Posts tagged “product”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • In defense of inspired design: Deyan Sudjic and "The Language of Things: Understanding the World of Desirable Objects" – Tthe Clift Hotel in 2001 was reborn as an outpost of the globe-trotting cultural elite. The 1913 exterior still exudes staid pomp; inside it's a dark wonderland of affectation, with theatrically scaled furniture, thick silk drapes & techno rhythms in the background.

    The interiors are by Philippe Starck whom Sudjic describes as "constantly seeking to amuse the grown-ups with his daringly naughty tricks."

    The ambiance is profoundly different a few blocks away at Blue Bottle Cafe. Here, light streams through the bare windows of a 17-foot-high corner retail space. The stools are utilitarian, the walls dull white.

    Yet everything here is arranged as deliberately as at the Clift, including the coffee beans in grainy paper bags with the blend names stamped by hand. It's all very DIY – and you can grind the beans at home with the $700 grinder on sale a few feet away.

    "In objects we value the 'authentic,' the hand-pressed. It's often the same thing with cities," Sudjic said .

  • Dance Off with the Star Wars Stars 2009 – Many YouTube videos to explore here, but possibly one of the most inauthentic things ever. Taking beloved character archetypes out of their true context and into a tepid cheesy new context. Funny, or a betrayal, (or cool?) depending on where you come from. While the related video, Star Wars Weekends – Special Effects Edition (with real lightsabers!), evokes a real authenticity, even though it creates humor by mixing fantasy with reality, there's a underlying difference – love for the original versus exploitation of the original
  • The Case of the Inappropriate Alarm Clock – Another complex and rambling Errol Morris investigation into politics, authentication, media, photography, truth, fakery, and more
  • Les Sans Culottes: a French band from Brooklyn that isn’t really French – "Brooklyn’s Les Sans Culottes have taken the whole faux-French-band thing pretty far—the group’s live shows are superenergetic, fake-multicultural events. You might not learn anything about French culcha, but you’ll probably hop around like a lunatic."
  • Authentic Organizations — aligning identity, action and purpose – A blog that explores
    * What does it mean for an organization to be “authentic”?
    * Why does it matter that an organization be authentic?
    * Which organizations are being authentic, and what are they doing to pursue authenticity?
    * Which organizations are not being authentic, why, and what could they be doing to become more authentic?
    * What should an organization do to become more authentic, or to address a specific authenticity dilemma?
    * What can you and I do, as organization members, as managers, leaders, scholars or practitioners, as persons, to help organizations pursue authenticity?
  • When Consumers Search For Authenticity: In The Eye Of The Beholder? – "Consumer identity goals (or their idealized images of themselves) underpin assessments of whether a brand is authentic (genuine, real, and true) or not." The researchers identified three primary identity goals: a desire for control, connection, or virtue. "These goals reflect three respective societal norms: the need to be practical, to participate in community, and to be moral," the authors explain. "When seeking to achieve these different goals, consumers choose different brands. When consumers desire to be in control, they may view McDonalds as an inauthentic brand partner because fast food leads to increases in weight. Alternately, McDonald's may be viewed as a genuine partner when the same consumer is seeking to connect with others."
  • Creating Authentic Product Experiences: a teaser for this presentation – Authenticity is an increasingly crucial attribute for successful products and services, but understanding how to apply it is slippery. In this presentation, Steve presents a number of facets of authenticity, from product form and aesthetics, to the evolution of meaning over time, to personal interactions, and brands. While there is no magic answer to "what is authenticity?" the journey to answer that question is an essential one.
  • All This ChittahChattah (Kindle Edition) – Understanding culture, design, and business – For only $1.99 a month. Not available to customers in the US, for reasons I don't understand.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The Book Industry Turns A Page on Talk of the Nation (NPR) – The Kindle, the iPhone and other electronic book readers have changed the way many people read — and left some in the publishing industry desperate for new ways to make money. A new venture from the TheDailyBeast.com, will soon upend the traditional publishing model. With Peter Osnos, Founder of Public Affairs Books and Former Vice President at Random House, Tina Brown, founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, and ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
  • Google to launch online electronic book store – Google plans to launch an online store to deliver electronic books to any device with a web browser, threatening to upset a burgeoning market for dedicated e-readers dominated by Amazon's Kindle. They will be initially offering about half a million e-books in partnership with publishers with whom it already cooperates where they have digital rights. Readers will be able to buy e-books either from Google directly or from other online stores such as Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com. Google will host the e-books and make them searchable.

    "We're not focused on a dedicated e-reader or device of any kind," Tom Turvey, Google's director of strategic partnerships, told journalists at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

  • Barnes & Noble Taps Kindle Designer For Its AthenaNook e-Book Reader – Ammunition supposedly did the original Kindle and is now supposedly doing the Barnes & Noble device. Meanwhile, stay tuned for the Core77 1HDC Reading Ahead results!

ChittahChattah Quickies

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

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

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

    (Thanks Suzanne Long!)

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

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

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

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

    (thanks Avi and Anne)

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

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The Product Is You, No. 12 – Rob Walker does a series of advertisements that reveal a customer segmentation and the associated characteristics. Similar vein to my postings about personas leaking outside the enterprise
  • Please vote for our SXSW panel "Culture Kicks Our Ass: How To Kick Back" – The conference lineup is chosen partially based on input (i.e., voting) from the community. Even if you don't attend, you still have a voice about what the discourse should be in our various fields, so please vote for this panel from Steve Portigal and D. P. Haine, of Obvious Design.

    We’ll explore the different cultural challenges that breakthrough products must overcome: emergent usage behaviors that are impossible to predict, a global customer base and cultural barriers inside the corporation that suffocate innovation. We’ll also share best practices for addressing each challenge.

  • Please vote for our SXSW panel "FAIL: When User Research Goes Horribly, Horribly Wrong" – The conference lineup is chosen partially based on input (i.e., voting) from the community. Even if you don't attend, you still have a voice about what the discourse should be in our various fields, so please vote for this panel from
    Steve Portigal, Portigal Consulting
    Nate Bolt, Bolt|Peters
    Dan Saffer, Kicker Studio
    Aviva Rosenstein, Ask.com
    Mark Trammell, Digg

    Best practices for user research are not hard to come by, but experience is the ideal way to develop mastery. And with experience inevitably comes failure. Embarrassing, awkward, hilarious failure that gives the gift of self-improvement. We’ll share our own unvarnished examples and what they taught us.

  • Do programmers still buy printed books? | Zen and the Art of Programming – Likewise, when I’m holding a book or have it open on my desk, I’m in “book reading mode”, which makes it far easier to immerse myself in it. This means that I’m focused on the task and can proceed quickly. The only context switch that happens is between the book and the editor/shell, if it’s the kind of book that warrants typing along. If you are reading a book in a browser tab, it’s very easy to think, “I’ll just check my email for a second”, or introduce similar distractions. I’m sure I’m not alone in this respect.

    When I buy a physical copy of a book, I feel psychologically more obliged to at least try to get through it. Online I experience a paradox of choice of sort. With hundreds of interesting books available there in front of me, I’m more inclined to excessively multitask, and end up checking out different books while I should still be reading the current one.

    (Thanks @onwardparam and @chirag_mehta)

  • New study suggests people from different cultures read facial expressions differently – East Asian participants in the study focused mostly on the eyes, but those from the West scanned the whole face.
    They were more likely than Westerners to read the expression for "fear" as "surprise", and "disgust" as "anger".

    The researchers say the confusion arises because people from different cultural groups observe different parts of the face when interpreting expression.

    (via Design-Emotion.com)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Paul Graham on the "social norm" problem with the Segway – This is a point I made in my interactions column "Some Different Approaches To Making Stuff" – Kamen is the genius who got it wrong, because he focused only on technology and not on culture and behavior.

    "The Segway hasn't delivered on its initial promise, to put it mildly. There are several reasons why, but one is that people don't want to be seen riding them. Someone riding a Segway looks like a dork.

    My friend Trevor Blackwell built his own Segway, which we called the Segwell. He also built a one-wheeled version, the Eunicycle, which looks exactly like a regular unicycle till you realize the rider isn't pedaling. He has ridden them both to downtown Mountain View to get coffee. When he rides the Eunicycle, people smile at him. But when he rides the Segwell, they shout abuse from their cars: "Too lazy to walk, ya fuckin homo?"

    Why do Segways provoke this reaction? The reason you look like a dork riding a Segway is that you look smug. You don't seem to be working hard enough."

  • Like Nike+ for happiness, iPhone app is data collection for PhD thesis – "At repeated periods throughout the day you'll be pinged by your iPhone either by email or by SMS, and prompted to answer a short one-minute survey. This one asks how happy you are, what you're doing (yes, "making love" is an option, though hopefully it's an activity you'd prioritize over doing some science) whether you exercised recently, whether you're alone, who you're talking to and what you're thinking about." Essentially a "beeper study" but somehow a more viral story ("iPhone"!) than normal.
  • 'True Blood' Beverage – "Inspired by HBO's hugely successful vampire drama series, True Blood, Omni Consumer Products struck a deal with the network's licensing division to releasing 'Tru Blood' the actual beverage..a drinkable product inspired by a beverage meant to taste like blood so that fake vampires from a pay-cable TV show can survive without having to resort to feasting on humans."

ChittahChattah Quickies

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Core77 launches a product: a limited edition "curated" bike with a $1500 price tag – Core77 has been insanely brilliant at facilitating design discourse and ultimately design itself for a very long time. They've experimented before in launching their own product, I think, (I seem to recall a shoe) but this is a big leap, with this fancy-shmancy bike. To those that know what makes for a great bike, it may be a truly wonderful object, but it seems to manifest the worst part of design: elite hipsters making artificially cool stuff for other designers who revel in the semiotics of exclusivity, rather than what I believe Core77 can better champion: the design field of talented passionate people solving tough problems in unique, beautiful and successful ways. I challenge Core77 to take this (hopefully successful) experience in Launching Products (no doubt an insanely difficult thing) and apply it next to Launching Products That Make A Difference To Everyone (or at least Helping Others To…). The MoMA design world doesn't need Core77, but the real design world so badly does.
  • R.I.P., Oscar Mayer – The 95-year old retired company chairman dies. He was actually the third Oscar Mayer to run the company, co-founded in the 1890s by his grandfather, Oscar Mayer. "They began using the Oscar Mayer brand name in the 1920s, stamping it on the country's first packaged, sliced bacon, which the Mayer brothers introduced in 1924 — an innovation that earned them a U.S. government patent."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Gorilla Snot Cocktail Recipe – Measure the port into a brandy glass, the pour the Bailey's in. As the Bailey's enters the port it will solidify, forming a glob.
  • Gorilla Snot Musicians Gripping Resin – (thanks @trx0x) Gorilla Snot is a gripping aid. It has been developed by and for professionals who demand flexibility, functionality, and efficiency in the tools of their trade. A non-gooey, naturally refined tree rosin, Gorilla Snot reacts with your body's natural chemistry and heat output to retain a steady grip on picks drumsticks, bows, and any other hard to grip instruments.

    While playing, Gorilla Snot maintains an even consistency, but when you've finished, just separate your fingers for 20 or 30 seconds, and it dissolves completely! The gripping reaction is only effective when you activate it. It cannot stain instruments or clothing because it is entirely permeable to open air and dissipates completely.

  • Gorilla-Snot® Soil Stabilization & Dust Control from Soilworks® – Soilworks®, LLC is the innovator and manufacturer of Gorilla-Snot® soil stabilizer and dust control agent. It is the economy grade version of our Soiltac® soil stabilizer. Gorilla-Snot® is an eco-safe, biodegradable, liquid copolymer used to stabilize and solidify any soil or aggregate as well as erosion control and dust suppression.
  • Moco de Gorila – Snott Gorila Hair Styling Gel – Moco de Gorila® is a very strong hair gel made in mexico. It delivers strong lasting hold and it leaves absolutely no residues or flakes on your hair.
    Does Moco de Gorila Hair Gel have anything to do with real gorillas?
    No. Amusingly, this is a very frequently asked question. The only thing that comes from a Gorilla is its name.
    Can Moco de Gorila® be used by women?
    Yes. There is many women that use Moco de Gorila to keep their hair style all day long without leaving any residues.

    [I like the name, the brand, the rawness, the story, the cultural ping-ponging between white and Hispanic, the package design]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Lovenest: Help Keep Your Baby’s Head Round – The parent-of-baby market seems unique in its (often peer-reinforced) drive to identify new needs and corresponding solutions. This leads to a lot of stuff being produced, some as expensive replacements for existing satisfactory (if generic) solutions, but much of it seemingly innovative. I suppose the work of a parent now includes the emotionally fraught process of trying to sort out the difference.
  • Icon-o-Cast by Lunar : Best products & experiences for new moms & their babies – This is a really great discussion about how parents-to-be seek out product information, what products are offering and not offering, the challenges around integration with other products and with the existing home environment. Good insight and tons of opportunity for designers, brands, and retailers.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Griffin designers explain their product development process – An idea that passes the initial "sniff test" gets assigned to a Category Manager, who shepherds it through a more formal proof-of-concept process. They discuss it with industrial designers, engineers, user researchers, the sales team, even packaging. The goal is to thoroughly vet the product to make sure that it's a good fit with our customers, our capabilities, our strategic priorities, our distribution channels and our financial requirements, before it gets the green light for resources to be allocated.
    (via Core77)

Explaining your product puts you ahead of the pack

A few weeks ago I saw this full-page newspaper ad for Verizon’s Hub:
murphy

I’ve blown up the smaller text at the bottom:
hub

The phrase “the home phone reinvented” reminds us that explaining a new product in terms of what it is replacing, enhancing, or integrating with is often a very effective way to help ground something new. But the ad works mostly by establishing a physical context (the kitchen) and a use case (distributed family communication and meal planning). The actual functional specs are presented almost as an afterthought in the footer and greatly in service of the “reinvented” aspect.

I was excited by this ad because it does a reasonable job at something crucial that so few companies are actually doing: explaining clearly what their product is and who it is for.

I don’t know if this product is a good idea or a bad idea; it’d be fascinating to see how new users begin to use it and what sense they make it of it. But it seems that this product team Verizon is at least half a step ahead of many technology groups out there who collect a bundle of technology together but fail to create a compelling story about why this matters.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Now consumers can get some of that reality-show style in their own homes – Bravo is developing products based on its popular programs, including the “Real Housewives” franchise and “Top Chef,” that will be promoted on the air and sold on Bravo’s Web site. The network will earn licensing fees or take a cut of sales. The line includes bags for $595 from the brand Kooba; designs created by contestants on the new series “The Fashion Show”; “Top Chef”-themed flower arrangements from Teleflora; “Top Chef” branded wines from Terlato Wines International; “Top Chef” knives from Master Cutlery; and online cooking classes conducted by “Top Chef” contestants.

    Frances Berwick, executive vice president and general manager of Bravo Media, said that “the revenue from this is minuscule by comparison to what we think it’ll do for our brand. This is a fun way to satisfy what we’re hearing from our viewers: that they like our shows, that they like our taste,” Ms. Berwick said. “It’s about giving our viewers a greater immersion in the brand.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • How's that for a long-lasting brand/product? After 72 years, TV's `Guiding Light' switching off – It began as a 15-minute serial on NBC Radio in January 1937 and debuted on CBS television in 1952, focusing on the Bauer family of Springfield.
  • April 2009 – Iraqis Snap Up Hummers as Icons of Power – “Iraqis love them because they’re really a symbol of power,” said Mr. Hilli, a chubby 37-year-old who could not stop chuckling. Nonetheless, he spoke with authority, since he was his own first customer. Hummers in Baghdad are symbols of much more besides: increasing security, returning normality and a yearning for the trappings of sovereignty. Mr. Hilli allowed that there was something else, too, a little more indefinable, which in Arabic is “hasad thukuri,” [penis envy]
  • April 2003 – Americans induce patriotism through Hummer purchase – "When I turn on the TV, I see wall-to-wall Humvees, and I'm proud," said Sam Bernstein, a 51-year-old antiquities dealer who lives in Marin County, Calif., and drives a Hummer H2, an S.U.V. sibling of the military Humvee. "They're not out there in Audi A4's," he said of the troops. "I'm proud of my country, and I'm proud to be driving a product that is making a significant contribution."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice: the appeal of simplification by choice elimination – At the bottom of the Heaven's Dog cocktail list there's a category called "Freedom from Choice," where you leave it up to the bar staff to decide your drink. Diners choose the spirit they'd like and whether it should be "citrus-driven or spirituous."
  • Home + Housewares Show 2009…in Cartoons! – Pithy, brilliant, hilarious. Applies pretty much to every tradeshow I've ever been to.
  • Ask Jeremiah: The Comprehensive FAQ Guide to Twitter – It's a great document, but an online FAQ on someone's site is good for the type of user who is going to seek this document out…the mass adoption from Twitter is not going be as well supported by documents like this as it would be through the experience that Twitter itself creates
  • Lisa Smith and Caroline Linder at the Home + Housewares Show 2009 – "a maze of the bizarre and the banal, including picture frame air fresheners, pet hair picker-uppers, fingerprintless garbage cans, antibacterial marinaters, high-power vacuum cleaners, automatic hair-cutters, gas-powered blenders, anti-static dusters and instant boot dryers."
    "the spectacle is especially nightmarish; it represents the darker side of our discipline–product design gone wild and unchecked in the marketplace"
    "Who knew that both Miami Vice and the Southwestern pottery craze are preserved within the wide color range of KitchenAid Mixers?"
    "Q: How did you pick these forms? A:Oh, these are historical forms that we made up.""

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Twitter's suggested users for you to follow – This lacks any personalization and reinforces the unfortunate star system that (social) media supports, but it's a good example of a "how to get started" scaffolding that I've written about before
  • Jimmyjane's Sex Change Operation – my article on Core77 – We were invited to designer-sex-accessory firm Jimmyjane to learn more about their history and their approach. My thoughts on the company and its mission are posted on Core7.

    "Ethan Imboden worked an industrial designer for firms like Ecco and frogdesign, cranking out designs for everyday products (i.e., staplers and monitors), but grew to feel that he had something more to contribute. After starting his own design firm, he went with a client to the Adult Novelty Expo and saw bad design everywhere. He founded Jimmyjane as a response to that, and set out to use form, color, materials and so on to create premium vibrators. Now he's a visionary creative, with strong ideas about the Jimmyjane brand and how to embody those attributes across a range of products. Imboden fits the Be A Genius and Get It Right archetype we wrote about in interactions."

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