Posts tagged “connection”

Rapport building

Friend-of-a-friend Elizabeth Rubenstein took this awesome picture at our local Safeway.

I’m always amazed to see the backstage on display where those of us who are frontstage can see it (see another Safeway example here). In this example we’ve got two separate Rapport Topics Of The Day:

  • How do you like todays (sic) weather?
  • How do you think the Giants baseball team is doing?

Safeway has a long history of awkwardly conceived inauthentic rapport-building techniques, such as the one I wrote about back in 2002 where staffers would hold onto my receipt for a painfully long time while they tried to puzzle out the pronunciation of my name, before handing it back after muttering “Thank you, Mr. Portugal.”

For what it’s worth, they seem to have got better with the name thing, and I haven’t been asked any false-note questions about the weather or the Local Sports Team.

Other Safeway goodies from the past:

(Thanks to Jen Lum)

From Us, To Steve: The techno present

For the Omni project we are exploring the impact of technology on people’s everyday lives. This has involved a lot of “looking out” into the world. Of course we are also “looking in” and paying attention to how technology is impacting our own lives, i.e. when it comes to tolerating traffic and making consensual decisions about birthday gifts.

Julie and I had the best of intentions: Head up to the Ferry Plaza building after a meeting in the city to pick up a gift for Steve for his birthday. We knew (more or less) that we wanted to get he and Anne some sort of serving dish from Heath Ceramics to complement the new tableware they purchased last month. Unfortunately traffic was not in our favor that day. As Julie practiced her patience at the wheel we noticed in the sunroof that a helicopter circled above- definitely not a good sign.

By the time we got to the Ferry building, Julie’s patience had run out.

JN: I do not want to deal with parking. Why don’t I just drop you off here and you can run in?

TC: Okay. Wait a minute. I thought we were gonna pick something out together?

JN: It’s fine. We talked about it. I’m sure you can pick something out.

TC: I want us to choose together! Okay, I will text you! Stay tuned!

I got to the shop and met Monica and Michael (whom I had already spoken with on the phone about our mission). They were ready to help and set to showing me exactly what Steve and Anne had purchased. I found myself in a race against time and battery when I saw the dreaded red percentage in the upper right corner of my iPhone. As a gift-giver I was focused on figuring out the present, but I also felt a bit frantic about making sure I had power enough left to find Julie once the shopping was done. The tingling butterflies in my stomach sang a tune of “you are new to this city, never been to this ‘hood before… if you get to 10% better run for the door…”

Julie assuages my fears of never finding her should my battery die before I get back outside to her car.

Monica showed me a bunch of serving platter options that would complement Steve and Anne’s new set. I texted these images to Julie with my suggestion. She agreed and we arrived quickly at a decision. The whole process, including gift wrapping, took less than 15 minutes. I walked out the door directly over to Julie’s car with a perfect present, selected in consensus, and a teeny tiny bit of battery to spare.

The techno-interventions into our gifting ritual did not end there. We planned to meet at Ho Wing’s General Store in the Mission for dinner on Sunday night (which, sadly, is so new it has no website or relevant hyperlinks as of yet). En route to the restaurant¬† the texts started flying among the three of us. *Nota bene: I typically comply with California hands free laws and do not text while driving. I have, however, trained my 8 year-old to masterfully multi-task between giving me directions via Google Maps and reading/replying to text messages.

iMéssage ?† trois illustrating communication of¬† our location, our confusion, our emotions and our search for why.

During our hunt for a birthday gift for Steve, I was reminded of the simple daily interventions of technology. I take for granted that the ways that technology enables me (and my 8¬† year-old) to find and communicate with friends, learn more about friends, stay connected, pass time, navigate, keep anxiety at bay (or not), and share decision making in a way that ensures we both have the same ‘data’. It’s hard to imagine that less than 10 years ago none of this experience would have been possible or, for what it’s worth, noteworthy.

Happy ending! Steve and Anne with their new tray (images courtesy of Steve and Anne…and technology)

 

 

Stories behind the themes: Personal Exposure


 

We recently shared some of the themes emerging from our secondary research for the Omni project. In lieu of a bibliographic deluge, over the next few days we are offering up a sprinkling of the articles, art, commentaries, presentations and other miscellany that contributed to the pool from which our themes were drawn. You will likely find (as we have) that many of these items are illustrative of more than one theme.

First up is the theme of¬†personal exposure and how technology is impacting our identities and behavior. Our participation involves a sacrifice of personal autonomy and control as various technologies require us to respond, reply, reveal, disclose, like, comment, protect, sign-in, sign up, secure, backup, manage, mitigate, translate and aggregate. We are making new choices about old behaviors and developing new rituals to replace outdated interfaces. The boundaries are blurring between private and public, at the same time we have more options than ever before for qualifying and segregating all of the different “I”s that we wish to be, depending on the context.¬† Within this theme we are seeing the topics of identity, trust, consumption, production, control, privacy, regulation, and the facts and myths that capture (and perpetuate) it all.

Tiger Moms and Digital Media [psychologytoday.com] – A psychotherapist who specializes in Internet and video game addiction offers 9 guidelines for raising children who have “a healthy relationship to digital media.” This starts to point at issues of control and autonomy within families and raises questions about the role of the parent (and technology) in childhood development.

For reasons I cannot explain, I saw the approaching flood, when internet addiction was only a trickle. Now, that flood is upon us. Statistics tell us that between 6 and 13% of the general population meets criteria for Internet Addiction. In the college age population, that number stands between 13 and 19%! That’s a lot of young adults who are addicted to digital technology. In S. Korea and China, the problem is growing so rapidly that those governments have declared Internet Addiction to be their #1 public health threat. Think about it.

Internet Privacy: Is it overrated? [fortune.com] – A book review of “How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live” by Jeff Jarvis that dives into the challenges of defining the messy term ‘privacy’ and the even messier obstacles associated with information sharing, regulation, and ‘publicness’. Starting to unpack the tangled web of identity and privacy, including expectations of control that accompany acts of exposure.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has tried to recast the desire for privacy as a desire for control over our digital identities. He argues that people want to share information, but we want to determine who gets to see and use it. Jarvis says this definition is too tidy. Privacy is much messier. We live in relationship with other people, after all. How do we even define what qualifies as our own information? If I share information that implicates you, who gets to control that? …. His book is not so much a rallying cry for tweeting your breakfast choices and blogging your company financials as it is a field guide for how to navigate this new technology with optimism rather than fear.

Where an Internet Joke Is Not Just a Joke [nytimes.com] – In light of increasing numbers of detained internet artists and government critics in China, a discussion of censorship and egao (“mischeivous mockery”) that is employed by many to subvert the internet patrols. Example of governmental control and how it is responded to (i.e. averted) through subversive collective channels. Challenges assumptions of exposure as a privilege rather than a right and describes some consequences for individual identity in that scuffle.

No government in the world pours more resources into patrolling the Web than China’s, tracking down unwanted content and supposed miscreants among the online population of 500 million with an army of more than 50,000 censors and vast networks of advanced filtering software. Yet despite these restrictions – or precisely because of them – the Internet is flourishing as the wittiest space in China. “Censorship warps us in many ways, but it is also the mother of creativity,” says Hu Yong, an Internet expert and associate professor at Peking University. “It forces people to invent indirect ways to get their meaning across, and humor works as a natural form of encryption.”

Russian ATM can detect when users are lying [springwise.com] – Depictions of technology can create distorted views of the future and the present; the notion is that this technology exists but it’s in the lab and it may never make it to the market in a reliable consumable form. The mere suggestion of its potential existence raises a number of questions about current practices involving consumer data. How does disclosure of possible futures impact individual understandings of who we are and how our information is managed, regulated and protected from fraudulent misappropriation?

Though the new ATM design is still in the prototype stages, Sberbank plans to install such machines in malls and bank branches around the country, the NYT reports. Financial institutions elsewhere in the world: time to think about introducing something similar?

My Emergency Contact Information [mcsweeneys.net] – Delicious little piece on how to contact someone in the event of an emergency. It’s fantatsically and unnecessarily complex with hints on how to guess neighbor’s wifi passwords. Unravels the many ways we have learned to be protected,¬†(dis)connected and affected (by easily consumable disasters around the globe).

First, if possible, try me on my cell phone. You should all have the number. I’d really prefer an emergency text message instead of a phone call, especially if the incidenct occurs before 8:00 p.m. on a weekday. Also, I don’t have a data plan, so please do not text images, regardless of the scale of devastation. Instead, Tweet or post pictures to your Flickr or Instagram photostreams and I will download or view them later, when I pass through a hotspot. Don’t forget to geo-tag them so I can determine your location.

 

 

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Blu Develops a Social Networking Device for Smokers [NYTimes.com] – [While it's a bit of a weird idea, it seems to fit with the already weird e-cigarette better than the very old-school tobacco experience] The new “smart packs" ($80 for 5 e-cigarettes) emit and search for the radio signals of other packs. When they get within 50 feet, the packs vibrate and flash a blue light. Packs can be set to exchange information about their owners, like contact information on social networking sites, that can be downloaded to computers. The packs also conveniently vibrate when a smoker nears a retail outlet that sells Blu cigarettes. Later versions will be tethered to a smartphone through an app. Adam Alfandary, 24 was skeptical. He said that the social aspects of smoking were a part of the reason he continued to light up, but he scoffed at the idea of a cigarette that would do the social part for him. “I think that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. And I’m saying that in full acknowledgment that smoking is one of the dumbest things I can do.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] The Super Bowl of Social Media? Maybe Next Year [Advertising Age – DigitalNext] – [It is a bit shocking that innovative thinking in marketing has not yet leveraged – or even experimented with – the promise of social media on the big stage.] There was not one spot that actually asked us to do anything. Or suggested that we do something. These ads could have all run before the internet was even invented. Nothing acknowledged that we had any other connections at our disposal other than the one between us and our televisions. We were expected to visit the brands' websites because we found those brands and their commercials interesting. The irony is that those brands will look to social media to gauge their audiences' reaction. They'll count views on YouTube. They'll ask their interns about what Twitter had to say. Their PR firms will be watching the Google Alerts roll in. But none of them will reap the benefit of actually building a meaningful connection… Coca-Cola could have actually helped some real people make some real people happy.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • GameCrush: Pay to play–with girls [CNET] – The website GameCrush pays girls to play video games and live-chat with gamers who pay for the privilege. It's the gaming equivalent of buying a girl a drink to chat her up, the developers say. A Player (yes, they're called "Players") buys points–500 cost $8.25–and uses them to buy "game time" with a PlayDate (yes, they're called PlayDates). Players browse through PlayDate profiles, and once they find one they're interested in they can send a gaming invite. If the PlayDate accepts the invitation, she can set her mood to "Flirty" or "Dirty" and it's game on (though any real gaming girl would set her profile to "Hurty" and kick your ass). The pair can chat, play, or both for the amount of time purchased. When their time is up, the Player is invited to send the remaining 100 points to his PlayDate as a tip.
  • The Idea of the Book [Murketing] – Rob Walker's interesting series of posts that look at the physical performance of the "book" as it morphs into or is represented by or as other objects such as sculpture, food, planters, purses, etc.
  • Story Book inColor by AIPTEK – AIPTEK Story Book inColor is the 1st color E-Book on the market and there are 20 built-in illustrated audio stories. Children can open the Story Book inColor and enjoy the story telling with illustration instead of watching TV alone. AIPTEK also provide online bookstore for story book purchasing and downloading. AIPTEK Story Book inColor can store as many books as children want. Story Book inColor creates a whole new experience with fun and easy learning process which leads children learn to love the reading. The 4-way buttons simulated the scenario for children of searching favorite books on bookcase and also the page up and down feeling when reading. There is 1GB internal memory on AIPTEK Story Book inColor which can stores up to 45 story books. The story books also can be saved to SD/SDHC, MMC, MS pro, and USB drive. Besides, in order to protect children’s eyes, after reading over 20 minutes, AIPTEK Story Book inColor will pop up an icon to remind children to take a rest.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Seen Reading – a "literary voyeruism blog" set mostly (I believe) in Toronto – What is Seen Reading?

    1. I see you reading.
    2. I remember what page you’re on in the book.
    3. I head to the bookstore, and make a note of the text.
    4. I let my imagination rip.
    5. Readers become celebrities.
    6. People get giddy and buy more books.

    Why do you do this?
    Readers are cool. Authors work hard. Publishers take chances. And you all deserve to be seen!

    (Thanks Suzanne Long!)

  • Choose What You Read NY – Choose What You Read NY is a non profit organization that offers free books to New Yorkers, encouraging its residents to read more, giving them an alternative to the free papers that get tossed out and even the digi-trash that crowds our time. In doing so, we help to recycle used books that would have unfortunately been thrown away.

    You will find us near major subway stations on the first Tuesday of each month.The idea is that once someone is finished with a book, they either drop it off in one of our conveniently located drop boxes or back to us at a station. Unlike a library, there will be no due dates, penalties, fees or registrations. We only ask that you return it once you are done so that the same book can be enjoyed by another commuter.

  • What was the last book, magazine and newspaper you read on the subway? – 6000 people respond and the New York Times posts the results
  • How and what people read on the New York City subways – Plenty of detailed examples of people, their books, and their travels: "Reading on the subway is a New York ritual, for the masters of the intricately folded newspaper, as well as for teenage girls thumbing through magazines, aspiring actors memorizing lines, office workers devouring self-help inspiration, immigrants newly minted — or not — taking comfort in paragraphs in a familiar tongue. These days, among the tattered covers may be the occasional Kindle, but since most trains are still devoid of Internet access and cellphone reception, the subway ride remains a rare low-tech interlude in a city of inveterate multitasking workaholics. And so, we read.

    There are those whose commutes are carefully timed to the length of a Talk of the Town section of The New Yorker, those who methodically page their way through the classics, and those who always carry a second trash novel in case they unexpectedly make it to the end of the first on a glacial F train."

    (thanks Avi and Anne)

  • Lego grabs ahold of customers with both hands – From 2006, great Wired piece about Lego's approach to involving ardent fans/customers in developing future products.
  • Noting:books – the simple yet dynamic way to track your reading, from the dates you start and finish a book, to your thoughts along the way.
  • CourseSmart brings textbooks to the iPhone in PDF; major readability challenges ensue – “It’s not the first place to go to read your textbook,” Mr. Lyman said of the iPhone app. But he said that it could be helpful if “you’re standing outside of the classroom, the quiz is in 10 minutes, and you want to go back to that end-of-chapter summary that helped you understand the material.”
  • Nice profile of Lego’s business culture and the tension between growth and losing track of their legacy – But the story of Lego’s renaissance — and its current expansion into new segments like virtual reality and video games — isn’t just a toy story. It’s also a reminder of how even the best brands can lose their luster but bounce back with a change in strategy and occasionally painful adaptation.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Summer Reading Programs Gain Momentum for Students About to Enter College – Nationwide, hundreds of colleges and universities, large and small, public and private, assign first-year students a book to read over the summer, hoping to create a sense of community and engage students intellectually.

    While there are no reliable statistics on summer reading programs, a recent survey of more than 100 programs by a student researcher at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., found that most had started in the last four years, although a few go back decades.

    The range of books colleges use is enormous, covering fiction and nonfiction. Classics are largely absent, with most of the works chosen falling closer to Oprah than academic.

    Still, a certain canon of summer reading is emerging: books that are readable, short, engaging, cheap. Often, it helps if the book is a best seller dealing with some aspect of diversity, some multicultural encounter — and if the author will come to speak on campus.

  • Canada Reads — CBC Radio – Canada Reads celebrates five Canadian books for three months online, on the air and at public events. It all leads up to a week-long show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. In this annual title fight, five celebrity panelists defend their favourite work of Canadian fiction. One by one, books are voted off the list, until one panelist triumphs with the book for Canada to read this year.
  • Beyond the Book – Beyond the Book: Mass Reading Events and Contemporary Cultures of Reading in the UK, USA and Canada is a 3-year interdisciplinary research project.

    Our main objectives are to determine why and how people come together to share reading through a comparative study of selected mass reading events.

    The mass reading event is a new, proliferating literary phenomenon. Events typically focus on a work of literary fiction and employ the mass media as a means of promoting participation in the themed activities and discussions that take place around the selected book. Beyond the Book uses research methodologies drawn from both the humanities and social sciences to investigate whether mass reading events attract new readers and marginalized communities. We also wish to determine whether this contemporary version of shared reading fosters new reading practices and even whether it is capable of initiating social change.

  • "ONE BOOK" READING PROMOTION PROJECTS (Center for the Book: Library of Congress) – "One Book" projects (community-wide reading programs), initiated by the Washington Center for the Book in 1998, are being introduced across the U.S.A. and around the world. Here's lengthy list of authors, communities, and dates.
  • The Big Read – The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

    The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 30 selections from American and world literature. This initiative supports innovative reading programs in selected communities, providing engaging educational resources for discussing outstanding literature and conducting expansive outreach and publicity campaigns, and a Web site offering comprehensive information about the authors and their works.

  • Literary Reading in Dramatic Decline, According to National Endowment for the Arts Survey – (July 8, 2004) Literary reading is in dramatic decline with fewer than half of American adults now reading literature, according to a National Endowment for the Arts survey released today. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America reports drops in all groups studied, with the steepest rate of decline – 28 percent – occurring in the youngest age groups. The study also documents an overall decline of 10 percentage points in literary readers from 1982 to 2002, representing a loss of 20 million potential readers. The rate of decline is increasing and, according to the survey, has nearly tripled in the last decade.
  • 15 Books That Have Stuck With You (yet another of those Facebook etc. "memes" that are more like chain letters than memes) – Pick 15 books that will always stick with you. Don't take more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends including me because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose.
  • My pictures from Belgium 2009 (345 of 'em!) – Here's the whole set on Flickr. I'll continue to blog highlights from the trip.
  • Google book project far from settled – As the deadline draws near for authors and publishers to opt out of a proposed legal settlement allowing Google Inc. to forge ahead with plans to scan millions of books, more opponents of the landmark deal are stepping forward, and the local literary world is growing more perplexed.

    "Smart people, major players that are sophisticated in the ways of publishing, are still at loggerheads," said Ted Weinstein, a San Francisco literary agent. He said they're not just arguing whether the deal is good or bad, "but still expressing disagreement about what exactly it will do. That's a problem."

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.

Love your test participants more than yourself

Wonderfully passionate blog entry about making that all-important connection with another person in a user-research setting. This would be great fodder for the workshop I’m leading at EPIC next month.

Last week, after a long long time I had a chance to conduct user interviews again. I loved any minute of it. There is nothing more rewarding (for me) than spending two hours with people I never met before (and probably I will never meet again) trying to understand the world from their point of view.

In those two hours and from the first few seconds, my attention is totally focused on the other person. I observe how they enter the room, how they look at me, and how they shake my hand; I need to understand anything I can about their personality, their level of comfort, and their communication style to be able to be in synch with them. The entire session is a dance, where I ask and listen, probe and observe, with the only purpose of gaining insight in somebody else perceptions, thoughts, and expectations. It’s always a fascinating journey.

….

But I believe that the magic of understanding another person is not just a technical issue. It requires to suspend for a moment our ego-centered way to interpret the world and open up to a different interpretation. In a way, it’s about love.

There is something wonderful in experiencing somebody else’s world. You understanding expands, you suddenly see something you could not see before. And there is no going back.

When Group Therapy Means Coming Clean on TV

The New York Times , in (a very good) article about reality tv validates the thesis of my recent FreshMeat.

‘Technology has taken down boundaries between the ones producing and the ones receiving,’ said Betsy Frank, executive vice president for research and planning at MTV Networks. ‘Young people have an incredible need to use the media to connect with their peers, to validate their choices. After every episode of `Real World,’ they’re on the Internet talking about what happened.’

Series

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