Saturday, February 28, 2009

why does the OTHER queue always move faster ?

The title immediately caught my attention of course : things I did not know I did not know ? The author is teaching in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in the Cambridge University. He has a real talent to describe the world and life as it is through math principles. How does maths can help us  understand  daily stuff like : how Rugby can help us understand the Theory of Relativity,  the 6 degrees of separation between you and anybody else on earth or why does the other queue is always moving faster.

Everybody has experienced that. After having scrutinized all queues in the supermarket, it appears that you've chosen the slowest one, once more ! 

Why ? 

Simple : just because the slowest lines are the one that have more people in them. In average, just the fact of choosing a line will increase the fact that you have more chances to be in the most crowded line, the slowest one. 

Other point to be considered by Barrow, the fact that even though people are amazed by coincidences, there exist far more non-coincidences that nobody looks at...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jack Kerouac on Robert Frank photos

"Anybody doesn't like these pitchers dont like potry, see ?
Anybody dont like potry go home see Television shots of big hatted cowboys being tolerated by kind horses."

Jack Kerouac, foreword of The Americans, photobook by Robert Frank

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lost in translation in Chinese retailing

Retailers in China need to develop a translation of local billboards to be understood from foreigners. Well, english is sometimes translated by non english speaker and it may lead to curious interpretation. I especially liked the "Translate server error".

Also, in Chinese, a same word may be used for several signification. It seams also that the same word is used to mean "dry", "to do" or "fuck" depending how it is pronounced. This word is symbolised with this simplified character: 干 . The general use of automatic machine translation created these funny mistakes. 

photo credit : James Fallow and Language Log

Monday, February 16, 2009

the Kola Champagne legend

Obviously, it's not Champagne but Ambassador is a real double fake ! A fake Champagne (well, the bottle helps...) and a fake Kola Champagne. 

Looks like a funny fake mix between two famous drinks, but you're wrong ! Kola Champagne was created by a famous (in Puerto Rico, at least !) Angel Rivero Mendez in the 1920's. Rivero Mendez, founder of the North Pole soft drink company is also well known for having shot the first against the US in the Spanish - American war in Puerto rico in 1898. That war concluded in the control of Cuba, The Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico to the US...

For those who dare to try, it's highly recommended for Glucose addict...

Photo shot in Publix, Miami

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The real Toy story

Did you know that Santa Claus lives in Guangdong, China ?

In fact, 75% of the world's toys are produced in Guangdong, a province of South east China.

Liberty's department store in London (Great Marlborough st.) in the China Design Now exhibition proposed last spring an installation by Michael Wolf : The real Toy Story.

M. Wolf covered entire walls with more than 20 000 plastic toys. Some amazing photos of the workers in the factories were also embedded in the installation, adding a strange human presence.

All the toys had a face and you could see the sharp contrast between the huge amount of plastic toys and the photos of the workers. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hema's great web animation

Hema is a Dutch Department Store with a large and nice private label assortment. Acronym of "Hollandse Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij Amsterdam" to be translated as "Unique prices Company Amsterdam" ... It belongs to the cultural patrimony of The Netherlands (isn't it Chris ?), Hema is established since 1926 and got fame for his pastries and (used to be) fixed prices. 

When you look for Hema on Google, the first entry is this fake (?) and funny website :

Just login and wait !

Was it developed by the company or just a buzz ?
You may go here to buy online (delivery only in the Netherlands)

Photo credit : rheauchyr

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The role of human behaviour on web design

John Maeda has theorized the Laws of Simplicity in an eponymous book, a must read. His 10th law is describing the concept of Simplicity as "subtracting the obvious, adding the meaningful". 

An interesting application of the Law may be found in the Fast Company magazine recommended by my friend Chris. This interesting article by Cliff Kuang about the importance of taking account human behaviour in the design of commercial web sites. He relates how a major e-commerce company made minor change to his website that drove to major impact (in fact, $300 M rise in turnover).

What was wrong with the site ? 
Nothing apparently but, after having made your purchases you were asked validate by a click on the checkout button then to login or register. What did the customers say ? We're not here to enter a relationship and later receive tons of newsletter but just buy some stuff. Many customers could not remember their password from previous registrations (how many password do you need to survive in the web 2.0 ?). Interesting facts : 45% of users had multiple registrations !

So what was done ?
Just change the Checkout button by a Continue one. Adding the message "You don't need to create an account to purchase products. Simply click on Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster you can create an account during checkout". 

Make it simple. 
Don't bother your clients.
It works.