Posts tagged “tribe”

Elysa’s War Story: Keep The Swiffer On Your Right

Senior strategist Elysa Soffer heads into the field where an adventure in building rapport awaits.

She’s Caucasian, 75 years old, retired, married with 2 grown kids, lives in Berkeley, and cleans her floors 2 – 4 times a week. This woman fits our qualifications as a participant for our research study. But you never know who you might be talking to and how best to get them to open up to you-a stranger entering their home.

Two of us spent a few hours interviewing this woman in her home for a floor cleaning study. We asked warm-up questions about her and her household. She mentioned that she was a writer and lived there with her husband. She showed us around her house, and pointed out the rooms where she spends the most time cleaning floors.

During the next part of the interview, she demonstrated her cleaning process and we asked her to test a few prototypes we brought along. She showed us everything from how she stores her tools, cleans, and puts everything away. It was as simple as that.

This was one of the last in-home interviews out of about a dozen conducted for this project. It went just as smoothly as the previous ones. We felt like we gathered insights. So, we asked our wrap-up questions and packed up. Once the video camera and recorder were off, we made small talk while heading to the door.

My research partner stopped next to the door to look at a handmade shrine-like structure sitting on a tchotchke shelf. It was made out of bones! Not fake Halloween-decoration bones, but real human-looking bones. We couldn’t resist, we had to ask.

The woman’s face lit up, and she was excited to tell us the story about her adventures visiting a tribe of cannibals in Africa. She explained that she published articles about this tribe and took many trips over the years to study their culture. She also pointed out how the shrine was made of animal, not human bones. To top it all off, she confessed that she “may” have been fed human during some of her expeditions there. Whoa!

We asked a few more questions about her adventures, but unfortunately we had to go. The vibe in the room had completely changed. She was enthusiastic and seemed more comfortable than she did for the previous few hours. Had we noticed the statue on the way in, would the interview had been different? If the camera was still on would she have reacted the same way?

Back in the car, I looked at the recruiter’s sheet again. Cannibal wasn’t listed anywhere. I wondered what secrets the previous floor cleaning participants hadn’t shared.

Grump of the Day: Grant McCracken

In The “nod” and other acts of rudeness in the consumer society Grant takes inexplicable offense to The Nod – the phenomenon where an eye-contact/chin gesture is exchanged between two people who drive the same vehicle, use the same computer, or whatever.

But I have to say “the nod” creeps me out. I don’t want to be a co-conspirator in someone else’s act of self congratulation.

I am pleased that you believe your choice of computer or car or browser makes you look riskier or indie-er. But leave me out of it. The fact that we share consumer choices, put that down to coincidence. The moment you start sending me the nod for my MINI is the moment I take it to the used-car lot and see if I can’t trade it in for a Nod-proof Valiant.

Hey, to each their own, but one wonders why Grant constructs this as rude, or as evidence of personal inadequacy.

I’m fairly certain this has come up on his blog before – I remember commenting about the nod that motorcyclists exchange, and then amending that once I realized it was actually a wave, a one-hand-slightly-uncurled-from-the-handlebar as you pass. Or an arm stuck straight down. But you can’t search comments on that blog, so I can’t find the last time we all discussed this.[Yes I can. Grant linked to it in his posting. It’s here]

When we go through decisions to acquire things that are visible, in many cases, that’s a personal decision. The belongingness we feel when we observe that in someone else is a great deal of fun, not a product of personal inadequacy. I wouldn’t nod at someone else carrying a can of Coke. I might nod at someone else wearing a Rolling Stones tongue shirt. Hey, I might nod at someone else drinking a can of Jolt (I drink neither, I’m just hypothesizing about the level of identity, meaning, uniqueness, tribal, outsider, etc. embedded in the various product choices). I do have a few shirts with tongues on ’em, however.

At least Cayce Pollard was allergic to brands; she had no choice but to remove them from her person. Grant seems allergic to personal connection, we’ll have to do more than simply sand off his Dockers logo if we are to help him.

Update: the direct link above to the blog entry in qustion still works but a visit to Grant’s blog itself doesn’t show the post any longer.


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