Posts tagged “hong kong”

Steve speaking at User Experience Hong Kong

I’m thrilled to be invited to speak at the first User Experience Hong Kong, taking place next February. Organized by my good friends at Apogee, the event also features a number of super smart (and super nice!) folks: Steve Baty, Janna DeVylder, Rachel Hinman, and Gerry Gaffney.

I’ll be leading a workshop entitled “Well, we’ve done all this research, now what?”

One of the most persistent factors limiting the impact of user research in business is that projects often stop with a cataloging findings and implications rather than generating opportunities that directly enable the findings. As designers increasingly become involved in using contextual research to inform their design work, they may find themselves holding onto a trove of raw data but with little awareness of how to turn it into design. How can designers and researchers work with user research data to create new things for business to do?

Almost related: Pictures from my last Hong Kong trip (2006)

Horizon effect

When we were in Hong Kong last year, we took the tram up to Victoria Peak. The experience is quite dramatic, crawling up an incredibly steep incline.
Since it’s on a cable, at each stop along the way you feel the sway up and down until the doors open, and of course all the blood is rushing to the back of your brain, and the world outside the train is diagonal. Multisensory displacement!

I was intrigued, then, to see the funiculaire at Sacre-Coeur in Paris.

It’s a clever design that keeps the passengers oriented in a more horizontal fashion. Simpler and easier, and between the two contrasting modes is perhaps a nice commentary on the different cultures.

Published photos

Yesterday I received my copy of the new Swedish translation of Design: A Very Short Introduction (Design – en introduktion) by John Heskett. I can’t read Swedish, but this edition features two of my photographs from Hong Kong. Hooray!

I flipped through the book and found a photo captioned Amerikansk “strip mall” but is obviously taken in Canada, showing the Canadian McDonald’s logo, Tim Horton’s, Mark’s Work Wearhouse, and Canadian Tire. Hmm.

Letter From Asia – Drive-by observations from Steve Portigal

Core77 has just posted my latest article, a travelogue- Letter From Asia.

Hong Kong is a visually stimulating city–where bright neon signs stretch horizontally out from the buildings across the road and electric boxes are covered with graffiti advertising household services. Storefronts open to the street, and service windows for snacks of every kind proliferate.

The standard line about Hong Kong is that it’s a shopper’s paradise. But Hong Kong shopping seemed to be more about the shallower pleasures of acquisition versus the immersive indulgence of massive choice . Take Tokyo as a point of contrast: Tokyo’s Akihabara (or Electronics Town) is a place to find all things electronic. If you want USB cables, you choose from myriad lengths, each in a large variety of colors and translucencies. If you are a Rolling Stones fan, in the Harajuku neighborhood you will find a tiny store with an exhaustive collection of trinkets, books, and assorted Stones ephemera.

But in Hong Kong, shopping is more about bounty; quantity over variety. For example, Mong Kok is a neighborhood with several shopping areas, including Sai Yeung Choi Street, where you’ll see a crowded street with small stores selling the very latest digital cameras, mobile phones, and MP3 players. Next door will be a similar store selling a similar selection of gizmos, and three doors down will be another branch of the first store…and across the street will be yet another branch of that same store. A few chains occupy many of the stores, seemingly with little specialization. The point seems to be that there’s lots of this stuff here, so why not grab some? It seemed to work–people were actively buying.

There’s more about Hong Kong, as well as Bangkok, and India.

Hong Kong Pictures posted

I’ve finally finished posting 269355 pictures from Hong Kong. I put every one most of them through Photoshop and tweaked and optimized and cropped. Uploaded ’em all to flickr, tagged ’em, titled ’em, wrote a description, and sent them to various groups. No wonder it’s taken more than three weeks.

Still to come is Bangkok and India.

Here are just a few samples.

Sorta Tasty Snax

Schoolgirls and Bag-Noodles To Go

Panties on the Street

Burning Incense closeup

White Eyeglasses Frames

Busy Signs

Mmmm…oriental curry

The Oriental Curry Shop is a Japanese restaurant we saw in a mall in Hong Kong (called Times Square).

Here is their corporate mascot

and here is how s/he looks in “real life.”
Sure, they use the whiteface version in illustrations, but then they’ve got a half-life-size statue of the blackface version right in front of the counter, and toys and more of the same character.

Obviously, racist images are not universal. Hell, we can’t even use the word oriental here, can we?

Hong Kong Airport: Screening for heat

Screening for heat, Hong Kong airport, January 2006

Seeming rather like a science-fiction movie (but hey, it’s Asia, right?), arriving passengers at the Hong Airport had to walk through an area where they were monitored for heat – presumably to see if you were feverish and thus the carrier of a SARS-like pandemic (or H5N1)? There wasn’t a lot of info and it was hard to realize you had been heat-scanned until after you passed by. Someone would sit in front of a monitor and watch the image. I didn’t see anyone go through who was red-hot so I don’t know what the consequences were or really anything about how it worked.

In control, out of control

Another dispatch from a public Internet terminal. In this case, the Samsung e-lounge at the Hong Kong airport. We’re headed to Bangkok in an hour or so. Nice free service, but their custom browser blocks pop-ups, so I can’t check my email as I normally do via I can see the messages, I just can’t open ’em.
Anyway, we had one of those experiences that is so typical of what you hear when people travel overseas – a miscommunication, a rip-off, etc. We checked out early this AM, and planned to head to the train station (the Kowloon station) and take the Airport Express train back to the airport. We had prepaid (with an Octopus card) for return trainfare. It’s quite handy; you can actually check in for your flight at the train station in town and drop your bags and all that. The train is fast and comfortable.
We told the hotel dude that we were going to the train station for the Airport Express, he came out with us. The taxi driver asks us something, I say “Kowloon Station, Airport Express.” He says “airport?” I say, no, Kowloon station. The hotel dude has caught up at this point and says something in Chinese. We figured he clarified it and we were off. The driver is talking in Chinese to his mounted cell phone (set on speaker phone) and then he apparently is speaking to us. He waves some money around, says a phrase twice, and then shows me a number on a piece of paper. How much to get to the station? We can’t really tell what he’s written, and not sure why this is happening (I know we sound like total suckers here, but hey, it’s what happened. Does it help that it was 6:15 am?). I guess taxi drivers are the only segment of the service business in Hong Kong with no English.
Anyway, we pass the train station. He is taking us all the way to the airport. Instead of $35 or so (HK), it’s now going to be $XX00? We have no idea. What do we do? How do we clarify, or confront, as moments pass and the situation veers from what we had anticipated? How do we deal with our own social norms? Are we being ripped-off, or just a bad communication?
Other types of people would no doubt have pursued some sort of resolution. We didn’t. We felt helpless and frustrated and did nothing. It was vaguely expensive and we were lucky to have cash on hand to pay for the final fare. But really, we got to the airport, we lost a little money, we lost a little control. I kept thinking that as our trip proceeds through Thailand and then India this sort of willful? miscommunication and loss of control due to language and white skin and general foreigness will continue. This was trivial, but it felt traumatic. Perhaps a good lesson about dealing with the mishaps, or simply the haps, of the rest of our trip.


About Steve