Posts tagged “consumption”

What we eat and what we trash

There’s no end of photography projects documenting an ordinary aspect of life, across diverse individuals, with the hope of throwing some light on who we are and how we live now. Or how others live. It’s art with the frisson of anthropology. Here’s another two in the same vein, each looking at different elements of our consumption.

Dinner in NY by Miho Aikawa looks at people having dinner, in New York (hence the clever title).

cat
couch
mushroom

Also see Dinner in Tokyo and read more at Slate.

With no nod to naturalism, Gregg Sega shoots portraits of people surrounded by 7 Days of Garbage.

one
two
three

Also see the fascinating project frogdesign did back in 2007, where staff blogged about the trash they found themselves accumulating throughout a regular week, and read more about Gregg Saga’s project at Slate.

Curating Consumption #4

We’re back with another round of some curious, provocative, amusing, and frightening observations that come from our daily experiences as researchers and as consumers. Thanks to Tamara Christensen for her contribution!


Ideally parental love is unconditional love. And when you love something or someone you want to tell everyone how great they are. It’s not that disease or disability should be hidden away in shame, but what aspects of our lives do we choose to announce and celebrate? It’s not uncommon to hear that people with Down’s Syndrome do have a number of uniquely endearing qualities that are particular to the syndrome, but is that what’s behind this parent’s vanity license and license frame? /SP


Of course this is a kind of service; I’m not surprised to learn that it exists but I’m still surprised to see it in my daily travels. I was certainly struck by the 2012 touches, using aspirational words like “grooming” and “beautification” (over the more common “maintenance”). And why not put the (delightfully alliterative) name of your business on your hearse-black vehicle? You never know where you’ll find customers! Perhaps even when parked in front of your local coffee shop. /SP


I came across this during a recent hike by the ocean, painted on one of the few large concrete blocks spattered about the landscape. I was taken aback by this image/text combination and immediately created a narrative with two dueling characters. First comes the antagonist, whose symbol of choice is a weapon, and later comes the protagonist who uses language to diffuse and reframe this act of aggression. Of course it’s possible that a single artist is responsible, but why would the hero deliver a message – intended to disarm – with such heavy artillery? /TC


Here’s Steve figuring out where to dispose of the trash from lunch. In the Bay Area, composting bins are getting pretty common in public places and along local trash pick-up routes. “Trash” is no longer a catch-all term or container. Composting is the new recycling. Green is the new blue. There are more bins plus posters and pamphlets that explain what goes where. For example, in some places the chicken leftovers go in the trash, in other places it goes in the compost bin. Disposable paper plates or plastic utensils are tricky because they might be compost, or recycling, or the trash. Ironically, the quest for more environment and consumer-friendly waste management involves the creation of more trash (i.e. bins, bags, and signs) and more confusion. /TC

Lucy Kimbell: Expanding the visible and sayable

This interview has been edited, condensed, etc.

Lucy Kimbell works as a designer, educator and researcher. She is head of social design at the Young Foundation in London and associate fellow at Said Business School, University of Oxford. As an undergraduate she studied engineering design and appropriate technology and made feminist performance/theatre. What she does these days does not look that different. Find her on twitter: @lixindex

Tell us about your work!

Lucy Kimbell: Over the past decade I have worked in a range of contexts, from academia to art to design. I have been able to move fairly fluidly between what might seem quite distinct fields, at a time when innovation and creativity are supposedly what’s needed to address global, community and organisational challenges but when artists, designers and others are not necessarily good at explaining how or why what they do might be relevant or productive, and the effects of their work are as varied as anything else.

In January I started a role as head of social design at the Young Foundation, a 60-person organisation working in the UK and internationally to trigger and support social innovation and venturing. Basically my role – which is new for the organisation – is to explore how practices within design and the arts can help support creating social (in the sense of civil society) ventures and projects. My brief is to build up the Young Foundation’s capability, rather than building a design team. There are lots of other examples of this shift both at government level (like Mindlab in Denmark or TACSI in Australia), and other activities initiated by consultancies and by universities and corporates. I’m hoping to be able to combine some of the ideas I’ve been exploring teaching design to MBAs at Oxford University for the past six years, research I’ve done in design thinking and designing for service in particular, and my own art/design making practice. The latter has dwindled although my Physical Bar Charts have been shown a few times in the past year including at TEDGlobal in Edinburgh and a show at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Right now I’m setting up a critical reflective conversation about all this stuff, with a series of talks and seminars co-organised with Guy Julier (University of Brighton/Victoria and Albert Museum) and the people at Policy Connect.

tOp: How do you define “technology?”

LK: I don’t think of technology as something that exists outside of people and what we do, who we are, and how we live and work. It’s not a thing, it’s not other, but rather is part of being human. We’re not human without the things we currently call technologies, whether these are Google, or management fads, or pencils. I think of the things often called technologies as stable arrangements or configurations that are a result of the ways humans and material/digital artefacts come together, at specific times and places. But they are not just results; they also shape how things are and how they could be. So our relationship with technologies are changing – who we are as human beings and the cultural practices within which we come to be those people change with this.

tOp: What do stories about technology reveal about our culture and our relationship with technology?

LK: This question makes me wonder who is telling these stories, who is engaging with them, and where they are circulating. The stories I see on TV in the form of adverts are more or less the same as they have been for several decades: This new device/network/thing will help you become a different, better person! more lovely! more effective! will make you become a more connected family! help drive sales! And so on. More or less the same but perhaps with higher levels of anxiety? Then there are the narratives that are often outside of corporate culture, of resistance, and alternatives, and questioning of assumptions. One of the interesting things about the Occupy movements in Western/Northern cities last year was resistance to advancing a totalising alternative – a narrative of what the right answer is. I suppose what I see is narratives about technology being mobilised for quite distinct purposes and there are probably examples of everything.

tOp: What are the factors that influence how (or what) technology is being developed?

LK: Every now and then I hear about a bubble-world I am not familiar with which is focussed on technology for example in healthcare innovation. And as an outsider I am struck by how existing practices in a particular sector constitute differently what the technology question is – what they hope a thing they call technology might be able to do for that sector. These vested interests and ways of thinking about what “technology” can do, whether they are professional or corporate or in the realm of public policy, have a big role in shaping what technology research programmes take shape.

tOp: How do you think technology is changing everyday lives for mainstream consumers?

LK: I wouldn’t say that technology is changing their lives, but rather that new configurations or arrangements of people and things come into being and stabilise and so what is possible, or expected, or what is at any point in time the regular way of doing things, changes. And material and digital techniques, tools and artefacts are part of this but so are the way people use them, adapt to them, break them or improvise in relation to them. So I would say that what it is to consume or rather be constituted as a consumer in relation to possible practices of consuming changes. My consuming as an affluent London resident living within a straight family involved in a global elite of educators and design innovators is different to other consuming I was involved in when I was younger, single, not a parent, less affluent and so on. Technological artefacts are part of that but are not the (only/main) drivers.

tOp: Your working definitions for “technology” and “consumption” seem close to each other. How do they relate?

LK: To be a consumer in an affluent society now involves lots of what in ordinary language we call technology. To be a teacher or student, to be a parent, to be someone who works in a supermarket, to be a bus driver, to be to be a person who goes out in the evening, to be a person who has a garden in a city, to be a person operating in the art world, all of these involve technologically-mediated practices.

tOp: What kind of impacts is technology having on your own life?

LK: My partner and I are finishing a major house refurbishment where we live in London. We sourced many of the buliding materials as well as furniture and fittings via eBay and Freecyle. Not just shelving and beds but also windows, doors, flooring, insulation, radiators, toilets, showers, ovens, tiles and so on. Rather than saying technology had an impact on how we did the refurb, I would say we developed some new ways of living and building, as we increased our skills and knowledge about how to source, price, bid for, exchange, pick up, transport, store, make use of and dispose of all the stuff that is involved in constructing a house. Digital networked technologies have made this possible through giving us access to platforms where people want to give away or sell their unwanted items, and allowing us to search for and research what we need, and get things transported if they are far away, and get input from the architect when we needed it. The carbon and materials costs are not very visible in these transactions but they should be.

Compared to other projects of this size, we may not have saved money (we saved on buying materials but then the contractors had to do lots of non-standard activities to fit or use them) or time (it’s taken two years). But there’s a satisfaction in knowing that the ash floor was picked up from the street where someone had thrown it out, and the gas hob, insulation, sliding windows, toilets and many other things would most likely be in landfill. We’ve paid for them not to be there, through our labour and through paying for adapting our building process to what’s available and when it’s available – a middle-class luxury, in one sense, but also a kind of living out of our values. So the technologies we used made all this possible in ways that we (and probably their designers and manufacturers) would not have foreseen.

tOp: As a society, do you think we are losing or gaining anything with these changes?

LK: I have the hope that the practices and devices that come into view through these changes support wider access to resources, enable participation in decision-making of people who have been excluded or marginalised, increase transparency and accountability, and reduce the effects of climate change. But I don’t think the technologies/practices that we now have that we are learning to live and work with do not necessarily do any of these things per se, even if their designers or funders or champions want it to be so. You can see the influence of the ethnomethodologists and ANT researchers on me here – it all depends on the local, the specific, the what is – I’m avoiding making generalisations, sorry. What remains an always open and public question is the what could be. Art and design practices have very powerful ways to constitute and involve people in collective imaginaries and in particular disrupt the current ones by doing what the French philosopher Jacques Ranci?®re calls expanding what is visible and sayable in the distribution of the sensible (le partage du sensible).

tOp: Is your own work meant to provoke those imaginings? Who do you regard as influential in expanding the visible and sayable?

LK: I asked someone else a version of this question recently and after a long pause, the answer was…hmmm… Bourdieu, Wittgenstein… To be a bit more 2012 I have a whole long list of makers and writers and researchers and educators who provoke me to imagine (although I also like Bourdieu). Within design, this includes the people in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons in NY, Ezio Manzini in Milano, Thomas Binder in Copenhagen, Pelle Ehn in Malmo, Jon Kolko at Austin Center for Design, Nathan Shedroff at CCA, small consultancies like the fashionable young men at Berg London, or the people constituting new digital publics at Futuregov. Within the arts, practitioners like Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie of Somewhere, Heath Bunting or Natalie Jeremijenko. Within the social sciences people like Noortje Marres and Nina Wakeford at Goldsmiths and Cat Macaulay at Dundee. The people behind the Kenyan comic cultural enterprise Shujaaz. Some people I met yesterday who run a hostel for homeless people in Soho. The three Roca brothers who run El Cellar de Can Roca in Gerona, Cataluyna. The producers and writers and actors of TV shows like True Blood and The Wire. The people of the city of Homs in Syria. I seem in recent years to be located (to locate myself) in a way which asks me to be quite careful about how I do any disrupting which is the price of my institutional reconfiguring. It’s too early to say what that’s doing to my imaginaries.

This Week @ Portigal

What we’re up to this week…

  • Fresh from fieldwork in NYC, Tamara and Julie are in the throes of uploading data, preparing a top line report, and reviewing transcripts.
  • Be afraid. Be very afraid. Steve and Tamara are up to their necks in foam core, X-Acto knives and glue guns preparing mock-ups that we can take into consumers’ homes next week.
  • Steve will be giving a remote lecture on synthesizing user research to the Dundee Masters of Design Ethnography folks.
  • Field trip! We’ve been invited to meet the folks at Stimulant and check out their amazing interaction design, “beyond the computer.”
  • We’ll be helping our friends at Bolt|Peters celebrate their 10th birthday.
  • What we’re consuming: Trigger, David Sanborn

Curating Consumption: Scenes from the frontlines

I’ve been collecting evidence of my own experiences as a consumer and offer some here as evidence of missed opportunities to transform messy interactions into meaningful moments.

 

Hasboro is now using SmartLink Technology to make electronic versions of Scrabble, and a few other traditionally analog board games like Upwords and Boggle. I initially thought this was a clever leap until I realized that the whole game is now limited to 5-letter words. So much for smart technology. This game makes us even dumber. And now back to Words with Friends.

 

On the left is a tea bag from Traditional Medicinals. On the right is a tea bag from Yogi Tea. Herein lies a gem of an opportunity for a company to surprise and delight me; to nourish my mind and soul as well as my body. I collect those little mantras on the right. They feel like fortune cookies for my kharma. I share them with friends on Twitter and Facebook. Or, you know, you could always use that tiny space to try and get me to visit your website. If anything, get me to visit the website for the tea on the right!

 

The menu at Chipotle is now designed to help you count calories as you customize your order. Admittedly, math gives me a headache, so maybe it’s just me. I seriously challenge anyone to create an order and utilize this chart to figure out how many calories it actually has. Ironically, Chipotle introduces the nutritional information on its website with this statement: When you’re trying to eat right, sometimes it feels like you need an advanced math degree to keep up with all the numbers. Indeed! This synthetic effort to facilitate calorie counting makes me like Chipotle as little as I like the idea of calorie counting. Add this to their recent ambush attack on my emotions at the movie theater and now I am scrambling to find recipes for vegetarian tacos that my son will eat.

 

Way to go global, H&M. Apparently the company must put FIVE tags on a sweater to provide consumers with washing instructions in every language on the planet. This is beyond backwards. Jackie Chan and Michael Jordan were pimping tagless at the Super Bowl 8 years ago! Catch up!

 

Thanks to a Facebook friend (in Germany!) I came across this image of a possible alternative. It’s down to a single tag, one fairly common language, and some icons. Alternatively, H&M, you may wish to consider a combination of icons and “lav en varma akvo” (Esperanto for “Wash in hot water”). Printed on the garment, of course.

 

I came across this sign during a recent hike through the Redwood trees in Muir Woods. Two enthusiastic (and quiet) thumbs up to these instructions for how to consume nature. I hear you.

Stories behind the themes: Transformation

Here we offer the third installment of an unfolding bibliography of secondary research that fueled our generation of themes for the Omni project. This time around we are focusing on the transformational role of technology in our everyday lives, both in terms of what is changing (us) and how, i.e. the process of moving ritualistically through the liminal space that sits between what (and how) we once did things and the activities that will become our daily doings. This theme captures not only the place between the old and the new, but also the processes of learning, relearning, and unlearning how to respond to the new and improved version of our lives that technology suggests possible.

Online Banking Bill Pay Changes Ahead [FastCompany.com] – Remember the last time you had to show up in person at your bank to conduct business? Yeah, me neither. Remember the last time you had a confounding online banking moment trying to transfer funds to or from one account or bank to another (be it yours or someone else’s)? Yep, me, too! We appear to be wading through the growing pains associated with a transition from institutionally-focused financial rituals to customer-driven (and designed) online personal financing that is largely institutionally-agnostic.

While consumers like seeing all their finances in one friendly place, they don’t like the fact that they can’t do anything about it there–namely pay those bills or move money between accounts–using the same site or app. That capability is gradually coming, with the help of new finance technology, business models and willing, often smaller, banks.

Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age [Chronicle.com] – Cathy Davidson puts her teaching (and learning to teach in this era of “This is Your Brain on the Internet”) under the microscope in an exploration of how technology is impacting the collaborative nature of knowledge including how it is consumed, crowdsourced, created, communicated, and (perhaps most fascinating of all) subjected to criticism by various stakeholders. Here we can begin to see that a focus on traditional ways of learning has created attentional blindness to the opportunities for new ways of learning.

Unfortunately, current practices of our educational institutions-and workplaces-are a mismatch between the age we live in and the institutions we have built over the last 100-plus years. The 20th century taught us that completing one task before starting another one was the route to success. Everything about 20th-century education, like the 20th-century workplace, has been designed to reinforce our attention to regular, systematic tasks that we take to completion. Attention to task is at the heart of industrial labor management, from the assembly line to the modern office, and of educational philosophy, from grade school to graduate school.

A Walk to Remember to Remember [Full-Stop.net] – Anyone who has seen the video of the woman walking into the mall fountain because her eyes are glued to her phone (there’s another walk to remember!) has witnessed the physical (and perhaps more experientially concrete) impact of technology on walking. This piece roots around in some of the more metaphorical and abstract ways that technology has transformed rituals and narratives of bipedal locomotion.

“When I walk,” he describes, “my impression is that a digital sensibility overtakes me [-] the places or circumstances that have drawn my attention take the form of Internet links.” Referring to associative memory as being like hypertext is a perfect example of how the significance and description of walking changes in reference to the time and culture in which it is grounded. The metaphors we use to characterize things we don’t understand often change with relation to extant technology. For example the human mind once described as a tablet is now popularly referred to as being like a computer. But this use of figurative language also demonstrates how metaphor shapes the way we perceive and experience the physical world.

In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores [NYT.com] – Technology is obviously changing our institutions and, here again,education seems to be a classic meme. There is a defined dream that computers will fix THIS – every generation of tech, from the first Apple PCs to now iPads, are all hailed as “THIS is the thing that will truly, radically improve it!”; but in our measurement-focused education systems, evidence points to “no”.

To be sure, test scores can go up or down for many reasons. But to many education experts, something is not adding up – here and across the country. In a nutshell: schools are spending billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning.

The Gen Y Guide to Collaborative Consumption [Shareable.net] – Technology is enabling alternatives to the mainstream economy that are self-created and subvert standard modes of exchange and value. This easy-to-use DIY guide is a road map for leaving behind ancient rituals of consumption in favor of practices that values possibilities of use over possession.

American youth are slowly realizing that the old system is broken, and no longer holds the answer to all their dreams and desires. We’re discovering that stable, satisfying careers can be found outside the offices and factories around which our parents and grandparents built their lives. We’re acknowledging that the pursuit of bigger, better, and faster things have plunged our country into a time of despair and difficulty. We’re convinced that business as usual isn’t an option any longer–but what’s the alternative?

Recycling recursion

As a recent transplant to the California coast I am both impressed and confounded by local recycling requirements. Fortunately there are plenty of experts willing to share with me a blend of fact and urban myth (i.e. Will I really get a terrible fine in San Francisco if I don’t put my coffee grounds in the right bin? It seems exaggerated yet entirely possible). I also have instructions provided by the city which are surprisingly thorough and (two enthusiastic thumbs up!) include photos so it serves as a great quick visual reference.

 

With the exception of outliers like dryer lint (isn’t that compostable? I feel like fabric castoffs should be but the popular consensus among those I’ve polled is that lint is just plain trash), I feel like I am getting the hang of this. Then comes cleaning day here at Portigal Consulting. I head out to the building’s communal recycling bin to dispose of the confetti created by our paper shredder and there, in the recycling bin, I encounter an actual paper shredder.

 

Is this is my first encounter with recycler humor?  A  jest from one tenant to another?  Is the idea here that consumer electronics which create recyclable waste can, in turn, be recycled with said waste? Perhaps this person did not consult the handy resource guide, which (sadly) makes no mention of consumer electronics.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] You Too Can Be Masterful at Analyzing Data (Go Dirty) [Cheskin Added Value] – [Darrel Rhea on the importance of outliers in analysis] At some point we grow the confidence and skill to look beyond the “tidy patterns” (however useful they might be) and focus on the anomalies. We become fascinated by data that doesn’t fit the patterns, or that doesn’t support our hypothesis. What the beginner discards as noise in the data, the master focuses on. That is where the big “Ah Ha’s” are – and where the big proprietary insights come from that can drive innovation. It’s often in weird, dirty data that we make our best discoveries.
  • [from steve_portigal] Facebook’s ‘Like’ and Conspicuous Consumption [Lone Gunman] – [Agreed, but what are our expectations for outcomes of displaying our identity and values. To connect with others who share our likes? To have our likes acknowledged and even complimented? I think there's a lot more here, no doubt that social psychologists have been studying for decades] I feel that the ‘Like’ functionality is an expense-less method of conspicuous consumption: signalling your likes and brand preferences without having to actually purchase anything (we are saying “I aspire to be the type of person who likes x, y, z” or maybe more accurately “I want you to think I’m the type of person who likes x, y, z”).

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Design by Use and object repurposing [Pasta&Vinegar] – [Nicolas Nova's written a nicely condensed post on Uta Brandes, Sonja Stich and Miriam Wender's book Design by Use: The Everyday Metamorphosis of Things. (Object re-use and re-purposing is a subject dear to our own hearts – see http://www.portigal.com/blog/new-uses-for-old-tools/ and http://www.portigal.com/blog/from-pain-points-to-opportunity-areas/ ) ] Among other sources, Nova quotes Metropolis: "The British sculptor Richard Wentworth once said, I find cigarette packets folded up under table legs more monumental than a Henry Moore. Five reasons. Firstly, the scale. Secondly, the fingertip manipulation. Thirdly, modesty of both gesture and material. Fourth, its absurdity and fifth, the fact that it works.”
  • [from steve_portigal] Shoppers on a ‘Diet’ Tame the Urge to Buy [NYTimes.com] – [Thanks to @gretared] This self-imposed exercise in frugality was prompted by a Web challenge called Six Items or Less (sixitemsorless.com). The premise was to go an entire month wearing only six items already found in your closet (not counting shoes, underwear or accessories). Nearly 100 people around the country, and in faraway places like Dubai and Bangalore were also taking part in the regimen, with motives including a way to trim back on spending, an outright rejection of fashion, and a concern that the mass production and global transportation of increasingly cheap clothing was damaging the environment. An even stricter program, the Great American Apparel Diet, has attracted pledges by more than 150 women and two men to abstain from buying for an entire year. (Again, undies don’t count.) Though their numbers may be small, and their diets extreme, these self-deniers of fashion are representative, in perhaps a notable way, of a broader reckoning of consumers’ spending habits.

Man overboard

Excess (n.) The state of exceeding what is normal or sufficient.

Not long ago I started collecting images of excessive things. Here are a few that I think are particularly striking.


Terry Bozzio’s drumkit


Carbon fiber dog bowl


Million dollar monophonic speaker


Kitchen island made of Legos


Giant motorcycle

These are all extreme examples, but the line between luxury and excess, between premium and ridiculous can be a thin one, and is ever-shifting.

Artist Chris Jordan conducts a serious exploration of excess and its consequences in his photographic series Running the Numbers and Running the Numbers II.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Rest in Peas: The Unrecognized Death of Speech Recognition [robertfortner] – Progress in conversational speech recognition accuracy has clearly halted and we have abandoned further frontal assaults. The research arm of the Pentagon, DARPA, declared victory and withdrew. Many decades ago, DARPA funded the basic research behind both the Internet and today’s mouse-and-menus computer interface. More recently, the agency financed investigations into conversational speech recognition but shifted priorities and money after accuracy plateaued. Microsoft Research persisted longer in its pursuit of a seeing, talking computer. But that vision became increasingly spectral, and today none of the Speech Technology group’s projects aspire to push speech recognition to human levels.
    [Speech recognition comes up all the time in user research. It represents some idealized version of "easy-to-use" though people typically recognize the demanding social norms that talking-to-tech evokes and reject the ideal they moments ago requested /SP]
    (via kicker)
  • As Seen on TV – a tribute to doing it wrong [YouTube] – A collection of supposed Epic Fail moments from our daily lives recreated by TV commercials as a precursor to the solution being offered /SP

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Life-Cycle Assessment of Book vs. e-Reader [NYTimes.com] – A life-cycle assessment evaluates the ecological impact of any product, at every stage of its existence, from the first tree cut down for paper to the day that hardcover decomposes in the dump. With this method, we can determine the greenest way to read…All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • David Byrne’s Kindle experience – One of Amazon’s selling points is instant gratification. You want a book and you can have it in about a minute.
    Here’s where the rub is. This machine only reads Kindle files and PDFs. And nothing else out there reads Kindle files. It can read other types of files — Word DOCs, MOBI, TXT etc. — but you have to go through Amazon via email, where they’re converted for a small charge, then sent directly to your Kindle. And, you can’t share a book with your friends, even if they too have a Kindle.
    The slightly strange electronic ink system in the Kindle (and in the Sony Reader) has no backlight — so, like a book, you can’t read it in bed at night without a nightlight.
    Do I miss the “physical experience”? I will certainly miss being able to read books from my personal library, but if the title I want to read is all text it doesn’t make much difference to me. The smell will be a bit of nostalgia, as will fading and water damage.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • A thoughtful consideration (that could have so easily gone curmudgeonly) on the changes in how (and how much) we consume art – Cameras replaced sketching by the last century; convenience trumped engagement, the viewfinder afforded emotional distance and many people no longer felt the same urgency to look. It became possible to imagine that because a reproduction of an image was safely squirreled away in a camera or cell phone, or because it was eternally available on the Web, dawdling before an original was a waste of time, especially with so much ground to cover.
  • Michael Pollan on the cultural shifts revealed by themes in food-related TV entertainment – The historical drift of cooking programs — from a genuine interest in producing food yourself to the spectacle of merely consuming it — surely owes a lot to the decline of cooking in our culture, but it also has something to do with the gravitational field that eventually overtakes anything in television’s orbit…Buying, not making, is what cooking shows are mostly now about — that and, increasingly, cooking shows themselves: the whole self-perpetuating spectacle of competition, success and celebrity that, with “The Next Food Network Star,” appears to have entered its baroque phase. The Food Network has figured out that we care much less about what’s cooking than who’s cooking.
  • Nine Reasons RadioShack Shouldn’t Change Its Name – Best one is " RadioShack has problems beyond any issues with its name." Also they did already change name from Radio Shack to RadioShack.
  • Radio Shack: Our friends call us The Shack – Do they really now? More proof that you can't simply declare yourself cool. Promo or overall rebranding, it reeks of inauthenticity.
  • Understand My Needs – a multicultural perspective – A Japanese usability professional compares the norms of service that retailers provide in Japan with those elsewhere (say, his experience living in Canada), and then contrasts that to the common usability problems found in Japanese websites. Culture is a powerful lens to see what causes these differences, and how usability people can help improve the experience.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Excellent Rob Walker "Consumed" on Lululemon Athletica and the idea of a "lifestyle brand" – Anybody who is honest about consumer behavior knows that often what we buy is not simply some thing but some idea that is embodied by that thing. “Conceptual consumption” is the name given to this practice in a recent paper with that title by Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University (and author of the book “Predictably Irrational”), and Michael Norton, an assistant professor of marketing at the Harvard Business School, in The Annual Review of Psychology. Their notion has various subsets, one of which is the consumption of goals.

Series

About Steve