Don Kenn

It seems fitting, on my first day at IDEO, to be posting a post about post-it notes on a blog entitled ‘Post-it’.

And so I give you Don Kenn – lovely illustrations on little post-its.



I guess this might be a little old – rehashing the question of ‘what is art’ perhaps. But reminds me a little of a Konstfack project done last year where two students produced a fake catalogue filled with some genuine but mostly fake projects. Copystand was an event set up at the Freize Art Fair where people created counterfeit versions of the art on display at the Fair. The results were sold at a fraction of the price.


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Today I almost fell for this. I received an email from the HM Revenue & Customs at 9:11 in the morning saying I’d received a tax refund for £988.50. Now the timing here is important. In the morning my brain takes a while to start working. This morning was no different and I didn’t think twice about this emails ‘simple’ html layout and clicked the link. Now if the above page had not been there I would have ignorantly proceeded to ultimately entering in my bank details to regain my refund.

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Clicking through to the fake HM Revenue website, my addled morning brain wouldn’t have even noticed the dodgy design. Only the url – – would have given it away.

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Clicking on a bank icon takes you to a page that is skinned exactly like your bank’s page. Again it’s only the url that gives it away.

In a very similar way I did this with the notebooks project. However rather than designed for scamming someone, the person was scamming me.

More google streetview antics

This time its angry norweigan divers.

See on google streetview

Placebo Paraphernalia for Favouring Frustration and Prompting Play.


It seems likely that the mechanism of the placebo response is through the production of what are called endogenous endorphins (naturally produced opiate substances) produced by the person being treated. Endorphins are released whenever we feel good, whatever the reason.

In pain, which I know best, approximately one third of patients will have a significant improvement in painful symptoms when treated with an inactive agent. This effect is increased if the doctor states that the new agent is superb. There is also a substantial placebo effect in depression and skin conditions, but much less effect in clear disease entities such as bronchitis and heart conditions.

- Stephen Tyrer, Psychiatrist and my Dad

That’s my Dad. He’s one of the leading researchers into placebo’s and their effect on depression. Alot of my Dad’s research looks into creating a believable experience for his patients as instrumental to the effect of the placebo. Queue the Experience Designer and Birgit Mager’s quote that “Experiences cannot really be designed, only the conditions that lead to experiences”. I’m taking the placebo approach on board full throttle now and aim to test it in eliciting a playful response in the face of frustration (caused by error). I’ve been finding some great examples of placebo’s used in a playful way to cope with fear, confusion and behavioural control.

You eat like a pig.

Pigs acquire, through learning and evolution, expectations of their environment. Frustration of expectations results in motivation to change these conditions and is therefore adaptive. Initially, frustration should produce problem solving behaviour. If these responses are unsuccessful, other behaviours, reflecting general frustration should be elicited. Our purpose was to study both types of responses to frustration in grower pigs.

So these scientists took 18 pigs, and fasted them for 1, 2 or 3 hours every morning. On Monday and Tuesday the pigs got full feeders BUT on Wednesday and Friday they got 2 types of feeders – lidded with the lid bolted down (L) and un-lidded that was empty (O). Results showed that pigs in pairs showed an increase in sitting and playing and single pigs started to ignore the L-feeders after 2 hours while increasingly looked into the O-feeders.

from “Frustration of goal-directed behaviour in swine”, N.Lewis in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 64, Issue 1, p 19-29

Blink and you’ll miss it.

The two videos above demonstrate Change Blindness – in basic terms when you fail to spot a change in your environment. While the Derren Brown video shows how age and colour are all victums of change blindness, the second video explains much better the conditions that lead up to change blindness.

When we blink, we create our own grey flicker effect. Almost as if we’re naturally designed to miss things. Reminds me of the statement by Joe Hallihan that “we are hardwired to make mistakes“; that our brain cannot simply take in all the information around us, so it filters out the unimportant and focuses on the important. In web design techniques such as the yellow fade and a javascript blink are used to notify people of changes in the online environment. How does the built environment notify us of changes? Normally handwritten notes to notify people of change of address of a building. Notification boards, newspapers

I guess this is more about an experience of error through change

We want the finest wines available to humanity.


According to AlphaGalileo, the background lighting provided in a room has an influence on how we taste wine. This is the result of a survey conducted by researchers at the Institute of Psychology at Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz, Germany. It was found that the same wine was rated higher when exposed to red or blue ambient light rather than green or white light.

The survey showed, among other things, that the test wine was perceived as being nearly 1.5 times sweeter in red light than in white or green light. Its fruitiness was also most highly rated in red light. Riesling combined with green light was not appreciated. Accordingly, one conclusion of the study is that the color of ambient lighting can influence how wine tastes, even when there is no direct effect on the color of the drink.

This opens up an interesting possibility; you could perhaps make use of only one type of wine to support the different courses of a dinner. Just modify the lighting conditions. The wine steward, or sommelier, will turn into ‘Light DJ’.

via The Examiner

The ‘Doll House’ Effect


Since 1976, Alton De Long, prof. of architecture at University of Tennessee, has been investigating the relations between perception of time and space. He created dolls houses at four different scales: 1/24, 1/12, 1/6, and full scale and asked subjects to imagine themselves as a person in the dollhouse and build a narrative behind what they were doing. He asked the subjects to signal when 30 minutes had passed.

De Long found that with a 1:12 scale, the experience of 30 minutes takes only 2.5 minutes in ‘real time’. Basically the brain speeds up in direct proportion to environmental scale. Beyond this ratio, the brain adjusts and this rule doesn’t correlate.

So in a science fiction movie this would mean that future workers stare at a miniature model of their office and reduce their 8 hour working days to 40 minutes, allowing much more time to go to fly their miniature hovercraft to the mini-pub and get drunk on one miniature pint. Excellent!

The Dance of Life, Edward T. Hall (Anchor Books Editions, 1984) p150

Performative Hacking Google Street View

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Two artists, Ben Kinsley and Robin Hewlett have taken flash mobs to the next level. They staged collective performances with the local community just as the google street car was driving through Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh. Viking fights, parades, love doctors and fleeing damsels in distress are now all archived on google maps for all to see. My favourite piece, for sheer bizarreness, is probably the giant chicken. The performance has a conceptual grounding in the current tension and fear about digital surveillance. It links quite nicely with Google’s current situation with China.

I think the artists could have pushed the idea a bit more. Performances could have been a bit more subtle, perhaps disguised as bizarre situations in a real context. The parade, for example, is rather what you would expect. If it was me, I’d like to stage lots of performances of people doing bizarre things they shouldn’t.. here’s the error thing coming back again.. if at the very least to add more variety to the peeing photo’s on google street view. More like this and this.

The piece is being shown at Manipulating Reality until January 17 at CCCS-Strozzina in Florence