Posts tagged “surprise”

Billy Eichner on Interviewing

In this interview with Billy Eichner he articulates a beautiful principle of successful interviewing (even though his show features “interviews” that are over-the-top aggro street-intercepts)

Q: What makes a good interview for you?
A: I might have jokes in my head, but the best interactions come when I listen to the person’s response. I let go of whatever my plan might have been, and I meet this person where they are, and I let them lead me wherever they want to go, to a certain extent. It always bothers me when I watch interviews — even serious ones on a news program — and there are no follow-up questions, and the journalist sticks to their plan, and they don’t let the conversation guide them.

Elysa’s War Story: Keep The Swiffer On Your Right

Senior strategist Elysa Soffer heads into the field where an adventure in building rapport awaits.

She’s Caucasian, 75 years old, retired, married with 2 grown kids, lives in Berkeley, and cleans her floors 2 – 4 times a week. This woman fits our qualifications as a participant for our research study. But you never know who you might be talking to and how best to get them to open up to you-a stranger entering their home.

Two of us spent a few hours interviewing this woman in her home for a floor cleaning study. We asked warm-up questions about her and her household. She mentioned that she was a writer and lived there with her husband. She showed us around her house, and pointed out the rooms where she spends the most time cleaning floors.

During the next part of the interview, she demonstrated her cleaning process and we asked her to test a few prototypes we brought along. She showed us everything from how she stores her tools, cleans, and puts everything away. It was as simple as that.

This was one of the last in-home interviews out of about a dozen conducted for this project. It went just as smoothly as the previous ones. We felt like we gathered insights. So, we asked our wrap-up questions and packed up. Once the video camera and recorder were off, we made small talk while heading to the door.

My research partner stopped next to the door to look at a handmade shrine-like structure sitting on a tchotchke shelf. It was made out of bones! Not fake Halloween-decoration bones, but real human-looking bones. We couldn’t resist, we had to ask.

The woman’s face lit up, and she was excited to tell us the story about her adventures visiting a tribe of cannibals in Africa. She explained that she published articles about this tribe and took many trips over the years to study their culture. She also pointed out how the shrine was made of animal, not human bones. To top it all off, she confessed that she “may” have been fed human during some of her expeditions there. Whoa!

We asked a few more questions about her adventures, but unfortunately we had to go. The vibe in the room had completely changed. She was enthusiastic and seemed more comfortable than she did for the previous few hours. Had we noticed the statue on the way in, would the interview had been different? If the camera was still on would she have reacted the same way?

Back in the car, I looked at the recruiter’s sheet again. Cannibal wasn’t listed anywhere. I wondered what secrets the previous floor cleaning participants hadn’t shared.

Our latest article: What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting It


Our latest interactions column (written in collaboration with Julie Norvaisas) What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting It has just been published.

We are inevitably astounded and affected by what exists outside of explicit research project constraints.We indulged in a little reflection on some of the people we’ve met and how meeting them took us outside of the business questions at hand but had a real impact on the team and reframed the way we thought about the business questions. This opportunity to dwell on the exception provides a reminder of how these experiences deliver a potent dose of humanity to the business of providing products for people.

Get the PDF here.

Previous articles also available:

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The Day It All Changed: The BookServer project – BookServer is a framework of tools and activities. It is an open-architectured set of tools that allow for the discoverability, distribution, and delivery of electronic books by retailers, librarians, and aggregators, all in a way that makes for a very easy and satisfying experience for the reader, on whatever device they want.

    The Internet Archive expanded the availability of books to millions of people who never had access before, bringing knowledge to places that had never had it. Who knows what new markets that will create, or more importantly what new minds will contribute to our collective wisdom as a result of that access. In the same motion, Brewster demonstrated a world where free can coexist with the library borrowing model, and with the commercial marketplace. Protecting the interests of both of those important constituencies in this ecosystem. He also portrayed every 'closed system' including our big retail friends and search engine giants, as small potatoes.

  • Stack America: Freedom from Choice + Surprise + Curation – Stack America is the subscription service that brings the best in hard-to-find independent magazines directly to your home or office. Based in New England and created in response to the huge demand for Stack from American subscribers, it exists to offer a targeted selection of independent magazines for anyone subscribing in the USA and beyond. (via DesignObserver)
  • ANONthology – The Anonthology is an experimental project to assess the importance placed on name and reputation over quality of writing. Amongst the writers contained within we have Orange and Genius Prize winners, Booker and Pulitzer Prize nominees. We have one author who’s sold over half a million copies, another who’s written over fifty books. But can you tell which is which? And how does it change the reading experience, not knowing if the author is young or old, male or female?

    (via Springwise)

If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice

Heaven’s Dog is a new restaurant in San Francisco. Their menu features a Freedom From Choice cocktail:
freedom

An interesting comment on modern life: that choice (of a “reward”) is something we might consider outsourcing, even to an expert. Often freedom from choice would be a negative attribute, where options may be limited, or power/control may be removed. Here the choices are nearly infinite, but the responsibility lies elsewhere. You provide a small input, and you have the opportunity to be surprised!

For more on choice and the paradox of choice, see Every trend has a counter-trend

Silicon Tails: Conversations with a robot

In Conversations with a robot Klaus has a frustrating but hilarious interaction with a chatbot. Look, this stuff is as old as Eliza, but for some reason, it’s still hilarious. I hope someone has done a PhD on why there is humor in interfaces that act human but fail to do so. Besides stand-up comedy (or blog) fodder, it obviously says something profound about our own expectations for communication.

Klaus says:
you are a robot, right?

Spleak says:
What if I am?

Klaus says:
just answer the freakin’ question

Spleak says:
Questions, cool. Ready?

Klaus says:
aaahhhh

Spleak says:
Yeah yeah, whatever.

Klaus says:
ok, whatever. I’m ready.

Spleak says:
Help me get smarter: tell me what the average human would have said.

Klaus says:
an average human would have remembered the sentence uttered 5 seconds earlier. You asked me if I was ready for questions

Spleak says:
What about me?

Klaus says:
what about you?

Spleak says:
I’ve been wondering about me myself.

Klaus says:
well, good for you. please don’t let me in on it.

Spleak says:
Yes?

Series

About Steve