Posts tagged “city”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Who benefits when New York upgrades its ‘user experience’? [Capital New York] – [Somewhat rambling but interesting piece that – I think – compares the gentrification of the web to an app UX with the types of city changes New York is seeking to improve its user experience.] Try navigating most news sites and you’ll be dodging all kinds of digital equivalents to roadblocks, tourists and construction. Reading an article can sometimes require a mastery of mouse acrobatics, requiring you to steer from funny-looking links that, with just a graze over a photo, will awaken a sleeping giant ad that pop-ups up and takes over your screen, blocking the very words you were simply trying to read. Or a video will start playing, unprompted, somewhere in that digital box, and, although its sounds are blaring from your speakers, you can’t find it. You have to scroll and maneuver to figure out where the dang thing is and find that tiny pause button before your coworkers groan and tsk.
  • [from steve_portigal] VW Camper Van Tent [] – [File this one as another entry under things-that-look-like-other-things. While the design approach here is more of a gimmick, it reveals itself as a powerful way to play with meaning and irony.] If you love music, mud and Mother Nature you’re probably heading to a camp site at some point this summer. But why take shelter in some dull, conventional tent when you can recreate the Summer of Love in the hippie-tastic VW Camper Van Tent. Officially licensed, this stunning four-man (or lady, natch) tent is a luxe, full-size replica of the iconic 1965 VW Camper Van synonymous with 60s counterculture. It’s so evocative you can almost hear the Mamas and the Papas singing California Dreamin’ every time you feast your eyes on its beautifully breadloaf-ish form. Indeed we half expected Mama Cass to tumble out when we first saw this groovy Vee-Dub. You’ll be the envy of the campsite! [Thanks, Jeff Fox!]

Keeping it Weird

I made my second trip to Austin a couple of months ago and was struck again by the Keep Austin Weird ethos. Once you start seeing it, it’s fairly pervasive (i.e., tie-dyed souvenir shirts, tote bags, bumper stickers, keychains, etc. at the airport). Of course, memes become co-opted and corrupted. Here are two examples I found

A McDonald’s mural by David Soames gives new meaning to the term “counter culture”

Keeping Jesus Weird – a different and unpredictable faith conversation – offers a Ladies’ Night event, where women are the topic. I count two memes being repurposed here

I’m not sure that “Keep [thing that you’re selling] Weird” is going to work (even in Austin) for every possible brand, product, service, religion, or combination thereof, but it’s amusing to watch the purveyors try real hard to make it happen!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Topeka, KS changes its name (for a month) to Google, KS – I wrote about this sort of bombastic advertising in interactions ( referencing the dot-com era's Half, Oregon, and the classic Truth or Consequences, NM
  • Toy Traveling – Travel Agency for Teddy bears and cuddly toys – [Productizing the" trend" of taking pictures of your stuffed animals on your vacation] Is your darling exceptional? Give him extraordinary present – trip to Prague – the beautiful heart of Europe. Except amazing experiences, he will bring back home many great photos and other presents. Do you collect stuffed toys, dolls or other fun “non-living” friends and you believe they also deserve rest and vacation or an outstanding experience in an interesting country? If you do, pack up its suitcase, wish it a nice trip and send it to the Czech Republic where your friend can enjoy the historic beauty of Prague as well as other services that will leave both you and your friend satisfied. Let it go on cool trips, group events and wellness therapy in the heart of Europe – done with respect to your friend and loving care. We are tolerant and unbiased. We will be happy to welcome all kinds of your toys regardless nationality, race, religion, sexual preferences, age or handicaps.
  • A list of UX-related sessions at SXSW Interactive [Nick Finck] – There's a great deal happening at this event! Here's one attempt to filter (including our session on UX methods!)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • IST2010ENG/ EDEBIYAT / 40 Districts 40 Books by 40 Authors: ‘My Istanbul’ series at Tüyap 2009… – My Istanbul is a monumental project of 40 books in which 40 distinguished authors told their own districts.

    40 authors born and lived in Istanbul wrote their own feelings, thoughts and memories in their own style about 40 districts of Istanbul for this project originated from the idea that every district has a different story, a different identity and a different spirit.

    Realized in cooperation with Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Literature Directorate and Heyamola Publications the project ‘My Istanbul’ will display Istanbul’s recent history by the words of witnesses while each district is being re-interpreted by sui generis views of the authors.

  • Jake Cressman – Part of the Hot Studio team that won the Portigal Consulting/Core77 1-Hour Design Challenge! Congrats, Jake!
  • CONGRATS: Hot wins ‘The Future of Digital Reading’ design challenge – Designers + Beer = Fun: Late on a Friday afternoon, a group of Hot’s designers and a good-natured friend gathered in Hot’s biggest conference room. We spread books of all sizes out on the conference table, salty and sweet snacks in every corner, and several six packs of beer on ice. What more could you need? We watched segments from Portigal Consulting’s video where they outlined their findings, and paused a few times to discuss amongst ourselves. After we got comfortable with the background material, we divided into a couple teams, each focusing on a different approach

    The winning SuperFlyer concept came from a collaboration of Shalin Amin, Holly Hagen, Leslie Kang, and our buddy Jake Cressman.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Design Research Methods for Experience Design – Triading is a method that allows a researcher to uncover dimensions of a design space that are pertinent to its target audience. In triading, researchers present three different concepts or ideas to participants and ask them to identify how two of them are different from the third. Participants describe, in their own terms, the dimensions or attributes that differentiate the concepts. Participants follow this process iteratively—identifying additional attributes they feel distinguish two of the concepts from the third until they can’t think of any other distinguishing factors.

    The benefit of this process is that it uncovers dimensions of a particular domain that are important to the target audience rather than the researcher or designer. For example, participants may describe differences in groups as “warm” versus cold” or business-like” versus fun.” Designers can then use the most relevant or common dimensions as inspiration for further design and exploration.

  • Mapping Oakland – Mapping Oakland is a research project aimed at mapping people’s perceptions of neighborhoods and urban space within the City of Oakland. Mental maps have been used in geography to understand individual perceptions of space and place for sometime. The method has proven useful in helping geographers understand how people perceive elements within the landscape for navigational purposes and to understand the cultural value of spaces. This web site provides citizens throughout Oakland access to a survey that measures how people perceive and use public open space in the City of Oakland.
  • How ethnic groups change Oakland neighborhoods – When Robert Lemon, a UC Berkeley landscape architecture grad student, was a community planner in Columbus, Ohio, he noticed that despite the car-oriented landscape, residents of the city's Latino community, for the most part, liked to get around on foot and bicycle and, as a result, were bending the neighborhood to their collective will. Taco trucks and open-air produce markets popped up in vacant parking lots on one of the city's main shopping thoroughfares. The bicycle was a key mode of transportation even though there weren't dedicated bike lanes, and colorful murals appeared on the walls of large buildings. The neighborhood had the feel of small-town Oaxaca, the Mexican state from which many of the city's Latinos hailed.

    In California, he found similar changes occurring in Oakland's Fruitvale and Chinatown neighborhoods. He is conducting a formal survey as part of a fellowship & has gone through Oakland's diverse neighborhoods, walking up and down the streets asking questions.

Compare and contrast (Paris and London, September 07)

Trash receptacles such as this are very common in Paris. The words on the bag translate as Vigilance and Cleanliness. The bag is transparent so anything discarded is still visible. London, presumably because they have more recently experienced terrorist bombings, has no (or almost no) rubbish containers.

Paris uses painted metal barricades…

…while London uses these open-structured plastic segments to block off areas for construction. Other than path dependence (that’s just how they’ve always done it), why?

Food as symbol of belongingness

A couple of months ago I spent a couple of weeks in London on-site with a client, meeting with different players and learning about how they did things, and how they were using the products they were developing.

This company is in the finance industry which has a pretty specific culture: high energy, male dominated, very social, very competitive. I was there as an outsider and I was obviously an outsider…strangely dressed, from “Silicon Valley” (one person I met with revealed that they had been anticipating my arrival by referring to me as Silicone Man, because, in part, they didn’t know my name), and of course asking a lot of ridiculous questions.

The trading floor (essentially rooms with rows of desks that have 3-6 monitors each) has a very hierarchical culture. For example, the young guys run out every day and bring back food for the other guys. One day I was working on the floor during lunch; the team I was with asked me if I wanted lunch, so I placed an order with two young traders from France, as they went out to Wagamama (or as they called it, Wags).

When the food arrived, one of the brokers noticed me with my bucket of noodles and announced to everyone “Hey, Steve is having lunch on the desk! Now he’s really and truly one of us!”

Being overtly included is always touching; I was struck by the power of the shared dining ritual (which in this case was simply the ordering, then we all sat at our desks with our computers and ate and worked) to delineate that inclusion.

I responded by announcing that one of the tools I use in my work is participant observation. “Oh…” he said, “We learn something new every day!”

interactive city summit

I’m attending an interesting event next week. It’s a two-day summit on the topic of (as far as I can tell) what we want from our cities in the future. There’s an implied (to me) technological bias, but not any assumption that technology is good.

This is not a topic I feel very expert in, not even very well informed, or strongly opinionated about. Given the discussion-based slant the organizers are taking, this could be a risk, but I’m hoping that diving into the issues will unearth some perspectives on, well, living life in the spaces we live in, that I haven’t previously written or talked about.

Tipping the scales for me, therefore, to attend, are the facts that the event is free and local and especially that organizers/presenters include Eric Paulos and Matt Jones, two big-thinking design/culture/technology folks whom I admire.

This summit is part of a larger event going on in San Jose (electronic art, and presumably some other themes; I can’t really parse the details or remember the name of the conference without regular use of the web) – I won’t be part of that.

If you are attending the interactive city summit, let me know!


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