Category Archives: Jonathan Downs

Final Reflection – Jonathan Downs

This class was definitely a venture down a new avenue for me. The class didn’t seem too focused on being a coding class but rather a creative class, and I thought that worked really well. For my group’s final project, 80% of the work didn’t even go towards CS coding-related work. The majority of the work was centered on the ideation process leading up to the final product. The work towards the final deliverable was mainly art-related with group members focusing on design and application of tattoos and using Innovation Space to make a creative final video. The “computing” part only came with the Red Herring app. At the end of it all, our final product really did seem like an embodiment of the name of the course, “Creative Computing.”

The final project was probably the most fun I have had working on a CS project in college. The group would get together on weekdays and over the weekend to work on the film. My photography skills undoubtedly tripled over that week which basically means I know how to open the case and put a camera on a tripod now. Messing around with online facial recognition was really exciting as well. Seeing how simple designs on the face could work so well was eye-opening to me.

One of the best parts of the structure of the final project was how much time was devoted to the ideation process. In most classes, maybe one or two days would be given to the idea itself and then software development would promptly begin. Having multiple weeks to figure the idea out, pitch it, gather feedback, and tweak the idea made the idea work a lot better in the end.

Looking back on the classes themselves, the most memorable classes were the ones that were interactive. These include the classes where we “did stuff” such as littleBits and the classes where intense discussion occurred. One of the most memorable classes in my mind was where we came to class, sat in a circle, and discussed the reading for the whole class. The talking points quickly changed from the original focus, but all the topics that arose provided good discussion and a high level of thought from us.

I thought all of the projects provided insight and were fun to work on, although there was a bit of confusion sometimes. For instance, in the first project, I was unsure of what design process we were meant to do. We had gone over the AEIOU one, though, and that is what everyone was doing, so I guess that is the one, right? Well, not really. We could do any design process we wanted, I see now. But in an age where all our classes teach us a specific process and then dictate to do our homework using that exact process, the openness surrounding the projects could be confusing. That seems like more of a problem with the other classes, though, so maybe a little bit of confusion can be a good thing.

Overall, I thought the class was very successful in promoting the creative process and the ideation of a product over the final product itself. There was a lot more “thinking” and a lot less “doing” than most classes. In my college experience, a project is something that a professor creates with a known input and output. There will be a set input, and the output better be the one that the professor expects. This leaves little or no space for the ideation portion. In this class, however, the input and output were not set. The results from each project varied wildly, giving the class a really unique feel. This uniqueness is what really stands out to me and will make me remember this class for years to come.


Group 7 Survey


Pressure Project 2: Competitive Eater Probe Kit



Short Description: We are analyzing the competitive eating community. We were brainstorming ideas and came upon competitive eaters and all agreed.

Alisher: Kobayashi first piqued my interest when I saw him down 60+ hot dogs. It should not be humanly possible for that to happen.
Jonathan: I’ve seen a few competitive eaters before (on  youtube and elsewhere) and always wondered how they started doing it.
Dominic:  Watched an anime episode about eating, was thoroughly entranced.  <;
Jae: Subscribed to FuriousPete channel on Youtube. Peter Czerwinski is a competitive eater with over 2 million subscribers.

Links:                                                                             <;                                        <;

Physical Aspect

  • Give printouts of multiple foods and have them to arrange them in order of their strategy to eat them during a competition (in 90 seconds or less)
  • Using the same printouts, have them group them in no particular way at all
  • Word association activity
  • A journal to record a week’s worth of meals and the results from the previous activities


The kit will be mailed out to all participants and should take 7 days to complete once received. The participant will record their responses from the initial activities into the journal and then record their meals for the week in the rest of the pages. On the 7th day, the kit will be mailed back and results will be analyzed.

The Kit



The lunchbox is more of a container for the kit, rather than the kit itself. The lunchbox holds all of the other parts of the kit inside of it. Our hope is that it gives the user a pleasant first impression to our kit. Inside the lunchbox is the contents of the kit – the journal, a link to the survey and the food printouts.

Word Association Activity


The word association activity will contain words like pain and comfort to see what the connection the participant makes with certain words. There will be 12 flashcards and in the instructions, the participant will be told not to look through them before beginning. The participant will look through them and then upon each flashcard, write down the first word that popped up into their head. This activity would reveal if there is a deeper connection between competitive eaters and food or if they are all different from one another.

Words: Hot dogs, kitchen, bathroom, wings, pain, love, comfort, stress, ribs, doctor, exercise, water

Meal Journal


The food journal will initially be a place to record the participant’s results from the food printouts and word association activities. It will then basically be a place to record what the person ate for a week. They would not have to think about dieting, counting calories or exercise. They will be told to go about their eating habits as normal but just record their meals. They will record their meals for 6 days and on the 7th day, write a reflection on what they thought about their normal diet and how it compares to the days/weeks before a competition.

Food Printouts


The food printouts are the final item in the kit. The user will be given a variety of different printouts, each with a different food on them. Then, in under 90 seconds, the user will then arrange the printouts in the order that they would eat those items in a competitive eating competition. Once the time is up, each user will record the reasoning behind choosing the specific ordering.

After they record their explanations, we would have them to then place the food printouts into groups. There would be no direction given as to what “type” of groups should be made. The goal of this would be to see how the users categorize the foods (i.e. by their sweetness, difficulty in eating, etc).

The overall purpose of this activity is to get an inside look at the thought process behind competitive eating. Will there be trends that each competitive eater shows when choosing the order? Will different eaters prefer to eat foods in different orders? Each user giving us his/her reasoning behind the ordering will also really help us to understand if there are trends or techniques that are common across all competitive eating or if the ordering really depends on the specific eater.

List of Food Printouts:

  • hot dogs
  • wings
  • hard shell tacos
  • steak
  • homemade chocolate chip cookies
  • chocolate cake
  • saltine crackers
  • raw onions
  • sardines
  • ribs

Instructions for Kit

  • Open kit (lunchbox)
  • Take out the food printouts bag, word association pack and the journal
  • Start a timer for 90 seconds and order the food printouts in the order that you would eat them during a competition
  • Record why you ordered them the way you did in the journal provided
  • Go back to the printouts and now group them in any way you see best fit
  • Record your reasoning in the journal provided
  • Take the word association pack and make sure not to look at the inner cards as you take them out
  • Start with the “Start Here” card and flip through the cards
  • With each new word, right down the first word that pops into your head into the journal
  • Keep flipping through the cards and recording the resulting words
  • Use the rest of the journal to record every meal and snack for the next 7 days
  • On the 7th day, record a reflection and compare to a competition week
  • Please mail kit back once completed
  • Thank you


Hand holding fork:,1260299725,11/stock-vector-vector-illustration-of-icon-isolated-in-a-modern-style-depicting-a-hand-holding-a-fork-42460636.jpg


hot dogs:









Individual Reflections

Alisher: Overall it was a fun pressure project. We brainstormed ideas at first and started implementing them but realized they weren’t really the best options. We threw out some old ideas and came up with better ones. It was kind of hard to stay broad with a group like competitive eaters but we got the job done. I have always been interested in how these people do what they do but have never actually competed so it was personally beneficial to set up a probing kit for this community.

For our kit, I think it would benefit a competitive eater because they would be able to reflect on their profession and hopefully come out of it with a better understanding of their work. One hope would be to help these competitive eaters refine their techniques or reflect not their connection to food. For us as a group, since we were all interested in probing this community, it would be beneficial to learn more about the inner workings of competitive eaters.

The probe process in general is intriguing because it gathers so much data in an open ended manner. You never know what the result will be but with every probing kit discussed in class, the team the built the kit learned a great amount about the target community. One possible weakness would be an undesirable outcome that negatively affects the participants themselves. Overall though, it is evident that the probe process has more benefits than downfalls.


Dominic:  Our design process was fairly straightforward.  During class, we discussed areas of interest concerning the competitive eating community, then proceeded to brainstorm ways in which to probe.  Initially our probe ideas were very closed ended, composed of specific questions pertaining to food.  After some further deliberation, we opened up our ideas and began to develop more open-ended activities.

As for our kit, even after opening up our probing ideas, our questions and activities may still be too highly coupled to the activity of eating itself.  In this way, our kit may be less concerned with understanding the set of values common to competitive eaters, than concerned with the specifics of eating.  I suppose it all depends on the goals of our probe kit.  Are we trying to fundamentally understand competitive eaters as people, or are we trying to dig deeper into the “world” of competitive eating?


Pressure Project 2 – Reflection

This project was interesting as it was the first team project out of class. My team managed to work almost entirely online, with very little in-person communication, a feat that can often be hard to achieve when doing a collaborative project. During the initial class time, we set up our basic idea and community that we wanted to study. At the end, we set up a Google Doc and worked on from there.

The collaborative process wasn’t all that difficult online, surprisingly. With Google Docs, we were able to live-update the document and make comments on sections in real time to discuss our views on the direction the project was headed. Our finished product is very different from the original draft we had at the end of class. We added items to our kit that we thought would work and deleted items that we did not like. The overall process was still very fluid even though we did not have that face-to-face collaboration that is generally seen as more effective.

The final kit we created should provide a lot of interesting perspectives from the competitive eating community. We created several activities to try and see how different competitive eaters think without asking them direct questions. Possible flaws of these activities are that they may provide us with no good conclusion. The main purpose of many of our activities is to see trends among competitive eaters, but it may turn out that no trend exists. These activities could provide us with data that tells us nothing more about this community and does not set them apart from any other person.

This, however, is a common flaw in many kits. There is no way to know if the items and activities surrounding the kit will actually provide useful information. Often, however, these items lead to a totally different insight into the community that was never expected. This is the benefit of a kit. There may be no valuable insight gained, but sometimes there is insight that was not even expected.

Post-it Response

The post-it said:

Would you be willing to pay more for parking in order to cover the cost of an employee?

This one got me thinking. It is true that I want to pay as little as possible for parking, but if they guaranteed an employee present 24/7, I may be willing to pay a little extra. But how much more?

Well I did some math to figure out how much dough I would be spending. According to PayScale, the average pay for a parking lot attendant is $9.05. If I wanted to implement my idea of keeping the garage open with an employee always present, I would need to add an 8-hour employee every day of the week. This means that yearly, the employee would cost $9.05/hour * 8 hours/day * 365 days/year. This comes out to $26,426/year. This is the total added costs for the employee.

To figure out how much more money each person would have to pay, I researched the parking garage that I had parked at. This particular garage had an hourly rate, ranging from $1.50 for under an hour to $13 for a whole day. The garage has a total of 617 spaces, 124 for general parking, 353 for monthly parking, and 140 restricted spaces. Let’s assume that only the 124 general parking spaces are bought once each day (an assumption that I think greatly undervalues the income of this garage). If these 124 general parking spots were only occupied an average of 8 hours each day, then the cheapest possible rate for this parking garage (for 8 hours) is $11. So the total income currently made yearly under these circumstances is $11/hour * 365 days/year * 124 parking spots = $497,860.

So the current income for the garage is $497,860 yearly and the new employee would cost $26,426 yearly. To accommodate this new employee, we need the garage to make $497,860 + $26,426 = $524,286 yearly. Using the same initial assumptions and working backwards, we can say that the new average cost per customer would be $524,286 / (124 parking spots * 365 days/year) = $11.58. In other words, the average customer will need to pay an extra 58 cents per visit.

It may be that this issue is a little closer to home than it is for others, but 58 cents does not seem like a huge cost to provide this garage with 24/7 employee service. To answer the initial question, yes I would be willing to pay this much more to pay for this service. To me, it seems like a small price to pay to avoid the possibility of being trapped in a parking garage. And let’s be honest. Having an employee present overnight to watch the parking garage will add an extra form of security to the garage, a service that can justify the 58 cent charge on its own.

Google Photos App tags black people as ‘gorillas’

Group 8, Members: Jonathan Downs, Peter Maurer, Sean Rowland, Victoria Worrall

Identify, link to and describe error-laden experience

Google Photos tags black people as ‘gorillas’ in photo recognition software (

Short description of above experience

Black users take a photo of themselves and upload it to the Google Photos App. The app’s automatic image labeling process labels the photo of the users into the ‘gorillas’ category. The users are rightfully shocked by the label.


Our design process

We identified where in the original process the error occurred. We then branched off before the error occurred and implemented an alternate solution. We also maintained the flow of the original application but with the correct (intended) output instead.

Description of proposed intervention

Black users take a photo of themselves and upload it to the Google Photos App. An anthropologist hired by Google has already identified a series of sensitive labels. The automatic imaging label process labels the photos of users into the gorillas category. Since this label is sensitive, the photo goes through an additional, more advanced, screening process. The users are correctly labeled as ‘people’ and are content.

Concept sketch of proposed intervention