Posts tagged “history”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] End Of An Era: Sony Stops Manufacturing Cassette Walkmans [Crunchgear] – [I share the author's surprise that this product was still being manufactured! The CD Walkman – its successor – has long been quaintly outdated, so cassettes? Perhaps there was a retro market, or perhaps other countries discarded formats differently than we have here] Sony announced it will stop manufacturing and selling these devices in Japan – after 30 years. Sony says the final lot was shipped to retailers in April this year, and once the last units are sold, there will be no cassette Walkmans from big S anymore. The first Walkman was produced in 1979. The TPS-L2, the world’s first portable (mass-produced) stereo, went on sale in Japan on July 1 that year and was later exported to the US, Europe and other places. Sony says that they managed to sell over 400 million Walkmans worldwide until March 2010, and exactly 200,020,000 of those were cassette-based models.
  • [from steve_portigal] PlumWillow Is Making the Customer Part of Its Culture [NYTimes.com] – [Employment criteria: do you represent our target customer? Hiring for insight as an internship strategy] They’re part of a team of 15- and 16-year-old interns who are being tapped for their own special brand of expertise and insight: a bird’s-eye view into the life and mind of high school teenagers, exactly the audience that PlumWillow is seeking. “They definitely aren’t shy about telling us what they like and don’t like,” says Lindsay Anvik, director of marketing at PlumWillow, who helps oversee the internship program at its offices in Manhattan. The interns are also emblematic of how Web-based businesses are doing more than merely shaping their products and services around customer preferences. The companies are corralling those customers in the workplace and making them part of the design and marketing process, according to Susan Etlinger, a consultant at the Altimeter Group, which researches Web technologies and advises companies on how to use them.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] At The Movies, A String Of Futures Passed [All Things Considered – NPR] – No matter how accurate they may be, all fictional futures — especially alarmist ones — lose urgency as the concerns that fueled them fade. The Cold War paranoia of 1984 and 2001 now feel distant, even if the tech-boom fears in Blade Runner may be a bit more current. This decade, we're uptight about the environment and our increasing decrepitude, so we get Wall-E. In the flower-power era, we were skeptical about social conformity, so we got A Clockwork Orange.
  • [from steve_portigal] Fusion: The Synergy of Images and Words [Steve McCurry’s Blog[ – [Photjournalist assembles series of images of people reading, across the planet]
  • [from steve_portigal] Coca Cola Village Like Facebook [The Inspiration Room] – [The ability to "post things" to Facebook or similar from far away (online or offline) is provocative but perhaps limiting, when the feedback loop – I post and I see what I post appear- is broken as badly as here] Coca Cola Village in Israel is a summer holiday resort designed for teenagers finishing their school years. For its third year experiential marketing agency Promarket provided residents with RFID bracelets (Radio Frequency Identification) to help them share their experiences on Facebook. Teens were able to put a digital ‘like’ on their choice of forty facilities in the camp, from the pool, the spa, to the extreme activities and sport section. If photographed by one of the official photographers, the RFID technology would automatically tag everyone in the photo and upload it to the relevant Facebook profiles…Real world Liking resulted in up to 35,000 posts per cycle…On average each visitor was posting 54 pieces of Coke branded content to their Facebook profile.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] The opposite of user experience design [Jorge Arango] – [I've experienced the bewildering confusion of bureaucracy in another country but have always assumed implicitly that for "those people" it was tenable. Jorge's tangible frustration and brilliant insight puts the lie to my ridiculous parochialism] One of the advantages of living in the developing world is that I am exposed to a wide variety of UX disasters. If you find it hard to define UX, try dealing with a Panamanian government office. You will quickly see what a lack of UX thinking looks like, and this will in turn aid your appreciation and understanding of good UX. A few weeks ago I had to go to the Panamanian immigration office to take care of some paperwork. When I got there, I found chaos…I’ve come to understand that the opposite of UX design is not shitty design, thoughtless design, or piecemeal design. It is anarchy. Only strong leadership with a clear user-centric vision can transform the organization’s culture and improve the experience of its constituents.
  • [from steve_portigal] Please vote for our SXSW 2011 Panel – Mommy, Where Do Good Products Come From? (with Gretchen Anderson) – [Thanks for your vote!] Business case studies are the ultimate in reductionism: A complex business activity rooted in a specific context of people, company culture, time, and place is boiled down to a few key ideas. People confuse the terms innovation and invention; looking for breakthrough ideas sends companies into a frenzied search for "new" things not great or disruptive things. In this session, we will explore some different pathways to creating great product ideas. As designers and researchers, we're experienced enough to know that design research isn't the only approach or even always the best approach (a point of view that Don Norman vehemently argued in recent writings). For instance, design research wouldn't be sufficient to create a disruptive innovation like Gowalla. We'll outline a framework that looks at different approaches to idea generation, including corporate competencies and culture, customer needs and cultural context, and technological innovation.
  • [from steve_portigal] Please vote for my SXSW 2011 Panel – Diving Deep: Best Practices For Interviewing Users – [Thanks for your vote!] The skill of getting the right information from users is surprisingly complex and nuanced. This session will focus on getting past the obvious shallow information into the deeper, more subtle, yet crucial, insights. If you are going to the effort to meet with users in order to improve your designs, it's essential that you know how to get the best information and not leave insights behind. Being great in "field work" involves understanding and accepting your interviewee's world view, and being open to what they need to tell you (in addition to what you already know you want to learn). We'll focus on the importance of rapport-building and listening and look at techniques for both. We will review different types of questions, and why you need to have a range of question types. We'll also suggest practice exercises for improving your own interviewing skills and how to engage others in your organization successfully in the interviewing experience.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Minds Behind the Mind-Set List [The Chronicle of Higher Education] – [Freshmen in 2010 have never known a world in which a website can't get a book deal. Yes, the Mind-Set List book is coming] Mr. McBride, a professor of English and the humanities, says the list started on a lark back in 1997—some old college hands unwinding on a Friday afternoon, musing on how much freshmen don't know about recent history and culture. But such blind spots are to be expected, they had agreed, given the relative youth of the incoming class. They had concluded that professors should be mindful of how very different their students' life experiences are from their own. With colleagues, they had brainstormed about the cultural touchstones for that year's entering freshman class, whose members would have been born in 1979. That was the year of the Iran hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and Three Mile Island. The resulting list was passed around and eventually found its way into the hands of a Wall Street Journal reporter, who subsequently wrote about it.
  • [from steve_portigal] Beloit College Mindset List 2010 – [The annual list, in time for this year's freshmen, telling us older folks how our view of the world differs in key and/or bemusing ways]. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt. A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.

This Year We Make Contact With 2001 in 1968

Last night we watched the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. I was struck by this image, presumably from one of the premieres of 2001.

The visual elements of the movie (including production design, posters, typography, sets, models, special effects) were intended to depict, in 1968, the future. In this picture, there’s a remarkable contrast between the poster for the film, and everything else around it. The surrounding elements tell a story of the 60s – the cars, the signage, everything. And it might as well as be the 50s, or even the 40s. But the poster for the movie itself pops right out. The typography, the layout in the space, still look contemporary if not futuristic.

Looking back more than 40 years later, we can see the discontinuity between the world of what-was-then-today and the design-as-illustration-of-the future. One has to wonder how it felt in 1968. Was it even more dramatic (with the future stuff seeming really really future-y) or was it less dramatic (with the current stuff not seeing so ridiculously dated as it does now)?

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Swedish Artist Michael Johansson’s Shipping Container Art [Inhabitat] – [What makes this 3D collage so appealing: is it the scale? The playfulness? The clever conversation between shapes?] Shipping containers are often repurposed as houses, apartments and studios, but Swedish artist Michael Johansson sees them as building blocks for his sculptures.
  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Saad Mohseni Is Afghanistan’s First Media Mogul [NPR] – [Afghan Star producer Saad Mohseni is seeding culture change in Afghanistan by broadcasting shows depicting alternate social mores] Through reality TV, dramas, and soap operas, Afghans are able to see things they hadn't been able to watch for years. Women talking to men, for instance.
  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Tesla Raises Shocking Amount in NASDAQ Debut [Fast Company] – [Tesla takes it public. I have only anecdotal evidence as to the performance of their vehicles – the last time I was on the road next to a Tesla Roadster, it effortlessly smoked my turbo Miata – but Tesla seems like they're doing things right] For all its ambitions to revolutionize the electric car industry, Tesla Motors has only posted a profit once, back in July 2009. It has released just one car (the Roadster), and sells 10 vehicles per week. And yet Tesla's first day of public trading on the stock market has been an indisputable success.
  • [from steve_portigal] Nicolas Hayek, 82, Dies – Introduced Swatch – Obituary (Obit) – NYTimes.com – By the 1970s, the vaunted Swiss watch industry was in jeopardy. Japanese watchmakers had begun to undercut Swiss prices. And public tastes were shifting from the finely wrought analog timepieces in which Swiss artisans had long specialized to the pale flickering faces of mass-market digital watches. In the early 1980s, with no apparent remedy in sight, a group of Swiss banks asked Mr. Hayek to compile a report on how the watchmaking industry might best be liquidated. Instead, he merged two of its former titans, Asuag and SSIH, which between them owned brands like Omega, Longines and Tissot. Mr. Hayek bought a majority stake in the reorganized group, known as SMH. In 1983, SMH introduced the Swatch. Lightweight, with vibrantly colored bands and breezy novelty faces, it was remarkably inexpensive to produce. (with 51 parts, as opposed to the nearly 100 needed to make a traditional wristwatch.) It retailed for less than $35 when it was first marketed in the United States later that year.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] ALT/1977: WE ARE NOT TIME TRAVELERS [Behance] – [Alex Varanese's thought-provoking concepts go beyond blogosphere-hipster-silliness to really provoke reflection on design and functionality often taken for granted] What would you do if you could travel back in time? Here's what I'd do after that: grab all the modern technology I could find, take it to the late 70's, superficially redesign it all to blend in, start a consumer electronics company to unleash it upon the world, then sit back as I rake in billions, trillions, or even millions of dollars. I've explored that idea in this series by re-imagining four common products from 2010 as if they were designed in 1977: an mp3 player, a laptop, a mobile phone and a handheld video game system. I then created a series of fictitious but stylistically accurate print ads. I've learned that there is no greater design element than the anachronism. I've learned that the strongest contrast isn't spatial or tonal but historical. I've learned that there's retro, and then there's time travel.
  • [from julienorvaisas] 10:10 Tags Symbolize Committment to Climate Change [10:10global.org/uk] – [The fact that this tag is tangible but also symbolic rather than overt, and versatile enough to be carried on the body as a daily reminder of a commitment to the cause of climate change can help change behavior and improve compliance, as well as subtly telegraph solidarity.] The 10:10 Tag is made from a recycled jumbo jet, and can be worn on the neck, wrist, lapel or leotard to symbolise your 10:10 commitment. Whether you pin it to the lapel of your business suit or thread it through the laces of your skateboard trainers, your 10:10 Tag shows others that not only do you know how to accessorise; you’re also part of the solution to climate change.
  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Grateful Dead scholar in heaven at UC Santa Cruz [SFGate] – [More big things happening at my Alma Mater] The ultimate job in Dead-dom is in Room 1370 at McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz. The door is marked by the steal-your-face logo, and superimposed over it reads the name Nicholas G. Meriwether, Grateful Dead Archivist.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Ariely’s Upside of Irrationality: using irrational cognitive blindspots to your advantage [Boing Boing] – [We've seen the principles of behavioral economics applied to help us understand and explain consumers irrational choices in a business context, now here's a self-help book helping us apply them to our own everyday lives.] Upside of Irrationality is a mostly successful attempt to transform the scientific critique of the 'rational consumer' principal into practical advice for living a better life. 'Mostly successful' only because some of our habitual irrationality is fundamentally insurmountable — there's almost nothing we can do to mitigate it.
  • [from steve_portigal] Text 2.0 – What if your book really knew where you are gazing at? – [This is essentially one of the concepts we proposed from our Reading Ahead research – where an eyetracker in a digital book manipulates the text dynamically based on your gaze. In our use case, we addressed the interrupt-driven commute reading revealed by our research. If the book saw you looking away, it could mark your spot to enable more efficient resuming]
  • [from steve_portigal] Twitter a hit in Japan as millions ‘mumble’ online [Yahoo! News] – Japanese-language Twitter taps into a greater sense of individuality in Japan, especially among younger people less accepting of the Japanese understatement and conformity. 16.3% of Japanese Internet tweet 16.3% (vs. 9.8% in US). "Japan is enjoying the richest and most varied form of Twitter usage as a communication tool…It's playing out as a rediscovery of the Internet.” It's possible to say so much more in Japanese within Twitter's 140 letters. "Information" requires just 2 letters in Japanese. Another is that people own up to their identities on Twitter. One well-known case is a woman who posted the photo of a park her father sent in e-mail before he died. Twitter was immediately abuzz with people comparing parks…"It's telling that Twitter was translated as 'mumbling' in Japanese," he said. "They love the idea of talking to themselves," he said…"In finding fulfillment in expressing what's on your mind for the moment, Twitter is like haiku," he said. "It is so Japanese."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] New Artisanal Pencil-Sharpening Project [Details Magazine] – [It looks like the artisanal food and craft movement may be fading in cultural relevance if it's subject to this level of brutal skewering.] "What better to complement your collection of limited-edition notebooks, small-batch liquors, and locally sourced honey than a pencil sharpened by a true artisan? David Rees, author of the comic book series Get Your War On and My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable, discovered his passion for sharpening pencils while working for the U.S. Census Bureau. Now he's parlaying his old-school skills into a mail-order artisanal pencil-sharpening business."
  • [from steve_portigal] An App for ‘Despicable Me,’ to Use at the Theater [NYTimes.com] – [Is there a difference between multimedia enhancement and advertising-supported distraction?] Best Buy Movie Mode is being released in connection with “Despicable Me,” an animated 3-D movie in which an aspiring supervillain named Gru inherits three little girls. The marquee feature of the app is called the Minionator, which translates the gibberish of Gru’s little yellow henchmen called Minions. In theaters, the Minionator will work only during the closing credits, but on Blu-ray disc throughout the movie. “It is disturbing to have people doing things that take people out of the movie,” said Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for the National Association of Theater Owners. Many theaters warn patrons to turn off their phones. Movie Mode tries to appease those who dislike distractions. The app automatically turns off a phone’s ringer and dims the screen to discourage texting. It does not disable the phone. It will still vibrate.
  • [from steve_portigal] Black Taxis offer tours of Belfast [SF Chronicle] – The Black Taxis of Belfast grew out the height of the Troubles. City buses were subject to bomb and sniper attacks as they passed through the strife-torn neighborhoods. Safe passage had to be arranged via taxi, and the taxi drivers could only operate within, never across, each neighborhood's boundaries, The ads for Black Taxi tours promise a neutral historical narrative. That's a tall order, as many drivers have a genuine history on one side of the conflict or the other. Some lost family members. Everyone lost friends. Still, the mere fact that the murals are now a tourist attraction, rather than a touchstone for violence, may signify that peace has actually arrived in Belfast. "We debated whether to encourage this trend or to downplay it," said Bernard McMullan, a representative of Tourism Ireland, of the popularity of the Black Taxi tours. "But in the end, we decided that it was an important part of our history. There's no point in denying it. Besides, it's interesting."
  • [from steve_portigal] Nissan adds noises to Leaf electric vehicle as safety precaution [WaPo] – [The design challenge of creating new, yet familiar feedback cues] After exploring 100 sounds that ranged from chimes to motorlike to futuristic, the company settled on a soft whine that fluctuates in intensity with the car's speed. When backing up, the car makes a clanging sound. Nissan says it worked with advocates for the blind, a Hollywood sound-design company and acoustic psychologists in creating its system of audible alerts. Nissan's sound system is the first created by a major manufacturer. The company says it is controlled by a computer and synthesizer in the dash panel. The sounds are delivered through a speaker in the engine compartment. A switch inside the vehicle can turn off the sounds temporarily, but the system automatically resets to "on" at the next ignition cycle. At speeds greater than 20 mph, any car, electric or not, makes significant noise because of the tires slapping on the pavement, engineers say. The noises for the Nissan operate only at the lower speeds.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Geek Power: Steven Levy Revisits Tech Titans, Hackers, Idealists [Wired] – The real problem, Greenblatt says, is that business interests have intruded on a culture that was founded on the ideals of openness and creativity. In Greenblatt’s heyday, he and his friends shared code freely, devoting themselves purely to the goal of building better products. “There’s a dynamic now that says, let’s format our Web page so people have to push the button a lot so that they’ll see lots of ads,” Greenblatt says. “Basically, the people who win are those who manage to make things the most inconvenient for you.” [Strongly worded insight about the state of Internet business rings tragically true /SP]
  • Organizing Armageddon: What We Learned From the Haiti Earthquake [Wired] – One of the biggest ideas to hit the humanitarian community in the past decade is the notion of surveying the recipients of aid to see what they think. That’s very commercial ­ treating them more like clients than victims…After the Asian tsunami, the Fritz Institute conducted one of the first-ever surveys of aid recipients. Only 60 percent of families surveyed in India and Sri Lanka said they had received timely aid and were treated with dignity in the 60 days after the tidal wave hit. Almost everyone reported getting water within the first couple of days, but just 58 percent of Sri Lankans reported receiving shelter in a timely manner. In general, post-disaster studies tend to measure “throughput indicators” like how much food was distributed, or how much shelter got provided, instead of “output or outcome metrics” like lives saved or suffering alleviated. [A powerful reframe on saving lives, with more cultural shifts clearly needed. /SP]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Fanboy! The Strange True Story of the Tech World’s Favorite Put-Down [Technologizer] – To understand the origins of “fanboy,” you don’t need to go back to 1919…but you do need to start earlier than 1985. Try 1973–when a handful of copies of a fanzine were distributed at a Chicago comics convention. The zine was credited to two fans who took Marvel Comics, the work of Frank Frazetta, and other matters a wee bit too seriously, Alfred Judson and Bill Beasley.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The most misused SSN of all time was 078-05-1120 [ssa.gov] – In 1938, wallet manufacturer the E. H. Ferree company in Lockport, NY decided to promote its product by showing how a Social Security card would fit into its wallets. A sample card for display purposes was inserted in each wallet. Vice President Douglas Patterson thought it would be a clever idea to use the actual SSN of his secretary, Hilda Whitcher. The wallet was sold by Woolworth stores and other department stores all over the country. Even though the card was only half the size, printed all in red, and had the word "specimen" written across it, many purchasers adopted the SSN as their own. In 1943, 5,755 people were using Hilda's number. SSA acted to eliminate the problem by voiding the number and publicizing that it was incorrect to use it. (Mrs. Whitcher was given a new number.) However, the number continued to be used for many years. In all, over 40,000 people reported this as their SSN. As late as 1977, 12 people were found to still be using the SSN "issued by Woolworth."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • ‘Law & Order’ canceled by NBC after 20 seasons: The culprit behind NY show’s demise? Low ratings [NY Daily News] – "Law & Order" is going the way of egg creams. After two decades and 451 shows, NBC pulled the plug on the New York-based series to make room for new shows. The series will end May 24. Once a top-10 show, "Law & Order" had struggled in recent years – along with the rest of NBC's prime-time lineup. This season the show is No. 56 overall.
  • ‘Little Orphan Annie’ comic strip skips off into the sunset [Washington Post] – Daddy Warbucks's favorite pupil-less redhead had enough Depression-tested pluck to survive 86 years in daily newspapers, but now the orphan's outta luck. Come June 13, her clear-eyed comic strip will end as her syndicate, Tribune Media Services, sends her off into the sunset. Canceled. "Believe me, this wasn't a decision we took lightly," said Steve Tippie, TMS's vice president of licensing. "But we also felt that 'Annie,' unlike many strips, has such wide, almost iconic presence in our culture that it would serve the character and our business best if we focused on other channels more appropriate to the 'kids' nature of the property." The strip's current artist, Ted Slampyak, said: "It's almost like mourning the loss of a friend."
  • In Search of Adorable, as Hello Kitty Starts to Fade [NYTimes.com] – Hello Kitty has been licensed to products like dolls, clothes, lunch boxes, stationery, kitchenware, a Macy’s parade balloon and even an Airbus. But amid signs that Hello Kitty’s pop-culture appeal is waning, especially at home, where sales have shrunk for a decade, the company has struggled to find its next-generation version of adorable. Recent flops include Spottie Dottie, a pink-frocked Dalmatian, and Pandapple, a baby panda. Even the moderately successful My Melody (a rabbit) and TuxedoSam (penguin) show no signs of achieving global Kitty-ness. “We badly need something else,” said Yuko Yamaguchi, Sanrio’s top Hello Kitty designer for most of its 36 years. “Characters take a long time to develop and introduce to different markets,” Ms. Yamaguchi said. “But Kitty has been so popular it’s overshadowed all our other efforts.” …In a ranking of Japan’s most popular characters, compiled Character Databank, Hello Kitty lost her spot as Japan’s top-grossing character in 2002.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Consumed – Faux-Authentic Uniforms [NYTimes.com] – The authenticity question is a particularly interesting one to parse. A pair of worn, faded jeans does reflect a history shared by object and owner. For many years now, manufacturers have sold a shortcut to that idea by wearing out and fading jeans before they hit the shelves, by way of a variety of industrial processes (often charging a hefty premium for this outsourcing of the item’s physical past). These Burton pants embrace the worn-denim trope but take it a step further. They’re actually made of a waterproof Gore-Tex fabric and made to look like jeans through “photo sublimation,” according to USA Today: “a photo was taken of a pair of tattered jeans then printed onto the garments via a technical heat process.” So what we have here is a representation of a simulacrum of tattered, faded, authentic pants-with-a-history.
  • Why You Shouldn’t Believe A Company’s Word Lore [NYTimes.com] – By promoting the “sound of the machine” origin for the once-generic kisses, Hershey is engaging in what Kawash calls “strategic corporate forgetting”: “they invent an original story for marketing purposes to make it seem unique to their candy.” Notably, Hershey’s historical whitewash took shape in the late ’90s, just about when the company’s lawyers were beginning an ultimately successful battle to trademark kisses. They didn’t use the story in their legal arguments, but it played right into their efforts to associate kisses uniquely with the Hershey brand. When a company is trying to make its product iconic in the minds of consumers, it doesn’t hurt to inject a pleasant etymological tidbit, no matter how easy it is to disprove.
  • Making Sense of Complexity [NYTimes.com] – Unless the subject is TV remote controls, Americans have a fondness for complexity, for ideas and objects that are hard to understand.We assume complicated products come from sharp, impressive minds, and we understand that complexity is a fancy word for progress….What we need, suggests professor Brenda Zimmerman, is a distinction between the complicated and the complex…Performing hip replacement surgery is complicated. It takes well-trained personnel, precision and carefully calibrated equipment. Running a health care system is complex. It’s filled with thousands of parts and players, all of whom must act within a fluid, unpredictable environment. To run a system that is complex it takes a set of simple principles that guide and shape the system.“We get seduced by the complicated in Western society,” Ms. Zimmerman says. “We’re in awe of it and we pull away from the duty to ask simple questions, which we do whenever we deal with matters that are complex.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Last supper ‘has been super-sized’, say obesity experts [BBC News] – The food portions depicted in paintings of the Last Supper have grown larger – in line with our own super-sizing of meals, say obesity experts. A Cornell University team studied 52 of the most famous paintings of the Biblical scene over the millennium and scrutinized the size of the feast. They found the main courses, bread and plates put before Jesus and his disciples have progressively grown by up to two-thirds. Based on the assumption that the width of an average loaf of bread from the time should be twice that of the average disciple's head, the researchers plotted the size of the Passover evening dishes. The main meals grew 69% and plate size 66% between the oldest (carried out in 1000AD) and most recent (1700s) paintings. Bread size grew by about 23%.
  • Butch Bakery – Where Butch Meets Buttercream – "Butch Bakery was born when David Arrick felt it was time to combine a masculine aesthetic to a traditionally cute product -the cupcake. When a magazine article mentioned that cupcakes were a combination of everything "pink, sweet, cute, and magical", he felt it was time to take action, and butch it up." Flavors include Rum & Coke, Mojito, Home Run, Beer Run, Campout, Tailgate, Driller, and (ahem) Jackhammer
  • Making Design Research Less of a Mystery [ChangeOrder] – Design researchers don't work exactly like professional detectives. We don't sit down with their users and start asking them point-blank questions regarding a single moment in time, such as, "Exactly where were you on the night of November 17th, when Joe Coxson was found floating face-down in a kiddie pool?" We don't consider the users as criminals, having perpetrated crimes against the state—our clients?—that must be solved. The crimes are the points of friction that go remarked (or unremarked) about the course of our subject's lives, in using the tools that surround them, and in the myths and beliefs that drive their everyday behavior. Our methods of detection are geared towards being sponges, soaking up both the large-scale and minute details that indicate layers of behavior that may have gone unremarked in the design and everyday use of various products, services, and interactive systems.
  • The Medium – Shelf Life [NYTimes.com] – People who reject e-books often say they can’t live without the heft, the texture and the scent of traditional books. This aria of hypersensual book love is not my favorite performance. I sometimes suspect that those who gush about book odor might not like to read. If they did, why would they waste so much time inhaling? Among the best features of the Kindleis that there’s none of that. The device, which consigns all poetry and prose to the same homely fog-toned screen, leaves nothing to the experience of books but reading. This strikes me as honest, even revolutionary….Most of these books were bought impulsively, more like making a note to myself to read this or that than acquiring a tangible 3-D book; the list is a list of resolutions with price tags that will, with any luck, make the resolutions more urgent. Though it’s different from Benjamin’s ecstatic book collecting, this cycle of list making and resolution and constant-reading-to-keep-up is not unpleasurable.
  • Human-flesh Search Engines in China [NYTimes.com] – The popular meaning of the Chinese term for human-flesh search engine is now not just a search by humans but also a search for humans, initially performed online but intended to cause real-world consequences. Searches have been directed against all kinds of people, including cheating spouses, corrupt government officials, amateur pornography makers, Chinese citizens who are perceived as unpatriotic, journalists who urge a moderate stance on Tibet and rich people who try to game the Chinese system. Human-flesh searches highlight what people are willing to fight for: the political issues, polarizing events and contested moral standards that are the fault lines of contemporary China.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Segmenting the Hendrix fan [NYTimes.com] – “We believe that there is a Jimi Hendrix fan out there at 99 cents and at $9 and at $20 — all the way across the spectrum,” Mr. Block said. “We want to make each fan an appropriate offering. Is the complete Jimi Hendrix on vinyl something every music fan would want? Absolutely not. Would there be a market for it? Absolutely.”
  • Jerry Seinfeld on ideas [NYTimes.com] – Whatever happens to “The Marriage Ref,” Mr. Seinfeld said that he was out of ideas now. “Ideas are a terrible obligation,” he said. “Who needs something else to take care of? I have kids. I’d rather nurture them than another idea.”
  • The Disposable Film Festival – In recent years a new kind of film has emerged: The Disposable Film. It has been made possible by new media (webcams, point and shoot digital cameras, cell phones, screen capture software, and one time use digital video cameras) and the rise of online distribution (YouTube, Google, MySpace, etc.). These films are often made quickly, casually, and sometimes even unintentionally. Everyone has become a Disposable Filmmaker: directors of Saturday night cell phone videos, actors under the eyes of security cameras, and narrators before their webcams. Let's face it – we live in an age of disposable film. Now it's time to do something creative with it.
  • How to Kill Innovation: Keep Asking Questions – Scott Anthony [Harvard Business Review] – Resource-rich companies have the "luxury" of researching and researching problems. That can be a huge benefit in known markets where precision matters. But it can be a huge deficit in unknown markets where precision is impossible and attempts to create it through analysis are quixotic. Entrepreneurs don't have the luxury of asking "What about…" questions, and in disruptive circumstances that works in their favor.

    So what's the alternative? Substitute early action for never-ending analysis. Figure out the quickest, cheapest way to do something market-facing to start the iterative process that so frequently typifies innovation. Be prepared to make quick decisions, but have the driver of the decision be in-market data, not conceptual analysis. In other words, go small and learn. Pitch (or even sell) your idea to colleagues. Open up a kiosk in a shopping mall for a week. Create a quick-and-dirty website describing your idea. Be prepared to make quick decisions.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Famous user figures in the history of HCI [Pasta&Vinegar] – Marketing people, engineers and designers often rely on persona, i.e. fictional characters created to represent the different user types within targeted characteristics that might use a service or a product. In the history of human-computer interaction, some user figures have been so prominent that it is important to keep them in mind.

Series

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