Showing all posts tagged ethnography:

$10 Juice: A Cultural Symbol for Gentrification

While waiting for Uber in front of the newly renovated Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles, a security guy struck a conversation and asked me what the juice I was drinking tasted like. I kindly replied and said it’s made out of pineapple, cucumber, kale and ginger and it sort of tastes like watered-down pineapple juice. He still seemed quite curious and eventually walked away as if he was embarrassed about the whole situation.

Perhaps he didn’t understand why I was drinking something that didn't seem to taste particularly great and costs as much as what he probably makes in an hour. Perhaps the security guy may have been right. Buying a $10 juice didn't seem economical at all. In fact, my decision to purchase the juice may be creating a rather uncomfortable gap in social equality.

Later that day, I wanted to find out whether there is a correlation between juice bars and gentrification. So I screen-grabbed the search results for “juice" on Google Maps, which displays the promoted businesses that sell juice. I then compared the pattern from Google Maps to the map on Zillow based on houses for sale with the price of $500,000 and above. Ditto! There seems to be some correlation between the two. Not a huge surprise, but the simple comparison does tell a lot about the trajectories that gentrification will follow.

Where do you expect the gentrification will happen next in Los Angeles?

Relevant Article:

Acceptable Boundaries of Use by Jan Chipchase

Here is an excerpt from Jan Chipchase's new journal titled Today's Office, talking about his visceral journey in Hokkaido and user experience.

Today’s office is a ryokan halfway up a mountain in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. I’m here with Raphael, a research colleague to catch up on the last year, figure out where we want to go in the next and somewhere along the line make the most of what the mountain has to offer. In the village outside it’s minus ten and for the third night in a row it’s dumping it down.

The building we are staying in was at first glance a disappointment — semi- industrial in a run-down-damp sort of way, but after three days the room starting to feel like home. It helps that every evening the staff leave a thermos of hot water in the room (we happen to have some decent freshly ground coffee and a cafetière), that there is a spacious open air onsen 5 minutes away, and that some- one nearby has left their Wi-Fi unsecured, bless them.

I’m tucked up in bed, and on the floor to my left a digital camera has been broken down into its composite parts and is (hopefully) drying out after being submerged in the snow. The challenge of capturing data in difficult conditions is a familiar one but tonight presented some new hurdles: a combination of the cold (around minus eighteen on the mountain); horizontal in-your-face winds; the need to remove outer glove-wear to be able to properly handle equipment; and a constant heavy snowfall meaning that after twenty seconds or so a new snow-drift has built up on the edges of the lens. Given the circumstances the only way to clear the camera lens of snow was to lick it whilst avoiding having my tongue stick to its metal frame (the alternative is to piss on the lens protector, I’m not convinced I’d be sufficiently agile to direct the stream where it is needed, and am not pre- pared for my colleague to do the deed).

In all I’m satisfied that the camera continued to work and that photos and memory card survived the cold.

User experience practitioners often use personas and scenarios to understand and communicate how a product will be used. But what are acceptable limits, and what happens when use falls outside acceptable limits? Is it reasonable to expect a camera to function in these conditions? Is it reasonable to expect your phone to work after being run over by a car? For your iPod to sit in your pocket without it scratching?

There are three trends that are likely to considerably shift consumer perception of what constitutes acceptable use: miniaturisation; the availability of flexible components; and the ability to track products over a lifetime. Once objects reach a certain size the range of places that they can be comfortably carried and stored increases making it feasible for it to be carried without significant extra burden for the user, comfortably placed in a pocket or tucked in amongst other objects in a bag. The new range of contexts in which they can now freely roam stretches the perceptions of their acceptable boundaries of use. It is more comfortable to carry a flexible object next your (soft, fleshy, human) body than a hard object. Smart use of flexible components will further expand the range of use cases for many products and along with it, user expectations. Finally the ability to track objects (and for objects to track us) from purchase, through usage to disposal (and for objects to the disposing of us) will change our notions of ownership, use and abuse, which will change our perception of the consequences for going over these boundaries. Which in turn changes our notion of receipts and warranties. Pretty much everyone carries some receipts, whether its to make an expense claim, for personal accounting, because the objects might need to be returned, or as proof of purchase because without it the shopping experience feels more awkward, as if everything in your bag might be stolen.

In a world where the consumption of goods and services are inherently tied to a known identity (and that known identity’s ability to pay) much of the usefulness of the receipt, as a physical manifestation of proof of purchase goes out the win- dow. Today we are very much shaped by what we carry. Tomorrow (or the tomorrow after that) we will be shaped and defined by what we don’t need to carry.

via D-Rad


“A designer always has a view on what the context is like, but this is always a guess, a personal view, based on personal experiences. Research with real users serves to provide a richer, more dependable view on situations in which products are or will be used." -- from “Contextmapping: experiences from practice" by Froukje Sleeswijk Visser, Pieter Jan Stappers and Remko van der Lught