Tag Archives: society

The girls, the boys and the perverts

Chatroulette has been all over the media lately and has caused everything from awe to disgust and back. I haven’t tried it just yet myself, but I’ll probably join the squadrons of those trying it out sometime soon. I stumbled across this lovely documentary by Casey Neistat on Andy’s blog, which might shed some light on the chatroulette-enon if you haven’t checked it out yourself. Casey spends a day using Chatroulette with 90 people and does a brief analysis of who they are and how they behave with him and his pretty female co-experimenter.

In principle, apart from its perv content and time wasting potential, Chatroulette seems like an interesting way of opening an extra channel of chance to meeting those you would probably never come across in your life. If you want a broader read about Chatroulette, head over to the as usual highly interesting blog posts at Danah Boyd’s blog.

Public-centered design (please!)


I’m from time to time thoroughly startled and unimpressed by how public services and businesses work around time. Businesses and public services exist by getting money out of the public. In other words, the public (yes, we), pay their wages and allow them to exist. The question I have is then this: why don’t public services in particular serve the public in times of day that are more appropriate for the public? How is it meant to be agreeable to not be able to see a doctor or register at a GP in the UK without having to take off work? Seriously, something is way off here.

I can let go of why businesses work 9-5, it is their decision about when and how much money they want to make and what kind of customer relationships they want to build. Nevertheless, I don’t quite understand why they stick to their working hours as they do – opening your shop for longer or different hours would give you a better competitive edge over other businesses and possibly make your customers happier. Businesses already ‘get it’ in the south of Europe – it’s nothing unusual to find shops open at 2pm and closing at 10pm. To sum it up, later opening hours could bring businesses:

  1. higher income
  2. better customer loyalty
  3. better competitive edge

Any thoughts? Is it too much to expect people who want to profit from me to let me give them money when I choose to? Or having public services available when the public is?

Days with My Father

Picture 9

Phillip Toledano has created a journal of experiences he’s gone through during the 3 years of his father’s deterioration and final passing. The simplicity of a child-parent love, the rediscovery of the real person within a parent and finally the sheer fear and suffering that lies in losing them all interwind in this heartbreaking series of  moments so fragile captured so well. Thank you, Phillip.

And thank you showing me this, Lenny.

More is more


I like to apply the rule of ‘less is more’ in many aspects of my life, but I can’t help noticing that every day takes us deeper and deeper into a world where ‘more is more’. The perpetual stimulation and, as some may call it, distraction, leaves us with so many things zipping through our minds per day, per hour, even minute that a commitment to a single task seems far from possible for most (Did you not just get a Twitter notification, email, text, phone call?). According to Virgin mobile, 1 in 5 people will interrupt sex to answer a phone call. Most sleep with their phones constantly on and those with smartphones will often check their email before getting out of bed in the morning, with 6 in 10 Blackberry users checking their email in bed on a regular basis. Furthermore, ‘four out of 10 said they kept them nearby as they slept so they could hear incoming mail. A similar proportion said they had replied to emails in the middle of the night. A further 37% responded to emails when they were driving.’

Digital and in particular social media has enabled many phenomenal communication channels as a result of which we seem, and I believe are, better connected both across borders and with our real close social networks. I don’t believe that the nature of human relationships has changed due to the Internet, I believe it has merely enriched our relationships and given us more freedom and choice in how we develop and maintain them. The only possible problem this richness may cause to human relationships is the fact that today we probably deal with more relationships at a time than ever before which leaves less room for each of them. One could claim that our relationships have thus become more shallow, but again, that is a grand generalisation and a personal choice that people can make by themselves. What digital has given us is merely more choices in how we interact with our environments. 

Oh, the choices we, and our children will have to make. How many friends will you manage to talk to this week? Will you call your parents? Will you catch up on you favorite blogs by the end of the week or spend time outdoors instead? Which information and with what restrictions will you put on you Twitter, Fb, whatnot? These are just a few of the decisions to make for most of those engaged in digital. The distraction or rather multi-tasking might not be a bad thing; it might make our minds more flexible and thus capable of processing more information at a time allowing us a greater capacity of experiences within a given unit of time. The neurological changes might make us into a different kind of a human over the next generations, which is a part of evolution, whether in the right or not direction. 

So yes, more is more, but the trick within all of this possibility is not to spread your experience, your life, too thinly. The world of the increasingly ubiquitous more requires more discipline both in our daily behaviour and attention. The small choices every day can be driven by the same logic as paying attention to how to deposit of your recycling – everything mixed together might just not be the best option. Where you start is another question, perhaps not checking your email at night and getting some sleep instead could be one of them. 

For related articles, please read:

Benefits of Distraction at NYT

Rules for balancing technology and relationships at Timesviou

Illustration by Glen Cummings/MTWTF  

(Photo: John Day/Getty Images)

6 billion Others

It periodically blows my mind to realise how deeply similar everyone is and to what degree we all seek the same in our lives, our days, our occupations, friends and lovers. The one coherent mass that seems to disagree with the idea for the sake of being textured; a swarm of fish, combination of seeds spilled on the ground, the racing microbes in our bodies.

Fifty People One Question is a project that started with a simple idea. ‘ ‘Go to a place. Ask fifty people the same question. Film their responses.’ Created by Crush & Lovely, a creative studio based in New York City and San Francisco and Deltree, a New Orleans-based production company led by Benjamin Reece, a talented young director and creator of the original ‘Fifty People, One Question’ video. So far a collection of just four videos available on Vimeo take you to New York, New Orleans and London and reflect the filmed communities by asking them two simple yet meaningful questions about their lives and dreams.


Another project, though of a larger scale is 6 billion Others by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, which attempts to draw a portrait of mankind by asking meaningful questions to people around the globe. With 4,500 hours of footage filmed by 6,000 interviewees in 65 different countries, 6 billion Others is largely available to online with altogether 450 hours of translated and subtitled footage.

Nowadays we’re surrounded by amazing communication tools, you can see everything, know everything, and the sheer bulk of information out there has never been so huge. What’s ironic in that in reality we know so little about our actual neighbors. The only way we can move forward is to move towards are fellow men.

Cause a scene


Improv Everywhere is an urban prankster network which causes scenes or flashmobs crowds in cities around the world. One of their latest ‘missions’ was the No Pants 2k9 day organised across 22 cities. The group has spread over to blogs and Facebook as well with their Improv Everywhere page and multiple country-specific groups that try to keep participants up to date with what’s going on.

On Saturday, January 10th, 2009 nearly 2,500 took off their pants on subways in 22 cities around the world. In New York’s 8th Annual No Pants! Subway Ride we had over 1,200 participants, spread over four subway lines.

One of the more interesting ‘missions’ coming up in London is the Urban Desert Island Shipwreck, which will consitute of a few agents being dropped off on an pond island. They’ll be wearing ragged clothes on and showing consequences of a 2-week stay full of hunger and misery setting in. The scenario so far involves a plane crash, a rescue mission and family reunions.


Reborn dolls are remarkably human-like looking dolls collected by older and often childless women who treat them as normal infants. Reborns are often dressed, changed, taken out and even have birthday parties thrown for them. This reminds me a bit of cases of dog obsession among older ladies, though compared with Reborns, those ladies are at least interacting with live creatures. This may be creepy and sad, but perhaps it should be seen as just a form of therapy for these childless women. From a medical point of view, holding a child can trigger hormone releases, which in turn can lead to a better well-being.


People around the world create substitutive relationships with pets and mostly this is not seen as out bounds with social standards. Couples sometimes experiment with parenting through having pets and if they decide to remain childless or cannot conceive, they sometimes create substitutive bonds with their pets. Such relationships can be therapeutic in cases of dealing with death in family, keeping elderly relatives more occupied in day-to-day activities or treating disabilities. Such behavior is also seen in children, who mostly create extremely strong bonds with their pets and toys. People often talk to their pets and spend considerable amounts of time with them through leisure activities as well as spending money on their food and accessories. Are the Reborns that much different beyond representing the obvious missing connection with a real child for their owners?