References to books, projects and academic papers that inspire us


Future Perfect (Jan Chipchase)

A blog that uses photography as a starting point to reflect on everyday technology use by a design researcher who works for Nokia since many years, mainly in the Far East.


Everyday life use of technology with a focus on mobile communications. Lots of attention for social aspects, but always in a specific cultural context. As he travels so much he takes no context for granted.

Main thesis:
Despite the focus on mobile phone, or mobile technology, use the main thesis is that the social and the cultural are prevailing in how technology is adapted. What the blog shows is sociocultural phenomena that inform and inspire concept development for mobile communication technology.

Observation and interaction with (mostly recruited) participants that are followed around for a while in their daily life. Photographic documentation, with probably field notes, but also sometimes they seem to take little questionnaires or at least counting by the researchers. See for instance the presentation linked below about what people carry with them. Goal is eventually to develop new concepts so this is what Chipchase spends half of his time on he says on the blog, but nothing of that is of course shown on the blog. He does state however that communicating the research to the design teams is the biggest challenge of his job.

Chipchase uses the blog format in an informal way, as a (partly) visual notebook. This works well if regularly updated, but from our perspective it is important to have a more permanent result it seems. One could however use such a blog to regularly collect material and then later edit parts of it into a more formal publication or exhibition.
It makes sense to also look at the presentations that Chipchase makes as a less informal output of his research, such as this one:

Have a look at the blog.
Chipchase about his blog.
NYT about future Perfect explains how Chipchase works (methodology).
Particular issues with doing research into mobile technology use are in this paper Chipchase wrote with J. Blom.

The way this research is done is very relevant to us, as it is highly visual but also brings in reflection. However, the way this research is presented does, from our perspective, not take full advantage of the richness of the material. This has no doubt to do with much of it being confidential and owned by Nokia, but still if the start of the research is so visual the result could benefit more from that, even in presentations Chipchase does. Now often one photo needs to illustrate (prove?) the reflection, whereas there could also be series that tells a little visual story.

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