April 17, 2008
Around the Consortium: Grant McCracken on Chipchase, FX, and Baseball

As part of a round of updates today, I also wanted to point toward some of the work other folks are doing around the Consortium. In particular, I wanted to direct your attention to a great round of updates from C3 Consulting Researcher Grant McCracken. I'd fallen behind on keeping up with Grant amidst a lot of travel of late, so I've had the chance to catch up on many of Grant's observations at once this afternoon, and I found his latest three posts particularly apropos for the issues we cover here on the Consortium's blog.

He writes about Nokia's Jan Chipchase, who he calls "the hardest working man in anthropology, traveling almost constantly on behalf of Nokia, doing more fieldwork in a quarter than most anthropologist manage in a year." Grant writes about a recent New York Times Magazine piece covering Jan's work.

I wrote about one of Jan's many studies made public here last July, in which he looked at "where people carry their mobile phones and why. I wrote:

The point is that it helps to conceptualize the actual user experience and how these technologies fit into people's lives. These studies are quantitative, but there are certainly important qualitative factors that contribute to this knowledge as well, and we hope that our work at C3 is doing a small part of that through our blog and public programs like Futures of Entertainment, as well as the internal work we do with our partners throughout the media industry and academia.

The results of Chipchase's work finds, for instance, that 60 percent of men carried their cell phones in their pockets, most in their right pockets, which signals that carrying a phone seems to correspond with the dominant hand, and the thought was that perhaps most of those who carry the phone in their left pocket are southpaws (like me).

Grant also writes an insightful/inciteful (take your pick) piece about FX's choice to promote Dirt's season finale in the corner of their screen all weekend, feeling that it was encroaching on the viewer's space and a violation of the arrangement between channels and their viewers. He writes:

There are several places where a marketing message should never appear, and the corner of a TV screen is one of them. Let's put it this way. It's my TV. So that space in the corner, it belong to me. If you want to use it, you are going to have to rent it. You may work out a deal with my cable provider who will work out a deal with me. And even then, I will opt in. Or I won't. Otherwise, it's hand's off.

I don't know if the decision will make you feel like boycotting like Grant does, but see more on what makes him mad over on his blog. User IshMEL takes a slightly different opinion: "I agree that it's obnoxious, but how is it larceny? Any more than interrupting a movie with commercials? Or editing a movie's content for broadcast? Any time you watch a movie on "free" TV, you're going to get a sub-standard experience. Rent the movie if you don't like it."

Finally, see this post about a fascinating experiment Grant proposes about recreating the media experience of a 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Since Brooklyn will soon be my new home, it caught my eye.

More updates from around the Consortium planned for later this afternoon, as I continue catching up on my reading.