Art Attack! Random acts of culture

Flash mob, art mob, flash crowd, public intervention, or just random acts of culture. Whatever the name, these spontaneous gatherings – facilitated by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – are hot among the mobile, hyperconnected, and commitment-averse social-media generation. From the Christian Science Monitor:

Young people weaned on the new technological tools that let them create a feature film for a few thousand dollars or score a symphony with a few clicks of a mouse have little appetite for the sort of passive spectator behavior demanded in hushed recital halls or remote downtown opera houses.
“They want the sense of newness and immediacy and engagement in cultural experiences that they have in the rest of their life on Facebook and Twitter and their cellphones,” says Mr. Mackey.
But in the end, even though it would seem the ultimate co-opting of a form of expression designed to fly free, co-founder Staci Lawrence explains that this is, in fact, the art form of this generation – “a way for all kinds of people to experience surprise and joy.”
In a world increasingly defined by niche interests and personalization, says sociologist BJ Gallagher, “it becomes more important than ever to find ways to encounter things that actually surprise us.”
After all, adds Ms. Lawrence, isn’t that the purpose of art?

Read more.

A Starry Night

This fine video seems a fitting kick-off of what has been and may be the only mention of Christmas on Popwuping this year. I’m a bit of a grinch this year; at least until I make some eggnog tomorrow.
A Starry Night was filmed and edited by Torchbox, a Oxfordshire, England-based web development and design firm, Music recorded and produced at Torchbox by Katie Overbury, Wes West and Tom Dyson.

Selvedge Denim iPhone Sleeve

Selvedge Denim iPhone Sleeve
I’m not convinced that this classic understated pouch from MS&Co is going to offer much in the way of protection, at least not beyond key scratches and such, but there is little doubt that the pouch will outlive the device it’s designed to carry. Perhaps my ugly rubber and plastic case will as well but the key difference is that my case is ugly and this one looks great.
The Selvedge Denim iPhone Sleeve is made from heavyweight 13.5 oz raw selvedge denim that’s thick enough to maintain it’s shape and will age uniquely to each owner.
Selvedge Denim iPhone Sleeve

Two apps. that help you find ‘love’

Virtual girlfriend
‘Honey It’s Me’ is a $2 smartphone app to help combat loneliness in single South Korean men, by providing them with a virtual girlfriend that calls and leaves rambling video messages.

For $1.99, Mina will make video-calls four times a day, showering subscribers with a message of bliss from 100 available. With recorded messages such as “good night, sweet dreams,” Nabix said it would help subscribers feel someone cares for them and is consistently thinking of them.

New smartphone app pretends to be your girlfriend
Honey, It’s Me
Via textually
Love Hotel Hong Kong iPhone
香港時鐘酒店 Guide provides a detailed catalogue of love hotels in Hong Kong gives you accurate locations via Google maps.

Think of this Hong Kong iPhone app as the Yelp for sleazy sex motels. Apparently, love hotels can be hard to find because they’re deliberately discreet. Well, clandestine couples — such as cheating spouses and dating teens who still live with their parents — can now easily find a secret spot to get it on using the Hong Kong Hourly Hotel Guide. The app is free, but it’s only in Chinese.

Love hotel iPhone app makes Hong Kong hookups easy

McSock Sleeves for iPhone and MacBook

McSock Sleeves for iPhone and MacBook
Thank you Michael for sending this great product – “you need to see in person, touch, to fully appreciate”. McSocks are made from 100% organic wool from Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Co. in Montana by the Women of Verrettes, a co-operative in Haiti. The wool is very soft with subtle hand-dyed colours. The women are currently producing simple and beautiful covers for iPhone and iPod, 13″ MacBook and MacBook Air. A great product and cause.
McSock Sleeves for iPhone and MacBook

Jurgen Backpack

Jurgen Backpack
Seventy Eight Percent’s minimalist Jurgen backpack has the look and feel of mid 20th century rucksacks but with modern lines and refined accents. Would work great with urban wear or at the office. Made with Japanese wax coated canvas and Italian leather this water repellent bag will carry your laptop, camera, phone and other related gear with ease. What a great investment.
Seventy Eight Percent’s Ned iPhone case is worth a look if you are still using an iPhone 3G/3GS but with an investment like this you might want to wait until the iPhone 4 version.
Jurgen by Seventy Eight Percent

Mobile devices and their ugly rubber cases

In one of David Pogues latest columns he writes about something that I have been thinking about lately:

I’ve always been just a little baffled at the whole concept of app-phone cases. I mean, people go out of their way to buy these thin, gorgeous iPhones and Android phones, and then wrap them in 3/4 inches of ugly black rubber!

A month ago I wrote:

Why do we continuously carry our iPhones in cases that make them look like cheap plastic or rubber toys? A device with a design this good shouldn’t be carried in a cheap rubber bumper but should be protected by something that accentuates its design. Or at least allows you to easily use naked.

I recommended at the time the The Little Black Book iPhone Case as a possible alternative if you use your phone more for apps than calls like I do. Sleeves are aplenty as well and hybrids like Hardgraft’s fold wallet for iPhone are a favourite of mine.
But there is this underlying fear:

I know, I know: all I need to do is drop and break my phone once, and my attitude will change completely. But for now, I still carry my phone around naked all the time, and there’s not a scratch on it. (To be clear: only the phone is naked all the time.)

I haven’t found an answer yet and while I wait for a case from Hardgraft I can’t see my phone for the ugly black rubber and plastic case that surrounds it.
Does anyone use the iPhone sans case?

The work culture behind HTC’s phones

Horace HTC
This interview with Horace Luke, HTC’s chief innovations officer, provides an interesting look into the work culture of HTC at their Taoyuan headquarters. An interesting question not posed was how they integrate all the physically separate teams and their ideas. HTC has Magic Labs in Taoyuan (or did have when I visited a few years ago), One and One co. in San Francisco and a User Experience team in Seattle.

“50 per cent of my office from ceiling to floor is white board surfaces. I’m a big doodler. Occasionally I draw on the windows.”
“On another wall are some ideas my design team want me to look at”, continues Luke as we hear the him walking about his space. “It’s a marketing idea for a new product that’s fun. More of a mass-market consumer facing smartphone idea. The wall is full of prototypes and rendering because I’ve been asking my team to think very differently. I have some books, some magazines, that’s about it. I have an L-shaped sofa for meetings”.
If you’re wondering why the man who is responsible for every single element of the HTC handsets on sale around the world, hasn’t mentioned his desk, it’s because it turns out he doesn’t have one.
“I have a very small 1m-round table with a monitor where I plug my laptop into”, Luke details down the line.
“I bring people to my office for three things, one-on-one meetings, to resolve problems between different teams, and the third is therapy where people can come and talk to me. I am always there to listen. My office is very much a think hub”.
“When you look at the uniqueness of HTC it’s that we are a very global company. We have lots of people from different walks of life and from different countries.”
But it’s not just about having people from lots of different cultures or coming up with good ideas. Luke believes it’s about creating a culture that values those sparks of originality in the first place; somewhere not to be afraid.

Inside HTC: Horace Luke tells us how HTC designs phone
See also: HTC’s Horace Luke on the Hero and Inside HTC: Drew Bamford on what makes HTC Sense UI tick

Text messages from Pakistan’s mobile revolution

Text messaging is so popular in Pakistan that sites offer ready-to-send texts for everything from lamenting a broken heart to celebrating the end of Ramadan. Asmaa Malik reports for the Montreal Gazette:

Like their counterparts around the world, Pakistani teens spend hours in front of their laptops checking out their friends’ profiles on Facebook and watching videos on YouTube.
But for many in their parents’ generation, especially among the middle class, the Internet is still not an everyday destination. Their technology of choice, and now of necessity, has become the mobile phone.
Between them, my aunt, uncle and their two 20-something daughters have seven cellphones. Each of my aunt’s three phones is with a different pay-as-you-go mobile provider and she keeps track of about 200 different phone numbers of friends and relatives among them.
[…] the cellphone has opened up a back channel for people to voice their frustrations with the country’s dire economic situation and its rampant political corruption. Increasingly, newspapers and television stations ask people to phone in with their political views and questions.

Read more.

Be Linen Movie

A beautiful short documentary about linen by Benoit Millot. It allows you to follow the complete lifecycle from plant, through production and manufacturing all the way to purchase. I watched this to gain a new appreciation for the material but watched it again to enjoy the wonderful film making. Recommended.

Blackberry Empathy

Blackberry Empathy
Designed with an interface that can interpret and respond to user emotions the BlackBerry Empathy is a concept phone by Art Center College of Design graduates Kiki Tang and Daniel Yoon. Created for their sponsored project held by RIM the phone is used in conjunction with a biometrics ring that is worn by the user to collect “emotional data”. With it’s geometric form it looks like a good fit with Naoki Kawamoto’s Orishiki Suitcase.
From their description:

It is of course touch based and all the user’s connections are shown graphically so you can see who is connected to whom. Each contact has an avatar that is encompassed by two colored rings. The inner colored ring shows the contact’s previous emotional state, and the outer ring represents the contact’s current emotional state. It is important to show the shift in emotions in order to see how an event has affected that contact.
Another important feature that we felt was important was the “Emotional Health Chart”. This chart would monitor the user’s emotional health through an indefinite period of time. One would be able to see how a certain event, or phone call/ message has affected the user. Obviously, if the chart shows someone is always upset, there would be a problem… If permitted, a user would be able to view other user’s charts as well.

Read more

Orishiki Suitcase

Orishiki Suitcase
Designer Naoki Kawamoto has made a traveling suitcase with wheels which can fold out flat for flexibility and compact-ability. This suitcase along with a clutch and glasses case, are all based on the mechanism and principles of origami folding. Despite this traditional influence the result is a very modern looking piece, closer to art than something you might use on a daily basis. From the design statement:

With Orishiki, you don’t need to pack and unpack, because you have a nomadic piece of interior architecture that allows you to carry a patch of your own habitat anywhere.
Orishiki is a wheeling case with a hard, faceted shell. Sleek, functional, and anonymous, the exterior allows it to pass through the hubbub of global cities while protecting and concealing the interior: a sculpturally personalized, soft layer of exquisitely patterned silk.
At home or in a hotel room, you open Orishiki by unfolding a continuous surface onto which specific clothes and other necessities are affixed and organized to create a rich and textured modular wall tapestry. When your stay is over, you don’t “pack,” but simply fold up the wall tapestry and your vessel is ready for the voyage.
Conceptually, Orishiki is about transporting a slice of home to an alien environment: superimposing familiarity onto foreignness.

Read more