Posts tagged “data”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Empty trash. Buy milk. Forge history. [The Boston Globe] – [Of course, I'm a big fan of looking at the seemingly-mundane to examine what it means to be human and bring meaning.] A household list might seem a fairly modest starting point upon which to build a whole theory of economic development. But in fact these types of lists are becoming increasingly important to historians — documents produced not as a message to posterity, like a memoir or diplomatic record, but as a simple snapshot of everyday life. Taken as a group, lists offer a rare window into the building blocks of society, economy, and culture — one that is becoming only more valuable as historians gain the processing power to make sense of them. “Something as innocuous as a list turns out to be incredibly fruitful if you bring both a sense of historical questions and context."

Next week – Steve’s webinar on synthesizing user research data

I’ll be presenting my webinar User Research Analysis: You’ve Done All This Research, Now What on Thursday, April 7. This webinar is based on a workshop that I’ve led in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Portland, Vancouver, and San Francisco, among other many other places. I’m always hearing from people who are interested but who aren’t in those cities at those times, but with a webinar, anyone anywhere can participate. I’ve adapted the workshop to suit the webinar format and added a bunch of new content based on what I’ve observed working (or not working) in the workshops, not to mention some of the latest techniques we’re using in our work.

Use the promotion code PORTIGAL when you register and get free lifetime access to the webinar that you can share with everyone in your organization. (A $40 value.) If you can’t make the webinar when it happens (time zone challenges? conflicting meetings?) you can use this code when register and watch it later at your convenience.

Check out a quick preview, below

Also available: last year’s UIE Virtual Seminar on Deep Dive Interviewing Techniques.

Sign up for Steve’s upcoming webinar on User Research Analysis Techniques

On April 7, I’ll be presenting a UIE Virtual Seminar called User Research Analysis Techniques: You’ve Done All This Research, Now What?. Sign up here!

Steve will explain synthesis, or how you turn field data into insights. Simply put, Synthesis is an iterative approach to sense-making. Steve will show you that it’s about both the experience you have as a researcher gathering that data AND the rigor of processing that data. You’ll learn the steps and types of output and deliverables that we produce as we go through the process.

Steve will help you explore ideation, where turning insights into solutions actually happens. Here’s where your hard work pays off! Ideation is about creating a wide-range of possible solutions across a wider set of areas than you can act on.

Oh, and if there’s really no such thing as a bad idea, how do you benefit from the ones that feel like they are? Steve will show you the power of “bad ideas ” and how they help you get unstuck.

Check out a quick preview, below

Also available: last year’s UIE Virtual Seminar on Deep Dive Interviewing Techniques.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] A Memory of Webs Past [IEEE Spectrum] – [The French National Library is updating their technical ability to archive absolutely everything ever published.] "We have a lot of so-called crap, and we're happy about that," says Illien, an archivist. His colleagues in other countries might turn up their noses at hard-core porn, advertisements, and obscure newsletters, but not Illien. "In a hundred years, what's totally irrelevant or dirty today will end up becoming of extreme interest to historians." The archivists here aren't after just printed material; they're preserving the electronic, too. It's his daunting task to archive French Web sites—all of them, in all their evanescent, constantly changing, and multimedia splendor. "I'm convinced the Web as we know it will be gone in a few years' time. What we're doing in this library is trying to capture a trace of it." Illien sees himself as a steward of an ancient tradition; he believes he is helping pioneer a revolution in the way society documents what it does and how it thinks.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software [] – [Spin in this article is that using computers to manage super-human levels of complex data will have employment consequences.] When five television studios became entangled in a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit against CBS, the cost was immense. As part of the obscure task of “discovery” ­ providing documents relevant to a lawsuit ­ the studios examined six million documents at a cost of more than $2.2 million, much of it to pay for lawyers and paralegals who worked for months. But that was in 1978. Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, “e-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time and cost. In January, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, CA., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000. Some programs can extract relevant concepts ­ like documents relevant to social protest in the Middle East ­ even in the absence of specific terms, and deduce patterns of behavior that would have eluded lawyers examining millions of documents.
  • [from steve_portigal] PG&E launches huge paper chase for pipeline data [SF Chronicle] – [You think you have a lot of data to process? Obviously their record-keeping incompetence is just now being surfaced and they have taken on a data task that is beyond human scale. We can create systems that we can't manage!] For the past couple of days, forklifts have been carting pallets loaded with 30 boxes each into 3 warehouses outside the 70-year-old Cow Palace arena in Daly City. Friday afternoon, there were still more than 100 pallets stacked outside the warehouses waiting to go in. "There are 100,000 boxes in there, and you can't believe the papers spread everywhere," one PG&E employee said …"There are records in there going back to the 1920s. "We're looking at all kinds of parameters, and our data validation efforts are going on throughout the service area,…We're doing a 24-7 records search involving at least 300 employees and contractors, and we're working to confirm the quality of our data through collecting and validating our gas transmission pipeline records."
  • [from steve_portigal] Hong Kong, 2011 [Flickr] – [My pictures from our recent trip to Hong Kong for the UXHK Conference]
  • [from steve_portigal] Understanding Culture, User Research and Design with Steve Portigal – [Reserve your tickets now for either Toronto event: a lecture on March 8 and a workshop on March 9. The lecture will focus on culture, insights, and design while the workshop will be a hands-on opportunity to practice synthesizing user research data into opportunities and concepts. Hope to see you there!]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] A Badge That Tells Consumers, ‘Trust This App’ [] – [Privacy concerns on the web have spawned a certification system. Does this really address the problem, curb the practice, or provide enough assurance/information to consumers? Or is it really more just a band-aid for providers to feel like they're doing enough to address mounting consumer concerns?] The certification process is a little bit different for mobile sites, said Chris Babel, chief executive of TRUSTe. People are worried about sites and apps using information that identifies them, like name, address and birth date. They also worry about geolocation services, whether Web companies can track where they are and whether they share that information with others, he said. And because many apps pull information from the phone, like calendar entries, people do not know exactly what information apps can access. “When it’s sitting on your mobile device, which has your contacts and calendar, what is it accessing? What’s it doing?” Mr. Babel said he hears customers ask.

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 julienorvaisas] Is the Web Dying? It Doesn’t Look That Way [Bits Blog –] – [There's always a way to get the same data to tell a different story. ] Mr. Anderson of Wired magazine argues that a world of downloadable apps, which work through the Internet and arrive via gadgets like the iPhone or Xbox, are quickly cannibalizing the World Wide Web as consumers prefer buttoned-up, dedicated platforms, designed specifically for mobile screens. Is he right? Should we plaster R.I.P. signs all over the Web? Not exactly.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Tragic Death of Practically Everything [Technologizer] – [You can hum Jim Carroll while you read this short piece that tries to dehype tech media a teeny little bit] Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson is catching flack for the magazine’s current cover story, which declares that the Web is dead. I’m not sure what the controversy is. For years, once-vibrant technologies, products, and companies have been dropping like teenagers in a Freddy Krueger movie. Thank heavens that tech journalists have done such a good job of documenting the carnage as it happened. Without their diligent reporting, we might not be aware that the industry is pretty much an unrelenting bloodbath.
  • [from steve_portigal] BK to offer shareable Pizza Burger [Nation’s Restaurant News] – [While results won't appeal to all, exciting to see Burger King with an appetite for innovating – crazy-sounding products – and a place to sell those non-core products] Burger King plans to introduce a giant hamburger shaped and flavored like a pizza to its new Whopper Bar in NY, adding to the list of extreme sandwiches at restaurant chains. The NY Pizza Burger is made with four 1/4-pound Whopper patties, mozzarella, marinara and a Tuscan Herb Mayo. They are placed on a 9.5-inch bun, which is sliced into 6 wedges, selling at $12.99. Burger King said the pizza burger, which is intended to be shared, would likely be introduced next week. Each wedge is about 400 calories, they said. The NY Pizza Burger is currently planned just for the New York City Whopper Bar location, which opened July 31 near Times Square. The pizza burger will join the Meat Beast Whopper, also exclusive to the New York City Whopper Bar. The Meat Beast is a Whopper topped with pepperoni and bacon and sold for $6.99.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Getting in (and Out of) Line [] – [What are the economic behaviors – and motivators – of waiting in line, and how is the pursuit of the money shifting those standards?] A line conceives of people as citizens, presumed equal, each with an identical 24 hours a day to spread among the lines around them. A market conceives of people as consumers, presumed unequal, with those who can pay in front of the others. It allocates efficiently, but it eliminates a feature of line culture: the idea that, in line at least, we are no better than anybody else. In a way, the market’s spread is a return to another kind of scrum, one in which financial, and not physical, might means right. Perhaps one day lines will be remembered as antique, a quaint system in which things were granted simply for having shown up early, an interlude of relative equality between the scrums that reigned before and after. [Thanks, Anne!]
  • [from steve_portigal] Diary of a ‘portable people meter’ person [SF Chronicle] – [What it's like to be a human subject for gathering radio station data] "I was a good panelist," she said. "I wore the meter all the time and followed the instructions. I didn't find it that intrusive. But I wouldn't take it to some occasions, like out to dinner, and they want you to wear it all day, from the time you wake up until you go to bed, and to wear it on your person. You can't just leave it in your purse. And they pick up on it. They'll call you the next day or night and say, 'Hey, you weren't wearing it for 15 minutes yesterday.' "

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Report: EPA kills Chevy Volt’s 230 mpg rating [Autoblog Green] – [Thorny problem about how to give an actual rating of a car's performance when that rating is based on gasoline consumption and the car in question doesn't (really) use gasoline! The whole frame of reference for assessing the comparative economical/ecological performance of a breakthrough product is based on a slightly obsoleting technology. Craziness ensues!]
  • [from steve_portigal] How the Old Spice Videos Are Being Made [ReadWriteWeb] – A team of creatives, tech geeks, marketers and writers gathered in an undisclosed location in Portland, Oregon yesterday and produced 87 short comedic YouTube videos about Old Spice. In real time. Those videos and 74 more made so far today have now been viewed more than 4 million times and counting. The team worked for 11 hours yesterday to make 87 short videos, that's just over 7 minutes per video, not accounting for any breaks taken. Then they woke up this morning and they are still making more videos right now. Here's how it's going down. Old Spice, marketing agency Wieden + Kennedy and actor Isaiah Mustafa are collaborating on the project. The group seeded various social networks with an invitation to ask questions of Mustafa's character. Then all the responses were tracked and users who contributed interesting questions and/or were high-profile people on social networks are being responded to directly and by name in short, funny YouTube videos.
  • [from steve_portigal] Who’s Mailing What – [A very specific form of "competitive intelligence"] Every month the Who's Mailing What! Archive receives and analyzes approximately 4,000 to 5,000 pieces of direct mail in nearly 200 categories — consumer, business, fundraising, catalogs, and much more — forwarded to us from a network of correspondents around the country. Why? Because the best way to create successful direct mail is to study other company's mail to see which campaign and techniques show up again and again. If you're tracking a particular area of direct mail — you can go right to that category, see what we've received and discover: Who's mailing what, the offers, the control, the complexity of the mailing, whether there was 4-color work, sophisticated computer work, a poly envelope, a self-mailing format.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Facebook gained only 320,000 new U.S. users [] – [Significant shift in uptake for Facebook. So…. what follows saturation?] Have we reached the Facebook saturation point? That’s one possibility suggested by monthly growth data from Inside Facebook, which reports that they gained only 320,000 new U.S. users in June after a gain in May of more than 7.8 million. Moreover, the net’s dominant social networking site lost active users in the 18-25, 26-34 and 35-44 ranges, while gaining users in their mid-teens and middle years. One possibility is that the May and June controversies over privacy policies and dominance have kept the company from tremendous new growth and even led some to curtail their use. Another possibility is that it’s just a statistical aberration, or a result of changes to the advertising system, where Inside Facebook says it gleans its numbers. But there’s also the possibility that almost every American who has any interest in joining Facebook already has.
  • [from steve_portigal] You Shouldn’t Have to Pay to Talk To Your Own Customers [AustinStartup] – [Emerging issues and best practices in online customer support forums] A focus on great customer care has become, in the era of Zappos, not just a requisite checkbox, but an opportunity for differentiation, and a primary means of acquiring and retaining users (customer care as a revenue generator, not just a cost center). Those interactions are not just happening on customer care platforms – they’re literally happening around the web…Whether you are a brand, a developer, an entrepreneur, or a well-meaning customer or user, welcome to the wild wild west of customer care and the nasty underbelly of passionate user communities, where who owns the data is a very political issue, and there are more questions than answers, unfortunately.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Book review: In the Loop – Knitting Now [we make money not art] – [Another form of handheld diversion – knitting. No chargers or connections necessary. Check out Mark Newport’s wonderful superhero pix halfway down the page.] In the Loop shows the different aspects of contemporary knitting practice and transforms our understanding of knitting away from retro hobby to mainstream craft and artform.
  • [from steve_portigal] An Evolution In The Data Collected By Economists [ABC News] – [Recalling the adage "You manage what you measure"] The US is deluged with economic data, yet figures cannot conclusively answer even the most fundamental questions. A handful of data-loving economists are pushing for alternative measures to provide a clearer picture of how well the economy is working. No one is talking about jettisoning the GDP, the broadest measure of the nation's economic output. By combining that information with deeper understanding of how people live, work and feel, officials hope to identify economic trouble spots more quickly and make better policy decisions. Two new sets of statistics are due to be launched next year. The Labor Department is working on an enhanced time use study to track what Americans do all day and how they feel about those activities, a project that draws on Krueger's academic research. The Commerce Department is planning a new poverty metric it hopes will provide a more up-to-date measure of which groups are struggling to meet basic needs.

Steve speaking at User Experience Hong Kong

I’m thrilled to be invited to speak at the first User Experience Hong Kong, taking place next February. Organized by my good friends at Apogee, the event also features a number of super smart (and super nice!) folks: Steve Baty, Janna DeVylder, Rachel Hinman, and Gerry Gaffney.

I’ll be leading a workshop entitled “Well, we’ve done all this research, now what?”

One of the most persistent factors limiting the impact of user research in business is that projects often stop with a cataloging findings and implications rather than generating opportunities that directly enable the findings. As designers increasingly become involved in using contextual research to inform their design work, they may find themselves holding onto a trove of raw data but with little awareness of how to turn it into design. How can designers and researchers work with user research data to create new things for business to do?

Almost related: Pictures from my last Hong Kong trip (2006)

Eye candy

We’re always seeking the best way to tell a particular story. Sometimes, words do the trick. Sometimes, a picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. Often, a bit of both are needed. Tonight, two pieces of data visualization to chew on…

Model of Daydreams: The Cinema in Our Head (from the flickr Great Diagrams in Anthropological Theory pool)

And this lovely meme visualization of the Sandra Bullock/Jesse James split (more like this at Current: A News Project.)

Beyond visual communication

A couple of great examples of alternative ways of communicating information…

Australian financial-advisory firm BT using art installations to explain stock investing (full story at Fast Company )

And going back in time a bit, Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream) representing the apportioning of the Federal Discretionary Budget with stacks of Oreo cookies.


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