Week 4 Response: You Are What You Carry

After reading this chapter and also having to watch his TED talk earlier on in class, I can better understand his point on how technology has benefited us. He has used the three most important things to elaborate several new terminologies which I found was very interesting: Range Of Distribution. This is a very good way to observe a certain culture at the particular place, in terms of security and trust level an individual has to his/her surroundings. In Singapore, there are also different range of distributions at different places. When we are at the coffee shop for a simple meal, we tend to leave our bags at our seat, only carrying our valuable items with us. In contrast, when we are out in town, we do think twice when we want to leave our bags at our seats due to the increased crowd level at town.

Another point to note about this chapter would be the point of reflection. I believe most of us, if not all of us, will tap on our pockets to make sure we brought what we need to bring, pausing for a moment to recall if we have missed out any essential items. These are little things we do often but fail to actually notice them. I feel that as designers we should train and equip ourselves the ‘eye’ to look at the details which other people could not see. This would then in turn make us better designers.

In the later part of the chapter, Chipchase talks about how technology could actually do more inconvenience than convenience. I feel that in this tech-savvy era, we should intelligently tap on technology as a bonus and not relying on technology so much so allowing them to control our lives, eventually.

All in all, within the past years, technology has advanced so quickly, everything is getting a piece of technology infused in them. All that we need would be available in a smartphone. But what if we lose our smartphones, how would we then survive in this world?

Week 3 Response: The Anthropology Of Mobile Phones

In Jan Chipchase’s talk, I couldn’t agree more to the points he mentioned. Out of all the things that we own, he managed to filter 3 most important items that we have to bring when we leave the house. These 3 items are, keys, mobile phone and money.

If I were to weigh them in terms of importance, I would say that money would be the most important element to actually survive the day out.

If i left out my keys, I could wait for someone to get home and I would have access.

If I were to leave out my mobile phone for a casual outing, it might be a good thing, in a way that I can observe my surrounding, people, and what other people do when they are not on their phones. People nowadays are obsessed with technology, so much so that out of 5 people I see on the train, 4 could be on their mobile phones.

However, if I had to leave house without any money, it is basically having access to nothing. No food, no transport, nothing. Without money with me when I am out there, I would definitely feel like part of me is missing and I cannot do anything about it.

I also find that the strategies which Chipchase mentioned did apply to me. With my center of gravity being my bedside desk, I would place all the things that I have prepared to bring  at the table, so I will not miss anything out. After which, the very last moment before I leave the room, I would tap on all the pockets that contained my essential items to ensure that I did not miss them out.


Week 2 Response: Jan Chipchase – Calibrating your Cultural Compass

Jan Chipchase has a very interesting way of studying local culture, at least to me. I strongly believe that through activities of a particular timing, it can show how a community behaves, and also functions. Us as designers, we sometimes tend to overlook certain details. Designers sometimes would just do a simple research off the web, at most a simple survey and there they go on with their sketching etc.

However, I feel that we as designers should really get to the ground, to interact and blend in with the local culture so as to gain a deeper understanding of the specific target user, or market. Through understanding and observing the local culture, we can actually see the vast difference between two different countries.

Scene of Singapore MRT when a breakdown occurs.

The above image shows the crazy amount of morning commutes trying to get themselves a space at the platform in Singapore (during a train breakdown), in hope to hop on a train which brings them to their destinations. Train breakdowns in Singapore are getting more and more common, and they can happen in the morning rush hour, usually 6am to 8am.

In my trip to Taiwan a year back, I actually made the MRT my main form of transportation from places to places (buses there were just to confusing). At 6am, I went to the metro station,  there was not much of a crowd, but what I saw was that commuters were lined up orderly, with a clear path for other passengers to alight before boarding on. As compared to Singapore’s queue system, well, there is a path for alighting passengers, but it just gives an impression that the exit path is reasonably narrower.


With this little observation I made as a local in Singapore, and a tourist in Taiwan, I could surely feel that different culture that they have, like how Chipchase has done as to calibrating to many different cultures. Having said so, I believe that we as designers, while designing products/ services, should take into consideration the behaviors of the target market. This would prevent any misunderstandings, which could possibly lead to the failure of our design.


  1. Would it be actually possible for one person to do the research on his own or it would work better in a team?
  2. What difference would it make from experiencing cultural behavior personally to getting a local to fill you in on the minute details of their culture?