Category Archives: shanghai

stimulus

what types of stimulus allow for maximum imagination of viewers’? and when does the maximum imagination become just too much to make any sense?

it is certainly an important question in designing products for which people’s opinions matter but the present lifestyle and environment does not provide sufficient experiential references to the subject. as for the experience of a researcher/designer, this phase is the most tricky part because it is all about a game of stimulus-interpretation-linkage process, for the researchers, the facilitator, and people participating in the research as opinion givers. personally this phase can be also less fun compared to the exploration phase because of the pressure of making decisions and conclusions. no pain, no gain.

spent last week in these rooms, first time to be back since 2004. it was most refreshing to see once again how vulnerable this method is to numerous factors – the stimulus material, facilitator’s cultural/domain knowledge and ability to improvise, tone of the voice, translation, recruitment, group dynamics, and whatnot.

leaving the packed lunch, caffeine overdose, lack of natural light, and midnight dinners behind, happily landed in singapore for a couple of days.

* top photo: ‘welcome – OL (office lady) or beach girl’, osaka, 2008
* second photo: signage for a strip club, tokyo, 2008

proof of freshness

at a casual restaurant in accra, customers order first which items they want on their plates. the prepared plates get these white caps till they are finally handed to the paid customers.

accra restaurant

at a korean restaurant in shanghai, all tables are set with plates and cutlery covered till customers are seated on the table.

a korean restaurant, shanghai

at a restaurant in tokyo (tokatsu tonki in meguro), toothpicks are covered with a clear glass.

bottle caps

at a street cafe in accra, bottled drinks are served with half-open bottle caps.

bottle  caps

some of these are for practical reasons, some more symbolic to show their service mentality. i do get my tiny moments of happiness when i can sense that someone has thought through how the customer would feel about their service and the food.

on a slight tangent, i cant help thinking about various possible seals on digital information, for instance – ‘freshness – from within 1 day’, ‘authenticity’, or ‘exclusivity’. in the late 90’s of the internet age, reputation and social recommendation systems were a big topic (or at least around T.J.Watson research center where I worked as a student). internet is a social place & inherently everything’s centered/centering around people behind, but i believe we are reaching an era in which some parts of the society will demand digital information identity as much as humans’ that does not get subjected to the democracy of people’s behaviors and subjective opinions.

location based information kit

upon entering a park in shanghai, there was a signboard with a compact set of information for park visitors. on the top, there’s a picture and a phone number of the person to contact should anything happen in the park. below, highest/lowest temperature of the day & other relevant phone numbers are listed. its a nice gesture but at the same time it is difficult to imagine how this set of information can be useful for park visitors in practice. it would take a lot of forward-thinking for anyone to predict the usefulness of these numbers & save them for future use upon seeing this information.

many location-based mobile services are subjected to play around the similar threshold of adoption, from service discovery to engagement to actual usage. often it is also about how to transform the linearity to an encompassing, opportunistic space: the physical sign board which broadcasts information at a set node vs. an information broadcast available in a larger area such as a park.

info bulletin

chinese public parks are very vibrant, always full of engaging & engaged activities – encompassing all age groups, be it tai-chi practice, playing chinese chess, singing practice, kite flying, dance performance, or caligraphy with water.

performance shanghai

hamonica 01

hamonica 2

ladies w flowers

water caligraphy

park sign

on a sunday afternoon in shanghai in march 2008.