Week 8 Reflection

Emotion & Design: Attractive things work better

Often good design is conflated with designs that incorporate the most mechanically efficient ways to complete certain tasks. For example, a well-designed kettle would be one that pours well, and heats up really fast. It could have some cool features, such as being able to maintain the temperature accurately. Function is the priority. But does that mean that form is unimportant?

Donald Norman addresses this question in Emotion & Design using the examples of three very different teapots: one that is inefficient, with its handle and spout facing the same direction, one that is effective in what it does, and one that is aesthetically pleasing. Yet, not one of them could be labelled as the best designed teapot. 

There are two general reasons for this. The first is that form and function are related; they add to one another. Time flies by when you’re having fun. Similarly, things feel better designed if they’re fun to use.

On the other hand, an object doesn’t even need to be that functional for it to be well designed. For example, take the Impossible teapot. It certainly doesn’t function too well as a teapot. You could brew tea in it, but the ergonomic experience would be terrible. Yet, it serves as a statement piece, or a conversation starter.

However, I think there is some distinction that needs to be made. I don’t think that as long as you enjoy using something, it is well designed. You could find a use for anything and enjoy it, but that would make the design of an object a subjective matter. I believe that there has to be some objectivity and some kind of measure of how well something is designed. In that sense, an object has to be intentionally designed in a certain way, targeted to fit some sort of function, and be good at it. If you allow looking good to be a function, then form and function meld together and we have a consistent system of determining what is well-designed, and what is not.

Her Code Got Humans on the Moon – And Invented Software Itself

Back in 1960, a period when women were discouraged from diving into technical realms, Hamilton began as a programmer at MIT, initially planning to support her husband through law school. But fate had other plans – the Apollo program emerged, and Hamilton found herself leading a groundbreaking engineering venture that would reshape what humanity deemed achievable.

As a mother working in the 1960s and a programmer for spacecraft, Hamilton’s narrative is anything but conventional; it is downright radical. Her story challenges not only the norms of the tech world but also societal expectations. Exploring her experiences made me rethink what I consider success to be. Is it reaching your goals, or the entire journey you take till the end.

Margaret Hamilton’s story challenges norms and suggests that success doesn’t always follow a conventional script. As a college student navigating a landscape of uncertainties, I see in her journey a call to embrace the unconventional, challenge stereotypes, and approach challenges with resilience. Her legacy urges us to view setbacks not as roadblocks but as avenues for innovation. Her unconventional path serves as a reminder that greatness often emerges from uncharted territories. As I navigate my academic and professional journey, I’ll carry Hamilton’s spirit—an emblem of resilience, innovation, and the transformative power of embracing the unexpected.

Unusual Switch


I was talking on my phone with my friend I remember finding myself thinking about this project and not concentrating on the conversation. This immediately reminded me of the idiom “to have a light bulb moment”, therefore I decided to make a switch that would lighten the bulb when the phone touches my ear.

Circuit Diagram and Highlights 

I taped some aluminum foil to my phone case and some to my ear. If the phone case touches the ear, then the LED light will switch on because the circuit is connected.

Here is a link to the video of my project: Light bulb moment

I faced one challenge sticking the wires to the aluminum foil. I needed to make sure that the wire was not moving and tightly touched the foil. I resolved this by using the double-sided tape. I thought about alternative conductive fabrics when making this project, however, I eliminated other options, such as conducting tape, as I am aware that the sticky side of the tape is not that conducting.

Future thoughts and reflection

If I decide to revisit this task, I would enhance its visual appeal. I believe I can use a metal phone case and make some kind of metal accessory that could be worn on the ear. Moreover, to avoid holding Arduino and solderless breadboards, I would need to use longer wires.

I believe this project might function as a start for developing a detection program, which would lighten the bulb any time someone is dissociated and not focused when talking on the phone. Such a program would be helpful for everyone who is trying to stay motivated and not distracted during long calls.

Neuroscience Is... Cool


Week #8 : Reading reflections

Donald A. Norman: “Emotion & Design: Attractive things work better”

I really enjoyed reading this article, as it emphasizes the significance of both usability and aesthetics. The author also recognizes that it is crucial to have human interaction with products and a comprehensive design approach. I feel that the article is especially true in today’s context as the visual attractiveness of a product has the potential to greatly improve the user’s overall experience.  For instance, I found myself mentioning in a family conversation that an application from my home country’s bank is very useful, simple to use, and attractive, compared to other applications I have used in the past, which makes my overall experience with the bank account very pleasant. Although I really enjoyed reading this article, I am still interested in how to find the correct balance ratio between aesthetics and usability.

In my opinion, there is no indication of the author’s bias in this article. However, it is essential to note that the author explicitly states that he is a secret admirer of attractive products, which may emphasize that he leans more toward aesthetics and design than the product’s usability, which may function as a potential bias. Moreover, this article talks a lot about cognition and its effects on the user experience of the product but there is no empirical evidence or extensive research to support the claims the author makes. His arguments rely more on personal anecdotes and observations. This is not a bad thing to do considering the format of the article, but I am sure it would be useful for such readers as myself to have research-based evidence indicated in the article.

Her Code Got Humans on the Moon—And Invented Software Itself

I liked this article because it provides a historical account of Margaret Hamilton’s contributions to software development and her role in the Apollo space program. I believe it is very important to learn about people who pioneered the field of software development because it helps to understand the historical context and evolution of software engineering. This article not only provides insights into the early stages of the field and how it has progressed over time, but it can also provide inspiration and motivation to aspiring software engineers, showing that people with quick thinking, determination, and problem-solving skills, like Hamilton, can make a significant impact in the field. This article made me think that learning about the work of pioneers actually makes us feel appreciation for what has been done before us and what became the basis of our daily lives.

Moreover, I liked this article because it emphasizes that Hamilton was an outlier, as she was one of the few women working in tech and engineering. The article mentions how Hamilton’s role as a working mother and a spaceship programmer was challenging because people questioned her ability to balance her career and motherhood. I believe that by showcasing Hamilton’s accomplishments and contributions, the article challenges traditional gender roles and stereotypes. It sheds light on the importance of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in the field of software development, as well as the need for greater diversity and inclusion in the industry.


Week 8- Reflection

After reading this week’s readings, a section of the book Emotion & Attractive and the article “Her Code Got Humans on the Moon–And Invented Software Herself”, I can feel a beautiful correlation between the two texts that allows me to have a deep sense of how I may do my work one day. It is inspiring from both texts to see how a simple idea can someday go beyond the point and objective it was made for. Margaret Hamilton’s invention that had a single objective is now a $400 billion industry. I would like to think it is mostly her love and passion for what she does that encourages her to take a few extra steps even after ensuring everything is going to be perfect. Her project reached the moon and came back to earth to fulfill more objectives. Relating this to the book Emotions & Attractive, I think it is very much okay to go above and beyond what the main purpose could be if someone decided to just do it. It serves as some kind of motive to include what makes me happy and not be afraid of the limits cause there really are no limits to begin with. The author collects pots with different shapes, he thinks they are beautiful, but some of them don’t serve the objectives they’re supposed to. This still does not stop him from collecting them simply because he wants to. It is comforting to allow ourselves to do or collect random interests without needing to explain why. However, it is also a good idea to implement aesthetics into the design of an object in order to help people perform the required objective with minimal effort. For example, moments of hazards or anxiety could limit the view of surroundings to someone, so coming up with an ideal psychological design can be extremely helpful to help get out of danger safely and quickly.

Week 8 Reading Reflection

Attractive Things Work Better by Donald A. Norman

This preview of Norman’s book “Emotion and Design” discusses the relationship between aesthetics and usability in design, starting with the example of teapots. While some critics argue that adhering to usability alone can result in ugly designs, the author suggests that beauty and usability should not be in conflict, as he describes in his phrase: “pleasurable designs are not necessarily usable”. However, from my point of view, the key point behind his idea is the fact that he relates cognitive studies that explore the concept of affect or emotional reactions in design. Affect has a significant impact on how people perceive and interact with products. In stressful situations, negative affect can lead to “tunnel vision”, while in positive or neutral situations, positive affect can promote “breadth-first thinking” and creativity, making users more tolerant of minor design issues and distractions. The author emphasizes that true beauty in a product should go beyond aesthetics and should be rooted in usability and functionality, and that design should combine and include various factors like marketing and aesthetics, and in my opinion, this is the most important learning we should take from this text.

Her Code Got Humans on the Moon – Robert McMillan

More than just an “outlier”, Hamilton was a pioneer in her field. Not even a pioneer, she was the founding pillar of modern software and the importance of it. The inhuman pressure that was born from the Apollo mission and its dependence on the software Hamilton was producing is, without doubt, one of the main reasons why companies, CEOs, and global leaders all around the world started to put their eyes (and resources) on software development. As she describes, “the original document laying out the engineering requirements of the Apollo mission didn’t even mention the word software”.

For me, it’s impressive how the software for this was produced at that time. Especially considering that the Apollo mission was a life or death matter for the astronauts, and definitely the most ambitious human project ever made at that time. The process in which Hamilton and the “Little Old Ladies” engraved the commands that made the Apollo mission such a famous and ultimately successful project was almost superhuman, and definitely an example for all aspiring software developers around the world. The story behind program PO1 and the “fool-proof” coding style that Hamilton proposed and was initially rejected is without a doubt a fundamental concept in today’s software development: secure, safe, and error-avoiding code.

Week 8: Reading Response

In the first reading by Norman, “Emotion & Design: Attractive things work better,” I found his exploration of the emotional aspect of design very interesting. Indeed, good design isn’t just about aesthetics or functionality; it’s also about how we feel when interacting with the product. Norman’s emphasis on the importance of considering users’ emotions and needs, particularly in high-stress situations, highlighted the human-centered nature of design. I particularly appreciated his vision for the future: “Let the future of everyday things be ones that do their job, that are easy to use, and that provide enjoyment and pleasure”. This statement is a good reminder of how important the design itself is depending on the emotion and the situation in which the user is under and what kind of experience we, as developers, want to give the users.

The second reading, “Her Code Got Humans on the Moon,” further illustrated the idea that “we should not solely rely on users when designing technology.” Users can sometimes behave unpredictably, especially in high-pressure contexts like space missions. The story of Margaret Hamilton serves as a compelling example of how careful and well-planned design is vital for the success and reliability of complex systems. This reading reinforced my belief in the importance of meticulous design and efficient code to create technology that is not only robust but also user-friendly. It also highlights the need for proactive problem-solving and consideration of user behavior to achieve success in complex projects.

Week 8 – Getting creative with switches


The idea behind this switch was to utilize something different than just our hands to control it. For this project, I decided to focus on one of the human body parts that we rarely include in our interactive projects: the feet.

To control this switch, the user will put together both feet in order to make a bridge between the two cables attached to the socks on each side. Something similar to how a pedal works. This switch would allow the user to use limbs that we usually do not include in our movements that intend interaction with a system: For example, a phone doesn’t need our feet, a camera doesn’t need our feet, and even computers usually don’t require our feet to be there.

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Challenges and improvements:

At first, I tried taping the tin foil to the socks. Surprisingly, because of how our feet are shaped, taping the cables was a tougher task than I expected because they would move and disconnect the moment I wore the socks. In addition to that, the tin foil is not exactly a strong material, which meant that the contact was interrupted sometimes. This was simply fixed by the most utilized solution in human history: just fix it with more tape, both in the cables and the tin foil surrounding the socks. Also, I taped the cables and the tinfoil after I wore the socks, which solved the foot shape problem.

Week 8: Unusual Switch


Although very impractical in its current form, the concept of this switch was to tell the user whether or not their mixing spoon is making contact with the liquid inside the cup when they are mixing it. This switch turns on when the spoon touches the liquid, completing the circuit.


The following components were used:

  • A spoon
  • A cup filled with an ionic liquid (water and table salt)
  • 4x wires
  • 330 Ohm Resistor
  • LED light
  • Metal straw (to mask the wire)



This was a very fun project, particularly because this was a no-coding project. Therefore, I really had to stretch my imagination and come up with an interesting switch. I think I was inspired to make the mixing switch because I was making coffee for friends that day.