"And so it is with a great many things. We can wait until the lifestyle that is killing the planet and is making us crazy and sick is no longer physically possible, or we can opt out of it ahead of time. And what we replace it with can be difficult at first, but quite a lot better for us in the end."
"For example, in cities, the degree of criminality is affected by liberty of movement; it’s higher in culs-de-sac. And high-rises are culs-de-sac: two thousand people jammed together in the air…"
"Attached to the top of each bottle is a cylinder. This cylinder is a cartridge that contains a concentrate. When you get the bottle home, you fill it with water and then attach that cartridge to the top of the bottle. Now when you squeeze the trigger you get a spray that is made up of tap water mixed on the fly with the concentrate in the cartridge."
Thanks Mayo for the link.
Armand Hammer himself was an intriguing person by all accounts…as I understand it, it amused him immensely to buy stock in Church & Dwight who made the baking soda and toothpaste, so that when people asked him if he made the products (kind of) bearing his name, he could say yes truthfully.
Adam Richardson, frog design
"Mr. Peñalosa's solutions may work in the developing world, but is North America ready for his happy revolution? Consider the advice he gave to planners in Los Angeles last year: Let traffic and congestion become so unbearable that drivers voluntarily abandon their car habits." Thanks Charles for the link
"We have done a fantastic job on usability of passwords. They’re so usable that anyone will type their password anywhere they see the word “password”…" (via Boing Boing)
I’m pleased to announce the launch of Design and Behaviour, a new discussion list / Google group:
The design of products, services and environments can be used to influence behaviour, and there’s a growing appreciation of the possibilities for social benefit, especially in environmentally sensitive design, health, safety, security and crime reduction. This group aims to bring together people interested in this emerging field: interaction designers, product designers, graphic designers, engineers, architects, ergonomists, computer scientists, sociologists, psychologists, economists, philosophers, researchers, strategists, policy-makers and anyone else with something to say, or an interest in learning what others are doing.
Run, initially at least, by myself with help from Debra Lilley, the group’s intentionally got a pretty broad scope. Please, if you enjoy this blog (or even if you don’t enjoy it but are interested in the field!) sign up (there’s also a Facebook group if that’s your thing). How the group develops is up to the members, so I can’t give you a definitive high/low traffic indication. But we will endeavour to keep it usable.
P.P.S. My apologies for the few weeks off the blog’s had. I’ve been very busy. Thanks to everyone who’s sent interesting items in the meantime – I hope to get round to posting them as soon as I can. It’s intriguing though, looking at the statistics that (aside from one-off spikes such as when we’re Boing Boing’d) the number of unique daily visitors to the site itself (i.e. not via RSS) remains fairly constant Monday-Friday regardless of how stale the posts on the front page are.
Swoopo, a new kind of “entertainment shopping” auction site, takes Martin Shubik’s classic Dollar Auction game to a whole new, automated, mass participation level. It’s an example of the escalation of commitment, or a sunk cost fallacy, where we increase our commitment (in this case with real money) even though (in this case) most users’ positions are becoming less and less valuable.
It is a ‘auction’ site…sort of. Swoopo sells bids for $1. Each time you use a bid on an item the price is increased by $0.15 for that item. So here is an example:
Person A buys 5 bids from Swoopo for $5 total. Person A sees an auction for $1000 and places the first bid. The auction is now at $0.15. Person A now has a sunk cost of $1 (the cost of the bid they used). There is no way to get that dollar back, win or lose. If Person A wins they must pay the $0.15.
Person B also purchased $5 of bids. Person B sees the same auction and places the second bid. The auction price is now $0.30 (because each bid increases the cost by exactly 15 cents). Person B now has a sunk cost of $1. If Person B wins they must pay the $0.30. Swoopo now has $2 in the bank and the auction is at 30 cents.
This can happen with as many users as there are suckers to start accounts. Why are they suckers? Because everybody that does not have the top spot just loses the money they spent on bids. *Poof* Gone. If you think this sounds a little like gambling or a complete scam you are not alone. People get swept up into the auction and don’t want to get nothing for the money they spent on bids.
The key thing seems to be that some bidders will win items at lower than RRP, i.e. they get a good deal, but for every one of those, there are many, many others who have all paid for their bids (money going to Swoopo) and received nothing as a result. The house will always win.
As is obligatory with this blog, I need to ask: where else have systems been designed to use this behaviour-shaping technique? There must be many examples in auctions, games and gambling in general – but can the idea be applied to consumer products/services, using escalating commitment to shape user behaviour? Can this be applied to help users save energy, do more exercise, etc as opposed merely to extracting value from them with no benefit in return?
From this BBC story, as of 6.43 pm.
P.S. I love the way it’s claimed “everyone will benefit” from the royalty rise. As a consumer, I can’t wait to be paying more! Perhaps a price increase will help limit the consumption of this precious rivalrous good… oh, wait…
It occurs to me that it’s now October, and in Britain that really means the summer’s over (though as I write this it’s pleasantly sunny and crisp outside). And despite attending a lot of very interesting talks and events over the past few months, I’ve been very lax at writing them up for the blog.