Tag Archives: jan chipchase

Week 4 Response: You are what you carry by Jan Chipchase

In the previous chapter, Chipchase did a research on the 3 important items in one’s bag — key, money, and mobile phone. In this chapter, Chipchase then move towards the research and study of “carrying behaviour”.

I’d agree to some of the behavioural study he shared in this chapter:


“On public transit in China and Brazil you’ll often see riders wearing backpacks on their chests (or “frontpacks”), a strong indicator of a short range of distribution, a high risk of theft, and an acute awareness of that risk and the need to react quickly if errant hands start unzipping a pocket.”

I think one would behave in such a way out of security. For myself, when I traveled for the first time to China, my backpack would normally be placed at the front for safety purposes — as stated, to react quickly if errant hands start unzipping a pocket. However, I’ve started to realise that wearing the backpack at the front became a habit when I traveled overseas like, not only in China but also in Korea.


“… mobile technology has dramatically changed people’s behaviours outside the home, from carrying less to remembering less to owning less.”

With the rise of mobile technology, people relied on digital maps rather than physical maps mostly as a choice of convenience. However, how much would an application help when it suddenly does not work at the time where one desperately needs it?

For example, I was using Google maps in Korea to search for the route to a destination but it was not able to locate. Thus I had to resort to a hardcopy map that I brought as an alternative to find my way.

Thus I feel that one should rely on technology as much as we rely on a physical tool.

Response: The Anthropology of Mobile Phones

While the talk by Jan Chipchase was ongoing, I realised that I was agreeing to certain points he did in his research. For example, the 3 key important items people have in their bags/pockets.

I too, agree that these 3 items are the most important items amongst the other items I carry in my bag. Without these 3 items, not that I will feel like it’s the end of my life, but more to feeling uneasy the entire day.

In these scenarios:

  • Key – What if my family members are not home yet? How am I going to enter the house? What activities can be done while waiting for family members to be home?
  • Mobile phone – Because we’re so used to having mobile phones with us everyday, it would feel different? In a way it can affect one’s mood for the entire day. “What if there are important calls/messages? How will my daily commute be without mobile phone? I can’t listen to songs on my way to school.”
  • Money – For me, I would feel that having loose cash with me is equally important as having ATM card. I’d rely more on loose cash to easily keep track of the amount I spent and to avoid going to the ATM machine to withdraw.

The strategies Chipchase talked about also reflected in my daily life whenever I realised I don’t have these items with me:

  • the point of reflection – I’d tap my pockets to ensure that I have these items with me before I leave the house
  • the center of gravity – I’d find these items at certain areas of my house like bedroom, or dining table, as these are the places where I’d normally place them.