Category Archives: designed things

embedded tool

i came across several people who grew one or two nails very long for a specific purpose – and mostly they were men. its a good contrast to those who grow long fingernails, or extend their fingernails in a way that they are banned for utilitarian purposes.

he was a tailor living in dharavi/mumbai/india and he uses his long finger nail to make the crease on clothes.

indian tailor

david who works at a mobile phone repair shop in accra/ghana had a long finger nail to handle small mobile phone parts and circuits.

ghanaian mobile phone repair man

a student studying computer science in accra, he likes to have long finger nails because he likes the way he looks. there should be more than one so that he can use them to keep his finger nails clean on both hands.

ghanaian student

i usually keep my nails long enough to protect my fingertips. i had two broken nails this week packing boxes, and its unbelievably bothersome. nails are a usefully embedded tool enhancing the performance of the most dexterous part of my body except: using touch screen devices. i had the strange feeling of rejection – almost temporary resentment – when i couldn’t type on iphone as it didnt acknowledge my touch as a touch.

car + mobile phone number

mini

putting owner’s mobile number printed on the front window seems to be on its way to become a norm for car owners in korea. and often its not a scribbled note anymore. the parking convention in korean cities does require leaving the contact information on the car, as people may have no alternative in resting your car without blocking other cars’ exit route, for instance.

how private is your mobile phone number? what combination of contexts and other personal information makes it unacceptable to give the number out?

sticker

Empathetic Service Mindset

I rarely have a chance to travel with Korean Air except when I visit my family in Korea. However – whenever I travel with them, I can’t help smiling at their one unique service:
Stickers for the passenger sleeping or away from the seat during the inflight service.

If you had experienced waking up in the middle of the flight hungry, or even worse – woken up by a persistent flight attendant who wants to fulfill his/her duty by distributing the goods to you, you will appreciate this little attention to detail. There were two different kinds of stickers I have seen in Korean Air flights.

This simple sticker was used during the domestic flight from Busan to Seoul, of which the flight time is just 45 minutes. It was put on by the flight attendant during the complimentary drink service.

guy sleeping

real grey

This set of stickers were in the seat on the 2-hour flight from Seoul to Tokyo, so that the passenger can choose appropriate ones to put on the seat before going to sleep or any type of ‘rest’ mode. A suitable variation of the same service intent when there were more types of services offered.

grey sticker

The definition of a good service may be inherently subjective. We probably all have our own opinions on it, as we surely know the feeling of being served properly. Restaurants are probably a good place to discover the meaning of a good service mindset that suits you. Personally, I started to distinguish services in general in two criteria:

1. Ones that are motivated by the server wanting to be recognized
e.g., In a very posh Indian hotel restaurant, the waiters came to our table every other minute to ask ‘Is everything alright?’, interrupting our conversation every time.
e.g., In a busy restaurant in Tokyo, the waiter cleared the plates away from the table immediately when I was eyeing on my last bit of the remaining sauce.

2. Ones that are motivated by the server’s empathy to the served
e.g., In a restaurant in California, the waitress brought a new fork as soon as she noticed me dropping mine on the floor.
e.g., In a restaurant in Seoul, the waitresses roams around the restaurant and refills the kimchi plate constantly till your meal is almost over, which allows adjusting the amount of kimchi served to each customer, without the customers always having to ask for more portions.
e.g., On a rainy day in Osaka, a cafe owner offered me an umbrella as I was paying the bill. She must have noticed that I didn’t bring one despite the weather, and discreetly offered it to me at the right time.

I draw a parallel between the real world services and the interaction design solutions in computer software or mobile phone service. Both take a great deal of understanding of the individual clienteles’ preferences and recognizing the intentions of the situations that are not explicitly communicated. And it is becoming more and more complex to do this as many design solutions are done to serve a large group of individuals with extremely diverse cultural backgrounds. Given the complexity I find my two simple criteria for distinguishing the restaurant services helpful in deciding features in service design that should be done invisibly or automatically, from the ones that you should prompt for the user’s decision based on contextual observations. Something that our old friendly office clip understood well – but executed rather poorly.

Most my references come from my restaurant experiences, but increasingly from inflight services. So far, my worst bit of inflight service experiences was the BA flight attendant refusing to help me with loading my luggage because she was not insured to the injury incurred by helping me”. Services are a tight interaction between the server and the served. Sometimes external constraints like BA’s policy on its employees prevent the server from providing a good service. It was nice of her to explain the reason for not helping me at least – as I could use some sympathy towards her rather than feeling angry. A nice gentleman helped me with the luggage anyway.

name

name
Originally uploaded by jabberer

Noticed that these things bear my name on them already. It gives a very different feeling to see my name written by someone else on objects. Personalization in a very impersonal way. Maybe i’m not a target consumer for such an approach.