Tag Archives: social

smörgåsbord choice cuts (iii)

Cycling
I have flirted with the idea of stripping-back my old Orange P7 ever since seeing the beautiful work at the Orange P7 project site . Back in 1995-6 I saved everything I earned at Sainsbury’s as a checkout assistant to buy my beloved bike. Back then it cost £1,200. It astonishes me that I could afford that when I couldn’t even justifiably cobble that together today for a MacBook Pro. Every so often the idea of bringing it back from the dead is freshened up and the post of the GT Bravado I saw on Cycle EXIF just serves to remind me what beautiful single-speeds 90s MTBs can make when treated with design dignity.

Information Architecture
Regular readers will know I curate (word of the moment for these days) thisisIA. The site showcases everyday examples of information design and organisation. I added a wonderful example today from Iain Tait’s crackunit blog that resonates with my autistic desire for order in cabling (Dare people should take a look at my zip-tied desk cables..).

Service
A quick look at a wonderful idea from the Hotel Exerda (found on PSFK) whereby hotel diners can see the recipes for the dishes they eat. Very much along the lines of those hotels where you can buy the fixtures and fittings.

Social
A very cute and simple idea seen in this Vimeo demo from Studio Sophisti [in het Nederlands] to use two lamps connected by the net (Ping) to sense when the other is on and consequently burn brighter. In so-doing the lights create a non-verbal communication link between the two users. I love the subtlety and intimacy of this idea that could be a very sweet way of connecting with loved ones. Away from your wife or girlfriend, both of you have connected lamps and you are working away when the lamp begins to burn brighter … touching.

Miscellaneous
A great find last week from my friend @Ppparkaboy was John Crace’s review in The Guardian of Roland Huntford’s new book Race for the South Pole: The Expedition Diaries of Scott and Amundsen. This review draws our attention to the fact we seem to laud Scott of the Antarctic despite of his catastrophic failure, yet Shackleton – “who didn’t lose a man .. remains a footnote in the national psyche”. I suspect, when we think about this, we can find similar examples amongst many of the modern era’s heroes – athletes, talent-show contestents and so-on. Huntford continues:

“Only in Britain do we revere the man who died in failure above the survivor. Elsewhere in the world, Scott is seen as rather second-rate – an incompetent loser who battled nature rather than tried to understand it.”

It is definitely worth absorbing the remainder of this review.

Nota: I have added a few more sources to my collection of regularly-monitored feeds to mix things up a bit. I get a little bit of a PSFK and FlowingData overload so would like to share a little more UX. I will also try and keep to the subheaded structure to allow scanners to skip past content they’re not interested

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TomTom directing drivers to shorter travel times

Nota: This post was originally published on our client-facing blog at Dare in edited form. I love the editors deeply but I wanted to share with you, dear reader, the full vestal version.


It doesn’t seem that long ago that the sight of a GPS in a car had the same reaction of someone using an iPad on the train does today. A sort of curious mix of jealousy and cynicism about their efficacy.

And then the prices fell and the world and his wife were getting them for Christmas. From the executive saloon to the student runabout, almost every car sports some sort of touch-screen map these days. It is this progress to ubiquity that has led TomTom to assume a critical mass is being reached such that their latest initiative has a chance of succeeding.

Boldy termed a Traffic Manifesto, the Dutch navigation giant has published its objective of making “better use of [the] existing road capacity” in Europe to “reduce journey times for everyone by up to 5%”. Quite some lofty objective given that this is predicated on the take-up of its HD Traffic service reaching 10% of the driving community in Europe. Soak that up. 10% penetration in Europe. Add to this aspiration the cold hard fact that just 2.2% of TomTom’s 45million drivers connect to such a service and one wonders quite what they’re putting in the tea over in Amsterdam.

Leaving that aside, the technology and the ethics behind it are quite pleasing. In TomTom’s own words, this is how it works:

“TomTom HD Traffic uses a revolutionary new source of traffic information: the traffic flow of up to 80 million anonymous mobile phone users on the road. From this anonymous data, TomTom knows exactly where, in which direction and at what speed all these mobile phone users are traveling throughout the road network. This real-time data is combined with other existing quality traffic information sources, resulting in the most complete and reliable traffic information.” [Source: TomTom website]

The campaign activity to support this includes offering this data up to local broadcast networks across the continent for free. The cynic in me assumes this is to offset the simple truth that an in-car device capable of real-time traffic data and re-routing rather makes the hyper-local radio bulletin (ergo much of  the stations’ raison d’être) redundant.

We seem rather obsessed at the moment with geographic social networking. Whether it is initiatives such as this or more frivolous pursuits such as Places,FoursquareNike+History Pin and even the BBC’s Dimensions project, it seems a rather curious paradox that the more our lives are being tracked and traced in the digital world, the more we seek relevance from the physical environment around us: to seek out new routes, new places and new people in the vicinity. So, while the TomTom traffic data is helpful in the now, imagine  aggregating this data  over a longitudinal study to identify new places to commute from? Well, social graphs such as Harry Kao’s commuter map and Mapumental are doing just that sort of thing.

After all, isn’t it nice to find examples where crowd-sourced information is genuinely useful, even if CEO’s like TomTom’s Harold Goddijn can’t resist making somewhat grandiose claims.

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