Posts tagged “ethics”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from wstarosta] Food trucks in Los Angeles [] – [It was only a matter of time before corporations like Jack-in-the-Box and Sizzler recognized an opportunity to exploit the growing food cart scene. Sad.] There are other issues too, including a wealth of copycat trucks and the sense that many entering the business have no culinary experience but expect to make a fortune.
    That's not to say that there isn't a silver lining to the movement's adolescence. Hiller, other truck owners and a ravenous public believe in the food truck's promise — the realization of a street-food culture that unites a disparate city and encourages a community that lingers outdoors together over a plate of food. It's a concept long understood by the loncheras, or taco trucks, that have operated for decades without stirring the beehive of debate that these flashy new trucks have generated.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Robert Fabricant of frogdesign considers whether understanding users means that design is or isn't persuasive/manipulative – How do we decide what the user really 'wants to achieve'? The fact is that there are a host of different influences that come to bear in any experience. And a host of different needs that drive user behavior. Designers are constantly making judgment calls about which 'needs' we choose to privilege in our designs. In fact, you could argue that this is the central function of design: to sort through the mess of user needs and prioritize the 'right' ones, the most valuable, meaningful…and profitable.

    But according to what criteria? These decisions, necessarily, value judgments, no matter how much design research you do. And few designers want to be accountable for these decisions. From that perspective, UCD, starts to seem a bit naive, possibly even a way to avoid accountability for these value judgments.

    [Obviously no easy answers here; even defining the terms for the discussion is challenging, but the dialog between Robert and others is provocative]

  • Dave Blum, treasure hunt designer, offers 100 treasure hunts around the world – I was always a puzzle and a game kid. I had a friend when I was growing up in Millbrae, Mike Savasta, and he and I were just board game and card game fanatics. Monopoly, Life, Sorry, Stratego.

    In college, I played thousands of games of cribbage. I like the intellectual challenge, the analytical challenge. I'm very much a "play-it-by-ear" kind of guy, so I like a game where you have to think on your feet.

    After college, I lived in Japan for 3 1/2 years and taught English. Then I spent 11 months traveling through Asia and Europe, and when I came back to San Francisco, I worked in tourism for a while. I said, "I need to find a career that I really love." I thought if I could combine group work, travel, games and puzzles – that would be the ultimate job. I started Dr. Clue in 1995.

Situational Ethics at Home Depot

I love the automatic checkouts at Home Depot. There’s usually no line for them, so I can start my transaction right away. Even if it’s slow and inefficient, I’m actually doing something, rather than waiting behind another customer. I like being in control!

There’s a balance of design goals at work in these monsters – standalone/simplicity (and by that I do not mean ease-of-use), theft prevention, staff reduction. Those goals are not all met very well, and they are sometimes at odds with each other.

After using this for a couple of years, I’ve figured out that to start to check out, you must place all your items on a tray to the left of the screen (this isn’t so obvious). You pick your items, one at a time, pass them over the scanner, and then place them in a bag on the tray to the right of the screen.

The trays on either side contain scales. Your items are being weighed, with the left and right being compared. You can only have one in the air (i.e., not in the bag and not on the to-be-bought tray) at a time. And you must stow it in the bag before picking up the next one. This is not beep-beep-beep rapid scanning. It feels very silly and slow, but that’s what the system wants you to do.

If you try to go too fast, the system warms you. “Please re-place item in bagging area.” It’s far from foolproof (not that the users are fools, but the users can fool it!); it often goes out of sync. The item it wants to be put in the bagging area is already in the bagging area. Often we have to flag down the cashier at the master station who is “supervising” the four self-check devices (usually trying to help poor first-timers, or calling out instructions from her station).

Anyway, I was plodding away with my purchase of 4 $0.69 switchplates the other day, and of course, we got out of sync. Everything was either in a bag or waiting to be scanned and I was being given instructions about what to return to where, even though there was nothing that could be returned. In my attempt to mollify the system, I picked up one of my to-be-rung-up items and put it in the bag. That seemed to satisfy it. That left one remaining. I picked it up, scanned it, and put it in the bag. All four of the items were now in the bag. But I had only scanned three.

Screw this. I clicked “finish and pay” and ran through the payment swipe interaction (this takes place on another interface, about 5 feet from the first interface).

The machine, which represents Home Depot and its interests, didn’t want my $0.69 for my fourth item. It insisted that I put it in the bag without swiping it. Did I alert the supervising cashier so she could come over and rejigger the whatsit and charge me the right amount? I did not.

I was able to somehow justify this because it was the will of the machine; the error was not like an ATM that gives you two $20.00 bills stuck together; it was a richly interactive error – “put this in the bag, Steve” it told me… (but I never…) NO – PUT IT IN THE BAG NOW PLEASE. (okay, sir). The machine is the boss, but I’m responsible for knowing more than it about what is right and what is accurate?

Please don’t read this as some sort of attempt to rationalize something that is obviously wrong. We can get the Ethicist in here if we need to, but we all know what he’d say. I guess I’m more interest in the attributes of the exchange and how it influenced my own decision.

Of course, the fact that was $0.69 also is a factor. Do we want to call this stealing? If so, then the dollar amount shouldn’t matter? Although we’ve got a recent story where Wal-Mart is ignoring some sub-$25 shoplifting, so maybe there’s a sense that the amount does matter.

Presumably, I was doing a calculation of time, cost of goods, aggravation, and wrapping that up in a bit of self-justification and walking out with my extra (free!) switchplate because of that. These decisions are complex, with a lot of factors mixed in, in an organic (rather than linear) fashion.

Q107 Culpa

Last year I applauded Q107 for owning up to their deceptive presentation of a Rolling Stones bootleg as a simulcast of a club show in Toronto. I was probably too easy on them in hindsight, but whatever. Some other folks pursued the misleading handling of it by The Mighty Q with the government regulatory body, and got some satisfaction. The ruling is quite lengthy (but includes a lot of detail from the broadcast) and says, in part

As a preliminary matter, the Panel wishes to note that “promotions” are not limited to such advertising as occurs prior to a broadcast, aired in order to entice listening (or viewing) of an upcoming program; they may also include trailers, bumpers and other types of promotional material that are aired during a broadcast. Such promotions serve to identify a program that is already underway for those listeners/viewers who may be surfing or just tuning in, on the one hand, or to encourage already engaged audience members to remain tuned to that broadcast. It follows that the bumpers aired by Q107 going into and out of the commercial breaks during the Rolling Stones concert, as well as other language used by the host, all fall under the heading of “promotions”, as anticipated in Clause 12 of the Code. The question for the Panel is, then, whether those promotions were misleading.

On that point, the Panel considers that an ordinary reasonable listener could reach only one conclusion. The show promised to them was to be the live Rolling Stones Concert from that night. Nothing less. While the station said, in its reply to the complainants, “We certainly did not intend to deceive any of our listeners”, it hardly took their sensibilities into account. From the get-go, it said, “As promised, live Stones in Toronto comin’ up -“. And how coincidental was it, from a listener’s perspective, that the broadcast of the “old” concert began at precisely the same time as the live concert? And that the background sounds at the start of the concert were those of a crowd cheering and instruments warming up? To compound the likelihood that the audience would believe it was that night’s live concert, the radio host said:

Uh, the club gig, live, tonight, right now in Toronto at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. As promised all day, the Stones live in Toronto. Enjoy everybody, on Q107. [Emphasis added.]

According to the complainants (but unverified by the CBSC), similar comments about the upcoming “live” Rolling Stones performance were made on air for at least 36 hours leading up to the broadcast. Also, the bumpers during the broadcast stated “This is the Rolling Stones live in Toronto” and “This is the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band live.” The repeated juxtaposition of the word “live” and references to the Phoenix show occurring in the identical time period as the broadcast concert clearly left the impression to any listener that the broadcast was indeed that of the live 2005 Rolling Stones show. This impression was compounded by the sounds of a crowd cheering and other typical concert noises which served as background audio when Scholes was speaking. Further remarks such as “Phoenix Concert Theatre, 410 Sherbourne, the club gig for the Stones before they embark on their tour. It’s, uh, happening right now. More live Stones comin’ up, hang on” would have led any reasonable listener to assume that they were in fact listening to the concert then taking place at the Phoenix.

The only consequences are that Q107 has to broadcast this decision a number of specific times. But still, it’s pretty cool.

Business Code of Ethics

CoVisp‘s About Us page offers a (now offline) link to their Business Code of Ethics but the entire page is obviously copied-and-pasted from corporate text at XO.COM.


While other companies are talking about making telecommunications simple, XO actually delivers simplicity without compromising the level of service that business customers expect. XO is able to cut through the clutter in the telecom space and offer businesses what they need: a reliable, end-to-end source for telecom services with a broad product suite backed by trustworthy, dependable customer service. XO offers new customers a no-risk satisfaction guarantee on standard products and services for the first three months after installation.

Everything You Want. Exactly What You Need.

Company Information
See why businesses just like yours have found a happy ending with the XO story.
* Proven Leadership and Innovation
* Network AssetsCustomer Centric
* Extensive Product Portfolio

Investors Center
View the latest financial information through a comprehensive listing of all XOÔø? Annual Reports, Quarterly Earnings Statements, and other pertinent financial news.

Business Code of Ethics
This document contains the XO Policy and Ethics for all XO employees, as required for posting by the SEC.

Interested in a career with a truly unique telecommunications company? Explore our career center for the latest job postings and company information. If you find the perfect listing, submit your resume online.

The COVISP Network
XO has a unique ability to serve customers from premise-to-premise over XO facilities, ultimately ensuring the highest levels of performance and reliability. See what makes our network unique.

Stones Press Release and time travel

Rolling Stones press relese

Fans, along with hundreds of members of the U.S. and international media gathered at Lincoln Center, were treated to the ultimate surprise performance by the Rolling Stones. As the famous opening notes of ‘Start Me Up’ blared across the plaza, a giant banner with eye-popping signature tongue logos dropped revealing the band performing on the balcony-turned-stage of the 100 year old conservatory, Juilliard. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood played three songs for an ecstatic crowd, including ‘Oh No Not You Again,’ a new track off their upcoming CD along with their classic hit ‘Brown Sugar.’

This release came out several hours before the performance was scheduled. Written in the past tense but written and released ahead of time. Obviously, this isn’t journalism, but still seems unethical. Reminds me of the Mitch Alborn scandal recently.


About Steve