Posts tagged “advertising”

People Have The Power, Says Tech

I saw this BitTorrent billboard in San Francisco last weekend.
bittorrent
Its specific message is opaque, telling us only that people are greater than servers. Hopefully we knew that already, but now we know that BitTorrent knows that too, via this techno-corporate version of a spray-painted cri de coeur. (Looking online for the image, I found the above on BitTorrent’s blog where it may refer to some peer-to-peer alternative to peer-to-cloud product, but that’s as far as I got).

The New York Times carried this full-page ad for PayPal yesterday.
paypal
Beginning with the constitutional We The People , the copy culminates with their new slogan, a graffiti-rendered People Rule.

Maybe there are humanists at both these organizations who are indeed passionate about the people they are trying to serve, but it’s hard not to be cynical about these corporations co-opting the language and aesthetics of rebellion and independence to persuade us to adopt their particular technology product versus some other. More than anything, it looks as if the tech industry is trying (yet again) to humanize its image.

Be a rock star, just like…Spider-Man?

spidey rock star

This designed-by-committee advertainment highlights three benefits, speed, agility, reliability – the third probably not top-of-mind when we think of the web-slinger. And as if this cross-promotion for the USPS Priority Mail and Spider-Man (well, Spider-Man 2) wasn’t ridiculous enough, these qualities will make you a rock star. Just like the US Postal Service. Or Spidey.

What?

That’s it. “Rock star” is officially over. Meaningless. We’ve known this for a while, but this is too far and we must all agree to stop it immediately.

Out and About: Steve in Barcelona (1 of 2)

I’m just back from a week in Barcelona for WebVisions, where I led a workshop on fieldwork, synthesis, and ideation, and gave a short talk about championing contextual research within your organization. I’ll be covering similar material coming up in a couple of months at WebVisions Chicago. Meanwhile, I had a bit of time to explore, and found Barcelona to be a beautiful and well-designed city. Here are some sample images, with more to follow in the next day or so (and the complete set on Flickr).


Bounty at La Boqueria market.


Pedestrian safety warning placed in context, as you step from the sidewalk into the street.


Obama British Africa Gin and Rum. Odd description here.







Stickers on the corrugated metal doors pulled down when a business is closed advertise what I assumed was a taxi services but in fact is for locksmiths. Why are locksmith services advertised with such verve?


Gaudi’s La Sagrada Fam??lia, under construction since 1882. Astonishing, even from the outside.


Known in the US as Ice Age: Continental Drift.


Marketing for something via Facebook.


A very modern cinema structure, down by the water, where all the buildings are new and ultra modern. While the whole place is a delicious mix of old and new, classic and modern, this area went just a bit too far into Mall. While this building is gorgeous, its siting and overall vibe is dehumanizing.

Out and About: Steve in Lisbon (1 of 2)

Last week I went to Lisbon to speak at UX Lx (you can see my presentations and more here). We had a great time exploring the city on our own, and courtesy of our kindly hosts. I’ve got some images and observations here, and some more to come tomorrow.


This sign is advertising one of those small bright yellow cars that tourists drive around while a recording guides them from place to place. But here the promotional message is rather ribald. Is this reflective of the local culture and how English is used, or is it an attempt to adapt to visitor norms? My other triangulation point was the frequent t-shirts with rather forward sayings in English, worn by people that maybe didn’t know what they meant? I saw a slender woman jogging with a “Chubby Girls Cuddle Better.” A late-middle-aged man on the subway wore a shirt reading “Rock Out With Your Cock Out.” There was just something off about the wearer and the message, seeing my own culture coming back at me in a completely different way. Was this like Engrish, or something else?


Same idea. This is an advertisement for learning English, from the prestigious-sounding “Wall Street Institute” presumably targeting people who want to improve their careers. But FUCK (and the other side, SHIT) are the reference points for learning English. For sure, these are important words in business 🙂


The reliefs in the base of the statue of St. Anthony.


Friendly key dudes.


Do they sell each of those animals as meat?


Is this frog flashing a gang sign, or suggesting his availability for romance?


Funiculars traverse the steep hills.



Stunning architecture of the Oriente train station.


Nothing says sexy like toilet paper.


At the Vasco de Gama mall, this staircase used the same handrail as the escalator. As you approached it, you’d assume you were about to get on an escalator. But no, it’s stairs. Did some architect insist on symmetry with the design of the adjacent escalator?


Rossio train station.

ChittahChattah Quickies

Who Arted? Framing a Curatorial Intervention [Core77] – Steve and I talked about how great it is when street artists build on each others’ work in our Interactions article, Kilroy was Here. The “Who Arted” group has really formalized this idea in parts of Brooklyn, serially framing, thereby curating street art.

But what are we to take away? Is this some counter-establishment commentary? Some kind Dadaism reincarnated or an art project born of a lazy Saturday evening “potluck” that comes in little plastic baggies? Ha! Is it some conservative attempt to contain and sterilize an otherwise loose and “free” art form? Are these frames meant to control and connote a more sanctioned museum-like quality? -OR- More intriguingly, is this a fun, yet purposeful recommendation towards a comfortable middle ground; a less combustible space between tension and expression?

ComScore Study Confirms What We Already Knew: You’re Wasting Money on Ads No One Sees [AdAge Digital] – Many, many apps and web-based services (and concepts we encounter on projects regularly!) are predicated on an advertising-based revenue model, but (as we all know from our own behavior – this study is in the category of things-we-really-didn’t-need-a-study-to-know) these ads are very rarely even glimpsed. If a banner ad falls in a forest, etc…what are the implications to our virtual-economy?

ComScore announced it has developed measurement software it’s calling Validated Campaign Essentials, which includes at its core an analysis of which ads in an online campaign were in-view (50% of the ad must be viewable for at least one second.) The company said at an event this morning that it tested out the software over the last two months on campaigns for 12 big brands, including Kraft Foods, Ford, and Sprint. One of the key findings: 31% of the 1.7 billion ad impressions were never in view.

Buying the Body of Christ [Killing the Buddha] – This is a pretty thorough history of the Cavanagh Company, a 69-year old business that provides a product believed by many to transmogrify into the body of Christ: altar bread. A wide variety of influences cultural, logistical, ritualistic, theological and economic have driven innovation over the years. The company is now faced with bitter bested competitors (nuns!), niche-products (gluten-free wafers) and Polish knock-offs, all of which threaten their 80% market share.

Had production remained the exclusive bailiwick of monastic communities, it is likely that the findings of Vatican II would have prompted some minor changes in Communion-wafer production. Among the guidelines issued by the Church was a directive to “make the bread look more breadlike,” head of production Dan Cavanagh told me. It is a change whose significance may yet be lost on the millions of churchgoers who continue to think of hosts as a form of Styrofoam. Nevertheless, Cavanagh’s more “breadlike” whole-wheat wafer caught on. It became the industry standard, and forced the Poor Clare nuns to follow suit. In fact, the doctrinal changes of Vatican II were only a starting point for innovation. The Cavanagh Co. soon led the way to wholly aesthetic alterations in the host, to marketing campaigns and 1-800 numbers. The ethos of the altar bread industry changed profoundly, which is precisely what the Sisters of St. Clare found so unjust: ‘And they had the audacity to send samples and a price list to every parish in the United States! We were doomed. Priests started calling to say they preferred the “other” breads. Orders dropped. Our spirits drooped.’

ChittahChattah Quickies

Volkswagen turns off Blackberry email after work hours [BBC News] – Technology changes work boundaries and work patterns. Will a technological solution work? The article suggests that they will stop people from receiving email after hours, but will they stop people from sending email after hours? Is the demand for after hours work coming through the email messages or are there other pressures? So many questions about this one!

Volkswagen has agreed to stop its Blackberry servers sending emails to some of its employees when they are off-shift. The carmaker confirmed it made the move earlier this year following complaints that staff’s work and home lives were becoming blurred. Under the arrangement servers stop routing emails 30 minutes after the end of employees’ shifts, and then start again 30 minutes before they return to work. “It’s bad for the individual worker’s performance being online and available 24-7. You do need downtime, you do need periods in which you can actually reflect on something without needing instantaneously to give a reaction,” said Will Hutton, chair of the Big Innovation Centre at The Work Foundation.

Manischewitz Creates Kosher Food for Gentiles [NYT] – Having grown up with the traditional meaning of the brand, I find this a bit challenging but am intrigued by the potential to reframe and expand their story.

“Instead of taking the older products we have out of the kosher aisle and forcing them into the main aisle, we’re creating new products that have a place in the main aisle,” said Alain Bankier. A new line of broths, for example, is being shelved in many supermarkets not with most Manischewitz items but rather in the soup aisle. A new line of Manischewitz gravies also will be stocked with other mainstream brands. Manischewitz ads traditionally have emphasized Judaism, showing yarmulke-wearing celebrants at, say, a Seder. But new ads, by Joseph Jacobs Advertising in New York, the Manischewitz agency for more than three decades, take a decidedly more secular approach. “Don’t miss the boat,” says a print ad for beef gravy, which shows it being poured from a sauce boat onto mashed potatoes – no shofar or Star of David in sight. New ads “make little if any reference to any Jewish holiday,” said Elie Rosenfeld, chief executive of Joseph Jacobs. “There’s a tagline we use, ‘Bringing families to the table since 1888,’ and we want to be part of that family with you whether it’s Rosh Hashana, Hanukkah or Easter.”

Samoa Sacrifices a Day for Its Future [NYT] – A massive change in infrastructure and function, revealing time (or at least our documentation of it) to be more arbitrary than fixed.

The Pacific island nation of Samoa and its even tinier neighbor Tokelau are skipping Friday this week, jumping westward in time across the international date line and into the shifting economic balance of the 21st century. The time change is meant to align Samoa with its Asian trading partners; it moves the islands’ work days further from the United States, which dominated its economy in the past. In this giant-step version of daylight saving time, the island’s 186,000 citizens, and the 1,500 who live in Tokelau, will go to sleep on Thursday and wake up on Saturday. The government has decreed that those who miss a day of work on Friday will be paid all the same.

Portable Cathedrals [Domus] – Dan Hill’s epic articulate review of the Nokia N9 isn’t a gadget review, it’s a (tl;dr) cultural critique of design, where culture is within the producer organizations as much as – if not more than – the consumer society.

Yet the skeuomorphic nonsense that incomprehensibly pervades apps like Apple’s own Contacts, Calendar, iBooks, GameCenter, Find My Friends et al-all awkward faux-leather, wood and paper stylings-is is of such questionable “taste” it threatens to damage the overall harmony of iOS with its discordant notes. You cannot derive value from the idle suggestion of such textures on screen; they are physical properties and should be experienced as such, or not at all. Yet Apple’s design team will not explore those physical properties, merely sublimating their desire for such qualities into a picture of leather, a picture of wood. It recalls Marcel Duchamp’s critique of ‘retinal art’ i.e. intended only to please the eye.

For a Corn Chip Maker, the New Spokesman Is the Product Itself [NYT] – The argot of advertising is hilarious and depressing all at once. Zany and authentic spokesbag?

At the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, the game’s sponsor, Tostitos, will have a new endorser – a “spokesbag” puppet in the form of a chip bag with arms, a mouth and a generous dollop of swagger – to humorously convey the message that it is the tortilla chip brand that enlivens social gatherings. The new life-of-the-party campaign resurrects the top-selling snack’s 1990s theme. ” ‘Tostitos Knows How to Party’ means we are returning to our roots,” said Janelle Anderson, the brand’s senior director for marketing. Tostitos returned to the ’90s theme after marketing research over the last year found that its customers wanted reasons to celebrate and have fun in economically lean times. Tostitos chose a zany character “to get the message across and make it authentic,” said Ms. Anderson. “We wanted something that was magnetic, fun and approachable.” The brand’s new advertising agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, decided to “bring personality to the brand, and, in one of those rare cases, have the actual product be the actual spokesperson,” said Brett Craig, the group’s creative director for Tostitos. Working with Legacy Effects, a Los Angeles special effects company, the agency developed the hand-manipulated puppet with movable parts and special effects to convey energy, said Mr. Craig.

ChittahChattah Quickies

Hollandia Produce Launches Squircle Packaging [The Packer] – I was thrilled to come across the term squircle the other day, in the context of this packaging redesign. Of course, Wikipedia has something to say about it and the name has found its way to content and design firms, too.

Hollandia Produce LLC is launching a clamshell redesign – called the Squircle – for its Living Butter Lettuce. The design incorporates features of both a square and a circle, optimizing space and enabling automated packaging systems. On the shipping side, it gives a 20% increase in units per pallet…Consumer and frequent-user focus group studies showed the new design maintains brand recognition while attracting first-time buyers.

Thirteen movie poster trends that are here to stay and what they say about their movies [Oh No They Didn’t!] – Compilations of visually similar, to put it gently, movie posters. In the way that the entertainment industry has created tropes within the content of the film that engage us in actively creating the plot at the same time as are following it, the marketing of film has established its own set of visual memes and cultural cues. Repetition and familiarity establish shorthand, and while we may decry the lack of originality, the predictability seems to work financially. Bonus from All This ChittahChattah years ago: Good ideas never go out of style.

Run For Your Life – Apparently all action heroes run through the same blue-lit, narrow alleyway when trying to escape/catch the bad guys. It’s also possible that graphic designers just re-use the same stock image of the running guy over and over again. The movies themselves are pretty similar to the Black/Orange ones except that all the explosions have been replaced with angst.

Hunk Gets Chunky: Personal Trainer Vows to Get Fat [ABC News] – While at one point in the article this is dismissed as a publicity stunt, the idea of producers experiencing what their consumers experience is compelling. From Black Like Me to Patricia Moore and now Fat Like Me. It seems unlikely that this trainer can replicate the motivational, cognitive, emotional, gustatory and many other issues that affect body image, diet, and exercise, but at least mechanically trying to lose weight as his clients are should be revelatory. I hope he does something with this experience.

The 32-year-old former underwear model has ballooned from about 180 pounds to 233 since last month. He has given himself until the end of March to get to his goal of 265 pounds, a weight he intends to keep for a few months. “A lot of my clients have been skipping classes,” he said of the motivation behind his burgeoning pudge. “I decided I really didn’t understand what they were feeling and their emotions.”

Dinosaur bones an untapped market for luxury set [SF Chronicle] – The recent story about the blinged-out iPad made with crushed dinosaur bones is obviously part of a larger trend towards dino luxe. I really love days when you can’t tell the real news from the fake news.

“Market value comes down to what a person is willing to shell out for a dinosaur,” says the 60-year-old dino dealer, who has been in the business since 1985, selling Jurassic ribs for $350 each, Cretaceous toes at $295 a digit and a 16-foot-long Camarasaurus tail for $20,000. Wall Street recognition will be fast and furious once he can supply the market with dinosaur genitalia, says Prandi…Hollywood stars Nicolas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio in 2007 entered into a spirited bidding war at I.M. Chait auctioneers in Beverly Hills over who would go home with a 67 million-year-old T. rex skull. Cage’s $276,000 bid won the day. “Whether a Brontosaurus looks good in your salon is a matter of taste, Lajotte-Robaglia says, “but these customers are young wealthy people who grew up mesmerized by Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park’ and find the aesthetics of a dinosaur more interesting than a Picasso.” Prandi says confirming a dinosaur’s provenance is just as tricky as verifying the authenticity of a work by the Spanish master. “A lot of people call me up from all over the country and say, ‘I found a dinosaur in my backyard,’ but it turns out to be a rock that looks like a dinosaur,” Prandi says. Even so, the United States remains the world leader in mining luxury dinosaurs.

Gender Bender

What do diet soda, strollers, and pink have in common? (hint: not women)

Dr Pepper Ten: Because Men Don’t Drink Diet Soda? [huffingtonpost.com] A new diet soft drink is out and “It’s not for women”. In explicitly marketing the dudeness of the drink, including a definitive guide to social protocol for men known as the Dr Pepper 10 Man’Ments, the ad campagin has apparently been effective at getting both men and women to give it a try.

A Facebook page for the drink contains an application that allows it to exclude women from viewing content, which includes games and videos aimed at being “manly.” For instance, there’s a shooting gallery where you shoot things like high heels and lipstick, for example. There is also a “man quiz” with questions on activities like fishing and hunting. “One topic people never tire of talking or arguing about is differences between men and women, particularly if women are excluded,” said Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin School of Business. “That will always get someone’s attention.”

How To Design “Manly” Household Products For The Involved Dad [fastcodesign.com] ‘More Work for Mother’ comes full circle as designers focus on the domestic dad.

When out in public, even the most rational dad might shun parenting products that make him feel less “manly.” For instance, my friend Chris is a tough-on-the-outside social worker by day, but he also stays at home part-time with his daughter, Sarah. Every time he goes to daycare, the park, or play dates, he has a routine of emptying the entire contents of his wife’s handbag-like diaper bag into his own duffel. “One topic people never tire of talking or arguing about is differences between men and women, particularly if women are excluded,” said Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin School of Business. “That will always get someone’s attention.”

Defend Your Research: The Color Pink Is Bad for Fighting Breast Cancer [harvardbusinessreview] Gendered approaches to marketing and branding may actually have the opposite effect desired, aka rejecting the hypothesis of “So long as it’s pink-”

The finding: Seeing the color pink makes women less likely to think they’ll get breast cancer and less likely to donate to cancer research… In psychology, there’s a lot of literature on defensive responses. How do we deal with threatening ideas, with things that are existentially difficult to comprehend? What happens is, these set off very strong denial mechanisms. By adding all this pink, by asking women to think about gender, you’re triggering that. You’re raising the idea that this is a female thing. It’s pink; it’s for you. You could die. The cues themselves aren’t threatening-it’s just a color! But it connects who you are to the threats

Bringing truth to advertising

Questioning the nature of research [research-live.com] – Ogilvy Group UK vice chairman Rory Sutherland advocates for context-based research to inform advertising, which is mostly served now by traditional quantitative market or survey research methodologies. We are messy beings, and straight-forward research approaches yield neat numbers that have nothing to do with the reality of decision making. This is preaching to the choir on this forum, but the interview is chock full of quotables! In the end, he calls for research that gets closer to people, and for an experimental approach to developing marketing and advertising.

No-one in any research group would ever say, “If there are four brands of shampoo, I’ll buy the one that has most bottles on the shelf”, or “I’ll choose the one that’s on the third shelf up because it’s the one that doesn’t require much reaching down” or “I’ll look at the prices of three products and choose the one in the middle.” In reality, we use heuristics and shortcuts and cognitively miserliness like this all the time. The mistake that quite a lot of advertising methodologies make is assuming that brand preference translates perfectly into purchase behaviour. It’s also making the assumption, of course, that preference is formed in advance of behaviour. Quite a lot of evidence from both behavioural sciences and from neuroscience suggests that we act first and form our opinions in light of our actions.

I think the way we think we decide and the way we actually decide don’t have that much in common. The conscious rational brain isn’t the Oval Office; it isn’t there making executive decisions in our minds. It’s actually the press office issuing explanations for actions we’ve already taken.

I’m emphatically not downplaying the importance of fame, awareness, mental availability – whatever you want to call it. What I would downplay is detailed dissections of consumers stated reasons for adopting or planning to adopt a particular course of action.

Quite often, people within a group will pretend they are a maximiser, when most of our decisions are taken as satisficers. We always claim in the presence of others that we are great connoisseurs looking for the best value for money we can find, but most of the time we simply don’t have the mental energy for that. It would be an insane use of our mental resources in any case. So what we do is look for something that is pretty much guaranteed not to be crap. That’s why in some ways you can never quite make sense of the popularity of McDonalds. Everybody, whenever you talk about food, they’ll always talk bullshit about health and Italy and olive oil. But actually, when it comes to eating, what we want is a place that won’t rip us off, won’t give us food poisoning, the toilets will be clean, the service will be OK, and everything will be pretty good. Paul Dolan, the government’s wellbeing adviser, says: “Nothing is as important as we think it is when we’re thinking about it”.

ChittahChattah Quickies

Kenny Powers Takes Over K-Swiss [Fox 9] – A hilariously audacious video, by shoe-purveyor K-Swiss, depicting a fictional reality where their company is now run by Kenny Powers, comedic douchebag athlete from HBO’s “Eastbound and Down.” In brainstorming sessions we encourage our participants to come up with bad ideas as a way to feed the creative flow. Here K-Swiss reveals all their bad ideas – more bad ideas than you thought possible, not through a leak of a secret company PowerPoint but in a deliberate marketing campaign. This is some ballsy corporate culture. I don’t care what kind of edgy ad agency put this together, a lot of people at K-Swiss signed off on it and they’ve got to have enormous confidence to be able to toy with the image of the company so aggressively. I don’t know a lot about any K-Swiss precursors (so let me know in the comments!) but I’m suitably impressed with this. It’s very funny, very NSFW, very confident, and actually seems very authentic (i.e., the pitch is pretty low-key and doesn’t get in the way of the funny). It begs the question for all of us, “How willing would you be to pretend to poop all over your brand, in service of your brand?”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from wstarosta] There are no such things as “Insights” [PLH] – [Pretty Little Head contributor, Farrah Bostic, shares her opinion on what an insight is and what it isn't. In doing so, she makes the point that insights are not things that can be gathered. Rather, the best we can hope for is to be insightful through research, immersion, observation and questioning.] I was recently asked to put together some “insight generation” exercises for a training workshop. This is pretty standard fare for a planning director, the person who ‘owns the insights.’ Creative briefs now often feature sections that are titled something like, “What’s the key insight?” – into which, the planner dutifully fills in some text in order to earn her wages. For some reason, on this particular request, I just completely stalled out. I often, at conferences and in client meetings, or with other planners, remark on how “insights” is another crime against the English language that Adland has perpetrated upon corporate culture.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] This Tech Bubble Is Different [BusinessWeek] – [Mathematicians are behind the ad-driven business-models defined in this article as the next bubble. They're tremendously successful in predicting behavior; a fact I find both intriguing and terrifying.] On Wall Street, math geeks are known as quants. They're the ones who create sophisticated trading algorithms that can ingest vast amounts of market data and then form buy and sell decisions in milliseconds. Hammerbacher was a quant. After about 10 months, he got back in touch with Zuckerberg, who offered him the Facebook job. That's when Hammerbacher redirected his quant proclivities toward consumer technology. He became, as it were, a Want. At social networking companies, Wants may sit among the computer scientists and engineers, but theirs is the central mission: to poke around in data, hunt for trends, figure out formulas that will put the right ad in front of the right person. "The most coveted employee in Silicon Valley today is not a software engineer. It is a mathematician."
  • [from steve_portigal] Steve Portigal – You’ve Done All This Research… Now What? [UIE Podcast] – [A 24-minute podcast for your listening pleasure and edification] Conducting research and gathering data are crucial parts in the process of creating great design. But once you have all of the data, what do you do with it? How do you know you’re extracting the right conclusions and not leaving anything important on the table? Steve Portigal of Portigal Consulting uses the methods of synthesis and ideation to approach this crucial next step. During his virtual seminar, Steve explains that synthesis is the process of turning field data into insights and then how you move to ideation to turn insights into solutions. So many questions came up during the seminar that Steve ran out of time to answer them all. He tackles the remaining questions in this podcast.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from wstarosta] A Retrospective View of 50 Years of Advertising Research) [ARF.org] – The Advertising Research Foundation is celebrating its 75th year of being in the business of marketing research. When asked about some of the industry's advances in the previous 50 years, chairman Gian Fulgoni owes many of them to technology that allows marketers to more effectively communicate their message and measure it's impact. His sentiments and even the industry terminology he uses highlight the fundamental differences between market research and design research.] In the 1980s, for example, the availability of point-of-sale scanner data provided a much-needed solution for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and other industries. For the first time, marketers had the tools needed to quickly and accurately measure the impact of price, promotions and print / TV advertising on brand sales, develop sophisticated market mix models, and link sales lift to various promotional and advertising levers.
  • [from wstarosta] PSFK Asks the Purple List, What are the Limits of Digital? [PSFK] – [The next time you are brainstorming and you come up with an idea to make an analog object, action or experience better by digitizing it, pause and consider this fact that I just learned: Your brain can recognize the time faster on an analog watch than a digital one! More about the trade-offs of going digital here…] There’s another way to approach this question, by venturing to guess that there’s nothing un-digitizable, rather there are deeply human things that will just be conveyed in different forms. For example, our need for feedback as in the above is one representation of a “deeply human thing,” but another interesting manifestation comes up when you start thinking about digital books. There’s a lot of social data encoded into the act of carrying a physical book. If I see you on the metro and you’re carrying a book I’ve read, it makes me want to talk to you. And if I don’t, I’m at least subtly comforted knowing that I’m in the company of someone likeminded.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Plastics News Executive Forum: Human behavior holds clues to design [Plastics News] – [Is it possible to avoid a reference to The Graduate? I'll try. We often see design thinking methodology applied to development efforts of end-products and services, of consumable things. When it's already soup. Here the plastics industry is having a dialogue about inspiring innovation at the "ingredient" level. Interesting question about where the responsibility for innovation lies.] It may be tempting to think of concepts like “design thinking” or “open innovation” like they’re just new business buzzwords. But designers and many OEMs have embraced the ideas for years, and plastics firms would be smart to join the party, experts said at the Plastics News Executive Forum. One molder in attendance pointed out that, in his experience, some OEMs are bad at innovation. “Many of our customers come up … with new designs that are horribly flawed. What’s the fundamental breakdown organizationally, where companies [that] are supposed to do this for a living are really bad at it?” he asked.
  • [from steve_portigal] R2-D2 makers an attraction at WonderCon in S.F. [SFGate] – [The devotion of fans is a constant source of wonder and delight.] A fully functional droid can cost as much as a Toyota Corolla, and takes half a decade or more to complete…R2 builders study the movies frame by frame to mine the tiniest details for their droids. Builders say they get asked two questions all the time: "Can it fly?" and "Does it project a hologram of Princess Leia?" Neither of those visual-effects-enhanced features from the movies is practical or possible because the technology doesn't exist. Builders also get frequent requests to sell their droids, and to perform at parties. That answer is "no," too. The R2 Builders Club operates with the blessing of Lucasfilm, with the understanding that the droids are not produced for sale. There's also a Jedi-like code among the builders, who consider profiting from the droids a trip to the Dark Side.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] The Super Bowl of Social Media? Maybe Next Year [Advertising Age – DigitalNext] – [It is a bit shocking that innovative thinking in marketing has not yet leveraged – or even experimented with – the promise of social media on the big stage.] There was not one spot that actually asked us to do anything. Or suggested that we do something. These ads could have all run before the internet was even invented. Nothing acknowledged that we had any other connections at our disposal other than the one between us and our televisions. We were expected to visit the brands' websites because we found those brands and their commercials interesting. The irony is that those brands will look to social media to gauge their audiences' reaction. They'll count views on YouTube. They'll ask their interns about what Twitter had to say. Their PR firms will be watching the Google Alerts roll in. But none of them will reap the benefit of actually building a meaningful connection… Coca-Cola could have actually helped some real people make some real people happy.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] DarkPatterns.org – [This site seems aimed at designers but could also be the seed of a User Literacy effort to raise awareness among consumers] This pattern library is dedicated to Dark Patterns: user interfaces that have been designed to trick users into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise have done. Normally when you think of “bad design”, you think of laziness or mistakes. These are known as design anti-patterns. Dark Patterns are different – they are not mistakes, they are carefully crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology, and they do not have the user’s interests in mind. The purpose of this site is to catalogue various common types of Dark Pattern, and to name and shame organizations that use them. [via @kottke]
  • [from julienorvaisas] How to shrink a city [The Boston Globe] – [The shrinking economy has forced a new way of looking at strategic planning and innovation in the housing and urban planning sector.] “It’s so contrary to what most planners do, it’s contrary to what we spend our time teaching students, [which is] all about how do you manage growth and accommodate growth,” says Joseph Schilling, who teaches urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech University and helped launch the National Vacant Properties Campaign. “The challenge for planning is how do you adapt existing tools and planning strategies to deal with an economy and market that is either totally dysfunctional or will have maybe slow, modest growth at best.”
  • [from julienorvaisas] Americans Demand Crispier Outside [The Onion – America’s Finest News Source] – [Alas, if only the elusive consumer would come out of hiding and just tell us what they want, nay, what they need!] Irate citizens have rallied in front of shops and drive-thru windows nationwide to outline their demands, which include extra chunks, meltier bits on top, that classic buttery flavor the whole family can enjoy, and a wider array of sizes, shapes, and colors to mix and match. Sources are also calling for cleanup to be a breeze.
  • [from julienorvaisas] What If Google and Bing Waged a Search War and Nobody Noticed? [Advertising Age – DigitalNext] – [Full of quippy critiques of the nutty design evolution of search, reviews, online advertising from a "real person's" perspective, this slightly ranty column by Kevin Ryan is really a lament to how beholden so many of our experiences are to today's digital monoliths.] Instant search is another one of those solutions created by engineers completely out of touch with humans. Like instant coffee, it sounds like a good idea until you have to consume it. My guess is boredom and fatigue from all that free food and the happiest work environment on the planet has finally taken its toll. In other words, idle hands solve problems that don't exist.

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