to be deemed successful at the end of the year, you have to have posted at least twice a month.”

Moving on…

Never apologise for not posting again

Screw you I like apologising. Without the apologies I’d have even less to write



If I add up all the bits I get about 6 out of 11. Plus I bought Louboutins, so as far as I’m concerned, life achieved.

To 2018, another year where a lot of things are going to change, but hey, who settles in their 20’s? This years #goalz for you(me) include:

Find a job you like

It ain’t this one.

Gain 10kg

Continuation of a long running goal to put back on all the weight lost to stress at the beginning of last year.

Reduce Phone time

Install one of those tracker apps and aim for less than 3hrs screen time a day.

Visit at least 3 new countries

Continue as you mean to…continue.

New ear piercing

It’s been nearly 2 decades since you had your ears pierced, and despite a pinterest board full of inspiration you haven’t had a new hole made in you since.

Start making again

Create 52 new things, photography, makeup, fashion, graphics, whatever just projects to stop you going insane.

Hit 500 Insta followers

Go back public and recover from the damage of having to protect childrens rights.

Start cooking regularly

You’re turning 25, grow the fuck up. At least once a week, make something that doesn’t involve the words “instant” or “frozen”.

Like more instagram posts

It’s free and makes people happy, make it rain double taps!

Don’t cut hair (again)

You did it once, you can do it again.

Hold a handstand for a full minute

If you keep writing it down, maybe one of these years it’ll happen

As always, I remain cautiously optomistic

The Day I Decided to Quit

27th October. A while ago now, but obviously I had some people to tell before I alerted the internet. Hashtag maturity and all that.

I’m getting out, heading back west, escaping while I’m still sane.

I have had my fill of children, and as of next year, after one last term here, I will (inshallah) be in an office/studio/lab, with grown ups…somewhere. My health, both physical and mental, is taking a serious hit from teaching, and no amount of money is worth being so incredibly unhappy. I hate this.

I still love the UAE, but it’s overhauled education system is still in its infancy and it’s too much for someone with zero class room management experience. The reason I have no class room management experience? Because that is not what I went to college for. The reason its not what I went to college for? Because I didn’t want to work with children. I have never wanted to work with children. I have never wanted to spend time with children. They’re so loud. And messy. And determined to hurt themselves.

I understand an entirely new education system for a whole country is going to have some kinks to work out, but these kinks are affecting my ability to do the job. When young women in engineering is a cause close to my heart, it’s very frustrating to know that I’m playing a role in ruining it for these girls. I’m sick of ‘managing’ and being told to  ‘do my best’, I want to be good at what I do. I’m sick of questioning how I got where I am, why I continue to be there and how in the name of god have they not fired me yet?

I am also sick of my natural hair colour and could never have anticipated how much I would want to pierce my entire head as soon as they told me I couldn’t.

So I am back on the market, officially seeking new opportunities, available as of April.

Normal is Coming

I have to go back to work on Monday…

Granted there will be no kids in sight until the 10th but reality is coming up fast. Or the Dubai equivalent of reality, whatever that is. I’ve been back a total of two days, the heat is unbearable, but I am determined to live up to promises made in my previous post.

I don’t know how many times I’ve “gotten my life together”, I even give up trying to count the number of times I’ve posted about how I’m getting organised and this is is totally the time. But here I am again.

I’ve always really liked the “One day or day one” quote, but my day 1 usually gets as far as day 6 and fizzles out because I stop caring. I consistently start large scale projects and abandon them because I don’t hold myself accountable. I have no shortage of motivation, but I lack anything even resembling self-discipline. I don’t have anything different I’m doing this time, in fact I just edited charts and calendars I still had saved on my computer to line up with my new plans. Try and try again.

My new elaborate plans are three-fold:

    1. Financial – I make a lot of money. Apparently I also spend a lot of money. I’m not going to pretend that I’m going to stop spending, one of the deciding factors in taking this job was being able to own my first pair of Louboutins before I’m 25 (the plan is December), but I have set specific and reasonable savings goals so that I come home with something to show for my two years of dealing with little monsters.
  1. Fitness – I have wanted to gain weight for the past three years, for the past two I’ve been moving backwards. I essentially quit exercise in 2014, and lost any muscle I ever had. While using cookies and alcohol as a coping mechanism kept me in the high 40’s through my FYP, my masters year and in particular the stress of teaching has made me skinnier than I’m comfortable with. I need to start repeatedly lifting heavy things and for the first time in my life, paying attention to what I eat. I want to weigh 55kg in 12 months time, roughly 10kg heavier than I am right now.
  2. Career – I want to work in a freelance/consultant capacity. I want to work with fashion tech. I need to make these things happen.

These are all incorporated into a five and ten year plan, along with some personal life goals, with shorter term targets along the way. The first of which is a 90 day check in. From 1st September to 30th November I am making a concerted effort to as disciplined as possible.

I do think my continued faith in my self-discipline is quite a positive character trait. I am eternally optimistic.


Three posts in one year? Slow the fuck down.

It is August 2017 and despite only working about 30hrs a week (and only 10 months of the year) I have been greatly neglecting what I see as my best bet for stepping into freelance/self employment. That’s you, blog.

Teaching was never the dream. But I panicked at the idea of being unemployed after 23 years of parental-ly supported education and here I am. Long term employment was never the dream. My short attention span and issues with authority don’t mesh well with it. If I want to get out of it I need to build up a portfolio and a network to be in a position where I can support my self. The blog and social media are the most effective way of doing that. Even if it weren’t reaching any audience, writing has been very good for me mentally in the past two years, but lately, (read: since last November) every time I sit down, open that “add post” page and look at the little cursor blink, I’ve got nothing. I haven’t done anything remotely creative in almost a year and I can’t tell if it’s because I’m stressed or why I’m stressed.

I need a project.

A post shared by Unspirational (@unspirational) on

If you don’t follow Unspirational on Instagram you totally should. If you’ve got me on Instagram (you totally should too) you might have noticed it sort of came back to life recently. I’ve been travelling and honestly my favourite part of the trip has been photographing it. While not everybody would consider Instagram a good motivation for experiencing the world, I have really enjoyed the challenge of getting a great shot from every location and I like having my success measurable via likes. I am very slowly realizing how much I love photography and questioning why I don’t do more of it.

I’m back in NZ right now for the actual holiday part of my summer holidays and I intend on spending it relaxing, but as of September…

My Autumn semester is going to be one with a routine, a routine where I make more time for creative projects and less for bingeing TV series and feeling sorry for myself because my phenomenally well paid job is a little tough. This post is, as so many of mine are, a declaration that the future will be different. I want to do better with the second half of 2017. Take my photography more seriously. Design more. Make more. Build more. Paint more. Post more. DO MORE.

Money and holidays or no, I can’t stay in my current job for longer than another 18 months, I don’t want to. By next summer I want to be in a position where I can be working for myself, even if I don’t make the jump right away, I want it to be an option, so that’s my first 2018 resolution down.

I swear to God I mean it when I say,

Write soon,


Oh right, yeah…

…this is a thing I do, completely forgot. Only that my domain name renewal is due this week and they came looking for money I may never have remembered. Today is day 65 of my time in the Middle East, so it’s probably about time for an update.

It’s been a very quick 2 months, and I can see the next 22 going just as quickly. Is teaching my calling? No, 7 hours a day surrounded by children has not made me any more enamored with them than I was 2 months ago, but I can definitely think of worse things I could be doing, and as agreed, I have not slapped any of them. Snaps for Clodagh.

Snaps also for Ras al Khaimah, which has proven to be the much superior choice of city. From the rebel county to the rebel emirate, I’m very happy call it home. Dubai must be the Dublin of UAE, because like my experiences of Dublin, only bad things happen in Dubai.

Such as my second Paddy’s day abroad. Unlike 2014 where I was the only Irish person around and I went through all the plastic Paddy nonsense cheerfully thinking “This is wrong, this is all so wrong, you people are ridiculous”, Dubai put on a proper Paddy’s day, because Dubai is full of Irish people. Loud, messy, irritating Irish people. There were some brief shining hours early on where it was wonderful to be around the accents and the singing, but give it a couple of pints and I quickly remembered, “Oh right, we’re the worst”. We are the actual worst. And it wasn’t that I was too sober for it, because believe me, I wasn’t.


RAK has beaches, malls and a healthy dose of mountains thrown in too. It is the most ridiculous place I have ever been in my life and I love it for it. Should you ever find yourself here, my advice is to give up on logic early and save yourself the headache. Because no one else gives a fuck. When people U-turn or randomly reverse in 4 lanes of traffic, just go with it. When people refuse to let you open doors or throw anything in the bin yourself, just go with it. When the restaurant is “Italian Salsa”or “Canadian Pizza”, just go with it. When you go to open the door of a taxi and 8 taxi drivers pile out, just go with it. After 2pm on Thursday? Sorry hun, that’s it for the weekend. This place is everything.

Weathers been shite though.

I mean…mostly

Resolutions Revisited

Notice how it’s always right after I say posting will go back to being “regular” that I disappear for months?

This time last year, I made a list of not-really-resolutions, it has come time to evaluate my success rate and set out my targets for 2017. 2016, twitter titled “dumpster fire” of a year, really didn’t suck that bad on this end. It was no 2014, but it was okay.

Stop pretending you post on Sundays.

Semi-achieved, I successfully dropped all Sunday related pretence, but continued to repeatedly lie about when I would post again.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Take Contemporary Art instead of Physical Computing.

Achieved. And an excellent choice it was too, see Flatpack Museum. Do not see Instabooth.

The face of misery

Don’t buy a new phone, you don’t need a new phone, what you need is money. Every 12 months is not a reasonable turnover.

Achieved. It has been slowly converting to being more tape than phone since April, but, almost 2 years after purchase, it is still my phone.

You and white wine are done-skis.


Keep the “Not to be opened until August 1st” sign on the bleach bottles. Your scalp needs the break.

Achieved. It’s January 1st and I have not bleached, granted it is because of employment commitments rather than any great consideration for my scalp or hair, but still.

Get your cholesterol checked. You eat literally a kilo of cheese a week, you’re probably dying.

Mission failed, still probably dying. But I would rather live 30 cheese filled years than 80 without it.

Rowing, running, fuck it, go back to ballet, but do something. The stairs in the CSIS do not qualify as exercise and your legs are getting scrawny.

Does 2 weeks of Pokemon Go count? That 30 years I’m giving myself may be an overestimation.

You say it every year, but finish all of the existing projects in your knitting bag/sewing box before you start new ones. #neverhappening


Finish some? Or rip them back/bin them? Just the ones more than 3 years old?

See above.

Seeing as you once again forgot to apply for any and all graduate programmes, do not let September be a repeat of last June. Find your next great adventure before you finish this one. And have it be one you’re paid for.


Stay blogging.

I shall leave this one up to the general public, I’m here now aren’t I?

Minimum 4hrs on thesis per week, every week from now until May. Obviously considerably more than that between May and September. Do not last minute this shit.

To be fair, this was never really going to happen.

Do not cut your hair.



I count 5 1/2 out of 13, which sounds bad until you remember that I wrote a Masters thesis this year, which was very stressful and then I got put on the Raspberry Pi blog and in MagPi. And here I am on the Adafruit blog. Oh look, links, you should click them and remind yourself that Clodagh is really clever and not a terrible lazy person at all.

This year, I think is important. I’ve said that a lot in recent years, what with NZ in 2014, finishing my undergrad in 2015 and finishing my Masters this year, but 2017 will finally mark the end of my 20 year slog in education. I’m moving from my very, very extended childhood to actual adulthood. From the Spring to the Summer of my years as it were. As such, here is my list of rules to the me that exists from now until Dec ember 31st 2017…

Take 365 Photos of 2017

You have already started this, posting a photo every day, but the plan is to pull off  every day of next year. If your existence isn’t documented on Instagram, it’s basically meaningless. But make them good photos, high resolution, well-shot and nicely edited.

Hit 500 Insta followers

Instagram is where you have found your social media home, having completely gone off Facebook and Snapchat in the past year, Insta is still a daily staple. Your tag game has improved immensely over #thesiscountdown, gaining over 70 followers in 3 months. And we saw the benefit of it with our new-found Raspberry Pi friends. Let’s put all the practice to good use.

Take Better Care of your Nails

We get it, your hair is your world, but now that it is no longer a multi-coloured tumble weed atop your head, it doesn’t require half as much attention. You could put the extra time to use benefiting humanity…or you could spend it on the long-neglected other bits of dead keratin growing out of you.

Visit at least 5 new countries.

What’s the point of living an hour away from one of the world’s busiest airports while having a glorious 12 weeks of annual teachers holidays, if you don’t take advantage of them? South east Asia is calling you…

New Phone, Laptop and Camera

Your phone is held together with tape. Your laptop doesn’t work if there’s a battery in it. And you still don’t own a DSLR. TREAT YO’SELF.


The last two points aren’t going to help this. #notaxtho

Don’t slap, swear at or sass a child

You are a teacher now, like, to actual children, and self-restraint is not one of your many talents. That sarky line in your head might be absolute gold, but ask yourself, will one-upping a 14 year old really make you feel like a winner? The answer is of course it will, but it’s completely irrelevant because in the time it took to “ask yourself”, you’ve already said it out loud. Just try not to get fired/arrested.

Hold a handstand for a full minute

What’s life without whimsy?

Still Blog

I’m adding a caveat that, to be deemed successful at the end of the year, you have to have posted at least twice a month.

Never apologise for not posting again

If you didn’t post, you didn’t post, get over it and move on. It’s annoying me, and I’m you.


You failed in 2015. You failed in 2016. But this time for sure.



Making a Move

Hello, and if you are one of the new followers I acquired yesterday thanks to a lovely write up by Alex at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, welcome. I like to think I post a pretty good account of what I’m doing with my life. In reality I post very short updates, very infrequently.

You join me on an announcement day. Last week I mentioned something about landing a job. What I didn’t say was that I’m pissing off around the world. Again. Not quite as far away as New Zealand this time, but far enough that I won’t exactly be making weekend trips home. Somewhere where the weather is going to be just as awful as it is here, but for totally different reasons. Somewhere where every culture of the world is represented and petrol is cheaper than water. Dubai, I’m moving to Dubai. Well, technically I’m moving to Ras Al Khaimah, which is an entirely different Emirate to the North of Dubai, but if you say United Arab Emirates, which is the country Dubai is in, people don’t know where you’re talking about. Either way, the Instagram game is going to be amazing. This was one of those things where I “wasn’t really telling people yet”, but have proceeded to tell basically everyone I’ve spoken to in the last month since I got the offer, so you might as well hear about it.


I’m going to be fulfilling some kind of life long prophecy and becoming a teacher, a “Creative & Innovation Design Technology” teacher. Don’t worry there aren’t any innocent young children involved, they’re secondary aged. I may end up teaching anything from sketching to coding. Regardless, it is unbelievably nice to have a life plan for the next two years. Two years in a disgustingly hot country, being paid disgustingly well to teach teenage girls how to build robots. I genuinely cannot wait to start.


Which brings me to my second announcement, in an effort to reassure my mother that I am consistently still alive, I’m going to start vlogging. Eventually. Youtube videos are something I’ve wanted to start for a long time now, something I’ve been thinking seriously about for around a year and have been talking about for months. I had it set in my head to start vlogging once the blog hit it’s one year anniversary. That was last May. But I had college, and not a whole lot else, so I didn’t have the energy or the subject material. The day-to-day of my thesis was not as fascinating as you might expect. I still wouldn’t expect anything anytime soon, but it’s in text now so it’s happening.

Thesis Wrap


It actually hasn’t been as long as I thought, I mean it’s been two months, but it feels like much longer than that. Since it’s now all over and done with, I’m going to skip the Phase/Part structure and just do a summary write up of the thesis build. To be honest I would probably just let it slide and go back to the pre-thesis days of whinging about my hair and Project Runway, but I feel like I owe the Raspberry Pi foundation something for following me almost all the way through the Instagram countdown. Plus I haven’t been able to watch any Project Runway in months.


So I built two things, a website and a dress.



I went over the connection of these things in the Design post.

I built the website using my old reliable WordPress. Starting with the Twenty Fourteen theme I made some adjustments to match it up with the Indesign mocks. Nothing too complicated, the “Spots” and “Shop” pages are fairly face-value mocks with very little available interaction. The home and profile pages are both internally scrollable lists of divs populated with info from SQL databases. The sidebar is filled with a variety of completely non-functioning, but lovely looking, widgets.


The dress runs off a Raspberry Pi, which hosts the SQL databases used by the website and runs the python program that makes everything work. As an immediate feedback some fibre optics light up when the dress is touched, a colour for different body parts (waist=purple, hip=green, hand=blue, etc.). At the same time the dress registers when and where it was touched to a database to be displayed on the user profile, as well as adding a certain number of points to the user total. The user total determines their place on the homepage leader board. The sensor used is a capacitive one, specifically this one, from Adafruit. Its used with conductive thread to pick up human contact all over the dress. The illumination is provided by the Pimoroni Blinkt, which provides some unbelievably bright and pretty colour effects for such a small (and cheap) piece of tech. It saved me having to wire and code a bunch of LEDs individually. Absolutely adore it.


This first prototype fit my function, but sticking to my vision of designing something that was actually wearable, didn’t make for a great exhibition piece. So I made another one, one that was a little flashier and simplified the interaction right down to its basics. More fibre optics, less fabric. Because there aren’t different sections in the second dress, the lights run through a rainbow (code for which was stolen directly from the Blinkt example library) for as long as it’s touched.


This has been a very brief description of how I spent the last 2 months, but I’m so very over this whole thesis thing now, and I still have to proof read it. The blog will be back to semi-regular for the next while, I have actually managed to do the whole “productive member of society” thing and get a job, but I don’t start until January. I will get into that in my next post, but for the time being, I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands.

Featured In/On:
MagPi Issue 53

Best Raspberry Pi Projects

Adafruit Blog

Mood Swings Abound

Life choices I made this week include deleting the LinkedIn app to make room for Pokémon Go and opting to order enough fabric to clothe several elephants. Naturally you assume someone who so clearly has it together would be above things like mood swings, alas no. The last 26hrs or so have been quite the rollercoaster.


Yesterday was going alright-ish, until I got an email from my supervisor describing my Lit Review as “not OK”, so then I was not OK, and proceeded to put on my onesie and go to bed with a litre of ice-cream. At four in the afternoon. That was that for the entirety of the night.


This morning though, was a new day. Well it was after the post arrived, before that I was still in bed, approaching my fourth hour of watching old John Oliver rants on youtube. An informative but ineffective use of time. But the post brought with it my Pimoroni order, and something within me decided to cop on. And it was glorious. Thanks to the good people who staff Pimoroni and Adafruit, coding the Raspberry Pi program was a genuinely pleasant experience. Considerably more pleasant than writing the English language side of my thesis.


Taken by this swell of accomplishment, I began looking into the possibility of setting up an API/SQL to the site again, because I am clearly a technological genius and all things are possible. I borderline skipped into college to do some CSS styling a few hours ago, and it is around here that the day took a turn. Half three is obviously not a time of day that agrees with me. I am still here in college, having just finished implementing a Google map into a page of the site demo. It took three and a half hours. This is not a difficult task. Technically the map itself was not an issue, but for whatever reason, when I tried to edit some of the code, the site would respond with “Oh, you want to add a second marker? And custom icons? I can’t even” *SPAZ ATTACK*.


But it now shows up and I wish the internet had never been invented.

Thesis Phase 2: Design

Design got really, really big, so I split it into three parts. This first one is about the over all interaction without going into detail about the visual and functional design of the wearable or the website. I say interaction, I mean the algorithm that runs the whole thing. I’m just going to describe what it is really, rather than “The Proccess”, because my artistic “process” is thinking about stuff while I binge TV series, writing some of it down and, if I’m feeling particularly motivated, drawing some of it. Copy, paste and apply for all steps. If you are interested, the series in question were RuPauls Drag Race, Orange is the New Black and Silicon Valley. Like I said in Phase 1, I’m measuring four variables;


1. Where the user is
2. Who the user is with
3. What the user is saying
4. What physical contact the user experiences


These variables are tracked and have their worth determined according to an algorithm. The interactions worth is measured by points and added up to establish the user’s worth as person. Remember, dystopia.


A user collects points through verbal and physical contact. These are additive actions in that they are worth points. I am a firm believer in making things “Marketing’s problem” when I design, but even I had to acknowledge that a device recording conversations is a difficult sell. So, instead of recording speech, the device records the presence of speech, without storing any recordings. To factor in the nature of the conversation and how that effects the points value, it uses word recognition, with specific words equating to a higher number of points. Positive words, e.g. “love”, “happy” or “koala”, mark a positive conversation. The “good” word list is not publically available, but the display in the garment reacts to the chosen words, making them learnable.

A value is also assigned to physical contact. Different values for different body parts, higher amounts for more intimate areas. Connection made with multiple contact points at once are added together before the application of multipliers (see below), making concurrent contact more significant than consecutive. To account for prolonged contact the points are re-added every minute the contact continues.
Another source of points, separate to the wearable is the users profile. Each page view accumulating points depending on privacy settings. A users interaction feed can be made private, protecting their information, but making page views worthless. A public profile set with a time delay offers users a limited number of points per view, while a real-time feed generates the maximum number of points.
Where the user is and who they are with does not in itself accumulate points, they multiply the points earned by the additive factors.


Location based multipliers can be created in two ways. One of which is by purchase. Similar to the way in which Snapchat allows consumers to buy an area and timeframe to display Geofilters, businesses and private parties can purchase a multiplier for their venue to make it more attractive to customers or guests. The cost of this is determined by the size of the venue, the length of time it is to be in effect and the value of the multiplier. The second method of creating a location based multiplier is natural development. Venues and spaces that consistently attract high volumes of users, especially highly ranked users can develop multipliers without need for payment. Multipliers created in this way can be higher than those available for purchase. The locations of all multiplier spots can be looked up on the site.
Proximity multipliers are based on the rankings of those that the user interacts with. The higher up the scoreboard, the higher the multiplier. These multipliers are attached to the coloured rank system (see below). This makes friends who use the site, in particular those who do well on the site, more valuable to the wearer.

Obvious example users. Please ignore that I didn’t have a search icon off-hand and picked a random Wingding instead.


Interactions, and the points attached, are only recorded and valued for seven days. So users have to be consistently active to stay on top. It also means early-adopters can’t get too far ahead of newer users. Only the previous seven days are included in calculating a user’s score.
Oh and the coloured rank thing. A big problem with wearable trackers is a lack of long term motivation. Wearers get bored with goals that start to seem unattainable. With space for only one at the top, users could quickly become discouraged with the site. Taking inspiration from the use of levels in social fitness website Fitocracy, which also uses a points system, users will be sorted into different classes dependant on their rank. These classes are identified by colours, with number one having its own unique colour, from two to ten being another and so on. I made a table but I am too lazy to go find it for you now, maybe next week. These classes continue up to the top million, above which the user is “colourless”. The break up lets users set themselves smaller personal goals. This coloured rank also justifies the garments displays existence beyond “I just really wanted to put a bunch of LEDs on a dress”.


I will cover either the dress or the website next week, depending on my mood.

Don’t Panic, Lower your Standards

Boy, I was miserable last week, but such is life as a drama queen. As basically anyone who has ever met me could have predicted, I’m OK now.


I was freaked out about how much I had to do so I made the simple decision to do less.


Like every project I have ever attempted, I got over ambitious, it ballooned out of the realms of what was possible in the timeframe, and I then lost the absolute plot over the entire thing. But unlike during my FYP, when one product turned into eight plus an app, I’m not going to fall into the trap of carrying all the nonsense out until the bitter, sub-par end. I decided for the good of the final product to streamline my task list and do away with some unnecessaries. For the purposes of demonstration I’m going to ditch the API connection, have a visual demo of the website, but have all the Raspberry Pi’s data readings self contained. There’s already so much coming up that I don’t know how to do. There is only so much I’m going to achieve in the next month and I have to accept these limitations. I have to accept the fact that I have limitations.


That said I’ve still got an unholy amount of stuff to do in the next three weeks, but I’m back on caffeine so there’s no way I can fail. The fact that I’ve been shaking uncontrollably for the past two days is fine. Totally fine. I mean except for the soldering I was physically incapable of doing by myself, but no, everything is fine.


Everything is TOTALLY FINE.

Thesis Phase 1: Speculation

Sucking it up and taking back all the horrible things I said about Dunne and Raby here, I decided to take on a speculative design project for my thesis. I even read a few of their books to work out what speculative design actually was. The first step in any speculative design project is obviously the speculation, in this case speculation of what social media will look like 5-10 years from now. Being a research project, the future is inevitably dystopian, because if the ghost of Christmas future had brought good news then “A Christmas Carol” wouldn’t have sold nearly as well.


So what trends are observable in social media today?

  • Success on social media is incredibly important to people, for reasons most people aren’t quite sure of
  • With some work, this “success” can become increasingly lucrative, to the point of being an almost legitimate career option.
  • Mystery algorithms have a large amount of control over what we see and consequently what we do
  • We are becoming aware of how faked a lot of posts are, particularly those from social media personalities

In her book, “Seeing Ourselves Through Technology”, Jill Walker Rettberg states that there are three distinct modes of self- representation in digital media: written, visual and quantitative. For this I am eternally grateful to her, because this is the premise I built my entire thesis on.


In the early internet, self-representation was purely text-based, the internet was less capable of handling images, so social media consisted of blogs and instant messaging. Lying about who you were was very easy to do. As technology advanced, we moved on to basing the transfer of information on visual communication; photos, videos, and emoticons in place of words. Lying on the internet became slightly trickier. Not so tricky as to discourage any of the people who appear on “Catfish”, but the likes of Facebook and Instagram require a little more effort than typing about how you’re totally a 16 year old girl from LA who is also Britney Spears’ best friend. As such, the natural progression would be quantified social media, that couldn’t be manufactured. No one would go to the extent of  actually living a false life for the purposes of social media. Right?


Combining this with wearable technology, because that is literally the only consistent thing in my entire dissertation, my mission is:


To design a wearable connected platform that introduces what is sold as a “purer” form of social media. The quantitative data means users would have to go to extraordinary lengths to misrepresent their lives, thereby making its information more reliable than that of its competitors. Thanks to revenue from wearable sales, it can afford to offer a platform with less advertising.
This platform measures four factors to give as accurate a representation as possible of social actions.


1. Where the user is
2. Who the user is with
3. What the user is saying
4. What physical contact the user experiences


The user is then scored on these factors by an algorithm to earn points, which determine the users rank on what is less a social network and more an online scoreboard. Cutting to its point, this scoreboard reduces each user to a name, a picture, a vague location, a number of points and most crucially, a global rank.


To keep up with daily activities, the device would have to be worn daily. No one wants to wear the same thing everyday. So, the device built for this project is just a representative of what would be a suite of wearables available for sale from the corporation. These would track and display at various different levels, allowing users to choose to what degree they engage at different times. More understated, smaller wearables, like smart jewellery are more suitable for day-to-day wear. Larger scale wearables, garments,  that track more and therefore collect more points as well as offer more pageantry, can be worn for social occasions. The dress built for this project demonstrates the full range of parameters that could be tracked and a more elaborate display. An extended selection of the range is shown in the “Shop” section of the website demonstration.


The name of this social media platform and the corporation behind it is QBee, named for “Queen Bee”.


Phase 2: Design write up should be coming next week, seeing as I’m already on Phase 3.

Hello Again

Anxiety. It’s been a fairly consistent part of my life for as long as I can remember, but this past week has been something else. It started last Friday night, two days out from my first thesis draft being due, when I sat down and realised how severely lacking I was in the word count department. It continued through Saturday when I wrote up my “Design” chapter, hoping it would miraculously be 5,000 words long. It continued through the two hours on Saturday night I wasted googling “how short is too short thesis”. It continued through Sunday as I desperately stretched my 4796 words to 5283. By this point, I had been planning to have about 8000 words. By the looks of things, that’s how long my entire thesis is going to end up. I just don’t know how to waffle.


But a deadline is a deadline, so I sent it off to my supervisor, and enjoyed a brief respite from the intense desire to throw up everything I’ve ever eaten. On Monday morning however, it came rushing back as I lay in bed and allowed myself to properly think about something that had been in the back of my head all weekend. My timeline is fucked.


A month for design, a month for build, a month for presentation. Sounds super neat when I put it that way. Problem is I know design, I’ve spent five fucking years studying it and what I achieved in the past four weeks could easily have been done in two. What I don’t know, is how to program a Raspberry Pi with various connected sensor boards and actuators, create a REST API and an associated PHP/SQL driven website. All of these being things I have to achieve in the next 3 weeks if I am to have a working prototype by the 25th. As well as build all of this into a fully constructed dress by the 8th of August, and writing the aforementioned missing 3-7000 words.


There is basically no way I’m going to complete my thesis project in time. I haven’t been able to eat properly since Friday an it’s unlikely I will again untile August. I’m in for a really, really shitty couple of months, during which I may fail something for the first time in my extended academic career. Naturally it felt like the right time to recommence talking to the internet

Getting Organised

This week was mid term break, an opportunity to structure my time as I want and  a trial run for how  the summer is going to go. Now, if you have been reading since before Christmas, you will be aware that structure and I have not always gotten along. But I’ve been getting better the past few months and I am an eternal optimist, so as I do in any time of stress, boredom or day that ends in a Y, I planned.May
What I set out to get done:

  1. HTML5/Js Project
  2. PureData Project
  3. App Design Midterm
  4. Arduino/Processing Project
  5. Updates to Website
  6. Start writing thesis.


What I actually achieved:

  1. HTML5/Js Project.
  2. App Design Midterm
  3. Finally added content to the Graphic and Product design pages
  4. Started writing thesis. (42 words and counting, 14 of which are the title.)
  5. Gave my hair the protein treatment its been craving for weeks now.
  6. Caught up on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Which basically sums up my life, highly ambitious, but lacking the motivation to actually see it through.

I actually don’t think the result is too awful, especially considering the Hunt catalogue continued to haunt me right up until yesterday. Having started to put any words at all down for thesis feels like a massive weight off, and I’m now at least clear on what I want to achieve with  Arduino and Processing, which is more than I could say on Monday. My past self found it hilarious to put it in my to do list as this. Still iffy on PureData because I really don’t like it as an interface and do not find it’s capabilities in the least bit inspiring. It just seems like an ugly form of Processing.

All in all, B+ Clodagh, could do with improvement.

The Journey So Far|Thesis Diary

It took me more than a month to follow up my first totally going to be weekly post, because of course it did.


Achievement Unlocked, Supervisor Acquired. And if my time with my FYP supervisor is anything to go by, Nora, I apologise in advance.


Since I’ve changed thesis idea so many times and been less than devoted to my posting about it, it would be easy to get the impression that it’s just my short attention span jumping around. So I want to take a minute to clear my name and prove that there is a certain amount of method to my madness and write up what I swear to Christ is my locked in, final, never changing ever concept.


I started before christmas with an idea to do a piece of wearable tech that you can read all about in the December entry of my Thesis tab. I knew in September I was doing a wearable. I am obsessed.


The Christmas break gave me a lot of time to think on the fact that I was going to be looking at this project for a very long time, particularly the three months of the summer. I took a hard look at my project and realised, unlike my FYP, it didn’t need to be in the least bit commercial. What it had to be was interesting. The idea I had was small time, so, inspired by the woman who has been my design hero since 2013, Anouk Wipprecht, I decided to go all in a build a dress. I dropped the location based thing because when asked why it interested me, I didn’t have an answer.


I give it a week

After a while of reading broadly in the area I decided to focus in from general social interactions to smart phone addiction, and the anti social side to social networks. The concept was that LEDs in the dress would dull with prolonged phone use, to represent that the wearer was being dull. This was the idea I presented to Nora in our first meeting, she said it was a good jumping off point, but wanted me to go bigger, which in hindsight, I shouldn’t have needed to be told.


Finally, direct from the message I sent my supervisor, is the final product:


“After reading around I still wanted to look at the anti social element, so I started thinking about why it was anti social and started looking at multitasking and how a person can only properly focus on one thing at a time. I essentially circled back to a similar function, but with a more detailed reasoning behind it.


The concept is to treat the physical world as another website/app/social media platform. To be active on one, means to be inactive in the other. In the same way you can only have one tab or app open on a screen, your attention can only exist in the digital or physical space. When the wearer is active online, they are therefore inactive in physical space, and the lighting (thinking fibre optic fabric) in the dress goes dead to indicate the wearer is “offline” in the  world around them.


I’m also playing around with the idea using white noise (possibly in a hood) as a sort of sensory deprivation to push the “out of body” feel a bit.”


And that is our journey so far.