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A pondering paeonia's bed of thoughts

Updated: 2015-09-17T08:11:08.638+03:00


French food for dreams


(image) I'm off to Cannes for an intense week in April, as I'm attending the MipTV and Milia. The main themes for the five conference days are known but the speakers are yet to be announced.

And right outside Cannes, there's a lovely paeonia garden, La Villa Noailles. I do hope I can arrange time for a stop there! It's my dream to run a lush, green, quiescent garden where peonies would grow throughout the season starting early spring and ending in autumn. I'd run a small café with sherry, gâteaus and orange liquor, with tables only for two or three parties maximum. It's intentionally not a very profitable enterprise, rather it's the spirit, l'esprit of it. Hopefully, I get a bit of nurture in Cannes for my dream.

Finally a grain of outdoor activities


(image) (image) (image) It's been a hell of a winter, pardon my French, but it has. There are few positive adjectives I can come to think of when describing it. It's been dark, quite warm, little snow but instead very rainy, resulting in unusually wet forests and no frost in the ground. The river running by our house is usually covered with ice in January but not this year. And since we're currently living January, the festivities of Christmas and mid winter are all behind us leaving little mental nor physical light to cheer for. And when you add that to the usual polar night spirit (or Kaamos which is the term in Finland), only keeping the eye lids open is a task comparable to walking ten thousand miles. That's why I jumped out of bed with a big grin on my face this morning, the sun was rising, the temperature was -10 and a white blanket of snow reflecting golden sunbeams. Beautiful! I grabbed the camera and headed out. Let's hope it stays this way for a while longer. Otherwise, I need to indulge more in my survivor trick during dark winter times, knitting, needlework and embroidery (the angel came about last November...).

Notes from Ebba von Sydow's talk


Her talk treated mostly trends in young women's media consumption, behaviour and taste.
  • The internet is as such no biggie for young Swedish women. It's like any other medium, it's considered a carrier of other media, such as radio, TV, news papers...
  • Many are more comfortable with expressing emotions and opinions in front of a computer screen or via sms, instead of face to face. Young women of today are afraid of making a phone call and talking to someone, instead, they prefer electronic communication.
  • Ebba von Sydow dislikes the claim often heard today, that young people lack engagement, that they don't care. They do care, and they engage through clothing, fashion. The means of expressing the engagement is new, she stresses.
  • As for the environment awareness, young Swedish women seem to think: "That's great, but I won't...". A t-shirt made of organic cotton every now and then may be ok, but making a long-term commitment is out of the question.
  • She mentions the importance of involving the user in online sites and communities, the two cases she talks of are Ellos and Lego.
  • Finally, the brand is of minor importance for teenagers online. They're extremely disloyal and unfaithful to brands. What counts is what buzzing at the moment, what others are talking about.

Ebba's blog is here (in Swedish).

The night prior to inspiration


My expectations of the coming weekend are high. It's the first conference for this year, and it's a good one, Mediespråk (media language). Two years ago, the chief editor of a Swedish evening newspaper, Bo Strömstedt, made fall in love with language and poetry again. On an early Saturday morning no less. I completely forgot the hangover and instead, I came to terms with the grudge against classic French literature (long story). I'm still impressed by the man. This year's main speakers are the journalist and fashion blogger Ebba von Sydow and the award winning journalist and author Mustafa Can.

Pen measuring emotions


According to NewScientist, the company Philips is launching a pen measuring heart rate, skin conductance, finger pressure and temperature in order to get an idea of the current state of mind of the author. I'd love to write a book about that pen, preferably a detective novel. And I'd love to see the SCL curves of Ms Rowling when finishing the Harry Potter series.

Highlighted in DN


The #1 daily newspaper in Sweden as to distribution and readership, DN, has an article on movies and audience screening. The reporter, who's taken part in such a testing, describes the process of having a say on how entertaining a movie is and presents an overview of the available methods of film screening on the Swedish market. This is where our iDTV Lab appears.

Although the Americans have carried the system of movie test screenings to an extreme, many of the technical progresses are made not in the West but in the East, in iDTV Lab in Vasa, the reporter writes. The article is found here (in Swedish only).

A YouTube for thinkers


Do you feel like YouTube clips mostly resemble silly sitcom copycats with little substance, that only occasionally succeed in providing semi-funny haha moments? Longing for depth and intellectual snack? There's an alternative now, a YouTube for big thinkers, grand ideas and genuine, thorough discussion. It's called Big Think, read more on the story behind it here.

Looking for a cool job in new media and research?


Then do send us your application! We're hiring more folks to the audience research lab at work. If you like exploring why people would bother being interactive on the web or on TV after a rough day at work, why someone would get excited over a thriller movie or if you enjoy finding out best practice of creating digital products with high scores in user experience and usability, this is the post for you.


What's going down next year?


I'm a bit disappointed in contemporary journalism. Too little attention is devoted to the glorious art of following-up. It seems to me that news media is way too focused on tomorrow, tonight (and possibly on the "right now" although not much), which consequently leaves the history and yesterday all gray and forgotten in the dumpster in the back yard. I'd appreciate a remembrance every now and then, a check up if you will, of the goals, beliefs and visions at earlier days and how it all turned out. For example a comparison between the actual weather and climate data of 2007 and how it was predicted by a) the local foretellers using coffee grounds or the mating behavior of frogs or swallows b) the meteorological institute and c) climate researchers. Who came closer to the truth? Or a comparison between the election promises given by local politicians and now, after four years of power, the results. Or a comparison between the fears and hopes regarding the web back in mid 1990's versus how we actually use the net today. Are there great differences? Did someone foresee the social networking craze of today?

My memory is extremely bad and I'm sure I'm not the only one to suffer from this. This being the case, there's money to be made :) But since the news I consume seem to be occupied with the next year's flowering season rather than with the roots and last season's blooming, I started documenting the weather and happenings myself in order to be able to make comparisons and remembering later on (a dream I have is to take an identical photo of say the views from my balcony, every day at the exact same time. That would make an impressive index of weather, the changes in how the local community evolves as new houses, trees and road would emerge and old ones perhaps disappear. The idea falls short however due to my constant moving around.) I've also been thinking of collecting the trend reports and predictions that flourish at every turn to a new year, and compare them with how it all turned out say after four, five years have passed. I've been happily reading every trend report I've come across, in all sorts of contexts, and this year, they're a bit contradictory. According to Kairo's institute, we'll see more of the blending of private and public on arenas such as MySpace or FaceBook. But as a consequence, conflicts in law, organization culture and conventions (what's suitable to reveal regarding your work online for instance) will emerge. This trend watch report was a great read, I do recommend it! The women's magazine Amelia on the other hand predicts that IRL is back, a social networking fatigue will hit us and we'll favor integrity and keeping thorough, deep discussions face to face with our friends. I will try to keep up and see which prediction is more accurate.(image)

Playful products


I stumbled upon an article by Jonathan Follett on UX Matters. He suggests four characteristics for a playful product, and thus, these are the variables to measure when studying the playfulness of a digital product.
  • lots of small rewards and positive feedback for taking action
  • no negative consequences for experimentation
  • the ability to take someone else’s work and build on it
  • frivolous interaction
His suggestions are a good start. There are two more features I immediately want to add to the list, socializing and challenge. For instance challenging your friend to create a cooler Nike shoe than the shiny masterpiece you just did, by sending him or her an e-mail.

The tale of the well-being


D Kahneman (a psychologist awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences six years ago) tells a tale of being wrong in the research of well-being.
"Measuring experienced happiness turned out to be interesting and useful, but not in the way we had expected. We had simply been wrong. Experienced happiness, we learned, depends mainly on personality and on the hedonic value of the activities to which people allocate their time."

wii 2.0


For a long time, we've been clueless regarding what to do with our Wii at work (gaming has naturally been out of the question), but that's hereby a solved problem.

I can fool you anywhere!


Evidently, I need a reality check and get updated on civilization, as it turns out I've missed out on a famous magician and psychological illusionist, Derren Brown (thanks Jonas for the tip!). I knew nothing of the guy so I did what anyone would do, I browsed YouTube and yes, j'ai trouvé. In this clip, he raises an interesting point regarding the individuality that we praise today, regarding how our mind works and how we subconsciously register messages that affect us without our knowing it. Interesting, I must say.

Gendered Simpsons?


(image) Sweet, thanks to Mr Santa Claus, I am now the proud owner of two more DVD boxsets of my favorite TV show, The Simpsons. The fact that this show, probably along with The X-files and Seinfeld, is on my all time top 3 list on TV shows came up at a party a couple of weeks ago and to my big surprise, people were astonished to hear this. Apparently, the typical Simpsons fan is considered to be male. To be honest, this is nothing I've thought about, and spontaneously, I'm a bit doubtful as to if this is true. There's no doubt plenty of women enjoying watching the bad manners of Homer, the many pranks à la Bart and admiring the sharp wit of young Lisa, right? Well, perhaps therefore, this gender "prejudice" intrigued me to such an extent that I did a bit of ad hoc-research. It turns out, not many women at the party watch the show, whereas many men do, and when asked about it, most felt that the show appeals to men in the 20s-30s. And now, when I google it to see if there's audience research or sociological studies available to shed some light on the matter, I find nothing. I did find that gamers seem to include the show in their TV consumption, but I still don't know whether there are more men than women in the fan club.

Interestingly, while browsing for information on the demographics of the audience, I found out via Wikipedia that The Simpsons turned out to be a viewer success in Japan, only after the marketing spotlight was put on Lisa. I'm having a Japanese friend of a friend coming over to stay with us tomorrow, I'll have to ask her about the audience of the best animated series there is in her country.

Cuisine and games


Sweet. The home made Carrot Casserole is ripening in the oven, the beetroot casserole is already cooling down and... there's snow on the ground! Yey! So far though, the holiday has been revolving around cuisine and games (and that can't go wrong...). I've downloaded the classic arcade game Bubble Bobble to my Wii. It's good fun, although not as challenging as my all time favorite Boulder dash. And I realized that one of my favorite stand up comedians at the moment, Björn Gustavsson, appears to be a true WOW gamer ("du, du är precis som en priest som inte healar". Muahaha!). And interestingly, as for the board game Draughts, it seems to be game over.

Christmas party video


One of our visual contributions on last night's Christmas Party at MediaCity is out on YouTube now. It's in Swedish, but the visual language is, should I say, rather alive and present. The 10 minute masterpiece is here.

AC going on


The current spirit of this blog is perhaps best illustrated by the poor fate my cactus out on the balcony faced this winter: drained of energy and struggling. Remains to be seen if this post is just a First aid care performed just once, on the compulsory “tying up the ends” day at the end of the year, or will it instigate more posts in the future. In the documentation of the blog’s medical history, the reason for the low activity is found in the author, naturally. Lately, I’ve been focusing more on identifying and posing the right questions, on the nature of the battery of yet un-uttered questions there simply must be out there still, concerning everything really, mundane things as well as metaphysical ones. I haven’t been too much concerned with trying to find answers, to write papers or outlining views on the world and therefore, the need to write has not been all too prevalent.This is not a new turn of event though. I’ve always thought that life in general is much more about the whys and the hows than about the ergos. That is, I’m not so much interested in one big truth or a definite recipe on how things are but rather on challenging these views by asking how they could be, according to a number of perspectives. Consider a funnel; my way of working is moving my way from the narrow spout upwards towards a much greater space. I’m probably like a child stuck in a “why” phase that never tapered off :)Well, anyways, at the Christmas Party of MediaCity last night, a journalist and my former colleague, currently on leave of absence for completing a PhD, asked me whether I miss journalism and writing news features for a news paper. I confessed that I do. That’s a profession that suits me, apart from the evil deadlines. And the reason for that is exactly that I talked of above. Along the lines of classic journalism, you get to explore and shed some light on an event or a phenomenon, and typically, you need to do so out of multiple perspectives, in order to explain it and tell it to your audience in an intelligible and engaging way. In short, you get paid for asking loads of whys and hows, to put bits and pieces together in a simple manner, and then move on without ever becoming an expert on the issue. But as we were talking, I realized that the focus of people’s mind is like an alternating current, whose direction vary in a cyclic way, as opposed to DC (yes, I did ask the band to play AC/DC but I really can’t remember if they ever did…). And the wave of my focus is presently changing, it’s just that I hadn’t realized it until last night. I’m actually leaving the phase of why and how now, in favor for the ergo. The signs are there, like we’re hiring a research manager at iDTV Lab, which will kick start the getting below the surface-phase pretty seriously and I’m really looking forward to that. Also, I fell in love with a book on how to get answers to all your unthinkable questions, of which I have a bundle. I found it at Designtorget down town Stockholm last Monday, it’s called Can cows walk down stairs? I do recommend it! Well, first aid treatments are by default simple and provides only limited care, therefore, over and out.[...]

Finland's three T:s


(image) I'm one of those people who crave instant answers. If I could, I'd integrate an audio Wikipedia in something that I always carry with me (most likely the keys, the phone is increasingly left behind these days). Whenever I come across something that I'd fancy knowing, a simple question would be uttered and a definition would be read to me within a few seconds, or perhaps a minute. It would take too long to fiddle with pens on pda:s or googling via 3G and besides, that requires time and effort. No, I want it instantly, without grand energy investments on my part. But then again, such a system would be the end of the fun ways knowledge hits you at times. Like the night before I went on a holiday to Rome. Late, I finished R Florida's book on the Creative class, as he labels persons working in fields such as research, computer programming, art, law etc. People whose jobs somehow revolve around creativity. Florida has found a correlation between high socio-economic development of an area and a large population of creative workers. Florida argues that in order to attract and maintain this much sought for creative class, cities and regions must have functioning “Three T’s”. These are Talent, Tolerance and technology (learn more here). When reading the book, I was wondering how well Finland is doing in this regard. We most certainly do have the talent and the technology, but what about the part regarding tolerance? Well, the answer came to me a couple of days later at one of the two metro lines in Rome, in an Italian Metro paper (No, I don't understand Italian but I do have 20 something ECTS-points in Latin so I figured the stem of the words ought to resemble at least). Apparently we're doing good, we made the top three of the big T:s of creativity.

Societal thoughts


Two pence worth of thoughts, i.e. things I feel worthy of contemplation.
  1. In December last year, I predicted a future Western society where values and thoughts, instead of money and gadgets, rule. I still believe in this vision and I'm wondering when this transition will be completed. When will the zeitgeist equal thoughts and values, not things and gadgets, and focus on the process, not the final product? And when we're there, how do you show off to others? Say today, you can flash with a designer bag worth of 5 000 euros. Not everyone, but significantly many, admires that item. But in a world where thoughts, ideas and visions make the currency, how do you show off to friends and colleagues? The contemporary Finn may buy an even better, more powerful SUV to outdo the neighbor, but that won't do the trick tomorrow. Probably, clothing will still play an important role, signaling what you stand for and in what intellectual hemisphere you currently roam.
  2. Will categorization according to gender ever disappear? I mean, will we ever primarily consider the human, and the gender as a secondary aspect? It's seems hard to stop labeling people and raise expectations on others depending on their gender.
  3. Will micro issues surrender to macro ones when debating politics, visions and suggestions? It seems today, when important and relevant issues are being discussed, the focus lies on details and is not often shifted to the bigger picture, to a macro level.
  4. How many have considered who, if anyone, has something to gain on the climate debate currently raging? Is the question of who may have an interest in instigating such a debate, and why, and are these reasons of such a kind that we want to support them or not, raised at coffee breaks at work places around the world? I wish it was raised and genuinely analyzed. I hope I'm not falling into a conspiracy trap here but I believe it's sensible to ponder why we are debating current issues and who benefits from it.

eyesonitv stolen notes


The Eyesonitv is well under way, it's just frustrating to be swamped with work to that horrifying degree, that I have to skip about half of the talks. Good thing Simon just blogged an overview of what has been discussed so far.

Notes from EuroITV 07 part one


Astrid Weiss of University of Salzburg, the host city of next year’s event, presented findings on how the TV audience perceives their living rooms. It plays a role of a recreational area yet at the same time as a place for socializing. She quoted a woman saying she wants to watch TV in her living room, read and be lazy but the same room is where her son plays PS. A truly multi functional space, it appears. I’ve always been fascinated by how people act, when they have friends over; do they kill the tv or do they actually turn it on, as a background noise or perhaps as an aid or instigator to get the discourse going. But now, when I'm in the middle of a moving process where the function and roles of new rooms are designed, I started reflecting on how I perceive my living room and the role of TV. I chose to have a different room for media. It’s quite small, with a blood red wall, Kill Bill motives painted on the walls and b/w curtains. It’s a place for playing WoW and watching movies. In the living room on the other hand, the only media will be piano music and talk. I see that primarily as a place for socializing and resting. Interestingly, many seem to combine these two, but I’m not comfortable with that solution (anymore I should add). I have a thing for jewelry, especially rings, but it’s definitely not precious metals and stones that set me off, neither do “bling bling”. Anyways, in Amsterdam I wore one of my favorites I got in London, a black ring by a Japanese designer, made of sponge. Suddenly I overhear a participant commenting it to my colleague: “Susanne is wearing a very special ring. Is it very common to be that different in Finland?” I started laughing, and contrary to the question raiser’s fears, I wasn’t offended at all. Quite the opposite really, I don’t mind wandering off the beaten tracks at times. That doesn’t however mean I don’t possess a sense of community, a desire to belong to a Gemeinschaft. This division between individualization and community characterized many of the presentations and issues raised, in my view, during the conference. That is, especially these days, many long for expressing themselves in a highly individual way whereas the need for belonging to a group and being part of a community of own choice is very important as well. Many TV viewers want to enjoy the social experience that TV consumption is, via watching shows or programs with family and friends, and discuss the shows the next morning over coffee with colleagues at work but highly personalized, niched content is also appealing to them. This is evident even in a concrete and physical manner, at times you watch the news in the living room with your family, at other times you watch them in bed upstairs in your own room on your own TV-set or via mobile TV. So how do you combine the desire for expression of individuality and the desire for belonging to a community? (If you find the recipe, you’re likely to do good. I think the popularity of services such as Flickr lies in the fact that it combines these two factors.) And is the need for belonging to the group (who watched the Eurovision for instance and thus can discuss whether the right song won, the clothes of the artists etc) transforming? This is what comes to my mind when reading the long tail theory, which I largely agree on. According to it, small (as opposed to hit products and mega markets with more, bigger, better) is beautiful and even profitable, the future is all about giving the consumers the choic[...]

On the issue of love


I just finished the book Essays in Love, written by Alain de Botton. In a witty, but at times way too philosophical, way he treats the topic any reader can identify with, namely le mal d'être deux, that is being in love. I loved reading it, I kept laughing out loud as I recognized myself and others. There’s no point in listing examples here as then, I’d have to go on forever. Instead, get the book and get revealed (and no, I'm not bribed to say this :) ) It’s easier to mention the two thoughts I couldn’t quite embrace. Firstly, the character in the book states that we fall in love, hoping that the target of our feelings does not, like we do, possess any of the following: cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty and pure stupidity. I’m not so sure. I believe that we choose not to focus on these traits when we’ve fallen head over heels in love. We perceive our beloved as a flawless ideal at first, but that’s something different than actually _hoping_ these characteristics don’t exist. And secondly, the hero of the book firmly believes that silence in company of an attractive person is beyond the shadow of a doubt a proof of you being an absolute, dreadful bore. I disagree. Silence is, to me, a sign of self confidence, courage, comfortableness, open-mindedness (!) and sexiness. In my opinion, the rate of inflation of words these days is very high. The less chattering, the better.

Attributions to bad driving


Lately, I've had a hang-up about appearance and constructions of social reality. I've reflected on how, and why, we choose to convey who we are and how others interpret the message and ultimately understand us. Today, I learned something in relation to this, namely that I tend to make external attributions. I'm digging into Rhodes's and Hamilton's article "Attribution and Entertainment: It's Not Who Dunnit, It's Why" (in Vorderer's and Bryant's Psychology of Entertainment) where the reader is provided an explanation of the attribution theory: it's the prediction of whether an observer will attribute an actor's behavior to internal or external causes.

Think about the last time you were driving, and another driver cut you off.
the writers ask rhetorically. Peace of cake, that happened today, on lunch hour. So they continue:
Did you explain the breach of driving etiquette by focusing on the situation characteristics such as that the driver must be in a hurry, or having a bad day? Typically not. Under those circumstances, most Americans would make disparaging remarks about the driver's bad character, that is, they would make an internal attribution.
Interestingly, I did make a situational attribution as I suggested to my angry passenger that she, the driver cutting me off, probably was late for a meeting or had stretched her 30 minutes lunch break a bit too much, transforming the shortening of the Friday working hours an illusion yet again. I did not look for causes in her personality or character. But I'm wondering if that has anything to do with her being a woman. If it would have been a male driver, I suspect I'd be more prone to look for causes in a bad character.

Papers to the EuroITV conference


We just added the papers we'll present during the EuroITV event in Amsterdam to our research website. The work in progress paper titled "Different” and “exciting”. The impact of set-top box and mobile phone interactivity on TV viewing experiences is available for downloading (pdf), as is the Doctoral Concortium paper Decoding experiencing entertainment in iTV. Oh well, inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes.



I feel like a polar bear squinting against the sun after months of hibernation. Or in my case, weeks. I've been busy with a client's audience research and yesterday, after days of collecting data and analyzing it, the conclusions were finalized and the report was handed over. In such projects, I do nothing but devote my time to that, I don't check my calender to see what's up next month or follow up on interesting links I get. I'm "live by the hour" and "carpe diem" personalized. But now, when there's time for dating, that is to cruise around in the digital calender, I notice there's a lot of interesting things going on.

  • The conference on Media Literacy, in which I participate with a poster, is taking place here at my university in two days. There's a blog too for posting ideas and sharing experiences during the conference, which is a great idea! I wish there were more digital meeting spaces around events taking place off-line.
  • The date of the conference that my colleagues are organizing, Eyes on iTV, is also hurdling towards us. Registration is still open.
  • I'm off to Amsterdam in two weeks, for the EuroITV conference. Makes me kind of wonder, where was I during the spring? It feels like it's 2 months or so away. I guess I need to start preparing for it.
  • The deadline for submitting abstracts to the Virtual conference is 15th of May. More here.
  • And regrettably, my loan of the excellent but yet half unread book Psychology of Entertainment is way too soon due. Which, by the way, is an excellent excuse to occupy the cozy sofa in our lab :)