This Big City

Personas and T-shaped

October 29, 2009
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Working with personas this week has proved really interesting. Despite remaining open-minded to the direction our work may go in, we know what our area of interest is right now, and with that in mind we all set out individually to observe the general public interacting with newspapers and magazines at a variety of locations.

Watching people was a bit weird, you seem to spend the whole time wondering if they have realised you are watching them, but regardless of that, it is easy to make observations and see patterns emerging.

After compiling our results on our team blog it was clear that people interact differently with newspapers and magazines depending on who they are and where they are. Basically, the potential interactions are limitless, which  could be a bit overwhelming. Is there room for a specific product in an area with few limits? Our focus is becoming increasingly refined and clear, and I also think our ideas are getting stronger as we realise the potential it has. However, I think it is clear that whatever stage we are at, we always need to remember that the idea can continue to evolve.

After compiling our research on the blog we saw a few personas emerging and we met up in kingston to act out these personas for real for the flip cam. This was quite fun, big thanks to the wonderful newsagent who let us use his shop! The video is up on

Another great development this week was the purchase of our professional website. Soon all our blog posts will go from there, but right now we’re all a bit confused by it…


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Storytelling and Personas

October 26, 2009
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I would have given a pound to save that bear for sure, but not a fiver. Nature’s cruel, and I hate that, but I’ve just spent a fortune on the Season 5 box set of Lost and I need to be keeping my fivers to myself.

But it definitely showed me the power of a good story. People connect through emotions, so emoting a product is a great way of getting customers attached to it. As our work evolves in T-shaped, I’m going to try and think about how I can apply storytelling to the ideas to encourage adoption of our eventual product.

This weeks class also confirmed to me that I have no reason to worry about the progress of our project just yet. It would be unnatural to not develop an idea when you are genuinely interested in it, but at the same time, there is clearly no need to be running away with finalised ideas just yet.

Thinking about analogous situations for the team made me really think about the core of our ideas, What is the basic idea behind what we are trying to do? What other framework already exist that we can apply to our ideas? Speed dating the news? I LIKE THAT.

Thinking about Personas made me realise I need to connect with the people who are going to use the product. Whoever, they might be. I’m happy to create fictional personas with the team, but also want to watch those genuine personas interact with our product area. With this in mind I have lined up a meeting in the next couple of weeks with a high powered gentleman in a very relevant area to our product ideas. more on that when it happens!

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October 23, 2009
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We are T-shaped, and we each represent a different part of the T. We come from a broad range of backgrounds, and our differences give us added strength.

It’s interesting to see the different ways we enjoy working. Coming from an arts background, I like to have faith in the creativity to guide us. I try not to worry too much about specific deadlines as I believe that truly innovative ideas shouldn’t be rushed. Having said that, I am aware that there are deadlines and I am trying to find a balance between putting my faith in the creativity, and ticking all the neccesary boxes. I don’t think I have found that balance just yet.

Similarly, Ben also believes that good ideas should be allowed to evolve at their natural pace, and jumping into an idea before it has been fully explored is not something he supports. Ben has significantly more real-world experience than the rest of the team which gives his opinions an added credibility. However, I believe that sometimes it is neccesary to go into things a bit blindly (and let the creativity guide you bla bla bla… clearlyI have not found the balance just yet.)

Sam’s background is in industrial design and engineering, and his ideas are very much in the real world. This is a great element to the team and a big help in keeping the team grounded and our ideas realistic. He is very aware of real human needs and interactions, something that is really valuable considering the area we are heading into.

Mikaela is from an advertising/PR background, and her fast paced way of working mirrors her background. She is much more willing to go head first into an idea and likes to work at a pace slightly faster than comfortable to some of us. The great thing about this is it acts as a reminder that we do have deadlines, and we do need to get our product or service out there into the real world as soon as we can really!

The great thing about working as T-shaped is that we all see things differently. We are comfortable working together and unafraid of challenging each other’s ideas and attitudes. We are all united by a genuine desire to make a good product and to learn about the area we have chosen to work in and hopefully this, combined with our individual skills and team dynamic, will allow T-shaped to be a success.

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In order to have a succesful business, what do I need to know or have?

October 23, 2009
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When asked this question, I tried to answer it without too much planning or over-thought so that I could get a truer reflection of the considerations I naturally fall towards.

You can see more about ativity theory system, and the combined results from our team over here.

My personal results, in order of rank:

Tasks, Responsibilities and Roles:

  1. Good ideas
  2. Marketing knowledge
  3. Discipline
  4. Commitment
  5. Creative and financial ability
  6. Knowledge of contemporary mainstream culture

Rules, Traditions and Constraints:

  1. Contracts
  2. Insurance
  3. Profit
  4. Decent margins
  5. Monies and credit

Community network:

  1. Employees
  2. Turnover
  3. Good team dynamic
  4. Good relationship with external parties

Tangible objects:

  1. A computer
  2. Our trusty flip camera for vloggin over at


  1. Some Users please!


  1. Myself

It’s really interesting to see that my main area was rules traditions and constraints. Does this mean I am a negative person? Or am i just highly aware of what might hold us back? It’s particularly interesting to see how different my results are from those of my team mates. I think this has to be a good thing.

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A beautiful solution

October 21, 2009
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‘When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty.  I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, i know it is wrong’

Buckminster Fuller

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October 15, 2009
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Our research has shown us that the news information market is highly saturated, and competition is fierce.

We hope to differentiate ourselves through creating a product with a unique focus on newspapers and magazines rather than the actual news, however, these news providers are still our competition:

Newstand: An iPhone application that pulls in content from your RSS feeds and displays them in a newspaper style.

Newsmap: An online news service that uses Google news results and displays them in colour-coded and size-coded sections

Newsagents: Though we would ideally like to work with a large newsagent firm, they could also be considered our competition if we fail to partner with them.

Online Magazine subscription companies: They have a large database of magazines, and even though they arent updated in real time, they offer a similar service to what we plan.

iGoogle and RSS: these service enable people to customise the news they view. The problem for us would be if customers were happy enough with this level of news interaction to not be interested in our product.

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Learning through a toothbrush

October 8, 2009
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When I was being observed, I felt totally different brushing my teeth to normal. It felt like I was doing it differently, and it got me thinking about how I brush my teeth normally. I tend to brush my teeth looking in the mirror, and then sit on the edge of the bath when flossing, but I realised I would probably be better off sitting on the bath for the whole tooth cleaning exercise as I felt that I could feel my way around my mouth better when it wasnt being confused by visuals. Being observed was a little bit weird, but not too much, it was just brushing teeth after all. I guess it was nice to share my outlook on oral hygiene with other people!

Observing Ben, I felt a little horrible at first for asking him to clean his teeth by moving his head around a static brush, but I did manage to learn from him. It’s amazing how much moving is involved in cleaning your teeth correctly. He felt unable to clean them well within the restrictions I imposed upon him, and felt more exhausted from moving his head than from his arms. Perhaps there could be a way of creating a toothbrush that is more automated, minimising human effort completely? I have a design idea, though I think it is a little too ambitious for our MACE scenario, and I cant imagine society is ready just yet. Maybe one day, when we have relocated humanity to another planet we will be able to embrace a total departure from what we consider a toothbrush. Ben also complained that he had ‘missed a bit’ by being unable to use his arms, which made me realise, we never really know how good a job we have done of cleaning our teeth, or whether there is a huge bit of plaque somewhere out of view that we constantly miss, making us need to go to the dentist. I think the toothbrush could be doing a much better job of looking after our teeth. What about a light you shine in your mouth that highlights the areas that need your focus? or some kind of vibrating device that loosens plaque inbetween your teeth? From observing Ben, I realised there is so much more a toothbrush could be doing. Hopefully, when it comes to brainstorming within teams, I will remember that thought. There is so much more our products could be doing and so much potential for new, successful ideas.

Observing people on their day to day actions seems  a really useful way of creating new products. Listing every task the observed undergoes could provide insight into new ways of performing these tasks, and I think that is the research method I will use most when considering a new product within our team.

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Thoughts from the Wired Intelligence Briefing

October 1, 2009
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The first Wired Intelligence Briefing, described as ‘a creative platform for smart, disruptive thinking’, was held today at The Royal Institution in London . Although most topics discussed weren’t genuinely ‘disruptive’, smart ideas and analysis were there in abundance.

‘The internet is the air around us.’ – Tom Loosemore

Most discussions centered on the increasing prominence of the internet in our lives due to super-fast broadband, 3G phones, and Augmented Reality applications. It was predicted that as the internet becomes integral to our interactions, a generally accepted online etiquette will begin to emerge with 5 clear rules:

  1. Always credit the work or links of others.
  2. Always be respectful, even in disagreement.
  3. Companies cannot pose as customers.
  4. You can ignore friend requests.
  5. Privacy must always be respected.

A quick check on almost any YouTube video, community edited reviews site, or social networking profile will show you that these rules are not currently being obeyed online, though it is worth remembering how ‘new’ the internet really is, and how long changes in social behaviours can take to form.

93% of Wired readers believe that businesses will not know how to thrive in the era of social networking, and 90% believe that British authorities will struggle to regulate the media being consumed by its citizens as we enter a permanently online world.

However, even in this online world, it was interesting to see that only 3% of Wired readers thought they could not manage without email, and 43% thought that Twitter is ‘a senseless waste of human life’. Citing massive viewing figures for shows like The X Factor, and Strictly Come Dancing, it was suggested that shared events are becoming increasingly important.

With Rupert Murdoch’s desire to move his online news services to a fee-based model, the future of free content online was discussed. Jessica Greenwood of Contagious Magazine suggested that charging for news might result in a ‘re-evaluation of what we consider real news’ and an increase in the quality of online journalism.

And despite a majority of Wired readers claiming they are prepared to illegally access online content, 84% said they are willing to pay provided content is affordable and accessible.

The overall tone of the event was positive, mirroring the 94% of Wired readers who are optimistic about the impact of technology on global society over the next 5 years. It was suggested that online activism would revive the general public’s interest in politics, and could potentially empower communities. 70% of Wired readers agree that the next successful brand launch will be created by a community of passionate users.

And despite exploring the potential of our online future, as we left we were presented with information and articles from Wired magazine, printed on good old-fashioned newsprint.

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About author

Joe Peach is an Artist and Designer based in London, UK. At present, he is studying Sustainable Communities and the Creative Economy at Postgraduate level in Kingston University.