40p off a latte. · 29. January 2011, 20:22

Here’s my talk from The Design of Understanding conference yesterday. The conference was a great mix of speakers, from statistics to journalism to design history to where design is going, all with an underpinning of data being the raw material for many designers and other professions. I took my inspiration from the near near future, with a mix of mobile phones and urban technology.

One of the bits I enjoyed the most was unpacking the old ubiquitous computing cliche of your phone vibrating with a coupon off a latte when walking past a Starbucks:

It’s an unscalable, unsustainable example, but lets unpick what could be going on.

First off – what ratted on you? Your Nike+ talking shoes, using a credit card nearby, your car number plate being recognised, your phone reporting your location, or your Oyster card informing the system that you’ve just come out of Oxford Circus tube?

Next, why you? Maybe your credit card or Foursquare checkins told them you prefer Cafe Nero. Your age and gender are mixed with your home address’ purchasing profile, plus your social standing from Facebook and Twitter.

And why now? The store has lower sales this hour than normal – in fact there’s no queue. You didn’t take them up on the offer last time – they’d only offered 20p off – but you really want a coffee, and as you enter the store, the barista greets you by name, as your details and photo have popped up on her till.

That’s a lot of work to sell a latte.

Anyway, here’s the whole presentation, and also Eva-Lotta made some wonderful sketch notes.

Design of understanding: New new media.
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If you’re at LIFT in Geneva next week, I’ll see you there, and if you’re interested in a more food-themed talk, I’m speaking at Mixed Grill, put on by the estimable Fire & Knives at Conway Hall on Feb 12th. Think Interesting but for food. I’ll be talking about lovely microbes.


Thanks for posting. Since I couldn’t make it on the day, a full transcript is really appreciated.

Alison Black    31.01.11    #