You're wheeling your haul out of Costco only to be accosted by the receipt-checker at the exit. You're fine, though, because you're not shoplifting anything. That slightly annoying feeling that the store assumes you're a criminal, it turns out, is tragically unwarranted, because those guys don't even care if you're shoplifting. In fact, the receipt-checkers are some kind of internal store Gestapo keeping tabs on the checkout cashiers.
Writes one former employee: “Trust me, we’re not loss prevention, we have loss prevention in the store and that’s not us. We’re literally just trying to make sure our cashiers do the job right, and when we DO catch it, all the information gets stored. Who did it, what time, etc...and those cashiers get spoken to. This is not to benefit anyone but the member to improve the experience overall.”
It's useful to remember that everything is not only worse than you think it is, but in ways you haven't yet considered. Read the rest
Mass consumer spending season is nearly upon us. The perfect time to load your hard-earned cash into this wallet by Etsy shop DangerRan.
No extra charge for the interior Dick Butt.
Shut up and take my money ($60 of it)!
(nopuedocreer) Read the rest
"Commodity City is an observational documentary exploring the daily lives of vendors who work in the largest wholesale consumer market in the world: the Yiwu Markets in China," says director Jessica Kingdon.
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Want to join the revolution, but find the idea of customizing used or surplus clothing beneath your social station? Barneys of New York has just the jacket for you: a classic M65 with anarchist symbols and some shopworn slogans already drawn on it. And it's a deal at 375 of your filthy capitalist dollars!
Alpha Industries' M-65 field jacket is constructed of olive cotton-blend canvas. This military-inspired piece is detailed with assorted handwritten graffiti, a checked pattern pocket, and anarchy symbols at the front and back.
(Try $25 for the jacket, steal the sharpie, and update your lines!)
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MIT Media Lab spinoff company mPath has developed a wristwatch-like wearable that measures changes in skin conductance tied to stress, frustration, disinterest, or boredom. Combined with other data, the device is meant to help companies with "emotyping," the process of "undersand(ing) customers’ emotional needs or wants" during market research and product development," according to CEO Elliot Hedman. Their clients range from LEGO to Google to Best Buy. Most recently, they started working with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Denver that could lead to new ways to encourage reading. From MIT News:
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This process combines the stress sensors with eye-tracking glasses or GoPro cameras, to identify where a person looked at the exact moment of an emotional spike or dip. Personal interviews are also conducted with all participants, who are shown the data and asked what they think they felt.
This entire process creates a more in-depth, precise emotional profile of consumers than traditional market research, which primarily involves interviews and occasionally video analysis, according to Hedman. “All these things combined together in emototyping tell us a deep story about the participant,” he says.
Emototyping is an especially useful tool when studying children’s experiences, according to Hedman. “It’s hard for kids to describe what they felt,” he says. “The sensors help tell the whole story..."
A study with the New World Symphony found that making songs shorter and performing classical compositions of modern pop music help engage new audiences in classical music. Studying movies such as “The Departed” revealed where some techniques or concepts (such as dark humor) can be implemented in films to keep audiences engaged.
is a new dystopian science fiction YA graphic novel from Adam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro that tells the story of Angela Swiff, a teen who refuses to go along with the "Guarantee," a totalitarian philosophy that demands that everyone work, play and (especially) shop as quickly as is humanly possible.
For kicks, Berlin-based designer Tony Futura cranks out simple iconic visual puns and comments on pop culture. Some are a little easy, but many are quite clever. Read the rest
Apothecarry is just one example of the commercialization of recreational marijuana. Now that it's legal in California (Hollyweed!), the green rush is on in the high-end/connoisseur market. In time, marijuana will be like wine, cigars, and other luxury items, where some will want to display their collections. Read the rest
In the wake of spectacular trailers for forthcoming games at the E3 trade show this weekend (I'll have trouble resisting Skyrim: Fancy Edition) this graphic, by RamsesThePigeon, burned up the 'net. The lessons apply to all forms of consumerism. Here's something similar I did about gadgets a decade ago, though for some reason it was about the marketing and supply chain side of things. Itself based on a 1902 chocolate ad.
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Greg Maletic scanned the 1977 Sears Christmas Wishbook, "Amazon, printed out." He presents a guided tour of its highlights, starting with the nascent console game and handheld electronic game industry's top offerings, which, when converted to 2015 dollars, are scorchingly expensive. Read the rest
Chris writes, "To parody the earlier and earlier onset of the holiday shopping season, Betabrand created a video game where St Nick sets out to conquer Halloween.
Now that Christmas has overrun Thanksgiving, it's only logical that Santa will set his sights on All Hallow's eve, so that he may turn Black Friday into Black Fall." Read the rest
In the Boston Globe, Beth Teitell discusses Life at Home in the Twenty-first Century: 32 Families Open their Doors, an accessible, illustrated text that summarizes the research of four archaeologists and anthropologists who did a long, deep study of 32 middle-class LA families, and who report that nearly everything that these families had striven for -- material possessions, good jobs, extracurricular enrichment for their kids -- made them wholly miserable.
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The rise of Costco and similar stores has prompted so much stockpiling — you never know when you’ll need 600 Dixie cups or a 50-pound bag of sugar — that three out of four garages are too full to hold cars.
Managing the volume of possessions is such a crushing problem in many homes that it elevates levels of stress hormones for mothers.
Even families who invested in outdoor décor and improvements were too busy to go outside and enjoy their new decks.
Most families rely heavily on convenience foods even though all those frozen stir-frys and pot stickers saved them only about 11 minutes per meal.
A refrigerator door cluttered with magnets, calendars, family photos, phone numbers, and sports schedules generally indicates the rest of the home will be in a similarly chaotic state.
The scientists working with UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families studied the dual-income families the same way they would animal subjects. They videotaped the activities of family members, tracked their moves with position-locating devices, and documented their homes, yards, and activities with thousands of photographs.
Good luck getting this song out of your head.
Via Deep Sea News
Video Link Read the rest
I visited my little brother, a dedicated minimalist, last month. In general, I think of myself as not particularly consumerist-y. But hanging out with somebody who is sooo much better at not consuming pointlessly has left me with a lot to think about.
Gadgets are one of the biggest things I've been pondering. This is not, especially, my area of weakness when it comes to consumerism. (That would be landscaping plants, furniture, and kitchenware.) But I did recently get my first smart phone. I have been, lately, complaining about the weight of my old MacBook. And I have been contemplating a new MP3 player. In other words, I'm at a potential buying stage in my slow-moving gadget cycle. Do I need to be, though? And if there is a reason to buy some new stuff, how should I make those choices?
That's probably why Thomas Hayden's essay In Praise of Crap Technology struck a chord with me. In it, Hayden waxes poetic about his $19.99 Coby MP3 player. It's a product that's supposed to suck. It's something you buy reluctantly, when you can't afford an iPod. But, apparently, nobody bothered to let the Coby know about that. It's boring. It's ugly. It doesn't have the latest features. But, as Hayden points out, it's also durable, inexpensive, inherently theft-deterrent, and reliable. It also does exactly what he needs it to do. No less. And no more.
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My portable audio technology needs are simple. A few hundred well-chosen—by me, dammit—songs and a half-dozen episodes of the WTF podcast and I’m good to go.