Posts tagged “community”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • What is the deal with Jughead's hat? – This is something the Internet is truly great at: as an archive for the exploration and explanation of the obscure aspects of the familiar. What will future anthropologists make of the Internet of our generation?
  • Karachi, Pakistan manufacturing firm produces corsets and fetish wear (for export) – The brothers said Pakistan’s “stone-age production” worked to their advantage. The country, they said, lacks visionary product development. “Everyone’s still making the same products,” Adnan said.

    Then, they discovered a kind of straitjacket online. At first, they thought it was used for psychiatric patients, but it quickly led them to learn about the lucrative fetish industry.

    Today, they sell their products to online and brick-and-mortar shops, and to individuals via eBay. Their market research, they said, showed that 70 percent of their customers were middle- to upper-class Americans, and a majority of them Democrats. The Netherlands and Germany account for the bulk of their European sales.

    “We really believe that if you are persistent and hard working, there is an opportunity, in any harsh environment, even in an economically depressed environment like Pakistan,” Rizwan said.

  • Average frustrated chump – for what's a subculture without its jargon? – Often abbreviated "AFC," is seduction community jargon for a heterosexual male who is unsuccessful at finding sexual or romantic relationships with women] This person seeks attraction and longingly desires intimacy, but only finds cordial friendship and platonic love with women. The term AFC is pejorative, and is attributed to NLP teacher Ross Jeffries.
  • Seduction? Yeah we've got a group for that – The "seduction community" refers to a loose-knit subculture of men who strive for better sexual and romantic success with women through self-improvement and a greater understanding of social psychology. It exists largely through Internet forums and groups, as well as over a hundred local clubs, called "lairs" Supporters refer to the subculture simply as 'the community" and often call themselves "pickup artists." Origins date back to Eric Weber's 1970 book How to Pick Up Girls.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Digital Samaritans use the Internet to return cameras, wallets, etc. – For some, it can feel awkward to use the Web to track down a complete stranger. Peter Hill, a former network engineer at the University of Washington, found a wallet in the parking garage of a Seattle-area Whole Foods store and used his iPhone to enter Facebook, find the owner’s name and then find one of her friends on the site who had attended his university. Then he used the school’s online directory to call the friend, and asked her to alert the wallet’s owner.
  • Found Cameras and Orphan Pictures – Find A Lost Camera? Email at least four photos from your found camera. Include any other details, time, location, school, etc.

Florida Faux, part 2

During a recent trip to Florida I took some time to check out the Disney-founded community of Celebration.

The experience was much more subtle that I had expected; perhaps the true nature emerges more through residency than driving through. Overall, it felt a lot like The Truman Show – a set that made everything a bit too perfect and while one can appreciate just how nice everything is, it lacks a certain organic naturalness.

The town theater is achingly new, yet completely retro. There’s no funk here.

The downtown area is beautiful, branding is kept to a minimum.

Starbucks, the Americanized faux-Italian experience (so faux and so Americanized that you can enjoy it without knowing where it comes from) seems to fit right in (but then Starbucks is the ultimate brand for fitting in everywhere and anywhere).

These electric vehicles were ubiquitous, some turned into rolling advertising vehicles (as has happened with the PT Cruiser, the New Beetle, the Mini, and the Smart Car). I imagine the retirement communities in Florida have a wider general adoption of those vehicles and that’s part of the reason they are seen in Celebration.

Chick-Fil-A branding at a church event.

And about 2 miles down the road, familiar sprawl returns, highlighting the contrast. I think that’s the tallest Starbucks sign I’ve ever seen.

Previously: Florida Faux, part 1

Also: Orlando pictures; Miami pictures.

A gracious good morning to you

From All Things Considered the remote California town of Iowa Hill will finally get land-line phone service. And their cell coverage is spotty, at best. The woman interviewed explains that people in the community have designated areas where there is cell reception as phone booths; a nice colloquialism since we’re likely to envision a purpose-built structure rather than a warchalked wooded area. She also describes the local 911-proxy: fire your gun three times in the air and hope someone comes to your aid.

Stories, lost forever

The way things used to be

As I’ve already blogged, I was the victim of a phishing scam and my flickr account was deleted.

According to some flickr forum discussions (where others are reporting similar occurrences) Yahoo/flickr has known about this particular culprit for a year or so. And they’ve failed to implement sufficient countermeasures, technical or otherwise.

Phishing typically targets banking and PayPal information, obviously for financial gain. In my case, someone left a comment on a photo, with a link. And clicking on that link led me to this sad situation. Why did Yahoo let someone post a link that was harmful?

Sure, the forums are also filled with smug posts (not from the flickr staff; they have been instructed to use a soothing tone, while not providing any resolution) from people who insist that the victims of these scams are to blame for not knowing better. I would have thought I did know better, actually.

This miscreant deleted my account, just for fun. And Yahoo can’t restore it. We all know there are backup copies all over the place, but they can only recreate my account, blank.

That means that my 5000 photos are gone. Those I can upload. But all the people I’ve linked to are gone (I’ve spent a few hours trying to reconnect with those I can remember). Anyone who watched my photos via their contacts has lost me (and I’ve lost much of my audience). All the photos that were marked by others are gone. All the groups which I participated in by contributing illustrative images are gone. All the titles, tags, geotags, view counts and comments are gone. All the descriptions and stories and dialog with others is gone.

My document, my story, my part of the community, is gone.

But the whole social media movement that we can’t ever stop hearing about is asking us to contribute content to their websites; we’re building the value for them. YouTube wouldn’t sell for $1.65 billion without our videos. Flickr has our photos. LiveJournal has our stories and pictures.

But is it ours? Do we know who owns it? If the data is on our hard drive, we know where it is, we may even take the trouble to back it up (I’ve got an external backup at work, at home, and online). But if the data is on someone else’s site, how can I keep a copy of it? It may be against the site rules for you to do that, in fact, as the high profile Scoble story demonstrated.

flickrbackup is a tool that lets you save the photos, but how does one download all the metadata? Flickr should have an export feature that creates a .flk file on your PC with all the good stuff. LinkedIn lets you export all your contacts in a variety of standard formats (and if you are nervous, maybe you should go do that right now: LinkedIn->My Contacts tab->Export Connections button near bottom), Google Reader (and any of the other RSS readers I know of) exports an OPML file (Google Reader->Manage Subscriptions ->Import/Export).

DataPortability is a movement to create these tools where they don’t exist. I hope someone creates something for flickr soon.

As for me, I don’t know how to proceed. I was just beginning my Tokyo story, which reached about 1500 pictures (not all worth posting, of course). I’ve got several hundred from Taipei (November/December) and I had a lot of Bali pictures and stories – the cool cultural stuff, the signs, all that great stuff – still unposted. But I’ve also use flickr as a storage for images that I’ve referenced in bios, conference presentations, this blog, other blogs, etc. It’s overwhelming and I don’t know what to do first. Or if I should even do anything. I can’t imagine going to the trouble of writing stuff only to have it disappear again. Maybe one should see it as ephemeral, but I am not there yet.

Farm Living Never Looked So Good!

64th-ave-entrance.jpgPrairie Winds is a new development in Western Michigan, a planned community (isn’t that the term?) that offers a faux version of simpler times, a vicarious farming experience. Without, presumably, the back-breaking labor, poverty, foreclosures, livestock, etc. They’ve already put up the barn, visible from the freeway, with a sign reading “Farm Living Never Looked So Good!”

I was immediately reminded of the previously blogged Karrie Jacobs piece about loft subdivisions in Colorado, manufacturing a ridiculously inaccurate buildings that are associated with a lifestyle. Contradictions? Only if you choose to see it that way, I guess.

My camera is better (more popular) than yours; am I better than you?

I wrote about our connection to others who have the same product we do

When we go through decisions to acquire things that are visible, in many cases, that’s a personal decision. The belongingness we feel when we observe that in someone else is a great deal of fun, not a product of personal inadequacy. I wouldn’t nod at someone else carrying a can of Coke. I might nod at someone else wearing a Rolling Stones tongue shirt. Hey, I might nod at someone else drinking a can of Jolt (I drink neither, I’m just hypothesizing about the level of identity, meaning, uniqueness, tribal, outsider, etc. embedded in the various product choices). I do have a few shirts with tongues on ’em, however.

Today Karl Long points out a site that tracks the top cameras used on flickr (the info is stored inside the photo file and can be extracted if you know where to look, I guess), and my camera – the Nikon D50 – is the top one listed.

For no real good reason, this makes me feel good. I have recommended this camera to others; I feel a bit of personal investment in the brand of the camera+model, this is some silly validation of my decision and loyalty, I guess. Popular doesn’t always equal good, but at an emotional level I’m going to choose to ignore that.

Grump of the Day: Grant McCracken

In The “nod” and other acts of rudeness in the consumer society Grant takes inexplicable offense to The Nod – the phenomenon where an eye-contact/chin gesture is exchanged between two people who drive the same vehicle, use the same computer, or whatever.

But I have to say “the nod” creeps me out. I don’t want to be a co-conspirator in someone else’s act of self congratulation.

I am pleased that you believe your choice of computer or car or browser makes you look riskier or indie-er. But leave me out of it. The fact that we share consumer choices, put that down to coincidence. The moment you start sending me the nod for my MINI is the moment I take it to the used-car lot and see if I can’t trade it in for a Nod-proof Valiant.

Hey, to each their own, but one wonders why Grant constructs this as rude, or as evidence of personal inadequacy.

I’m fairly certain this has come up on his blog before – I remember commenting about the nod that motorcyclists exchange, and then amending that once I realized it was actually a wave, a one-hand-slightly-uncurled-from-the-handlebar as you pass. Or an arm stuck straight down. But you can’t search comments on that blog, so I can’t find the last time we all discussed this.[Yes I can. Grant linked to it in his posting. It’s here]

When we go through decisions to acquire things that are visible, in many cases, that’s a personal decision. The belongingness we feel when we observe that in someone else is a great deal of fun, not a product of personal inadequacy. I wouldn’t nod at someone else carrying a can of Coke. I might nod at someone else wearing a Rolling Stones tongue shirt. Hey, I might nod at someone else drinking a can of Jolt (I drink neither, I’m just hypothesizing about the level of identity, meaning, uniqueness, tribal, outsider, etc. embedded in the various product choices). I do have a few shirts with tongues on ’em, however.

At least Cayce Pollard was allergic to brands; she had no choice but to remove them from her person. Grant seems allergic to personal connection, we’ll have to do more than simply sand off his Dockers logo if we are to help him.

Update: the direct link above to the blog entry in qustion still works but a visit to Grant’s blog itself doesn’t show the post any longer.

Ethnography and new product development

From Innovation Weblog (via The Business Innovation Insider)

Simply put, ethnography – as it applies to innovation – is the process of doing observational research, going into the field to watch how customers utilize your products. Often used in consumer new product research, ethnography is an excellent way to uncover new opportunities for product improvement.

For example, speaker Pam Rogers, who is corporate director of global customer excellence and innovation, explained how the inspiration for a pedestal/storage unit for its Duet front-loading washers and dryers came from observing a woman who had placed her Whirlpool dryer upon cinderblocks, to make it easier to load and unload it without having to bend over.

Okay, yes, I guess, but really, no. It’s not simply about observation. That seems to be the easy part to explain and so that’s the part that gets spoken about. I’ve written a bit about ethnography here

So often, companies go to the trouble of studying customers, only to address the opportunities revealed by usage. For example, an award-winning snow shovel was redesigned when the design team went out to watch how their product was being used, found that women instead of men were shoveling, and so they made the handle smaller.

But there’s much more that can be revealed. What is the shoveling occasion (or, if you will, ritual) really about? What meanings does it hold? Does it hearken back to childhood? Or does it represent female independence? Or the nurturing of motherhood? Or the abandonment by men? Probably it’s none of those, but the point is that within the ordinary activity of shoveling we can find deep meanings that can provide enormous opportunities for innovation as we question the basic assumptions about what the product could possibly be.

I’ve found the word ethnography to be a troubling one, frankly. It’s a mouthful, it reeks of academic snootery and hand-waving inconclusiveness. It’s gets confused with anthropology and various parties have tried to claim the pure methodology only for those with the right doctorate. And I’ve been an advocate for stepping aside from the word and pointing to the key elements (getting out of your own context, observing and interviewing, and synthesizing something new). But that is troubling for some.

Grant McCracken has written a strongly-worded piece about the coming-of-age of ethnography in business in 2006, and there’s a spirited discussion in the comments below his piece, including several entries from me, including one where I advocate ignoring the word and just getting to the root of it (as I said above). Grant doesn’t take too well to that.

It’s a very troubling issue that is perhaps eating away at the development of an excellent practice and community of practice around that excellence. But I do think the terminology wars and the discipline battles are painful, frustrating, and perhaps fruitless. I look at the “interface” community which has split into many different professional networks based on what term they agree with (IxD, UxD, UX, UD, IX, ID, etc.) or what end of the egg they prefer to break open.

Yesterday I was in a conference call with a prospective client. We were proposing some work and hadn’t used the word ethnography at all. An internal person from another part of the organization was very interested in displaying her own mastery of the research process, and made numerous references to some ongoing work as “my ethnography.” Only she couldn’t even comfortably pronounce ethnography. And she wasn’t doing it; she was sending it out to the “only” provider that did this, apparently (?). And what were they doing? Inviting cool kids to an art gallery in Miami. [Okay, I don’t get this at all].

At a conference the other week I participated in a side conversation that included this snippet “Oh that’s not ethnography, that’s just depth-interviewing.”

I may be coming around to Grant’s way of looking at this. We have a problem. I’ve got my explanation, sure, but so does everyone else, whether they have more experience than I do, or worse pronunciation than I do. We’ve got experts like the Innovation Weblog getting it badly wrong, Pam Rogers perhaps missing some of the point, my recent encounters (presumed experts in their own peer group?) with their own versions of what we’re doing, and on and on.

Unfortunately, I have no solutions. And I don’t see a culture that is ready to reach a solution, establish a common language, speak in one voice (not millions), establish standards, or even work together on this.

Overlap 2006 – Exploring new methods for business and innovation

I’ve been involved with some other folks in the planning of a neat little professional meeting – Overlap (subtitled Exploring new methods for business and innovation)

Overlap offers a unique opportunity to join other curious, deep thinking professionals in a spirited discourse on the relationship between business and design and the implications both that may have on our companies and careers.

It’ll be in Asilomar (near Monterey) in May. It should be an interesting event.

SXSW Cabal

Judd riffs on the SXSW Cabal

They’ve got the throbbing pulse of the masses of young people who are disaffected and just making so much media they don’t know what to do with it. Well, that’s not true – they’re tagging it. All of it.

I can relate to Judd’s frustration, even if I don’t share it currently and specifically where he is. I’ve straddled so many professional communities (various flavors of product design, interaction design, anthropology – and of course those groups break down into too-annoyingly-many-to-list-here sub-cliques/specialties) in my career (as I think Judd continues to do), being accepted by some, rejected by others, tolerated by more. Of course, I’m not unique in doing this, although I’m sure the mix I inhabit is a bit of a fingerprint.

It’s fascinating and stressful to come up against the self-proclaiming power of a new-to-you group and marvel at the self-referntiality and incestuousness. And easy to see the reasons you wouldn’t want to be a part of any group that would have you as a member. And sometimes that has proven right, and sometimes it takes some time to the mutual acceptance/tolerance

Clean and discrete

The laundromat is more than a place to clean clothes, it’s also community center. No, not another example of how products and services have odd meanings in that wacky third world, this story takes place just outside of Chicago.

It was a haven for Hispanic families who cannot afford cable to watch Spanish-language soap operas. It was a Saturday-afternoon carnival with magicians, jugglers, face painters, even a unicyclist. There was Santa Claus posing for pictures at Christmas, the Easter Bunny handing out chocolate in April, cartoon characters on Halloween and, in summer, a read-athon raffle with bicycles for prizes…..
There will be diner-style booths by the vending machines – not just candy and chips but White Castle hamburgers and other microwaveable meals – and the play area, all under a circular dropped ceiling adorned with neon signs blaring “Welcome” in 20 languages. And it will still be open 24 hours, every day of the year.

He can see the writing on the wall

If you attended the 2002 IDSA conference, you may have seen architect Bruce Tomb talk about his experience with his others in his community graffiti-ing or removing graffiti from his building, and how he essentially turned it into an ongoing art project. I wrote about it here (six boxes down, in blue) and today the SF Chron has an in-depth piece about Tomb and his building.

The posters are bright, papered over each other and peeling. A public gallery of outrage and passion on a former police station that once housed drug dealers, gang members and drunks in its holding cells, the dozens of radical statements plastered on this wall at 23rd and Valencia streets make up what may be the most outspoken site in the country.

Unbeknownst to most passers-by who stop to stare, behind the poster wall lives a quiet man who furiously defends its aesthetic. With his hair slicked neatly back and black Dickies pants that match the sturdy frames of his glasses, Bruce Tomb does not look like a fighter. But for the past seven years, he has fiercely protected the 25-foot square front wall of his home, the former Mission Police Station.

Tomb, an architect, views the 1950s-style industrial building, in which he lives with his family and operates his business, as a beautiful piece of modern architecture and a valuable part of city history. Some of his neighbors disagree, seeing the boxy structure vacated by police in 1994 for a larger precinct house at 17th, six blocks down Valencia Street, as an eyesore.

John Deere Homes Add New Wrinkle

Here’s an interesting brand extension story

The John Deere name will be featured on the entrance sign for the subdivision with homes ranging from roughly $375,000 to $500,000. The purchase price includes a choice of landscape designs prepared and installed by Deere. Thousands of dollars worth of riding lawnmowers, leaf-blowers and other equipment will fill one of the three garage bays.

St. Lawrence Homes vice president Rick Ohmann says the John Deere link should amount to a stamp of approval for people who care about having a beautifully landscaped yard from the day they move in.

It was that promise, not the John Deere name, that attracted Joseph Crayton to sign a contract this month to build a 3,100 square foot house. ‘It wasn’t my primary decision-driver, but it was great to have,’ Crayton, 37, said of the Deere name associated with his new home. ‘A lot of us are brand conscious.’

John Deere officials look for the strategy to help broaden their products’ appeal among people who may associate the name strictly with tractors and lawnmowers.

‘The ultimate message is to have homeowners consider John Deere as the place they can turn for all of the things they need to take care of their yard. Right now, we might only be considered as a place to buy equipment,’ said Tosh Brinkerhoff with Deere & Co.’s consumer equipment division in nearby Cary. ‘We feel like this community is a way that we can showcase our abilities.’

Read the full story

Not the first time, incidentally, that John Deere has sought an unusual co-brand. Videogames?


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