Posts tagged “seminar”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Virtual Seminar: Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets by Steve Portigal [IxDA Munich] – “Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets: Making Sure You Don’t Leave Key Information Behind”, Steve Portigal’s virtual seminar will be shown in our next meeting. The seminar lasts 90 minutes and it will be followed by a discussion. June 30th 7 p.m., IDEO, Hochbrückenstraße 6, 80331 Munich
  • IndieReader – For Self-Published Books and the Readers Who Love Them – IndieReader is a venue for you to find and purchase books published and produced by the people who wrote them. Think of these books like handmade goods, produced in small numbers, instead of the mass-marketed stuff you'd find at a super store. And every book on the IndieReader site is reviewed prior to acceptance, guaranteeing that you'll find the "cream-of-the-indie crop". Why is this so important? Because today more than ever, almost everything we produce gets co-opted by corporate culture, turned into a business model, reformulated and churned out like soap with the simple intent to appeal to as many people as possible. In a world where almost everything is packaged by committee, IndieReader offers you books with a single voice: the writer's own.
  • The Expanding Definition of Craft Beer [] – In a world where Nabisco sells “artisan” Wheat Thins, the designation of Samuel Adams as a craft beer seems perfectly fair. But the Boston Beer Company, the brewery that was founded in 1984 and makes Sam Adams, is on the verge of outgrowing its coveted craft status — at least according to the Brewers Association, a national trade group that defines craft brewers in part as producing fewer than two million barrels a year. The federal government defines small brewers similarly, imposing a lower excise tax on those that stay under the two-million-barrel threshold. Mr. Koch predicted that Boston Beer would surpass the two-million mark by 2012. But help may be on the way: John Kerry introduced a bill last month that would increase the yearly production limit for small brewers to six million barrels.
  • Icing, a meme drinking game with Smirnoff Ice [] – The premise of the game is simple: hand a friend a sugary Smirnoff Ice malt beverage and he has to drink it on one knee, all at once — unless he is carrying a bottle himself, in which case the attacker must drink both bottles. Amid suspicion that the trend is an elaborate viral marketing campaign by Smirnoff, which the company has denied, new icing photos are posted daily on various blogs, Twitter and Facebook — including scenes from graduations and weddings — and sent directly to a Web site, The game has exposed the mercurial line between guerrilla advertising and genuine social media trends, raising questions about how young consumers can know when they have co-opted a brand for their own purposes, and when that brand has co-opted them.
  • Rethink the Book project from Berlin University of the Art – In cooperation with the schoolbook publisher Cornelsen Verlag a student group of the „New Media Studio Class” experimented with the digital possibilities to think anew the book as media. They linked the book by visual codes with methods of "Augmented Reality". They embeded sensor technology for new forms of interaction and used new methods of production engineering like "laser cutting" to model the book as an object or to publish personalized schoolbooks. In the exhibition they show several prototypes like electronic origami paper or an interactive periodic table.
    (via @cora_l)

Now online: summary of “Well, we did all this research – now what?” at BayCHI

Keith Rayner ( has put together a detailed summary of last month’s BayCHI presentation featuring Kate Rutter and I each sharing our approaches for going from research to design. Hit the link for the whole review, but here’s an excerpt:

In a fascinating, interactive pair of presentations on product and services design, the audience gained valuable insights into design thinking and the design process. Both presenting companies, Adaptive Path and Portigal Consulting, help companies with the design process for product and services creation and improvement. The session dispelled any notion that these companies work in an intellectual ivory tower, remote from their clients. We saw how their methodologies effectively engage a client in the process, and how the design concepts get pushed through to final product creation. As an added bonus the audience got to join in, be creative and become part of the design process ourselves.

Steve is often asked by clients to help designers determine what’s going on with their products and services and find out what the future holds. For Steve, conducting research and turning field data into insights consists of two main aspects:

  • Synthesis – turning field data into insights
  • Ideation – turning insights into solutions

I’ll be running a half-day version of this workshop at EPIC later this summer as well a shorter version to be held in an East Coast city late fall (TBA).


During last week’s seminar, I had that awkward moment between presenters, where the laptops are being swapped out and the lav mic belt packs are being detached and re-attached, and so I decided to fill. I told the attendees that I was happy to be speaking to them, and especially glad to be back in Toronto, because that’s where I grew up. I offered them some advice for fitting in (especially since they would be doing an observational research exercise later) by not calling the city TOE-RON-TOE as many Americans do. Instead, I told them, we call it Trawna, and I even spelled it out – T-R-A-W-N-A. This is an old semi-truthful joke about the name of the city.

Turned out this was the meme-of-the-day. People came up to me at the break and asked again how they should spell it. Every time someone else said Toronto they stopped and said Trawna. It was just a funny thing that spread more than I had expected.

The next morning we had a followup session to the observational research people had done (briefly – walking through some different neighborhoods in Toronto with some different lenses through which to observe. As people settled in, they were asked to share a key story with a partner. One woman at one table announced to those within earshot that she does not write stories; she hasn’t done it since high school and she doesn’t do it now. O-kay. The rest of the group went about their business and were actively talking. This same woman summons me:

“Excuse me?! Excuse me!”

I look at her.

“Where is this Trawna thing coming from? Because…uh, we’re FROM HERE and we don’t say that.”

I replied that I was from here as well, and sure we do. This didn’t satisfy her and she seemed very annoyed. I thought it was strange that she had never heard of this phenomenon. It’s widespread. is a website about Toronto. It’s everywhere. My friends told the joke three days later over brunch. And not only doesn’t she know it, but she’s pretty damn angry with me for starting everyone else saying it. I guess it’s a version of the native effect where we reject observations about our own culture, because we don’t see it that way. Meanwhile, the rest of the morning must have been torture because we got into a lot of detail about what people learned and synthesized about the city from their observations, and I’m sure some of it would have bugged the hell out of her, accurate or not.

In another example of that (without the venom, mind) I was looking at Nicolas Nova’s photos from his trip to California, and being intrigued by the things he noticed that I take for granted. They reminded me of my pictures from when I travel – stuff you see on the street and so on, but it was things that I don’t think to photograph because I see them all the time. The familiar through someone else’s eyes.

Brush with greatness?

Two years ago I blogged about a strange ad for Ball Park Franks

The Ball Park Franks ads running now feature a guy with a pretty serious gut, working on his backyard BBQ, talking in goofily intense tones about meaty, juicy, and….girthy. I guess since no English speaker has ever heard or used the word before, he says “girthy” like 8 times, each time with a silly-but-frighteningly intense growl, drawing it out….Giiiirrthy! he exclaims, with manly satisfaction. Is he talking about the food, or himself? Or what the food does to him? Either way, it’s clearly okay with him. And so it should be with us, no doubt.

I often talk about that ad in my presentations to illustrate the shifting boundaries of normal in our culture, including the different vectors for men and women in terms of health and body image.

Last week I was speaking to sensory scientists at a seminar in Toronto, and afterward, two different women who had been involved in that product came up to me – one had been involved in the user research (I only got the quick story – but it involved a shift from the product as a mom-for-kids to a Grilling Experience), and one had worked on the campaign. The actor, it seems, came up with Girrrthy himself, and the team looked at each other, wondering if they could actually use that. They did, and like it or not, the ad got a lot of attention. Seems like there’s new folks behind the product and the campaign nowadays and they’ve reverted back to their previous family-friendly positioning.

I was quite excited to meet these folks! How often do you get to give an example in a meeting and have someone tell you that they were behind that very example?


I’ll be in Toronto tomorrow to give a talk about user research and cultural insight to a group of people working in the food industry (primarily) as sensory scientists; smell-and-taste researchers who I think work on groovy stuff like “mouth feel” and so on. Sounds like a great group; they’ve got a lot of registrants for our workshop and we’re going to do a bit of an observational walk-around exercise in some different neighborhoods in Toronto. I’m looking forward to it, despite taking a red-eye flight tonight.


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