trust me, hold my (tattooed) hand

pirate arm

Symbols talk very loudly, tattoos included. We’ll see doctors and psychologists with tattooed sleeves and backs, maybe even neck. What does that say about the person? Not necessarily anything about their competence, but how does it make a patient feel or think? It’s an interesting clash of old norms and unspoken rules and today’s society of, should we call it, popular visual self-expression.

everything is relative to culture and context

dollars

Maybe you’re familiar with linguistic relativity, or maybe not. Anyways, it’s about how language actually affects and even limits our way of thinking, our cognition. Plato said the opposite, that no matter what language you spoke, thoughts were not affected. The Whorf-Sapir hypothesis talks more about this if anyone’s interesting (even though wikipedia says it’s Sapir-Whorf, not Whorf-Sapir).

Yesterday I read an article about Zimbabwe and how Tsvangirai and Mugabe are hooking up again to try and find a way out of the mess. Good luck. Apparently Zimbabwe has a 2.2 million percent inflation!! Goddamn!

How does that relate to linguistic relativism? Not at all, but to the concept of context/culture affecting our thoughts and perception of everything. If you’re from a country with 2.2 million percent inflation – how does that affect your view on percentage? Or value of money? When someone tells me something went up or down 100%, generally that’s a lot. Would a Zimbabwian get the same first reaction? I doubt it. 2.2 million percent – come on! The central bank just printed a new hundred billion bill. It would say 100 000 000 000 on that, rather large, piece of paper. The paper industry is doing well I presume…

intercultural communications and planning

After flipping through an old book on intercultural communication from the times back in school, it struck me that all communications models therein is more relevant and applicable than any other models (of course the element “clutter” does include “cultural differences” in those models too). Not that any old model is applicable at all.

And the way the world looks today, planners on national level have to take intercultural communications issues more seriously in their work. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I believe it’s a fair assessment. The only thing all cultures share, is the fact that they’re ethnocentric. I’ve heard. And studying intercultural communications, or anthropology, pretty much proves this right (often in an painfully obvious manner).

It’s worth a think.

On that note. Westerners, including me who’s a blond, blue-eyed Swede, are per definition a low context culture. We communicate in a clear, “no bullshit” way. High context cultures leave much more unsaid (verbally) and trust the context and the knowledge about the one you’re communicating with to fill in the gaps. Funnily enough – that’s the type of advertising we like so much in low context cultures. Like: “don’t treat them (advertising victims) like idiots – let them co-create the meaning”.

Funny that. I’m pretty sure it’s to do with being more interesting that way. Less obvious. And again it hits you; why the hell is so much advertising over obvious, to the point of you feeling like you’re treated like an idiot?

That’s a whole other matter.

how we think

a fake trap of plastic bubble wrap

I planted this trap at work today, to see how people reacted (kind of a case of bad research – I didn’t really know what I was looking for), just for fun. And it was. The majority of my colleagues avoided walking on it some just walked right over it saying something like “oh, I’m trapped”. Some people said it was a rational decision to not walk on it. “I thought; OK this is probably something I shouldn’t step on because it goes pop and it’s ruined”. Others didn’t really have a good answer as to why they avoided it. Just “Oh, I don’t know”. Fair enough.

pre-testing advertising

I’m not a big fan of pre testing advertising. However, biking to work the other day it struck me that there are some cases where you can really benefit from it. Riding like a mad man, all of a sudden there are 3 guys in yello shirts in the middle of the lane trying to hit me with something. I feared for my life. They’re students who have had too much to drink, now they’re picking a fight!!?? Not at all. It’s some company (didn’t have time to see which) handing out “free juice in the morning” to people passing by. Pre-testing would have shown that not a single bicyclist stand a chanse to 1 – get the message and 2 – grab the bag with the juice inside. As a matter of fact, pre testing isn’t necessary here either, I take it back. Anyone understands that handing out juice to people riding to work isn’t going to work. Maybe not the typical pre-testing but still.