MobilGlyph: Making Data Tangible

Eliminating the fear of making mistakes should be one of the goals of any device in most markets.

In rural India, being able to store a number in contacts and then call that contact is a primary mechanism for overcoming traditional infrastructure challenges, like learning the prices of goods at market. However, currently, most mobile phones available to people in rural areas of India, have a text driven interface, making it near impossible for illiterate users to obtain and store contacts. Solving the “save a contact” problem for illiterate users became one of the focuses for our project. To show how data could be made tangible, and how illiterate users could easily share contact information, we created a concept called MobilGlyph.

Link Love: Mobile culture

Link love
Small pieces, loosely joined.

  • Too cool: The Sartorialist – At the Flea Market with Rei, Tokyo p.1, p.2, and p.3.

From the archives:

Photos: our tools shape us

our tools shape us
“We shape our tools. And then our tools shape us.”
I find it interesting to see how people interact with their tools and how these tools shape our interaction with them. Each change in interface or new feature can have a profound effect on peoples usage of that tool. Look at how people hold cameras today and their more relaxed facial expressions.

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24 Hours: Unplugged – Data On Mobile Usage

This study from the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland has grabbed some headlines, which despite bringing up exaggerated evidence of ‘addiction’, does give some interesting qualitative data. Here is how they describe the study:

The new ICMPA study, “24 Hours: Unplugged,” asked 200 students at the University of Maryland, College Park to give up all media for 24 hours. After their 24 hours of abstinence, the students were then asked to blog on private class websites about their experiences: to report their successes and admit to any failures. The 200 students wrote over 110,000 words: in aggregate, about the same number of words as a 400-page novel.

And a sampling of their data:

Digital media provide “instant gratification” for students. But of all the media technologies, most students felt most bereft without their cell phones use cell phones not only to call friends and family, but to text others at nearly any time of day. They use their phones to text and tweet and Facebook during lectures, while walking around campus, and whenever they need to coordinate with friends.

The most important aspect of a cell phone seems to be being able to meet up with people…. it is problematic having to make up specific times and places to meet up with people: most of us are very accustomed to our flexible by-the-whim lives.

Students’ primary multipurpose media tool is the cellphone: especially for calling and texting, but also for email and playing games. Without it, students repeatedly pointed out, they not only couldn’t communicate, they literally couldn’t operate in the world as they had become accustomed. (Ed. Sounds like an exaggeration)

I am constantly on my phone. On average I probably send a text message every minute or so.

Our cell phones have become such a large part of our lives, it is the one thing I always have with me at all times.

And some data I find is becoming more prevalent, at least anecdotally:

As the assignment made both laptops and cell phones off limits in other classes, students said that without the temptation of their computers and cell phones they learned more.

With more time to study though, I ended up easily getting an A on my test, something that I have rarely done since getting to college. I actually went into the test feeling prepared and confident.”

From this experience I have learned that concentrating fully on the task at hand and not a media distraction [leads] to a more positive result.

Merrill Study: College Students Unable to Disconnect. Study Conclusions. Via textually.
See also: College Students ‘Addicted’ to Social Media, Study Finds

The Umbrella Bag

The Umbrella Bag
Anna Psaroudaki came up with the concept of reusing umbrellas for bags after watching an umbrella being thrown away and her own overuse of plastic bags at a local fruit and vegetable market. The impermeability of the fabrics used in umbrellas and their variable and often interesting style make for an interesting choice for this project. Presented at the Green Design Festival in Athens she has graciously given instructions on how we might build our own.

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Put This On: Shoes

I’ve become a big fan of Put This On “a web series about dressing like a grown-up” – very informative and thus far excellent video episodes. In Episode No.@: Shoes we get a behind the scenes look at Willie’s Shoe Service in Los Angeles. Via Raul Ojeda, the store’s manager, we learn how shoes are manufactured, shoe care and why we should be purchasing handcrafted quality shoes.

Wang Fenghua at Gallery J. Chen

Wang Fenghua
No.2 Pole and Shadow No.2
In exhibition until May 9th, 2010 at Gallery J. Chen on DunHua S. Rd in Taipei is a series of work from Chinese artist Wang Fenghua. From the gallery’s introduction:

Over the past few years, Wang Feng Hua has had the habit of allocating all the images he has collected from the real world into two different parts of his memories: one is his everyday memory, which is the reality of his life, and the other is the inner reality he has cultivated in his heart.
The psychological reality and the reality of the real world, naturally have absolute differences. In this reality, even the air is completely still. The strange thing is, although even air is still, the reality found in Wang Feng Hua’s heart can grow, change, evolve, is full of emotion, and even the lightest breathe is kept on his canvas, lingering and unwilling to disperse.
As a part of the group of China’s new generation of artists, each person faces similar issues: how to create a new foundation on the basis of the past, and deduce individualistic semantics from old topics. When enjoying the new works of Wang Feng Hua, it ensures me that the art of Wang Feng Hua is at the same pace with the environment he grew up in. The energy he absorbed in Xian is undeniably tied tightly together in his creative thoughts and cannot be separated.

Wang Fenghua was born in 1971 and graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Xian Academy of Fine Arts. He is now working as a professor in Xian Academy of Fine Arts. Gallery J. Chen is a newly established gallery in Taipei City dedicated to the promotion of emerging Asian Contemporary Art.

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Stratocruiser Airship

Stratocruiser Airship
The Stratocruiser is an airship concept that offers regenerative travel for those who have neither the time nor inclination for a cruise.

Contracted as a study for future travel, the Stratocruiser proposes a partnership with the Supper Club restaurant chain. Along with normal transportation routes, it offers overnight dinner cruises: guests depart for a full day of spa treatments–massage, personal trainers, yoga classes and beauty care are on offer– with travelers sitting down to a healthy gourmet dinner overlooking glaciers, tropical jungles or Mayan ruins.

This helium fueled hauler will connect you with hubs on transatlantic, transpacific, trans-american or Europe-Middle East routes. I’m all for slow travel if I can travel in this.

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Vaja Ivolution iPad Case

Vaja iVolution iPad Case
Vaja’s latest leather case for the iPad comes as a two-piece leather hardshell which can be customized by a range of colors. With a detachable front cover you can continue to protect your iPad while in use; most accidents are likely to occur while it’s in your hands. I’ve had the pleasure of trying their products in the past and the materials felt amazing. This is a beautiful and elegant container for your iPad.
Vaja iVolution iPad Case

Hard Graft iPad Case

Hard Graft iPad Case
The heritage iPad case features hard graft’s signature style, beautiful gray wool felt, vegetable tanned leather, and space for both your iPad and iPhone. The elastic strap allows for secure handling. I love the simple design and their choice of materials.
Hard Graft iPad Case

iStand for iPhone and iPod

iStand iPhone stand
The iStand by Idea International is a stand for the iPhone and iPod that attaches to the back of your device via suction. It’s interesting design allows for both handsfree viewing of movies and slideshows, and as an alternative means of holding your device with one hand. Neat idea. Also useful for adding a bit of depth to these tiny devices and reducing the possibility of hand strain from entering large amounts of data. Different color options are available too.

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Popweekly: Digest for 04.26.10

The Lucky Camera Shop
The Lucky Camera shop, Tokyo. Fantastic little shop probably founded in the late 1940s and stuffed from floor to ceiling with classic camera gear. In the back streets behind the giant Shinjuku station, near ‘Green Peas”. By John Gulliver.

Shanghai’s Back on Top of the World

For China’s most dynamic, most cosmopolitan and sassiest city, this is a time to celebrate. After decades of hibernation following the founding of Mao Zedong’s People’s Republic in 1949, Shanghai is returning to its roost as a global center of commerce and culture. This year Shanghai, as host of Expo 2010, is squarely in the international spotlight. The fair opens May 1, and organizers expect more than 70 million visitors over six months.
Shanghai’s style is to do things big. Its population of 19 million makes it one of the largest metropolises on the planet. More than 750 foreign multinational companies have offices in the city. The skyline counts more than 30 buildings over 650 ft. (200 m) tall. Stroll down certain streets, and you can easily imagine that you are in midtown Manhattan — so much so that on visiting the city in 2007 for the MTV Style Gala, Paris Hilton was moved to declare, “Shanghai looks like the future.”
Yet Shanghai is still trying to determine what that future should be.

The neighborhood is a powerful– but often overlooked– resource for changing the world

The neighborhood is the basic building block of the commons– indeed, of human society itself– and successful efforts to make the world a better place usually start right there.
This might strike you as archaic, a throwback to the time when men wore fedoras and everyone walked to church on Sunday mornings. Yet the age of globalization actually makes neighborhoods more important than ever. After spending all day connecting with Facebook friends in Kyoto, Krakow and Kokomo, virtual globetrotters are eager for face-to-face contact in a real place, like a coffee shop, park, town square or other form of local commons.
Neighborhoods– whether in cities, suburbs or small towns– are the level of social organization at which people interact most regularly and naturally, providing a ready-made forum for tackling serious issues together. Even if the neighbors abhor our political views or artistic tastes, we nonetheless share a bond. When a crisis occurs (a rash of burglaries) or opportunities arise (plans to revitalize the park), these are the people who stand beside us to make improvements for the future.

Tokyo’s goal: Be the greenest

These private-sector companies are part of a very public push by Tokyo’s metropolitan government to turn this dense urban area, home to 13 million people, into the world’s most eco-friendly mega-city.
In addition to reducing solid waste, Tokyo over the last few years has unveiled a slew of environmentally conscious initiatives. Those include toughened environmental building standards, cash incentives for residents to install solar panels, and a plan for greening the city, including planting half a million trees and converting a 217-acre landfill in Tokyo Bay into a wooded “sea forest” park.
The most ambitious effort yet kicked off this month, when Tokyo launched a mandatory program for 1,400 of the area’s factories and office buildings to cut their carbon emissions 25% from 2000 levels by the end of 2020. The plan includes a carbon cap-and-trade system, the first ever attempted by a metropolitan area. The mechanism sets limits on emissions and requires those who exceed their quotas to buy pollution rights from those who are under their caps.

How the volcano eruption exposed the vulnerability of the global supply chain

A century ago, even 30 years ago, an eruption from Iceland wouldn’t have affected menus in Florence or auto assembly in Tennessee. But things have changed. The just-in-time mentality dictates that factories and retailers build superefficient, lengthy supply chains and keep as little capital and warehouse space as possible tied up in inventory. Globalization has meant that companies now source components and products from all over the world. The upshot: When there’s a small disruption anywhere, the machinery of global capitalism slows down. And when there’s a disruption in Europe, look out. The slow-growing region is a highly globalized economic powerhouse. “Europe is the biggest exporter in the world and the second biggest importer,” said Eric Chaney, chief economist at AXA Group. And while container ships are the workhorses of global trade, plenty of really valuable stuff crosses the Atlantic in airliner cargo bays. By Tuesday, with flights from Europe having been canceled for a few days, the automaker Nissan was suspending some production at its factories in Tennessee and Mississippi. The culprit: a lack of pneumatic sensors made in Ireland.

Brionvega Algol TV

Brionvega Algol TV
Rereleased using a rubberised matte finish in military green Brionvega Algol TV is a throwback to a time when portable tv’s were the ultimate in gadgetry and convenience. The design by Richard Sapper and Marco Zanuso is a wonderful piece of nostalgia which while updated to modern tastes remains true to it’s 1960’s introduction. For sale and on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art.

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Retro Flip Clock

Retro Flip Clock
A wonderful modern addition to one of my favorite pieces of ’70’s nostalgia, Torre & Tagus Designs Retro Flip Clock features a clean attractive design that will look right at home with the FLIQLO screensaver and Flipclock for the iPhone. While big on style this clock comes up short on function; the clock doesn’t have an alarm making this more of an item for your desk than bedroom.
Retro Flip Clock