What to expect when...

You need a joint replacement. Or your dad had a stroke. Or your six-year-old was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. 

Can you expect your care team to provide information that will help you to understand your condition? How will you know if something is wrong and you should seek help? How do you know what to ask your loved one's caregiver? What do other people do in your situation?

It’s well known that patients stay healthier when they are informed. Health literacy is key; if you are not able to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services, you will be ill-equipped to make decisions regarding your own or the health of your loved ones.

Patient education plays an important role in a number of Involution designs. Here are a few resources we’ve found.

AMA Atlas of the Human Body


Illustration: Leslie Laurien, MSMI

The American Medical Association (AMA) has been a leader in addressing health literacy and patient safety and offer a number of health literacy educational tools.

Park Nicollet Hip and Knee Replacement Care Guide


One feature of this guide that we really like is that the first page, even before the Table of Contents, addresses the questions “When do I call my doctor?” and “When do I call 911?”

drawMD from Visible Health


drawMD enables clinicians to simplify and explain medical concepts visually, customizing in real time in coversation with a patient. 

This week’s highlights

On Wednesday we concluded the six-week series on UX Maturity with The AI of UX. If you missed any of these or want to read them through again, see parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Around the Studio: Continuing Efforts in Open Government provides a look at how the City of Asheville, NC has launched an online visual financial tool based on the work of Arlington Visual Budget.

You may remember our work with the Town of Arlington to produce the award-winning Arlington Visual Budget, an open source web application that creates an easier way to communicate complex municipal financial information. The app has been well-recieved here in Arlington and is being explored by other communities as far away as Asheville, North Carolina.

Last summer, working with the code from Arlington Visual Budget (AVB), volunteers from Code for Asheville and the City of Asheville collaborated in an experiment in civic engagement and open government. They were motivated by the same principles that drove the work on AVB, wanting to contribute to “the conversation within the Asheville community and between the community and the government which serves it." 

First Steps


Initially the AVLBudget app closely resembled the first release of Arlington Visual Budget. It was based on the AVB code, which the Asheville developers had come across via Code for America.

Engineer Eric Jackson of DemocracyApps recently spoke with Invo developer Craig McGinley about his work on the Asheville project. He explained that they streamlined and changed the design of the AVB, adding new features like a “What’s New” section, which displays recent budget changes, and a Resources section that includes “gory details” such as descriptions of the budget and organizational structure. Prominent buttons saying “How do I get involved?” and “Let me contribute to the conversation” encourage and facilitate citizen engagement.

Making it Asheville’s Own


The current iteration of the Asheville, NC City Budget app.

According to Eric Jackson, this project and others like it don’t just passively present data to citizens. They give more than answers—they prompt and encourage questions and individual involvement in local government. By connecting open data to people’s lives, such efforts enable citizens to learn, both from data they see and from data that is missing. Like the Arlington Visual Budget project, the Asheville team intends to expand government transparency app use and development. And, like Involution Studios and the Town of Arlington, the City of Asheville will continue to work with their technical team to update and improve these innovative open government tools.


You already know that it’s Friday, right?

So why waste valuable character space and SEO just to state the obvious? Starting now, we’ll still give you a quick run-down of the week’s articles and share a few of our latest web finds. We just won't tell you that it’s Friday.

City of Cambridge Participatory Budgeting


Open government is on our minds often here at the studio, what with our work on Arlington Visual Budget (more). The City of Cambridge, MA is launching a new democratic initiative that gives Cambridge community members the power to decide how to spend $500,000 of the City’s FY 2016 Capital Budget.



We’re curious about apps that relate to emotional status. Enter Thync, a wearable device that uses neurosignaling to shift your mood.

Pixel Perfect Shapes in Photoshop


Still in a bad mood? Is it the problem with pasting vector art into Photoshop, hmm? Now you have a neat solution.

The Week’s Highlights

Check out The Digital Life: Is Leisure Dead? Exploring Time Poverty in the Digital Age. Jon and Dirk discuss the design of time, and in particular, the rampant busyness of the digital age—what has been described as the time poverty of knowledge workers.

The fifth in our UX Maturity series, Best Practice, provides some concrete advice for positioning your organization for UX excellence by adopting a best-practice approach.

On Monday, Dirk Knemeyer shared his short list of books for enriching your knowledge, practice, and imaginative life with Of Zen, Big Data, and Infovis in our Around the Studio spot.

Last week, we offered a reading list with an eye toward global citizenship.

Today’s titles include classics with a more temporal perspective (both real and imaginary) and a mix of Zen koans and big-data thinking.

The Elements of Friendly Software Design


Paul Heckel’s book was so far ahead of its time—the first edition was released more than 30 years ago. While the examples in it are dated, the principles are as fresh as ever. And while the very framing of the book, “friendly,” seems quaint today, it holds a wisdom that you can learn from.

The Little Zen Companion


This tiny book is packed with hundreds of Zen koans—little riddles that lead one to insight. From a mix of traditional sources like the I Ching as well as unconventional inspirations like John Lennon, author David Schiller provides inspiration, a challenge, and enlightenment all in one.

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)


OKCupid founder Christian Rudder takes a deep dive into big data to reveal very personal things that big data show us about people.

Envisioning Information


Edward Tufte is the rock star of information visualization and this is the best of his four books. Smart, beautiful, and informative, anyone who wants to understand communicating with information should own this book.

A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)


If you are a fan of George R. R. Martin: With Season 5 of the HBO series ready to begin in April, now is the perfect time to pick up this ponderous tome—the one that will cover many of the storylines soon to follow.

Header image: Lifehack


As designers, we inhabit the everyday world.

Though our visions might occupy a different realm, we live in the same orbit as those for whom we design. Innovation requires us to understand what came before us, what lies around us, and the part we play in making the world a better place.

Enchanted Objects


Great products are magical—they make you smile and wonder how they work, and they are beautiful to use. MIT Media Lab-er David Rose goes through his checklist on the makings of enchanted services.

Think Like a Commoner


David Bollier’s fantastic primer on the global commons movement. Know thy history of open source, the commons, and the alternative to the corrupt Market/State.

The Men Who United the States


Simon Winchester is a local Massachusettsian (like another favorite history writer, James Carroll, author of House of War) who reveals many of the lost inventors, explorers, engineers, and designers that shaped our country over the past two hundred years.

Concierge Medicine


Many of my doctor friends are sick of healthcare, bored by their jobs, and tired of the grind. Patients want a more personal experience with their clinicians versus the 6 minute drive-bys with our PCP. Steven Knope maps out the anti-outsourcing of our health care through the kinder, gentler, and better outcomes-based concierge service, which proves healthier for patients and doctors. Where has this been all my life?

The Remedy


Thomas Goetz unfolds the charming story of Robert Koch and his discovery of how bacteria work and tuberculosis. This fabulous sleuthing into the lives of experimentalists and scientists dovetails with Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map.

Next up:

Finishing This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. Naomi’s last book, Shock Doctrine, was enthralling. I started her latest rant, became sufficiently pissed at the climate deniers (who ultimately are anti-education) and had to put the book down. It’s now next up on my finish-list, along with The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr The Citizen Patient by Nortin Hadler.

Caution: that last story has seizure-trigger potential.

The Human API


MedTech Boston recently posted an interview with Michael DePalma and Richie Etwaru, founders of The Human API. Their mission is to create a “prevention industry” with a new economic and behavioral model for health. According to the article, The Human API wants to “foster paradigm shift by instilling prevention and early identification health barometers into everyday life.” We should talk.

Why Life Exists


Business Insider this week featured a story about MIT physicist Jeremy England who has derived a mathematical formula that he asserts underlies the theory of evolution by natural selection. I particularly appreciated the explanation of thermodynamic equilibrium using the example of a room-temperature cup of coffee: it will never spontaneously reheat. That is my kind of physics.



According to John Brownlee on Fast Company’s CoDesign, “the experience of using Nintype is like playing the craziest game of Dance Dance Revolution ever at some futuristic space rave while out of your gourd on LSD-infused cotton candy.”

Highlights From the Week

This week, on Episode 81 of The Digital Life, Jon and Dirk talk about the landscape of speech recognition and the magic of VUI in Exploring the Voice User Interface.

Wednesday brought the third article in our UX Maturity series, Establishment.

This week’s Around the Studio: Tech Talks talks about our own brand of learning experiences.


The turkey coma has come and gone and the trees are sporting colorful lights.

My most recent family gathering included a few of my favorite engineers, so I brought back this gem to share.

Big Little Details


Self-described, Big Little Details is “a curated collection of the finer details of design, updated every day.”

Stephen Hawking: How He Speaks & Spells


The EE | Times medical blog featured a fascinating piece on the technology that Stephen Hawking uses to communicate. Timely, given The Theory of Everything’s recent release.

PopChart Lab


The perfect seasonal hello: The Fractal Formations of Snowflakes greeting card.

Highlights From the Week

Yesterday we launched Episode 80 of The Digital Life, especially exciting in that it coincides with the release of Jon Follet’s new book, Designing for Emerging Technologies,” already one of the top 10 UX books on Amazon. Jon discusses how he went about writing and editing this collection of essays from the tech industry’s top thinkers. Congratulations, Jon and all of the people who helped make this book happen! Follow @designemerging on Twitter.

Thanksgiving Thursday brought Episode 79 of The Digital Life, covering recent news including the Uber snafu over targeting critical journalists, the rising popularity of the e-book versus the tenacity of print, and the ongoing battle over net neutrality.

On Wednesday we posted the second article in our UX Maturity series, Foundation.

This week’s Around the Studio: Does desk + mess = great design? lets you see (literally!) how Invo-ites think about order and creativity.

“Posters are dissent made visible—they communicate, advocate, instruct, celebrate, and warn, while jarring us to action with their bold messages and striking iconography. ... Without a doubt, the poster remains the most resonant, intrinsic and enduring item in the arsenal of a contemporary graphic designer.”
Elizabeth Resnick


“Despite the fact that we’re the ‘lower’ 99 percent, we’re still the 99 percent, and acting together we can make change.” Sarah Kaiser

Nearly two years ago, we blogged about “Wake Up!” the poster created by Invo designer Sarah Kaiser and Chief Creative Director Juhan Sonin, and its inclusion in Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age 2001-2012” which features over 122 posters from artists in 32 countries.

Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age 2001–2012 comprises a significant collection of empathetic and visually compelling messages for our time. The third in a series of socio-political poster exhibitions, Graphic Advocacy has been shown in Korea, Mexico, Bolivia, and numerous galleries across the United States, and will continue to tour in 2015.


Graphic Advocacy will be on exhibition at Towson University until December 20, 2014. (Towson is a short distance from Baltimore, Maryland.) See the Schedule for upcoming showings.

Graphic Advocacy creator Elizabeth Resnick is Professor and Chair of the Graphic Design Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts. She is a passionate design curator who has developed and organized design exhibitions since in 1991. In a 2013 TEDx talk, Resnick describes how her own early experiences in art school during the Vietnam War era contributed to the work she does today.


Elizabeth Resnick at the exhibit’s opening at Pratt Institute in New York. 


I was all set to compose a riveting post (pun intended) about the creative work of Invo designer Sarah Kaiser, who sits next to me, makes me tea, and amazes me several times a day with her magical skills. While thinking about how to frame this little story, I did some quick research into Maker culture, which seemed to be the right context. I discovered that the theory of constructivism that I had studied so long ago in college, is a foundational value of Makers. Venturing over to Pinterest opened a whole new world of time-sink bliss with links to education, science, school libraries, learning, DIY, projects, and—yes!!—design.

But then I happened to open Facebook (note to self: no FB before homework is done). A literary academic friend had posted a link to a scathing article that very nearly burst my artisanal, plant-dyed, spun-local-organic cane sugar balloon: Keywords for the Age of Austerity 12: DIY (Do It Your [Damn] Self). Here I sat in my cozy little home studio, surrounded by my craft library and supplies (yes, some rescued from the trash) and read this political rant against an admittedly appalling suggestion that poor residents of government housing learn to make their own repairs. It was the trashing of middle-class do-it-yourselfers (hey, that’s me!), along with the reference to “the apolitical hubris that ... fatally compromise[d] the Arts and Crafts and 60s ‘maker’ movements” that bothered me. Yes, I understood his points about lack of significant economic reforms in the context of those historical movements. And that the DIY trends of the 1950s and 60s and even now were and are heavily gender-biased. In my childhood years it was my oldest brother who subscribed to Popular Mechanics and built Healthkit radio sets. He once bottled his own root beer and we spent summer nights listening to the caps blow off the bottles in the basement. My mom made many of my clothes and I was sewing by the time I was 8 or so, we made grape jelly and pie from scratch and never used gravy from a can or a bottle. My dad, a doctor, wasn’t “handy” but, when my sister tore her ACL in a childhood fall, he splinted her leg with cedar shakes and sanitary pads wrapped with Ace™ bandages.

Except for the splinting, it wasn't out of necessity that we did these things, it was because it was fun and interesting. Is that not a good enough reason? And now, in the 21st century, puttering around the makerspace involves a new level of industrial magic with the integration of contemporary technologies. The lines between work and play are interweaving, not just blurring. Anyone can weld sturdy, pretty things. Anyone can sew pretty, sturdy things. Anyone can learn to program them, in some cases, even quite a young child. Or an, ahem, older person.

So, not to disapoint, back to Sarah's play/work/art/construction. Sarah grew up what might now be called a free-range kid, exporing the woods and fields around her rural home while crafting her own toys and fixing broken electronics. Her mom taught her to solder at an early age, which garden flowers were edible, and a fiercely independent self-reliance. RIT nurtured her design and coding skills. A nearby makerspace, Artisan’s Asylum gives her room to work on bigger project using power tools. Commuting by public transit allows plenty of sketching time, and she is never without a sketchbook. Ever.

Take a few minutes to indulge your mind and consider a few examples of the incredible range of talents that Sarah brings to Invo and to our clients. No apolitical hubris here, nor gender bias, nor the dabblings of a discontented Millenial. This is real art, from-scratch making, seriously true design work.


Sarah designed and constructed this costume. At right is a portion of the Arduino program she wrote to control the claw you see over her left shoulder.


Sarah’s prized Form 1 3-D printer with its first form emerging like closely spaced tiny icicles. At right is a set of detailed wings she designed and printed to use in a new costume embellishment.


Sarah giving an Invo tech talk on molding with resins.


Many sketches are always hand-drawn first, for new a Health Axioms card.


Sarah casually drinking tea while modeling a flexible armored glove she created. Note the finished wing decoration on the (faux) weapon.


Sarah helped to design Tabeeb, a medical interaction framework that enables clinicians to discuss and document patient cases. Tabeeb is a product of NxTec Corporation.

I hope you have enjoyed this artistic interlude, it was fun sharing with you. Have a good week!


Utopia in our Pocket
Watch this presentation.

This past March, Involution's Dirk Knemeyer spoke at TEDxDenisonU as part of a series entitled “Real Utopias: From Dreams to Practice.”

In “Utopia in our Pocket” Dirk proposes that, thanks to the proliferation of the smartphone, we can start to think about radical changes that will fundamentally shift the way we live for the better. He charges his young audience to consider how they can participate in exploring and leveraging technology for truly meaningful change in our world.

About TEDx
TEDx was created in the spirit of TED's mission, "ideas worth spreading." The program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.

About Involution Studios
Involution designs and builds exceptional software for innovative and visionary companies. We deploy small and experienced teams to create applications that are highly usable and appropriately beautiful. Our client list includes Apple, AstraZeneca, McAfee, Microsoft, Oracle, PayPal, Shutterfly, and Yahoo. For more information please contact or +1 617 803 7043.

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