Posts tagged “bangkok”

Kristina’s War Story: Trampoline Spies

Kristina Lustig is a researcher at Stack Overflow, and is currently based in London. She told this story live at User Research London.

Last year, I was in Bangkok with eight members of my product team. For our research, we planned to speak with people who we saw taking videos with their smart phones. We split into a few groups, each with their own interpreters. My group tried – and failed – to find people at an open-air market or around a couple of malls before we got the idea to look for parents taking videos of their children. Our interpreter, Kay, in a flash of genius, suggested that we’d probably see a lot of this behavior at a trampoline park, so off we went.

After riding several long thin escalators far into the interior of an extremely large mall, we arrived at the trampoline park and bought our tickets. Before we went in, we put on the mandatory lime green sticky socks and neon pink wristbands.

Now, I’ve done a good bit of international research in questionable situations, but at this point, this was the strangest research situation I’d been in. Let me paint the picture for you: two white people in business casual with neon pink wristbands and lime green sticky socks, holding notebooks, accompanied by our Thai interpreter, all wandering through a trampoline park full of Thai parents and children. On the 700th floor of an upscale mall on a Wednesday morning.

But really, it was also a research goldmine! We found many mothers with their smart phones out, filming their children. We spent about 30 minutes chatting as casually as possible with a few different women. We learned a lot about how they shared videos on social media. Then we were approached by a trampoline park employee. She began speaking with Kay, and although we couldn’t understand a word, we watched as Kay moved from confident to concerned and finally to incredulous.

As Kay translated for us, the employee was concerned that we could be spies from a rival trampoline park, or that we were we attempting to sell these women passes to a rival trampoline park!

Kay explained to the trampoline park employee that we were from a big company in the US and that we weren’t selling anything, but she didn’t believe us. We gave her our business cards (with potentially impressive or reassuring titles like “UX Researcher” and “Product Designer”) but no dice. She started to kick us out of the trampoline park, but in a last ditch effort, we asked “Well, can we just… stay and jump?”

So, we didn’t get to do too much research, but we did spend a lot of time bouncing around under that employee’s watchful anti-research eye. We observed as much as we could, while bouncing. In retrospect, we probably should have cleared our research with the trampoline park beforehand…but any research endeavor that starts with intercepts and ends with extreme trampolining is a win in my book.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Bangkok police wearing smiley masks to make delivery of the requisite Thai smile that much easier – " The new cloth masks, which hook behind the ears and cover the mouth and nose, will help “reduce the stress from drivers when they see the police,” said Mr. Somyos, the highway police commander. To that end, he said, some 200 police booths would also distribute small bottles of holy water, chewing gum and mints."
  • Why is Dora crying? – Ridiculously manipulative full-page ad run by Viacom as they drew towards the deadline for a fee renegotiation with Time-Warner. Looks like (big surprise) they struck a deal.

Body Self-Image

Photos from my various travels depicting global cultural variations of the fundamental person icon.

bali.jpg
bali2.jpg
Bali, Indonesia. They’re some pretty small people, so why does that first person seem so hulking and Cro-Magnon-y?

taipei2.jpg
taipei1.jpg
Taipei, Taiwan. Note the hip chapeau the stroller is sporting, and the protective headgear (?) worn by the worker.

london.jpg
London, UK. This fellow toils as above, but without the benefit of a helmet. Less chance of sunburn, maybe?

tokyo.jpg
Tokyo, Japan. The Japanese cute aesthetic shows up in the large head and even larger cigarette.

bangkok.jpg
Bangkok, Thailand. Who takes care of children?

providence.jpg
Providence, RI, USA. Not just walking, but actively moving forward, dancing, and exuding joie de vivre.

And Karrie Jacobs has a nice example here.

Erawan Shrine destroyed

Insane Thai beaten to death for destroying sacred Hindu shrine

A 27-year-old mentally disturbed Thai man was beaten to death by enraged onlookers at a world-famous shrine in downtown Bangkok after he destroyed a popular statue of a Hindu deity with a hammer, police said.

Thanakorn Pakdeepol, who police said had a history of mental illness, was killed after he broke into the Erawan Shrine and used a hammer to shatter a four-headed statue of Brahma covered in gold. Thousands of Thais and tourists seek good fortune at the statue every day.

We were just there in January. Here’s our pics.
dsc_0096-copy.jpg
dsc_0162-copy.jpg
dsc_0163.jpg
dsc_0165.jpg
dsc_0177.jpg

Letter From Asia – Drive-by observations from Steve Portigal


Core77 has just posted my latest article, a travelogue- Letter From Asia.

Hong Kong is a visually stimulating city–where bright neon signs stretch horizontally out from the buildings across the road and electric boxes are covered with graffiti advertising household services. Storefronts open to the street, and service windows for snacks of every kind proliferate.

The standard line about Hong Kong is that it’s a shopper’s paradise. But Hong Kong shopping seemed to be more about the shallower pleasures of acquisition versus the immersive indulgence of massive choice . Take Tokyo as a point of contrast: Tokyo’s Akihabara (or Electronics Town) is a place to find all things electronic. If you want USB cables, you choose from myriad lengths, each in a large variety of colors and translucencies. If you are a Rolling Stones fan, in the Harajuku neighborhood you will find a tiny store with an exhaustive collection of trinkets, books, and assorted Stones ephemera.

But in Hong Kong, shopping is more about bounty; quantity over variety. For example, Mong Kok is a neighborhood with several shopping areas, including Sai Yeung Choi Street, where you’ll see a crowded street with small stores selling the very latest digital cameras, mobile phones, and MP3 players. Next door will be a similar store selling a similar selection of gizmos, and three doors down will be another branch of the first store…and across the street will be yet another branch of that same store. A few chains occupy many of the stores, seemingly with little specialization. The point seems to be that there’s lots of this stuff here, so why not grab some? It seemed to work–people were actively buying.

There’s more about Hong Kong, as well as Bangkok, and India.

Photos ahoy

Hey, Anne’s got a flickr account!


Arun Wat, originally uploaded by Anneincal.


Hong Kong art museum, originally uploaded by Anneincal.

Brief trip report

We’re now in Mumbai – the last of our four-city tour. Since posting last, we spent two hot and fun days in Bangkok, had an interesting and great time in Bangalore (best parts being an interesting conference, a visit to Microsoft Research, and some really wonderful hosting/socializing/touring). We got here last night and have benefitted similarly from some great hosting/socializing/touring. In fact, we’re out in the suburbs where tourists would never go, visiting a friend in her home.

There’s just so much to see and think about and write about. I imagine blogging non-stop for weeks upon end when we return (not possible, I suppose). I’ve taken hundereds of pictures and will see if the technology I’m using at this moment will allow me to easily post a couple of recent ones.

Asia trip

Excited to see a bit about Hong Kong in the travel section of today’s New York Times. Since we started planning our trip, there hasn’t been much coverage or advice of the places we’ll be going in January, as we travel to Bangalore where I’ll be speaking at the Easy6 conference. There are books and lots of web resources, but still always cool to see something in the Sunday paper as you plan a trip.

We’ll be going to
Hong Kong (obviously) for about 4 days
Bangkok very briefly
Bangalore for about 4 days
Mumbai for about 4 days

and then an unbelievable journey home – it’s just travel all the way back, we won’t be chunking it up as with the outbound portion. I can’t imagine how destroyed we will be upon our return!

Series

About Steve