Sex sells…

well the opposite sex.. this is not necessarily related to thesis directly but i thought id rant about it, because this BusinessWeek article on Dell suddenly realizing that women buy electronics too is maddening. This is more than obvious and slightly frustrating that in 2005, after more than 20 years of computational history, they would snap out of it and do more than “ooo lets make the ipod cover pink!”… Brings me back to a blog post on 37 signals which debated the very silli question of whether software was developped for men and not women. I mean this is a little bit of a double edged sword in a way because if that’s what companies are suggesting, that women are different types of users, then how? and when are they going to cater to them, and how on earth are we different users? I think they should spend more time thinking about making things easier generally and more specifically for people with disabilities who have more direct issues with technology then the color of the interface…

The dog and the clock on their way…

Ok so i sent out the dog to London through my good friend Mike who hopefully will be sending this to my friend Karola and then the experiment will start…

The clock is on its way to Montreal, via lovely Sydney who will send it from NY…

Since I havent gotten any answers from Marcos, Im trying to aim for Seoul instead of Tokyo through my friend Aram, hopefulle this can be done this week…

Good things come to those who wait apparently…:-)

Experiment 1: the jar, the clock and the dog.

Ok so from this point onward and starting tomorrow hopefully i will be able to document via this blog the trials and tribulations of a jar sent to Tokyo, a plush dog sent to London and a clock sent to Montreal. This is basically a spin off of the chain letter concept but with a communal twist. People receive these objects, personlize them, then have to pass them on to someone they know after having taken a picture of the object sent to me which allows me to publish the results online and documenting who gets these objects, how they got them and what they did with them.

I am interested in testing a few things here with this experiment. Firstly whether people are opened to not owning, if the value is collective and accessible by all members of the group is enough. Im interested in the modes of personalization which is why i have a fairly blank object (the jar) which needs total personalization, an emotionally charged object with little personalisation capacity (the dog) and a highly functional object with no emotional anchor and with a large personalisation capacity. I am interested in knowing how far these obejcts will travel, how large does the community around these objects get, how interested people are in the destiny of these objects. Will they seek for them? Will they wait till it happens to drop in their hands???

I am sending 2 of these objects tomorrow in the mail and so the games begin!!!!

Spimes???

Hmm, the more i learn the more i love Bruce Sterling…I learnt a new word today: spime, ie the idea of the intelligent device that is also aware of its state (of course this was in the context of object -driven programming but i extrapollated it to the idea of physical objects.

There’s a good book ive been meaning to read called The New Everyday: Views on Ambient Intelligence, which is a collection of essays on intelligent objects. I think there are some interesting concerns when we need to adress technology and embedding it in everyday objects, fabrics and wearables. What i am looking at in a way is the reverse situation where i will be trying to extract the physical qualities of objects to make them come back in high tech interactions.

Colin's feedback…

This is the feedback I got from Colin Burns last month who was talking about his work for an R&D team a few years ago:

We created good experimental evidence that authentic (i.e. from the real
context) objects are a highly effective trigger for reminiscence and memory.
(e.g. Souvenir of a trip, family members hat, etc…)

Much of the work in this area up to now focuses on the “mindful” capture of
memories (e.g. The photograph, “Kodak moment” scenario…). More mileage is
to be had in so called “quotidian” capture (see Proust, I think (or one of
those philosopher types..!) …) – i.e. those everyday things that at the
time don’t seem significant.

Patterns of “quotidian” data are highly relevant. (e.g. What would it be
like to have access to your lifetimes’ telephone records – what would that
reveal about certain periods of life…)

Thesis feedback…

I thought I would publish the feedback I’ve been getting from Lee Feldman from Blast Radius, a canadian born web company. He is part of the group of people who I am actively informing on my thesis process which includes Colin Burns, ex-head of IDEO London with whom i had the pleasure of working with this summer at the Design Council, then Jonathan Chapman author of “Emotionally Sustainable Design and founder of Safe house creative.

So here’s Lee’s take on my thesis that he sent out this week.

The first is/was/continues to be the interesting reality of Peak Oil
(http://www.peakoil.org),( http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/) The second
is status/reputation systems, the third is networking and gaming as social
collaboration and prototyping tool, the fourth is Japan, or perhaps more
precisely, Tokyo.

Peak Oil is the “scare tactic” that might drive a lot of usage pattern
change. www.endofsuburbia.com does a nice job of suggesting new living
patterns based on more community and communal living post-oil crash.
Wal-Mart relies on cheap oil to get its cheaply made products to market.
What happens when oil is no longer cheap? Will the Wal-Mart model fail, and
increasingly local markets, based on coopetition, re-emerge?

Status and reputation systems, specifically networked, are creating a
“semi-non hierarchical” meritocracy and putting more power into the
hands of consumers. Web 2.0 (www.emilychang.com) is extending the system
from pure consumptive environments like Amazon, to bloggers, podcasters
etc…So every individual has an opportunity to express themselves, and be
open to rating, criticism in a democratic market of ideas- beautiful.

What if we could extend the reputation system, starting on a voluntary
basis, to peoples’ actual consumption footprint?
(http://www.thersa.org/projects/carbon_trading.asp) Can we replace “bling”
with “fling?” fling being the temporary usage of something, rather than
the full-blown ownership of the thing (www.livework.com). Can fling be
a new reputation based on sharing? How can status be conveyed? How can
it be “branded” so that fling becomes the more desirable?

What if we could make a game out of this? The game requires community based
teams to collaborate on web/social network based services aimed at
maximizing resource usage. The game environment might be a habbo-like space
(www.habbohotel.com) that resembles your neighborhood so that you can
configure your ‘hood and and start iterating and prototyping service
designs. Key data is entered and an AI system, based on known behaviours can
run simulations (the sims). All totally possible now ! Combine it with the
reputation system, combine it with real usage……

Japan…post-post industrial, people living full lives in tiny spaces. They
CANNOT accumulate stuff, so they seek out quality, craft, or become otaku
and focus on collecting. The problem in Japan is not overconsumption it is
hyperconsumption. No second hand market for electronics, cars BUT huge
market for vintage clothing. Why? The homogeneity/individuality paradox.
CRAFT is the way young Japanese who do not want to be salarymen or office
ladies express their individuality. (www.designfesta.com). Produce AND
consume (Prosume) precious things.

SONY or Panasonic will reinvent consumer electronics to be
reusable/upgrade-able (like Toyota making 100% recyclable cars), and/or
create precious objects that become collectible…Sony needs help
right now…