Thoughtless Acts

Inspired by the Jane Fulton Suri + IDEO book Thoughtless Acts I documented thoughtless acts over the years. Here’s a look at some thoughtless acts I captured during my travels and around Brooklyn and NYC. The photographs are about noticing the ways that humans react to the world around them to inspire designers to better tailor products to peoples needs. I totally geek out when I catch one. Most of the images were taken with an iphone.

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2013 Great Lawn, Central Park NYC Observation Notes: Balloons as public location markers in a large crowd for connecting groups of friends and family who arrive at different times

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2013 NYC Observation Notes: Plastic bag cover for plastic paint tray for convenience

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2013 UWS NYC Observation Notes: Kiosk clerk wears soundproof ear protection to protect from loud subway but still needs to be able to hear customers…

photo (20)2013 Morningside Heights NYC Observation Notes: Clerk made a finger tip wetting tool with a wet papertowel in a plastic container. She said it makes it easier and more pleasant for her to open the plastic bags and grab bills out of the cash register.


 2012 Williamsburg, Brooklyn Observation Notes: Walker bag hanger, cup stacker


2011 Essaouria, Morocco Observation Notes: Medicinal and cosmetic herbs hanging from doors and outside walls of a building. The aroma was wonderful.

Barber, India2011 Amritsar, India Observation Notes: Table cloth cape, brick with medical tape chair repair

CoveringJuice2011 Sinai Peninsula Observation Notes: Bread used to cover drinking glasses to prevent bees and other unwanted insects.


IDEO Research Methods for empathizing with people

I love the IDEO method cards. They are divided into the following categories: Learn, Look, Ask, and Try. The cards are great for ways to apply human-centered design methods throughout all stages of projects.

IDEO Method Cards


How do you design a social experience?

Paul Adams: How to Design Social Experiences from Interaction Design Association on Vimeo.

Mobile is not about phones it’s about commerce and society”
Information has become what we’re eating, who we’re with, where we are. We have access to information almost anywhere at anytime.

Social Design-
ME                        US                                    EVERYONE
(identity)               (groups)                              (connections)

ME-Help people tell the story of their lives
US-Help people build relationships with people they know
EVERYONE-Help people connect with new people

Relationships tend to be built and maintained over many lightweight interactions over time. People talk about things that generate feelings and emotions not facts. For example, the most shared information over Facebook in 2011 was the before and after photos after the Tsunami. Content needs to be about feeling and emotion not facts.

Design Tips:
1. Explicitly design for personal identity or social identity (pick one)
2. Show people the things they have in common with others (surface them)
3. Design lightweight ways for people to interact. Ask yourself if it’s something someone would say in a physical social situation. (examples Like button, Lays recipe contest)
4. Design for feelings not facts
5. Give suggestions for who to communicate with (people don’t comprehend how far their network reaches)
6. Design the feed story first (the web is evolving with tiny snippets). Design the story first then reverse engineer the system that makes it happen.
7. Design the ‘friends’ experience. Don’t just design for a person because that’s not how the world works. Friends are part of your experience and friends of friends.

General HCI Design PROCESS:
1. Contextual Research
2. Concept
3. Prototype
4. Specify (iterative testing)
5. Build and launch

General Social Design PROCESS: (designing for human to human interaction)
1. Build a hypothesis based on social science research (look at what’s already there/do literature reviews)
2. Build a simple product as fast as possible
3. Launch it so that people can use their real identity and real friends to test it out
4. Measure, iterate, look at analytics, primary research
5. Push code daily and weekly for variations and testing

Specific UX Design PROCESS:

1. Research (whats out there) Best practices (what works well)
2. Analysis (what does it all mean)
——–participatory analysis————
3. Current scenarios to map out what the current situation is and what the problems are.
4. User expectations and needs
5. Personas (map the data into personas so that its relatable)

So now we have the data, the problems, and the kind of people that run into these problems

5. UX goals, UX demands
6. Usability goals, Usability demands

7. Brainstorming(try brainstorming in context) and participatory design (involve users in the design process for example have them sketch what facebook looks like to them, or have them sketch the steps they take to receive healthcare, pay attention to how they perceive experience, involve the expert, they have workarounds)
8. Concepting
9. Sketching

———–participatory design————–

11. Key players
12. Storyboarding
13. User Flow
14. Schematic Design
15.  Lo fi prototypes (paper prototypes)
16. User testing
17. Hi fi prototypes (AB testing)
18. User testing


Skoll World Forum

Check out videos from the Skoll World Forum. A place where people are willing to be disruptive, imaginative, creative, take risks, have failures, push the edge. A place that real change comes from…skollworldforum


The Anthropology of mobile phones

Jan Chipchase Ted Talk

Notes: Jan states that the 3 things that most people carry with them across cultures and sex are the following:
1. Keys
2. Money
3. Mobile phone

Why these items? They symbolize survivability. I find his research fascinating and insightful and I would add water to the list. Jan mentions the intelligence in delegating and asks, “what all can we delegate to technology”.

In parts of the world like Uganda people write their phone numbers outside of their homes. This symbolizes an identity shift from people identifying with an address to people identifying/marking themselves with a mobile phone number as a primary contact.