The readings on prototypes and mock-ups were very informative. It was really nice to learn the distinction between the two because until now it has been a little bit of a grey area for me. I now understand that mock-ups are meant to be quick, disposable representations of a project which prototypes are meant to be more functioning, less disposable and a little more complete or final. Distinguishing between the types of prototypes is also extremely important. There are some scenarios where you would only want to make a look and feel prototype a opposed to a role prototype or even an implementation prototype. My favorite example of this is from the reading “What do Prototypes Prototype?” where the authors describe the prototype for a laptop computer for architects who make frequent visits to building sites. The designers created a look and feel prototype of a pizza box which they gave to the architects to bring with them on job sites. The designers’ primary goal was to make the computer easy to transport and enjoyable to include in their daily lives. In this particular case, a role prototype would not suffice because at this point in the design process they were not concerned about the actual functionality of the device.
The example of the laser printer in the reading “Cardboard Computers” really solidified the idea that prototypes can be an inexpensive and non-committal way to explore iterations of a current system or device. Prototypes serve as a stepping stone in the process to produce new devices or systems.