Keep up to date on new work, our thinking, ongoing projects, things we’ve noticed and what we’re up to in the studio with our weeknotes and occasional articles.

Hello! Happy new year! We certainly hope you had a relaxing break. Just spinning up the drive here.

» The past few weeks have seen some interesting and welcome developments on Urbanflow Chicago, including a departure of one of the parties that had been proposed to deliver the hardware on which Urbanflow would be running.

If I don’t sound particularly concerned about this, it’s because I’m not. We’ve always conceived of Urbanflow as a service, and while I don’t think it would be correct to describe that service as entirely agnostic to the hardware and software on which it’s instantiated, we’ve certainly done our level best to keep its options open and varied.
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Week 50: Design facts and fictions

Adam Greenfield on 16 December 2011

A relatively slow week, as activity in the studio tapers toward yearend.

  • Inspired by the final delivery of the two prototype card units and base station in their cozy Pelican case, we’re forging ahead with the PERRY video. We shot the last bits of guerrilla footage earlier in the week; now Mayo gets into some After Effects work, and Nurri disappears into the editing suite to bind it all together.
  • We printed a stack of Year One t-shirts roughly resembling this. (The actual shirts feature the legend much more prominently, and in black; we’ll get shots up for your perusal as soon as we have them in our hot little hands.) This first run we’ll be selling for cash at FRIDAYS AT 7, touring-band-style, every week until they’re gone. If you want one, better come see us at Temple Bar.

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Week 49: Learning from a lanyard

Adam Greenfield on 9 December 2011

Sometimes — rarely, but it does happen — you know a conference is going to be disappointing the very moment you’re handed your lanyard.

This was my experience of the first annual Smart City Expo and World Congress, held at Barcelona’s yawning Fira conference center week before last. I don’t know if you can quite tell from the thumbnail image that accompanies this weeknote, but what was given to me at check-in was an access-control credential, not a conference badge.

What’s the difference? Well, let’s see. A conference badge generally displays one’s name and affiliation prominently and legibly — which admittedly leads to that ugly, awkward scan people do when they’re trying to figure out if you’re someone worth talking to, but does at least afford recognition and identification. It may feature a friendly picture of the wearer. And if the wearer happens to possess some other special status relevant to one’s attendance at the event — sponsor, say, or vendor, or speaker — that status may be reflected in the color of the badge or the badge holder, for the utility and convenience of everyone involved.
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Weeks 47-48: The art of rolling with punches

Adam Greenfield on 2 December 2011

I’m just back from Barcelona, where I both spoke at the Smart City Expo and, more happily, had the opportunity to present the same material (for free) to an audience gathered by the ZZZINC independent culture lab. Much more about that next week, after I’ve had time to absorb everything I saw and heard; in the meantime, please enjoy this picture Fabien Girardin took of me at the wheel of a streetsweeper.

» The big news of the week was a trifle harder to take: we learned that our Farevalue cards — better known to most of you as Project PERRY — will not be patentable after all. Apparently, a patent that had not yet been awarded at the time of our initial patentability search surfaced when we undertook a second round of due diligence, and the method it claims protection for is entirely coextensive with the PERRY/Farevalue innovations.
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Week 46: QR or not QR

Adam Greenfield on 20 November 2011

We capped another week of project-based hustle by doing some quick-and-dirty field research on pedestrian understandings of QR codes, the two-dimensional barcodes I first encountered in Tokyo in 2001, and which have recently become fairly hegemonic on the streets and subways of New York City.

Given that very ubiquity, I wanted to get to some clarity as to what ordinary people think when they encounter one. As I’ve noted here before, our assumption/bias going in was that an absolute majority of pedestrians and transit riders encountering the codes would neither know precisely what they were, have the wherewithal to use them as intended, nor be able to complete the task strongly implicit in the code’s presentation.

Assumptions and bias, though, are invariably a lot less interesting than actual findings. With the aid of my intrepid ITP students, then, we set out to get some answers, and see if we couldn’t either confirm or disconfirm those suspicions. We wrote a bare-bones interview script, set up intercepts in Manhattan’s Union Square and at 7th & Bedford in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, and successfully completed a survey of a small but suggestive number of respondents (n=28). We’re planning to follow these locations with research in the Jackson Heights district of Queens, to more fully round out our picture of New Yorkers.
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