Calm Technology and Designing with Sound Workshops at PNCA on 11/12 and 11/18!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be hosting two workshops at Portland’s Pacific Northwest College of Art in November 2018! I just joined the school as a faculty researcher, and I’m looking forward to contributing to MAKE+THINK+CODE, a creative technology-focussed lab, institute, and incubator for creative experiments at the intersection of science, technology, design, art, and culture.


Workshop Details

Designing Calm Technology

Mon, November 12, 2018
5:00 PM – 9:00 PM PST

Calm Technology is a framework for designing ubiquitous devices that engage our attention in an appropriate manner. The aim of Calm Technology is to provide principles that follow the human lifestyle and environment in mind, allowing technology to amplify humanness instead of taking it away.

The difference between an annoying technology and one that is helpful is how it engages our attention. This workshop will cover how to use principles of Calm Technology to design the next generation of connected devices. We’ll look at notification styles, compressing information into other senses, and designing for the least amount of cognitive overhead.

Structure and activities
Students will work in groups to solve a series of design challenges, including designing new products, ‘calming down’ a complex ones, communicating the principles of Calm Technology across an organization and team, and entering a product successfully into the marketplace.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Use principles of Calm Technology to design the next generation of connected devices.
  • Design appropriate notification systems into both physical and software products
  • Communicate the principles of Calm Technology to your across your organization and team
  • Use methods of Calm Technology to design technology for generations, not seasons.
  • Enter your product successfully into the marketplace.

This workshop is for anyone that actively builds or makes decisions about technology, especially user experience designers, product designers, managers, creative directors, developers and students interested in the future of technology and humanity.

Bringing a laptop is not required, as work will be done on paper and in groups.

We have a limited number of scholarships for our workshops. If you need an application, please send an email to with your complete name and contact information.

Designing with Sound

Sun, November 18, 2018
9:30 AM – 1:30 PM PST

Sound is one of the most commonly overlooked components in product design, even though it’s often the first way people interact with many products. When designers don’t pay enough attention to sound elements, customers are frequently left with annoying and interruptive results. This practical workshop covers several methods that product designers and managers can use to improve everyday interactions through an understanding and application of sound design.

You’ll Learn How to:

  • Understand the place of sound in design, and how it can make a difference in your product
  • Learn key concepts in sound design, with patterns and principles you can use to improve user experience
  • Learn how to integrate sound design into a project
  • Use exercises to help evaluate sound design

We have a limited number of scholarships for our workshops. If you need an application, please send an email to with your complete name and contact information.

If you know of anyone who’d enjoy these workshops, please let them know! These are aimed at user experience designers, students, artists and technologists. You do not have to be affiliated with PNCA to attend.


Dorkbot PDX | Amazing People Doing Strange Things with Electricity

Dorkbot PDX Logo

Dorkbot PDX is a Portland group that brings together an eclectic group of geniuses with a love of hacking technology. It is probably my favorite group here because of the energy and excitement that everyone has. Every time I go I gain a new respect and excitement for all things electronic. Everyone is brilliant, welcoming and always has something to say or work on.

Dorkbot meets twice a month at Lucky Lab NW (1945 NW Quimby). This week, about thirty people showed up to exchange ideas, inventions, and electrionic hacks. Here, my friend Mario Landau-Holdsworth is testing out a makeshift synthesizer using a Benito [designed and built by Don from dorkbot]. Alex Norman tells me that, “the Benito uses some i2c io expanders to scan the buttons and talks to the computer via midi over USB. It is controlling a step sequencer that I wrote using Pure Data and pdlua. It is triggering one shot samples.. I’m currently using drum samples”.

Ward Cunningham’s Dial-a-Door

“AboutUs CTO Ward Cunningham and his college roommate Rick Wartzok, had better than average audio/visual and beverage capability in their dorm room, at least for 1968. While happy to share with fellow residents, they then faced a dilemma. What about keys? They wanted some kind of combination lock that had a shared code that could be selectively enabled, and a longer, master code for private use. The solution was Dial-a-Door. Now its 2008, forty years later, Ward has located the mechanical technology that decoded the combination, restored it to working order, and prepared a display which he will present at the bi-weekly DorkbotPDX at the Lucky Lab in Northwest Portland,” says Mark Dilley on the Blog.

More about Dial-a-Door

“I’ve written a web page describing my original application, Dial-a-Door”, says Ward Cunningham on the Dorkbot PDX blog. I found the SECODER that I spoke about last meeting. It was in the bottom of the wrong junk box with old antenna equipment, not old telephone equipment. My mechanically inclined friends helped me get it working again”.  More information is available on Ward Cunningham’s website:


Along the way, I had the honor of meeting Monty Goodson of BittyBot. The name explains what he does — which is basically the manufacture of really tiny circuitboards that can be used to make really small robots. They were very, very small. The one pictured is actually larger than some of the others ones that he had with him.

If you like technology, I urge you to come out to Dorkbot and mingle with everyone. It’s a very low-key, wonderful environment where you can let your imagination and expertise run wild. And if you’re not familiar with what Dorkbot does, you might want to look into using the open source Arduino development and prototyping platform. There is an article on Arduino chips from Instructables here.

Dorkbot Resources

Thanks to Tempus Dictum and PNCA, Dorkbot has put together a series of workshops around the dorkbotpdx arduino kits ( called the “Arduino Cult Induction”.(

We will have these workshops on the last Sunday of every month, probably alternating between the Cult Induction, a focused workshop and an Open Lab. The workshops cost ~$25 which includes the hardware being built. The open labs are free.


30 NOV 2008 — Sound/Midi Workshop (~$25)

28 DEC 2008 — Open Lab (free)


For more events, check out the AboutUs Portland Tech Events Page. You can also follow me on Twitter, or connect with other members of the Portland Tech Community on the Portland Tech Twitter Page. You might also want to attend CyborgCamp, which will be happening on December 6th, 2008 at CubeSpace.


Amber Case is a Cyborg Anthropologist from Portland, Oregon. She likes attending events and studying the Portland Tech scene.