Medical marijuana dispensary, Sausalito, CA, November 2010
I was unable to find out about this symbol’s history or affiliation. Green Cross is a common term/symbol for medical pot, but seems tied to various local organizations (including a delivery service in San Francisco), while this specific graphic didn’t show up anywhere in my searches. Meanwhile, as new symbols and meanings emerge they can sometimes conflict: Green Cross is also an international organization, based in Switzerland whose mission “is to respond to the combined challenges of security, poverty and environmental degradation to ensure a sustainable and secure future.” When multiple groups appropriate and recontextualize an existing symbol (in this case the Red Cross) that collision is ever more likely.
Unisex bathroom sign, San Francisco, CA, August 2010
While this sign, seen in the Commonwealth restaurant, may actually be a branding icon for the restaurant (since it appears on their menu) and not a new symbol for men-plus-women, given its visual insinuation, and application (appearing on two adjacent doors, just where you’d expect to find the bathrooms), it begins to suggest a broader meaning. Unisex bathroom signs are typically denoted by the icons for men and women, together but the idea (intentional or not) that this usage has a gestalt not fully addressed by combining existing symbols is a powerful one.
Streisand effect – The Streisand effect is an Internet phenomenon where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be publicized widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no censorship had been attempted.. Origin is in reference to a 2003 incident in which Barbra Streisand unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia.com for US$50 million in an attempt to have the aerial photograph of her house removed from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs, citing privacy concerns
NYC replaces automated toilets with staffed restrooms, a signifier of trust – But where the floors of the old restrooms had a tank-tread-like surface that automatically rotated across a scrubbing system after each use, and the toilets themselves were cleaned by a rim-mounted U-shaped traveling brush, the new ones are inspected, mopped and scrubbed — 15 to 25 times a day — by eagle-eyed, uniformed men and women.
“It’s an attendant who knows what’s going on and has functions that go from sanitation to exchanging a few words with you to generally having a sense of what should be done,” said Jerome Barth, the partnership’s vice president for operations. “People see them, and they know the bathrooms are clean.”
In this video for Core77, Steve Portigal takes us into his company bathroom, uncovering examples of bad design and its consequences.
From signage to artifact and back, people are forever mistaking their cues for how to behave, how to use products and systems, and how different, often-conflicting indicators cause our expectations and realities to collide. This 2-minute video is a priceless example. What’s in your bathroom?
Public bathroom doorway, Karuizawa, Japan, January 2008
Before we hiked up the nearby mountain I wanted to use the bathroom. I was very frustrated to find the door locked. I pushed and pulled and saw the keyhole for the deadbolt and figured I was out of luck. Then I saw someone enter the adjacent women’s room – by sliding the door. I wouldn’t expect a bathroom door to slide, and I didn’t interpret any of the cues (or affordances) about how this door works to suggest sliding was a possibility.
This restroom-last-cleaned-at status box is a digital device that replaces a familiar paper version. I’m not totally clear what the function of this has been: enforce compliance by employees who are responsible for doing the cleaning, remind the public that (appearance notwithstanding) the institution does indeed care about restroom cleanliness?
How does making it digital improve the performance? Is it the meaning of digital (to the public, or the monitored staff?) or the usability of the technology (one button press replaces writing by hand?) or the affordances of the technology (networked data tracking to look for patterns over time/location?)…
Organizers do research about the businesses but don’t actually try out the chosen throne rooms before selecting five for the online poll. “We have nominations from all over the place. It would be too hard,” said Bensten.