Posts tagged “photography”

Out and About: Steve in Brisbane

I got back last week from two weeks in Australia, traveling around as well as speaking at UX Australia in Brisbane and Service Design Melbourne. Here is the third of four posts with some of the highlights (see 1 and 2 previously). All my pictures are making their way to Flickr, as well.


Hmm. Update: Golden Casket is a lottery company, not the store itself. And “casket” more typically refers to something like a treasure chest than a coffin. The language discontinuities wonderfully surprising!


Brilliant idea to highlight a positive so specifically.


Burger King, in some parts of Australia, is Hungry Jack’s.



While the text and icon evoke the fleeing-immigrants signs seen in Southern California and Arizona, this supposedly refers to a traffic island in the middle of the street where pedestrians can wait if they are caught in the road when the light changes. However, this location had no such island.


Dolphin attendance. What can we infer about the dolphins with the dashes in place of checks? Or the dolphins with a line through the week?


Jelly.


Peanut butter.


From the Gallery of Modern Art (or, if you prefer, GOMA), biomorphic scooters.


“I never stopped loving you” reminded me of the iconic “I love you so much” graffiti-cum-icon in Austin. One is in an art museum, and the other is on the side of a building.


The piece is called Distillery: Waveforming. It uses biofeedback, as you clip a pulse oximeter to your earlobe and the iPad display starts to play mellow music and visually echo your heartbeat. It was like a digitally-induced high. I hope we all get one soon.

Out and About: Steve in Barcelona (1 of 2)

I’m just back from a week in Barcelona for WebVisions, where I led a workshop on fieldwork, synthesis, and ideation, and gave a short talk about championing contextual research within your organization. I’ll be covering similar material coming up in a couple of months at WebVisions Chicago. Meanwhile, I had a bit of time to explore, and found Barcelona to be a beautiful and well-designed city. Here are some sample images, with more to follow in the next day or so (and the complete set on Flickr).


Bounty at La Boqueria market.


Pedestrian safety warning placed in context, as you step from the sidewalk into the street.


Obama British Africa Gin and Rum. Odd description here.







Stickers on the corrugated metal doors pulled down when a business is closed advertise what I assumed was a taxi services but in fact is for locksmiths. Why are locksmith services advertised with such verve?


Gaudi’s La Sagrada Fam??lia, under construction since 1882. Astonishing, even from the outside.


Known in the US as Ice Age: Continental Drift.


Marketing for something via Facebook.


A very modern cinema structure, down by the water, where all the buildings are new and ultra modern. While the whole place is a delicious mix of old and new, classic and modern, this area went just a bit too far into Mall. While this building is gorgeous, its siting and overall vibe is dehumanizing.

Out and About: Steve in Lisbon (2 of 2)

More observations from last week’s trip to Lisbon. See part 1 here





Street art.


Body-enhancing undergarments.


Clooney.


Eat box? Yum!


Y’arr! Pirate Bar! That’s some great neon. Perfect place for Drink Like A Pirate Day.


Scented dolls? They look pretty intense. Perhaps they inch forward menacingly as you pass by their window.


The design museum was redoing its facade with sticky notes. We watched their progress over several days.


This is the take-a-number device for a retail queue. Far more advanced than the familiar North American paper ticket dispenser. And also unrecognizable if you don’t read Portuguese and don’t know to look for this.


Detail of a building exterior. Tiled buildings are ubiquitous, with many different beautiful tile designs of various vintages.

Introverted Observers

We’ve had a lot of good posts – and comments – as of late about extroversion, introversion, talking to strangers, comfort zones, and so on. This brought to mind a story from a visit to New York a while back. In Let’s Embrace Open-Mindedness I tell two stories from my personal life (e.g., not when conducting research) where I explored the edges of my own comfort zone in just slightly unfamiliar circumstances, one situation where I saw the opportunity and couldn’t make the leap, another where I saw the opportunity and convinced myself to take that leap.

Followers of this blog will know I love taking pictures of curious and interesting things that I see everywhere, but it’s much harder – and not always appropriate – to take pictures of the curious and interesting people that I see everywhere. Indeed, in true Heisenberg fashion, you can’t always get the picture you’d want if you have to interact.

Anyway, visiting New York and walking through Times Square, I came upon people promoting Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking.” They were dressed as parodies of the book cover, with Fisher as Leia. At two separate points, I asked these hawkers if I could take their pictures.

Well, sure. It’s New York. It’s Times Square, thick with tourists, and these people are calling attention to themselves for promotion. All those cues shift the norm and make it reasonable/comfortable/appropriate/possible to do something that we don’t normally do: asking “Hey, can I take your picture?” That’s probably why I have so many photos taken with Shrek, Mr. Peanut, an Animaniac, the Monster.com monster – there’s something delightful and ironic about this staged naturalism, as if yes, I am hanging out here with my arm casually thrown around a 6-foot be-monocled legume. The opportunity to ask for a picture is so built-in to our scripts that it seems a crime to not get the picture!

Also see: The bear that saluted me

ChittahChattah Quickies

Dissident Creates by Remote Control [NYT.com] – Of course this is a political act as much as an artistic or commercial one (and some art theorist can probably explain why it must always be all three, yes?) but this seemed a novel application of remote collaboration software, at least in the way they’ve framed it.

In an unusual collaboration with W magazine, Ai Weiwi created a story line for a series of photos that were shot on location in New York by the photographer Max Vadukul as Mr. Ai looked on, art directing via Skype on a laptop computer. Mr. Vadukul would set up a shot and look to Mr. Ai for approval. “We could see him on the screen, scrolling through the images,” Ms. Solway said. “What was so interesting was his attention to every detail. There was this big shower in Rikers – we thought it looked very dingy, but he said the grout was way too clean and graphic.”

Don’t Blink! The Hazards of Confidence [NYT.com] – While the whole article primarily deals with the decisions that financial professionals make (scary scary stuff), the principles on judgement and decision-decision making feel sound, if challenging.

You are probably an expert in guessing your spouse’s mood from one word on the telephone; chess players find a strong move in a single glance at a complex position; and true legends of instant diagnoses are common among physicians. To know whether you can trust a particular intuitive judgment, there are two questions you should ask: Is the environment in which the judgment is made sufficiently regular to enable predictions from the available evidence? The answer is yes for diagnosticians, no for stock pickers. Do the professionals have an adequate opportunity to learn the cues and the regularities? The answer here depends on the professionals’ experience and on the quality and speed with which they discover their mistakes. Anesthesiologists have a better chance to develop intuitions than radiologists do.

Personal Eco-Concierges Ease Transition to Green [NYT.com] – Last year we did a research project that looked at “going green” as a journey. We met people at various stages along that transition and what their decisions were like at each of those stages. No surprise to see businesses appear explicitly aimed at facilitating the steps along that journey; indeed we identified other products and services that were or could speak to that goal – beyond usage to growth.

“The problem with going green is that people think it takes so much work, so much effort, so much conscious decision-making,” said Letitia Burrell, president of Eco-Concierge NYC, a year-old business in Manhattan that tries to make it easy for people to rid their homes of toxins, hire sustainable-cuisine chefs and find organic dry cleaners. It is a niche business, but a clever one. At least a half-dozen services of this type have sprung up around the country in recent years, both to help time-starved consumers manage their lives and to assuage the guilt of those who worry that they are letting the planet down. “There are people who come to us gung-ho and they want to make a sweeping lifestyle change,” said P. Richelle White, who left a corporate advertising job four years ago to start Herb’n Maid, a green cleaning and concierge service in St. Louis. “These are busy professionals who don’t have the time to do the research themselves about different products and services.”

Sexy, religious images spotted on new money [CBC News] – Getting feedback to designs before going to press is proven once again to be a good idea. Seems like a great application of a focus group, since the feedback needed is shallow and not very nuanced, although interesting to note that the social dynamics of a focus group limit the naturalness of that feedback – so much so that it made it into the report!

The Bank of Canada fretted that Canadians would find all kinds of unintended images on the new bills. So the bank used focus groups to spot “potential controversies.” “The overall purpose of the research was to disaster check the $50 and $100 notes among the general public and cash handlers,” says a January report to the central bank. Almost every group thought the see-through window looked like a woman’s body, but participants were often shy about pointing it out “However, once noted, it often led to acknowledgment and laughter among many of the participants in a group.” On the other side of the bill, there’s an image of a researcher at a microscope and a depiction of the double-helix structure of DNA. But the DNA strand evoked something else. A Vancouver focus group thought it was “a sex toy (i.e., sex beads).” Others thought it was the Big Dipper. There was no mistaking the microscope, but when focus groups flipped over the bill they noticed the edge of the instrument showed through like a weird birthmark on Borden’s cheek. Respondents also thought the former prime minister was either cross-eyed or that each eye was looking off in a different direction, the report says “Others felt that the PM’s moustache is unkempt.” Every focus group thought they saw religious iconography on the face of the Peace Tower clock. “It was often described as ‘The Star of David.’ Others referred to it as a ‘pagan’ or ‘religious’ symbol,'” the document says-Bank of Canada spokeswoman Julie Girard said the bills got tweaked after the focus groups. “Before and after those focus groups, there were design changes for multiple reasons,” she said.

ChittahChattah Quickies

Locker Decorations Growing in Popularity in Middle Schools [NYTimes.com] – Yet another extremely specific product development area opening up. So many that emphasize the customizing (aesthetically, functionally) of environments (or products that represent environments): digital devices, closets, cars, lockers.

At middle schools across the country, metal lockers that were long considered decorated if they had photos of friends or the teen heartthrob of the moment – Shaun Cassidy years ago, Justin Bieber today – have suddenly become the latest frontier in nesting. Peek inside, and find lockers outfitted with miniature furry carpets, motion-sensor-equipped lamps that glow when the door opens, mirrors, decorative flowers, and magnetic wallpaper in floral and leopard-print patterns. It is hard to say whether retailers have merely capitalized on or actually created demand among girls for the accessories.

Related Photo Projects [The Adaption to My Generation] – A photographer who takes a picture of himself every day documents many of the other projects online where people are doing something similar.

Other ‘Passage of Time’ Portrait Projects (Roman Opalka, after every day of painting numbers in his studio, photographs his face. If only we could see documentation of the entire sequence) and Other Obsessive Photo Projects (Adam Seifer documents everything (not really) he eats.

A History of Pizza Hut’s New Product Releases, 2002-2042 [McSweeney’s] – Satirical design fiction, echoing both Idiocracy and Wired’s Postcards from the Future.

2002: Meat Lover’s Pizza
2007: Crust Craver’s Pizza
2012: Fat Person’s Pizza
2017: Overweight Woman’s Pizza
2022: Obese Child’s Pizza
2027: Fat Man’s Surprise
2032: Depressed Couple’s Sad Pizza
2037: Disgusting Pizza, for a Fat Person
2042: Just the Thing for a Sad Fat Guy

Win Your Subjects Over with Genuine Enthusiasm

Parallels to interviewing users crop up all over the place. Just like us, portrait photographers ask their subjects trust them, as they go on a journey that might be uncomfortable at times. I don’t want to overwork the comparison, of course. You’ll see more differences than similarities in this video, but what struck me was the core notion that your own sincere enthusiasm will serve to build that trust.

(via PetaPixel)

ChittahChattah Quickies

Park guests instantly share photos on Facebook [Springwise]. – This direct-to-Facebook publishing service does well by first addressing a real need: the difficulty waterpark visitors have toting electronics around the sodden environs. It also points to how key Facebook has become as a repository for photos. Might as well just eliminate a bunch of steps and put the images of you and your soaked friends right where they’re gonna end up anyway! Back in the olden days they might have provided kiosks to print the photos out upon exit, or even sent them to guests’ emails. This blurb doesn’t address it, but having fallen victim to the RFID-driven pricing schemes of waterparks myself, I would bet they are charging handsomely for this service. If so, through adding value, Great Wolf has figured out how to make guests pay for to provide the park with an authentic social-advertising engine.

At the Great Wolf Lodge chain of waterpark resorts, visitors can use RFID-enabled wristbands to transmit photos to Facebook over the course of their stay. Guests at Great Wolf Lodge resorts already use RFID wristbands as room keys and in-house charge accounts. Now, beginning at the chain’s property in Grand Mound, Washington, its new Great Wolf Connect service allows guests to register their wristbands at a dedicated kiosk and link them directly to their Facebook account as well. Then, when they stop to pose for a photo at any of the park’s five camera-equipped “Paw Posts,” guests simply scan their wristband and their photo can be automatically posted to their Facebook wall.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Shit Painted Gold – [Post-modern detachedly-ironic consumerism makes the brain work hard. We'll tell you these products are crap and that we've not added any value by changing the color, but we have transformed them nonetheless. So, we hope you'll be happy to pay a bit extra for them. Now, please exit through the gift shop.] Nothing looks fancier in your home, office or garbage than shit painted gold. these amazing one of a kind art pieces will legitimize your ability to say to people, "why yes, that shit IS gold" [Thanks, Jeannie Choe!]
  • [from julienorvaisas] What comes after One Day for Design? [AIGA] – [Along with many others, we participated and commented on the 1D4D experience. AIGA hints that they are analyzing conversations and data gathered that day to guide their very reinvention. Stay tuned…] On April 13, we reached out through the existing networks of several prolific tweeters who led exchanges on the future of design, the concerns of today’s designers and the opportunities for design communities…Together with our partners in this project, the independent branding collective VSA Partners, we are now synthesizing the comments and discussions generated through this event. We will share the results here as we summarize them and develop ways for AIGA to respond. In June, our national board and chapter leaders will review all of this research from the past year—including the results from “One Day”—and work with us to outline the next steps. This is the year that AIGA will pivot toward new forms of serving the profession and its members.
  • [from steve_portigal] Pink Tools for Women: Learn today, Teach tomorrow, Build forever. – [Had this one sitting around forever. Love the message of empowerment; I'm willing to buy the pink-as-brand and NOT pink-as-shallow-way-of-feminizing-design but what else are they doing (besides Tupperware business model) to make these products specifically for women?] Founded by three women deeply entrenched in do-it-yourself projects, Tomboy Tools was launched in 2000 as the dream-turned-reality of being able to provide women with hands-on education, high quality tools and a fun way to make a living from home. Our Mission Statement: To build confidence and empower women through education, quality tools and an independent business opportunity. Today, while our mission statement rings as true as ever, our slogan is shorter and more concise. Our slogan underscores the power of Tomboy Tools in the marketplace and the value we provide both to female customers seeking hands-on education with high quality tools and Home Consultants looking for a great career.
  • [from steve_portigal] Conversations With Bert: Andy Samberg [YouTube] – [As a fellow introvert, I recognize Bert's slight shift into a more deliberate and mannered "interview mode." While he's not quite Terry Gross (and has a way to go to do the type of interviewing that we do), this short clip is a good source for a number of interviewing techniques, mixing equally between "what to do" and "what not to do." I'll have to use this in my next workshop and ask people to make note of the ways that Bert is successful or unsuccessful as he asks open-ended questions, reveals his own perspectives, redirects the conversation, feeds back, acknowledges what Andy says, and asks follow-ups.] Sesame Street's Bert sits down with comedian and Saturday Night Live cast member, Andy Samberg, to talk about life, literature, cuisine and of course, socks.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Memories destroyed in a flash [The Independent] – [Nice discussion of pros and cons, and implications of the broad transition to digital photos. This cultural shift will have huge implications generationally.] Spend a few minutes watching a Facebook feed and you quickly see it is not just our viewing experience that has changed. The way we store and display our pictures has radically altered the nature and type of photograph we take. A high proportion of photos on social networking sites tend to be posed self-portraits, the telltale arm holding the camera often hoving into view at the side. The breadth and scope of the pictures we display has decreased. We've moved away from Sontag's idea of photos as being accessories to our memories, towards photos as a brag – a way of telling the world what fun we're having, and how good we look having it. "You can guess it's taken for the benefit of an audience: It's not necessarily better or worse – just different. It was never so much the case with your personal album."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] The WhatWasThere Project – [It's exciting to see these sort of audacious projects start to emerge and to actually believe that they are possible. There's already a wealth of similar data on Flickr and presumably on Facebook as well; is there a way to tap into the existing data ethically?] The WhatWasThere project was inspired by the realization that we could leverage technology and the connections it facilitates to provide a new human experience of time and space – a virtual time machine of sorts that allows users to navigate familiar streets as they appeared in the past. The premise is simple: provide a platform where anyone can easily upload a photograph with two straightforward tags to provide context: Location and Year. If enough people upload enough photographs in enough places, together we will weave together a photographic history of the world (or at least any place covered by Google Maps). So wherever you are in the world, take a moment to upload a photograph and contribute to history!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Side View Mirror Project – [Love Erik Dahl's deep dive on the ordinary to find ot the extraordinary, as he has spent years taking pictures of side view mirrors. He discovers some great themes and patterns although he acknowledges he didn't know where it was going to go when he started.] Taking these pictures changed the way I drive. I used to be very end-state oriented when I would drive. When I started taking pictures for this project I stopped thinking about where I was going, and started watching mirrors and looking for red lights. As designers, its important to remember that the goal and orientation of the user dramatically impacts their experiences.
  • [from steve_portigal] Two years after buying Pure Digital, Cisco ditches the Flip [Ars Technica] – [I always thought this was about driving a consumer-facing innovation culture into the org. Let's hope that this persists even without the specific line of products.] Cisco is killing off the line of pocketable video cameras in order to refocus the company around home networking and video. The news was a surprise to even Flip critics, leaving everyone wondering why Cisco bothered to buy Pure Digital (the Flip's former parent company) for $590 million just 2 years ago. The marriage never fully made sense, but we accepted it­most assumed that Cisco was making its own attempt to compete in the handheld market by simply gobbling up one of the hottest little gadget startups at the time. Two years later, Cisco's feelings about the acquisition have changed. Cisco announced that it's expanding the Consumer Business Group, but that the Flip business will no longer be part of it. There was no formal explanation given as to why Cisco chose to shut the group down instead of selling it.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Geoffrey Crawley, 83, Dies; Gently Deflated a Fairy Hoax [NYTimes.com] – [The lasting power of popular mythologies, especially when tied to a new technology. It reads quaint now, but do we have any current analogs?] Were there really fairies at the bottom of the garden, or was it merely a childhood prank gone strangely and lastingly awry? That, for six decades, was the central question behind the Cottingley fairies mystery, the story of two English schoolgirls who claimed to have taken five pictures of fairy folk in the 1910s and afterward. Set awhirl by the international news media, the girls’ account won the support of many powerful people, including one of the most famous literary men in Britain. From the start, there were doubters. But there was no conclusive proof of deception until the 1980s, when a series of articles by the English photographic scientist Geoffrey Crawley helped reveal the story for what it was: one of the most enduring, if inadvertent, photographic hoaxes of the 20th century.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] ThatsMyFace.com – [Technology continues to trickle down, where image processing and digital printing previously associated with movie special effects and commercial printing now enable little businesses to crop up, offering fairly unique types of products] Gifts with personalized faces, including custom action figures, celebrity action figures, 3D portraits, masks, jewelry, papercraft, and ornamental heads.
  • [from steve_portigal] How to Have an Idea [Frank Chimero] – [A little comic that amuses as it inspires and teaches, suggesting that creativity is tied to doing, not just thinking or (gulp) talking. Manifests so adroitly while we believe user research really comes alive when you use it to start generating concepts for things to make and do] No one crumples a blank sheet of paper.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Medium – E-Readers Collective [NYTimes.com] – [A Kindle feature takes advantage of the inherently digital nature of the medium, but has consequences for the experience] But many writers don’t write aphoristically, and many readers don’t read for aphorisms. In a popularly highlighted world, we all may begin to. The dotted line, like the distinctive hue or underscore that signals a word is clickable on the Web, may be a new kind of punctuation that affects contemporary style. (Amazon's most heavily highlighted books include Gladwell’s “Outliers” and Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”) Readers coming to e-books freshly purchased from Amazon might be taken aback to find them already marked up. Stumbling on a passage that other people care about, framed as though you should care about it too, can seem like a violation of virgin text. It’s bad enough that vandals have gotten to your “new” edition before you have and added emphases unendorsed by author or publisher. What’s worse is that they invariably choose the most Polonius-like passages.

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.

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