Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Speed Awareness Course

I was zapped traveling at 53mph in a 50mph zone and given the option of 3 penalty points and a £60 fine or attending a 4.5 hr and £85 speed awareness course with no penalty points.

Last Friday myself and 20 others attended an unexpectedly excellent speed awareness course. We weren't treated like offenders and we weren't patronised. It made me wonder why every driver wasn't forced to attend such a course at 10 year intervals to refresh their knowledge. I, for example, couldn't  recognise half of the the traffic signs we were tested on. I was also a complete ignoramus with things like reaction times and stopping distances.

Did you, for example, know that ABS breaks DO NOT decrease your stopping distance? They simply help you to steer whilst fully depressing the breaks.

The bits I enjoyed the most, however, were the films. Below, in my view, is the most powerful one, a TV ad from 2001. And here's the deal: play the film repeatedly. Take notes. Each time you watch it afresh, take new notes. There are around 5 observation to disentangle. Now watch...

Let me give you the first observation. See the kid bouncing the basket ball? Any idea why he is even included in the film? Answer: to give you an indication of the driver's reaction time between seeing the kid and depressing the breaks - two bounces of the ball. There are four more observations. Share these and any more you can find as a comment below. Your reward? Access to £1,000 worth of EthOS projects.

Post Script:
You might be interested to know that after watching this film we were asked to roll play. Some of us were the onlookers, others were the driver, another three were the judge and I... I was the parents of the dead child. I had to share my emotions with the others. I got as far as saying there should have been a pelican crossing before I choked up, unable to speak any more.

Has this course slowed my driving down? Not really, I was never a fast driver. But it has made me drive more appropriately for the conditions.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Make a movie using a smartphone

The number of gadgets which exist to help make each and every one of us into a movie mogul is amazing. Watch this excellent BBC report.


A day in the life

With mobile ethnography, tasks are broadly falling into two groups:

1) Show 'n tell/describe - or telling us
2) Make a film about... - or sharing with us

I asked my good friend and colleague, Bob Karper to complete an EthOS task called, 'Film of a day in my life'. I was interested in not only the final film, but also the reasons why he chose to capture the things he did and assemble them in the way he chose to. In other words, with self ethnography, the decision to capture what has been captured becomes data in itself.

The film can be found on the EthOS home page too. We will be adding more.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why we like things

This is a fantastic talk by Paul Bloom entitled, The Origins of Pleasure. Well worth a quarter of an hour of your time.


Friday, April 6, 2012

A deaf Easter post

This is not me in the picture.

I have been deaf on and off all of my life. I grew up with gromets inside and fluid behind each eardrum. The biggest issue was that as a child I never realised I was deaf. Grown ups talking was just an ambient noise I was not supposed to hear. Teachers in the classroom were the same. Murmurs the same as a Charlie Brown cartoon.

Yet somehow I coped. Between gromet operations, I lip read, learned to nod at key moment to make it look like I had heard and I even left it to colleagues to run the meetings for me.

Things finally came to a head when, just a few weeks ago, I went to meeting at Ikea's European HQ just 10 minutes from where I live in Belgium. In a meeting with 5 Ikea people, I went through every one of your nightmares once I finished my walk through of our platform. I suddenly realised I was STONE DEAF. All I could see was mouths moving. I could here only low level mumbling. Fortunately, I had my wonderful colleague Katarina Graffman with me from Sweden who took over and answered all of the questions.

The next day, I phoned a friend and head of ENT Surgery at St Luc teaching Hospital who made an appointment to see me. His diagnosis was clear; forget any more operations. I needed a hearing aid. And with that news he sent me to his preferred hearing aid supplier, a lady called Isabelle, who as I write has been testing and optimising some very discreet hearing aids for me.

The interesting this is that between appointments, my hearing aids collect data which Isabelle can bring up on a screen. Apparently, last week, I kept my hearing aids in on average 14 hours a day. I listened to music for 4% of the total time I had them in. I was also in a loud environment for 47% of the time. This made me think. What kind of loud environment? I hadn't been out anywhere. I was perplexed. Until it dawned on me, that I must be shouting at the kids for 46% of the time. How amazing! Almost half of my time is spent yelling. It makes perfect sense too. It also made me think.

One of the last questions we ask respondents during EthOS projects is to look through their entries in Summary view and tell us what surprised them the most about their entries. And the responses all point to how unaware we are about our own behaviours. We distort our own realities to the point where we are absolutely clear about what our behaviours are. Which sets up an interesting experiment. Let's get some respondents and their best friends to comment on each other's behaviours and then compare notes with their own perceptions of how they have behaved. Compare the two and get... for want of a better word, insights!

Come to MRMW in Amsterdam this month to see exactly what we mean... also see if you can notice my hearing aids.