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Archive for the ‘past’ Category

my mum couldn’t use that

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One of the goals of personas is to challenge stereotypes and preconceptions. This worked nicely when we were working on persona creation for the redesign of bbc.co.uk.
The personas were all based on research from our audience research team but the team was questioning the pensioner profiles for using too much technology, complaining that “my gran is nothing like that”. This is when you have to point out that the pensioners AR were talking about were 65. That makes them most of my colleagues’ parents not our grandparents. And reminds us all we’re getting old.

The research was nicely validated by an interview we did a few weeks later with a recently retired librarian. She was using digital television (including catch-up TV), mobile phone (texting and taking photos), digital radio, PC (internet & email), digital camera & skype with a web-cam. She’s wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about technology but was heavily influenced by her children and her need to stay in touch with family elsewhere in the world.

But even when we’ve recalibrated our understanding of who pensioners are….it is still a common cliche to hear web workers challenge something complex in a product on the grounds that “my mum couldn’t use that”.

Now my mum and dad are retired computer programmers. They’re seriously old school. When I was a kid I played with abandoned punch-cards and that green bar printout paper. Dinner time conversations involved mainframes and COBOL. I thought this was all normal for grown-ups.

Given how extraordinarily geeky you needed to be in early days to get into programming, they’re probably more technically able than many of today’s geeks. So my mum could almost certainly use that. If she wanted to.

Now my sister… she thinks the rest of us Harvey’s are weird. She’s a much better touchstone for the real world.

Written by Karen

June 2nd, 2008 at 11:03 am

Posted in bbc,family,past,ucd

romanticism, environmentalism or just plain perverse?

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Also on the Thinking Allowed ‘Hoodies’ episode that I mentioned a while back was a piece on city planning.The piece covers ‘the traditional and futuristic notions of what makes a good city’ and decisions that we now perceive to have been destructive but at the time were motivated by a desire to get rid of Victoriana, to build better roads etc.

It seems that one generation’s modernisation is often the next’s wanton destruction. The romanticism that my generation has for things from my grandparents time horrifies my parents. They see it as a retrograde attitude. They have none of the nostalgia for period properties & antique fittings, they merely associate them with the hardships and limitations of their childhoods (cold & drafty houses, filled with dark wood and laboursome devices). Their values are of the 60s, warm, clean, light modern houses, scandanavian furniture and labour-saving, electronic devices.

My mother-in-law was amused to see we have a manual coffee-grinder and politely inquired if we knew there were electric versions available. We got it partly because we’ve been looking at our electricity consumption and also trying to buy devices that last longer. I’ve been increasing shocked at how many electronic devices I end up chucking. But there’s also a kind of motivation that I call the From Scratch Diet i.e. you can eat as much as you like of anything that you make from scratch. Sod Atkins…bread can’t make you fat if you had to knead the bloody dough yourself. Not that coffee makes you fat but you get the idea.

Mum just thinks we’re on some weird puritanical kick.

Written by Karen

May 31st, 2008 at 9:30 am

the oral tradition of social networking

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“Academic researchers are starting to examine that question by taking an unusual tack: exploring the parallels between online social networks and tribal societies”

Friending, Ancient or Otherwise

Written by Karen

May 29th, 2008 at 8:12 pm