[Response] Chapter 4 – You Are What You Carry – Jan Chipchase

Last week Jan Chipchase had given us an idea of a relationship between the top 3 items people carried out against the significance of it. This week, Chapter 4 of Jan Chipchase book had given me another insight into behaviors of people according to how they deal with their belongings.

It is common to see people front-packing in certain countries but not in Singapore. Personally, when my family went to China for holiday, our parents will insist that we wear our slingbags before putting on our jacket so that the bags will not be seen easily. Apparently, the reason for this was that there are many cases of robbery in China, basically robbers will snatch your bag while you are walking on the street. I did realized that this way of carrying bag is very common in China too.

On top of that, sometimes girls tend to touch up etc in the toilet where they will put their bags on the basin counter. However, in China, the girls will still carry their bag while doing so. Hence, this is quite similar with the example of Meili in Chapter 4.

It is very common in Singapore to have a wide range of distribution. Even myself, when I am going to the canteen, I am perfectly fine with leaving all my stuffs (including laptop) in classroom too. However, my range of distribution differs according to the setting that I am in.

Jan Chipchase also discussed about the great unburdening. The digitalized society is definitely convenient but also something like “putting all the eggs in one basket”, which can be really risky. This topic is definitely the current hot topic in Singapore due to recent PM Lee’s speech about driving towards a Smart Nation. One of my greatest concern about this will be the widening gap between certain groups of the society (For eg, non-tech savvy elderly VS tech-savvy population). It is difficult for them to catch up with the current state of technology and it will be very difficult to educate them about it too.

Jan Chipchase also discussed about delegation of tasks. One of the closest possible full delegation of task that I could imagine will be having Artificial Intelligence (AI) taking over certain part of our life. For instance, having an AI as a personal assistant to help us in our life. This aspect of technology had been greatly explored on recently too, by Facebook and Google. However, this is definitely a risk-taking exploration as none of us can accurately predict how will it turn out.

All in all, personally I am supportive of small changes to user experiences but definitely not strongly supportive of having large scale development on technology such as AI. Digitalized society will definitely bring about great convenience to users, but how do we actually make sure that it is the right amount of digitalization that it benefits all and not at a cost of certain group of people.

[Response] Anthropology of Mobile Phones by Jan Chipchase.

Jan Chipchase gave this talk around 10 years ago. It’s really amazing how many things had changed within 10 years. Most importantly, the change of lifestyle and doing of things.

He mentioned about 3 most essential items to bring out – money, phone and keys. However, in today’s time, seemingly all these items are amalgamating into 1 – Smart phone.

Ibanking, E-wallets, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay: readily available on our smart phone, just a tap and a scan, there you go, you can make your purchase.
Even keys, many homeowners are switching to digital lock simply because they find it convenient and efficient. For eg, coming home with bags of groceries, one no longer needs to put down all the bags and rummage through your pockets/bag for key to open the door. Just stick out your finger for a scan or simply punch in some number and you’re home.

Due to the immediacy of smartphone, the support for this leap in technology rose rapidly over the time, impacting not only those with financial capabilities but also children and even elderly.

The time now had made life so convenient and efficient and smartphones are delegated with this important task of SURVIVAL.

A few things that we do have to think about will be, how are we going to include or assist those people who are forgotten by the continua advancements in technology? Also, how to keep ourselves safe in this technological-time?

[Response] Week 2 – Hidden In Plain Sight: How To Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers – Jan Chipchase

Korean Street Food Culture

Jan Chipchase had provided an interesting guideline on calibrating culture of a place quickly, which is essential during user studies research. What he had covered in this chapter are subconsciously within all of us, but he gave an identity to all them and that will make us take notice of them in future. This chapter also conclude to a main point of “be meticulous”.

One thing he mentioned was to put ourselves in local mindset during Rapid Culture Calibration. I would like to point out that it will be hard for us, as a foreigner there, to fully immerse ourselves into a totally different culture. Simply because, we will feel some sort of anxiousness or cautiousness during our stay there as we have uncertainty of the place too. However, he also brought up the idea of partnering with a local team. Partnering with a local team is a good idea as they know what and where will be “truly local” to visit etc. Also, it will be especially beneficial in places that are not as safe or places with language barrier (Especially for places that speaks dialects)

I am very surprised that Jan Chipchase included visiting salon as one of his method too. This is one of the way that are not as common but effective. Hairdressers are constantly meeting new people and having conversations with different people.

On top of these, I would like to add in another method will be having conversations with taxi drivers (or Grab and Uber drivers now). They are usually the ones who really meet people from all walk of life. From tourists to students to working adult and so on.

From personal experience, I always have good talks with taxi/grab/uber drivers, they will talk about their day, their worries, their uncommon encounters. Most of the drivers will also talk about their worries about their future, after knowing that I am a student. Very often, they will talk about they are losing out to the society etc due to their limitation in skillset. Some of the drivers will also talk about what the other customers told them, from gossips to culture of different people too. Especially those older drivers, they often talk about how Singapore had improved/changed over the years too. I guess from here we can also figure out insights of the country too.

I would say that conversing with taxi drivers will be a better option as they are constantly moving around and meeting new people. They are also part of the country’s transportation.

All in all, this chapter gave a definite idea on how to research on users which is very important in a design process. Getting to know the culture of the users will highlight the needs and difficulties of different user groups. This will identify the bigger image of why we design. From there on, by bringing in the knowledge from what Don Norman mentioned in “The Design of Everyday Things”, we can design something that will surely bring about a great experience for users.


  1. Is there a possibility of having a product that will be so universal that everybody can use it?
  2. How do we gauge how much of culture of one place should we inject into our design to make sure that it’s not overdoing?