Intrigued by the viral video phenomenon? YouTube has released a new Trends Map that highlights the most popular videos at a moment in time across the United States (other countries coming soon). A visual representation of YouTube’s Trends Dashboard, users can observe who’s watching what videos and where. They can also filter by gender, age, video views or shares.
What makes a retail experience fun?
Person 1: “I don’t think shopping is ever fun for me. It’s a chore.”
Person 2: “The pleasant surprise.”
Person 3: “Well, for me, it’s two things. The first one would be the successful shop, where I go with the intention to buy something, I find it, I love it, and I buy it. The second would be where I go shopping [without any intention]…and I find something unexpected and I buy it.”
These were some of the replies I heard recently in casual conversation. Retail fun isn’t for everyone it seems, and is a mixture of personal, emotional, and contextual factors.
When I attended the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, one of the sound bites that stuck with me came from the “State of Tech Retailing in 2013: Showrooming, Battling for Online Supremacy, OEMs Going Direct, Private Label and more” panel:
“What’s missing in retail these days is fun…giving customers a reason to just come in and see what’s there.”
-Tony Chvala, Global GM of Merchandising & Buying at Groupon Goods
I would agree, and have found that retailers could be working harder to inject more fun into experiences. I’ve since started retail funspotting, a new word I’m using to describe sightings or stories of fun in retail, not unlike the foodspotting movement that sets out to capture, share, and find great dishes.
A couple of my favourite retail funspotting examples include Stella & Dot’s trunk parties and the Bi-Rite Market’s approach to eating good food. One of my fellow Nuruners recently hosted a Stella & Dot party, which in my opinion borrows from the Tupperware party model, except that it involves jewelry and accessories such as smartphone cases and necklaces. The party was a success and everyone who attended had fun. Not to mention the buzz about the merchandise that has come up in conversations for the last couple of weeks. What I find fun about the Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco is that they set out to get customers excited about eating good food. The staff is trained to strike up conversations with virtually all customers and help them learn about the possibilities of the food in front of them (via FastCompany).
If you have any retail funspotting stories to share, I would love to hear them here or on Twitter @jenchow with the hashtag #retailfunspotting.
If you’re a retailer, have you thought about how you might inject more fun into your customers’ experiences?
A crucial part of the creative process is researching current trends and advances in the design industry. This is a time consuming task involving inspecting the CSS of sites, taking notes of design elements, and evaluating them before choosing a design direction. We discussed how there was an opportunity to make this process easier, and Stylify Me was born.
Stylify Me was created to help designers quickly create a style guide of an existing site, including colours, fonts, sizes and spacing. It’s a tool that allows the designer to research the CSS styles efficiently without the need to inspect each element, in order to be aware of current design trends and inform their design decisions.
In our processing instructions for PhantomJS we analyze the text and background colours of all elements on the page and order them by quantity, giving some, for example, the main background and the main text colour, a higher priority. Next we look for the main text element. For proper HTML5 markup this is simple, we just need to look for the role=”main,” but in reality a lot of websites use old and irregular markup, which requires us to look for common id and class names. If this does not work we simply use the middlemost element – in the hope that this is part of the main copy and not the side navigation. Based on this selection we extract the CSS styling of the text and headlines and return everything as a JSON response back to the user.
If you’re interested in learning more about the technical side of Stylify Me, you can check out the source code of the service layer on Michael’s GitHub.
Stylify Me was a fun, collaborative project to work on. We hope it becomes a useful tool that helps make the design process a little easier.
Over the past few months, physidigital objects have been regularly appearing on Digital for Real Life. Last week, Adobe announced the launch of Mighty, a cloud-connected pen that allows designers to draw on a tablet or smartphones. Features like pressure-sensitivity help create a natural drawing experience that is supplemented with 1-click access to Adobe’s suite of tools. The company also introduced Napoleon – an enhanced ruler – that makes it easy to draw straight lines and arcs on tablet interfaces all while maintaining the tactile feedback that comes from drawing in a natural way.
A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of attending the absolutely terrifying conference presented by Kevin Slavin from the MIT Media Lab, who discussed how algorithms and machines are progressively taking over our lives. He outlined a series of examples to support his theory.
It all began in 1994, when developers were obsessed with a game: battle of the algorithm. It all had to do with developing a program that would battle another program by anticipating what the other program was going to do. Slavin explains that what could have been a really cool game has since spiralled out of control.
The most well-known example is the stock exchange, where algorithms govern markets, acting on their own to make decisions that seemingly come out of thin air. Last year, algorithms went into a tailspin no less than 18,000 times, meaning as many micro-crashes within fractions of seconds where stock prices may drop a few cents before climbing back up. As long as everything goes well, that is.
But Slavin demonstrates that this new order doesn’t only apply to the stock exchange. Left up to an algorithm to determine book prices, the stimulating genetics manual, The Making of a Fly, hit the astonishing price of $23 million on Amazon.
An elevator manufacturer developed an algorithm to predict which floor the elevator was going to stop on. He even went so far as to remove the floor buttons, which had become redundant. The problem is that people panic when they get into an elevator without buttons, especially when there isn’t a button to stop the elevator in case of an emergency.
Over 60% of films viewed on Netflix are chosen based on a recommendation algorithm.
And now, algorithms are going one step further to estimate script potential for new movies and TV shows (a previous article recounts how Netflix made its production choices for House of Cards based on viewer data). In the end, Netflix will end up just like the 1994 game and the stock exchange, with production algorithms locked in loops with distribution algorithms and without any human oversight…
Would the future be so bleak if machines finally ran the world?
Slavin gives us reasons to hope. For over two years now, the best chess algorithm is better than the best human. A competition was organized; it was open to anyone who wanted to enter – humans, machines, groups of humans, groups of machines, combinations of humans and machines – and against all odds, two amateurs with three machines and a mediocre algorithm won. They beat the best algorithm in the world. Closer to everyday lives, Slavin states that the best way to “beat” Google’s search algorithm is still a human who can “hack” system logic with the help of some good software.
Slavin’s conclusion? We shouldn’t be afraid of machines, but rather, realize that they are only truly powerful when humans are involved. Citizens must be vigilant to stop the frenzy of autonomous machines running the world and put pressure on controlling bodies (like the SEC for the stock exchange or civil aviation authorities) to maintain the human factor in the equation.
Read more from Jean Pascal at A Nos Vies Numériques.
L’Oréal Paris and Nurun have the great pleasure to announce the official launch of the L’Oréal Paris e-commerce site, the brand’s very first site completely devoted to online product sales. The site is accompanied by the new iPhone app Instant Beauty, which has been reworked and enhanced for online purchasing.
L’Oréal Paris’ goal for its first online boutique was to offer the most sophisticated and comprehensive beauty consumer experience possible, allowing consumers to intuitively find what they desire, to benefit from recommendations and personalized advice, to be inspired, or even to spontaneously purchase something that strikes them anywhere, anytime.
The new site will be complemented by a mobile application, with navigation specifically developed by Nurun to satisfy the needs of mobile users: to give in to an immediate beauty need, to find out more about a product while at the store, or even to take advantage of some downtime to explore the L’Oréal Paris Color Wheel and find a favourite shade.