Ash at CIID

Ashwin Rajan's blog while at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Desert ‘Kites’ – Ancient strategic design genius

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I was awed by this example of strategic design from over 5000 years ago.

The ‘kites’ – so called because of their kite-like appearance to British pilots flying over the area in the early 1900s – resemble walls stretching over hundreds of meters of desert, meeting at angles with rounded trenches at the intersections.

Scientists have found that these structures were made by ancient desert people over 5,000 years ago as mass hunting apparatuses. Found across the deserts of Jordan, Syria, Israel and the Sinai, scientist teams concluded that the kites were constructed specifically to direct wild animals along the walls and convey them toward the trenches, where they could be hunted with ease. The extensive study also exposed the thinking processes that were invested in planning each trap. “The traps were places in locations where animals migration routes were concentrated into bottlenecks. There is no doubt that the prehistoric inhabitants of the desert had a lot of knowledge: they knew the cattle migration routes very well and knew where to each of the traps very efficiently.” the study by an interdisciplinary group funded by the National Geographic said.

The walls of a kite leading to enclosures for trapping animals. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk.

The walls of a kite leading to enclosures for trapping animals. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk.

The kites were designed so that the wild animals’ migration routes would converge into the hidden trenches. According to data gathered at the sites, the kite “branches” spanned over 200 meters in length, some even surpassing a few kilometers. The walls of these branches were quite broad in both height and depth, leading researchers to conclude that kites were used to hunt large hoofed animals. Some kites were constructed with elevated stages that probably served to conceal the large trenches below and heighten the leaping wall.

But the part that’s totally intriguing to me – sketches on stones nearby reveal detailed drawings of shapes and use of the kites. This raises a whole bunch of questions. Were these ancient designers sketching out their ideas, probably even iterating designs and refining solutions – an ancient prototyping effort – as part of the process of kite construction? What ‘process’ did they use and was sketching an important part of it? How successful was this method compared to traditional building processes?

Drawings on stones in the heart of the kites location. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk/

Drawings on stones in the heart of the kites location. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk/

Ancient kite drawings from the sites where kites are found. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk/

Ancient kite drawings from the sites where kites are found. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk/

Sources for this blog post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1235898328320&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull
http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146412866
http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=16284
http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org/index.php?option=com_datsogallery&Itemid=27&func=detail&catid=52&id=2058&p=1&l=1280


Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 13, 2009 at 11:12 am

GE Ecomagination Survey

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I was browsing around doing desktop research for the Intel Smart Grid project at CIID discussed in an earlier post, when I was requested to take a survey from Opinion Central. I don’t remember exactly what the invite said, but it seemed to have something to do with clean energy, and so I decided to check it out. I made screengrabs as I went along as the ‘angle’ seemed interesting. An online survey, it turned out, can be quite an engaging vehicle for large-scale campaigns that effectively aim to measure (or make?) significant shifts in the brand perception of large organizations. What started out as “would you care to take this survey on clean energy”, or something of the sort, soon became a focused quiz intent on understanding my perception of GE’s Ecomagination concept amongst competitors, interestingly including IBM, Microsoft and Google (not Intel though)! See how the survey went below.

Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 13, 2009 at 6:44 am

Powers of Ten

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A landmark film by the designer duo Charles and Ray Eames that remains fascinating, and pointedly relevant, 30 years after it was made. Quotes outlining the Eameses philosophy add perspective to the film:
– “Eventually, everything connects.”
– “The details are not the details. They make the design.”

Written by Ashwin Rajan

December 22, 2008 at 12:59 am

Posted in Musings