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Jan Chipchase talk

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Frog Design and IxDA hosted a Jan Chipchase talk tonight that I was lucky to attend (thanks yendo!). Chipchase is a design researcher for Nokia, and though he won’t claim the anthropologist title, he does spend lots of time for his job, and just in general, looking at how people structure their lives.  He spent quite a bit of the presentation talking about how to communicated collected design research to a (corporate) organization.  One of his suggestions for how to do the type of work you’d like within an organization was to allow the boundaries between your work and personal research blur.

Jan claimed these were the take away messages from the talk:

  • question everything (including the need to do design research)
  • participants are in control- His group is given time to spend with people, which comes with a responsibility to let participants shape the products.
  • what motivates the researchers- He returned often to this.  If the international researchers and local facilitators have a clear understanding of what the objectives of the research are (and what things are not to be researched), it will allow them to be the most effective in their work.
  • what are the boundaries- e.g. If doing data collection in a home, give data (pictures and video) to the participant on a USB drive. If the researchers know people will see the data collected, it will change how they will collect the data.

He also talked statistics.  With 6.6 billion people on earth and about half that amount of mobile subscriptions in the world, it is easy to see how design of mobile phones and applications for mobile phones have such an ability to impact the world.  He did mention that while it is difficult to design something cross platform for all the phones of the world, something designed using call back messages, SMS, or even voice, would have a huge potential market.

Additionally he spoke about projects (such as the Nokia Open Studios) and experiences from the field.  He showed a mobile phone application in Cairo telling the times for prayer and then asked us why such an application would be necessary in a society so completely governed by prayer times.  His answer was that the application was more about intention.  It could be a reminder to a person to do something they’ve decided to do, if it is kept private, or if it is displayed more publically it could show how a religious a person was.  Or even more, it could be a way to show that a person has a sophisticated mobile phone.

Jan also showed a picture of a legitimate electricity hookup and an illegal hookup to the electric system side-by-side on the same house.  The illegal hookup is culturally acceptable and can provide all of the needed power, so why pay an electricity bill as well?  The bill serves as an important form of identification.  Much in a same way, a mobile phone can be a connection to a bank account for people who would be traditionally too poor to interest banks.

The evening ended with Q and A.  Right before the applause, Jan returned to a question about his favorite or most inspirational moment during his travels. Talking about the transformative power of mobile connectivity Jan essentiatlly said: in a place where everyone is going after the newest, glitziest phone, it’s easy to foget how much a mobile connection can change a person’s life.

Written by drewcogbill

November 6th, 2008 at 1:24 am

Jan Chipchase, “Our cell phones, ourselves”

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I’ve been interested in Chipchase and his work for some time now.  His blog is available at www.janchipchase.comThis talk sums up lots of his work.

The most important thing that Chipchase talks about, for me, is how a cell phone becomes a source of identity in a mobile world.  I’ve certainly have always felt a connection to those that matter to me carrying different phones with the same phone number since I was 15.  I think it has certainly allowed me to travel more freely and with less worry.  I wonder if mobile phones enable people or kids to travel outside of their village with more confidence than they would have before.  In St. Lucia I was told kids get their cell phones during their early teen years.  I think this is less prevalent in Belize, but I want to do some asking around about it.

Chipchase also brings up mobile banking and emphasizes the idea of every phone as an ATM.  This, he says, is particularly important for people who may not have enough money to be considered a viable customer for a bank.  Banks are extremely tedious to use here in Belize in my experience.  Lines are long and there’s lots of checking with higher-ups for approval.  I wonder how the immediacy and connivence of using a phone as a source of money will change accepted banking practices.

Lastly, Chipchase talks about how the things we carry are designed to meet our most basic needs and desires; we carry keys, money, and phones giving us access to shelter, food, and “an ability to transcend space and time” or to be able to communicate with people that are far away.  Keeping in mind these basic needs seems will be an important litmus test in prototyping.

planet earth: 6.3 billion
cell phone connected: 3.3 billion

- “What do you carry?”
- keys, money, and mobile phones are the big ones
- Why keys, money and mobile phones?
- for survival for us and our cell phone
- these are at the bottom rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
- phones help you transcend space and time
- but a mobile phone is personal and convenient
- but humans forget
- point of reflection- the pocket tap moment
- center of gravity- where you keep these objects
- 799 million illiterate in 2004
- if you can’t read and write you need a way to manage contact information
- illiterate people are masters of delegation, they ask others to do it
- Ugana- sente, means ‘money’ or ‘to send money as air time’ - buy a prepaid card, read number to village phone operator, operator takes commission and then passes the rest in cash to another person
- this turns everyone’s phone into an ATM
- this is very elegantly designed and in tune with local need
- difference here from grameen, etc., is that there is no central authority
-phone numbers written above a house instead of house numbers
- people’s identities are mobile with a mobile phone.
- What will it be like when everyone is connected?
1. The immediacy of ideas.
2. The immediacy of objects.
3. The street will innovate beyond intention
4. Conversations and our ability to listen.  With more people connected more people want to be a part of the conversation.

Written by drewcogbill

June 24th, 2008 at 8:32 pm