prediction posts

ChittahChattah Quickies February 28th, 2012

P&G gets innovative [Cincinnati.com] – The process behind Tide Pods includes lots and lots of research such as “talking” to 6,000 consumers. It appears this research was all done in simulated environments. I am bemused by the willing self-deception that if you put a couch in a lab, it makes the research contextual. I’d like to see P&G watching people do laundry in their real, non-idealized, messy, distracted, semi-functioning environment. Because then maybe you’d get takeaways richer than “Most laundry-doers are looking for a way to get it done faster.”

Inside the Beckett Ridge “home,” P&G researchers interviewed regular people as they sat in the comfortable couches of a mock family room or at the counter of a mock kitchen. They did the wash in a fully functioning laundry room. Through it all, they were videotaped and audiotaped, so P&G can capture how the wash gets done in a real-world setting…Back at Beckett Ridge, researchers worked on the packaging and the store display. Inside the “grocery store” with its six aisles, two checkout lanes and a self-scan lane, cameras are everywhere, recording how shoppers shop. The video feed can be streamed to any P&G Intranet site so questions and comments can be called in.

Never Too Early Movie Predictions – Sure, if we care at all, we’re still digesting the most recent Academy Awards. But forgot about 2012, this site has predictions through 2017. Sheesh, I haven’t seen any of these movies! Another moment where the corners of the Internet remind you that everyday life is filled with some genuine science fiction moments.

2015 Oscar Best Picture predictions
1. Noah
2. Citizen Hughes: The Power, The Money And The Madness
3. Churchill And Roosevelt
4. Avatar 2
5. The $700 Billion Man
6. The Color Of Lightening
7. Serena
8. Americana

Young Women Often Trendsetters in Vocal Patterns [NYT] – I had missed the original “vocal fry” hubbub a few months back, but I also enjoy how this article reframes young-female speech into a positive, leading-edge anthropological act.

Girls and women in their teens and 20s deserve credit for pioneering vocal trends and popular slang, adding that young women use these embellishments in much more sophisticated ways than people tend to realize. “A lot of these really flamboyant things you hear are cute, and girls are supposed to be cute,” said Penny Eckert, a professor of linguistics at Stanford. “But they’re not just using them because they’re girls. They’re using them to achieve some kind of interactional and stylistic end.” The latest linguistic curiosity to emerge from the petri dish of girl culture gained recognition in December, when researchers from Long Island University published a paper in The Journal of Voice. Working with what they acknowledged was a very small sample – recorded speech from 34 women ages 18 to 25 – the professors said they had found evidence of a new trend among female college students: a guttural fluttering of the vocal cords they called “vocal fry.” A classic example of vocal fry, best described as a raspy or croaking sound injected (usually) at the end of a sentence, can be heard when Mae West says, “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me,” or when Maya Rudolph mimics Maya Angelou on SNL.

Plastic Surgeons See iPhones Increase Demand for Cosmetic Procedures [Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery] – It’s hard not to be cynical about this “press release” in which plastic surgeons tie the need for their services to a particularly hot tech brand. If you do this (the wrong way, at least) in China, you can get into trouble!

“Patients come in with their iPhones and show me how they look on [Apple’s video calling application] FaceTime,” says Dr. Sigal. “The angle at which the phone is held, with the caller looking downward into the camera, really captures any heaviness, fullness and sagging of the face and neck. People say ‘I never knew I looked like that! I need to do something!’ I’ve started calling it the ‘FaceTime Facelift’ effect. And we’ve developed procedures to specifically address it.” (via Kottke)

draw me in – Jeff Johnson’s quest to become a comic book extra. The best summary of the project – yet another example of the collapsing gulf between producer and consumer comes from this Wired article (quoted below).

Popping up in nearly 30 comic books, he has become the industry’s Waldo-a lurking stowaway who has managed to hijack the unlikeliest panels. “It’s the ultimate bragging right to go into a comic store and pick up a book you’re in,” says Johnson, a 30-year-old Kmart electronics clerk from Leavenworth, Kansas. His infamous glasses-and-goatee mug has been zombiefied (The Walking Dead), digitized (Tron: Betrayal), and placed alongside Sinestro (Green Lantern Corps), thanks to his ceaseless lobbying and the cooperation of artists. The idea sprang from a 2006 FHM contest in which entrants sent pictures of themselves in homemade costumes of villains; the winner (if you want to call it that) was drawn into Ultimate X-Men. Johnson didn’t want to dress up, so instead he handed out DrawMeIn flyers at Comic-Con, after which penciler Ryan Ottley worked him into Invincible.

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ChittahChattah Quickies August 23rd, 2010
  • [from steve_portigal] At The Movies, A String Of Futures Passed [All Things Considered – NPR] – No matter how accurate they may be, all fictional futures — especially alarmist ones — lose urgency as the concerns that fueled them fade. The Cold War paranoia of 1984 and 2001 now feel distant, even if the tech-boom fears in Blade Runner may be a bit more current. This decade, we're uptight about the environment and our increasing decrepitude, so we get Wall-E. In the flower-power era, we were skeptical about social conformity, so we got A Clockwork Orange.
  • [from steve_portigal] Fusion: The Synergy of Images and Words [Steve McCurry’s Blog[ – [Photjournalist assembles series of images of people reading, across the planet]
  • [from steve_portigal] Coca Cola Village Like Facebook [The Inspiration Room] – [The ability to "post things" to Facebook or similar from far away (online or offline) is provocative but perhaps limiting, when the feedback loop – I post and I see what I post appear- is broken as badly as here] Coca Cola Village in Israel is a summer holiday resort designed for teenagers finishing their school years. For its third year experiential marketing agency Promarket provided residents with RFID bracelets (Radio Frequency Identification) to help them share their experiences on Facebook. Teens were able to put a digital ‘like’ on their choice of forty facilities in the camp, from the pool, the spa, to the extreme activities and sport section. If photographed by one of the official photographers, the RFID technology would automatically tag everyone in the photo and upload it to the relevant Facebook profiles…Real world Liking resulted in up to 35,000 posts per cycle…On average each visitor was posting 54 pieces of Coke branded content to their Facebook profile.
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ChittahChattah Quickies August 18th, 2010
  • [from julienorvaisas] Is the Web Dying? It Doesn’t Look That Way [Bits Blog – NYTimes.com] – [There's always a way to get the same data to tell a different story. ] Mr. Anderson of Wired magazine argues that a world of downloadable apps, which work through the Internet and arrive via gadgets like the iPhone or Xbox, are quickly cannibalizing the World Wide Web as consumers prefer buttoned-up, dedicated platforms, designed specifically for mobile screens. Is he right? Should we plaster R.I.P. signs all over the Web? Not exactly.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Tragic Death of Practically Everything [Technologizer] – [You can hum Jim Carroll while you read this short piece that tries to dehype tech media a teeny little bit] Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson is catching flack for the magazine’s current cover story, which declares that the Web is dead. I’m not sure what the controversy is. For years, once-vibrant technologies, products, and companies have been dropping like teenagers in a Freddy Krueger movie. Thank heavens that tech journalists have done such a good job of documenting the carnage as it happened. Without their diligent reporting, we might not be aware that the industry is pretty much an unrelenting bloodbath.
  • [from steve_portigal] BK to offer shareable Pizza Burger [Nation’s Restaurant News] – [While results won't appeal to all, exciting to see Burger King with an appetite for innovating – crazy-sounding products – and a place to sell those non-core products] Burger King plans to introduce a giant hamburger shaped and flavored like a pizza to its new Whopper Bar in NY, adding to the list of extreme sandwiches at restaurant chains. The NY Pizza Burger is made with four 1/4-pound Whopper patties, mozzarella, marinara and a Tuscan Herb Mayo. They are placed on a 9.5-inch bun, which is sliced into 6 wedges, selling at $12.99. Burger King said the pizza burger, which is intended to be shared, would likely be introduced next week. Each wedge is about 400 calories, they said. The NY Pizza Burger is currently planned just for the New York City Whopper Bar location, which opened July 31 near Times Square. The pizza burger will join the Meat Beast Whopper, also exclusive to the New York City Whopper Bar. The Meat Beast is a Whopper topped with pepperoni and bacon and sold for $6.99.
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ChittahChattah Quickies May 24th, 2009
  • What Does Your Credit-Card Company Know About You? – "In 2002 J. P. Martin, a math-loving executive at Canadian Tire, decided to analyze almost every piece of information his company had collected from credit-card transactions the previous year. His data indicated, for instance, that people who bought cheap, generic automotive oil were much more likely to miss a credit-card payment than someone who got the expensive, name-brand stuff. People who bought carbon-monoxide monitors for their homes or those little felt pads that stop chair legs from scratching the floor almost never missed payments. Anyone who purchased a chrome-skull car accessory or a “Mega Thruster Exhaust System” was pretty likely to miss paying his bill eventually. Why were felt-pad buyers so "upstanding? Because they wanted to protect their belongings, be they hardwood floors or credit scores."

    The article goes on to describe how debt collectors build relationships with (rather than harass) debtors, who pay off more to the brands they have a relationship with.

  • We Are Now In The Age Of Nice – another Sunday NYT unsubstantiated trend-attempt – That amiable guys and uncomplicated sweethearts could be today’s pop heroes is one sign of an outbreak of niceness across the cultural landscape — an attitude bubbling up in commercials, movies and even, to a degree, the normally not-nice blogosphere.
  • Can supposedly-predictive quantitative market research techniques help Hollywood? – Still, is it smart to bring on pricey consultants when corporate overlords are demanding cost cuts? And what of the parade of failed attempts by consumer research firms to break into Hollywood? Few people in the industry can forget Tremor, the research firm that was owned by Procter & Gamble. It came to Hollywood in 2002, signed up with Creative Artists Agency and roped clients like DreamWorks — though its ideas often proved prohibitively expensive.
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Increase Your Effectiveness In Meetings by 10% April 17th, 2009

(This post originally appeared on Core77)

magic8ball

There’s a strong fascination cum infatuation with semi-secret rules that explain why we do what we do. Even In Treatment uses Gladwell (the form’s biggest popularizer) to forward a common misconception about therapy while creating dramatic tension.

In a recent counter-intuitive example, a study indicates that people ordering from a menu that includes healthy and less-healthy options will feel more free to choose the less-healthy option. The theory isn’t totally clear (perhaps a vicarious “I’ve been good” hit comes from the presence of those other items) and its extensibility to other choice behaviors isn’t at all clear.

And in the “no duh” category, another study that looked at radiologists found that “when a digital photograph was attached to a patient’s file, radiologists provided longer, more meticulous reports. And they said they felt more connected to the patients, whom they seldom meet face to face.” Although I wonder if the folks at the passport office, with their surplus of mortifying headshots, would support this study, it really just makes sense and could be applied to all sorts of intermediated interactions, both asynchronous (i.e., mortgage applications) and synchronous (ie., tech support chat). For further study, does an avatar or a stock photo work as well as photograph? Do other biographical details work as well? And how long does this effect last?

If you’re into anecdotes and theories that can help you explain, predict, and otherwise impress those around you, check out Lone Gunman, Overcoming Bias and Freakonomics .

Meanwhile, we’re ready to casually cite the classic marketing/business/social science examples, such as the Add An Egg phenomenon, the Kitty Genovese effect, how a waiter’s tip can decline precipitously based solely on the waiting-time for the bill (citation anyone?) and the Hawthorne Effect.

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ChittahChattah Quickies March 19th, 2009
  • Some big-thinking on how the professional organization is changing: structure, environment, process – There will be a set of rituals, a cadence of events, that comes to define what differentiates the organization and supports how things get done. The places where these take place now are found by labels on doors—“conference room”—in otherwise undifferentiated space. The activities of the evolving place are about actions—collaborating, integrating, innovating—and not about hierarchy or formal processes.
  • In Detroit, Artists Look For Renewal In Foreclosures – In the late '90s, we used to generate fake "trends" mostly for fun, but also as a fatigued reaction to all the hype we were facing about, well, everything. One of my best – because it was just so ludicrous and therefore worthy of endless repeating in any ideation session – was that people were choosing to live in hovels [because hovel is definitely a good comedy word].

    Once again, I was 10 years ahead of my time.

    "Jon Brumit is an artist in Chicago…He and his wife just bought a house in Cope's neighborhood for $100. That's right: an entire house for the price of dinner at a nice restaurant for a family of four. Sure, the place needs a ton of work and it['s not that safe, but Brumit says it's worth it just to help bring back the neighborhood."

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ChittahChattah Quickies February 21st, 2009
  • Report: Real-world police forensics don't resemble 'CSI' – Even before the popularity of shows like CSI, there was presumably a cultural belief in the "science" behind these techniques. But the report finds that:
    – Fingerprint science "does not guarantee that two analysts following it will obtain the same results."
    – Shoeprint and tire-print matching methods lack statistical backing, making it "impossible to assess."
    – Hair analyses show "no scientific support for the use of hair comparisons for individualization in the absence of (DNA)."
    – Bullet match reviews show "scientific knowledge base for tool mark and firearms analysis is fairly limited."
    – Bite-mark matches display "no scientific studies to support (their) assessment, and no large population studies have been conducted."
  • NJOY electronic cigarette – Looks like a real cigarette, complete with glowing tip on inhale, and exhaled vapor that resembles smoke. Gives an inhaled nicotine experience, while messaging to the rest of the world that you are really smoking a real lit cigarette. Paging Erving Goffman?

    Someone was using one a party last week; someone else got out their simulated Zippo lighter (an iPhone app) and lit it for them.

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Once again, science fiction predicts the future January 29th, 2009

I’ve long been a fan of Bruce Sterling’s 1998 story Maneki Nekoi

Next morning, Tsuyoshi slept late. He was self-employed, so he kept his own hours. Tsuyoshi was a video format upgrader by trade. He transferred old videos from obsolete formats into the new high-grade storage media. Doing this properly took a craftsman’s eye. Word of Tsuyosh’s skills had gotten out on the network, so he had as much work as he could handle.
At ten A.M., the mailman arrived. Tsuyoshi abandoned his breakfast of raw egg and miso soup, and signed for a shipment of flaking, twentieth-century analog television tapes. The mail also brought a fresh overnight shipment of strawberries, and a homemade jar of pickles.
“Pickles!” his wife enthused. “People are so nice to you when you’re pregnant.”
“Any idea who sent us that?”
“Just someone on the network.”
“Great.”

So I was intrigued to learn about FriendlyFavor.

People seeking a babysitter, job referral or help moving a couch, to name just a few examples, can all use FriendlyFavor for free to ask for help online-sending their request only to the contacts they trust-as can people with favours to offer, such as extra tickets or leftover moving supplies. The platform was designed to eliminate the hassle, wasted time and confusion that can accompany traditional favour requests, providing instead a one-stop site for managing everything from the initial request to the thank-you once a favour has been granted.

Sure, it’s not yet mediated by an AI, but it is certain a predecessor to Sterling’s vision.

And see What Science Fiction Writers Have Learned About Predicting The Future of Technology (via Pasta and Vinegar)

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Did you see your shadow? February 4th, 2008

gh_card.jpg
Last weekend was Groundhog Day in North America. We emailed a holiday greeting to many of our friends and colleagues. Did we miss you? If so, please let us know.

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