Tech as Symbol

2014-07-16 19.05.14 QR code as symbol rather than functional tech. Image is from a t-shirt at a curious bookstore geared toward libertarian conspiracy-theorists.

Health Ads in the Yucatan

20140611-094627-35187626.jpg The Mexican version of the Today show was on at the bus station. At a commercial break, I watched all 5 ads, each one with a message in Spanish at the bottom of the screen that read, "Consult your doctor." Gastritis, dandruff, heartburn... it seems that a lot of OTC medication is consumed in Mexico.

Natural medicine


20140609-131452-47692533.jpg At a Sunday street market in Merida, MX. Every convenience store also sells remedies of questionable efficacy. A tour guide twice brought up the effects of particular foods on one's health... spinach is good for the blood and Coca-Cola light is bad for the pancreas.

What drives the purchase of and culture of so-called "natural medicine"?

Clean and Dirty

20140607-085607-32167669.jpg Dissonance between the message and the context in which it's presented. Does this make it more or less effective/affective?

Communication Loop

20140606-093002-34202802.jpg The app told me there were no e-tickets available for the flight. The printed boarding pass tells me to go paperless... by using the app.



20140516-160906.jpg Above the entrance to the Old Capitol building in Iowa City. "IOWA."

Why the period?

Like Smoking, Only Better

20140411-190944.jpg Attempting to recreate as much of the experience of real cigarettes as possible. Conversely, I've also seen e-cigarettes sold as aids to quit smoking, where the fidelity of the experience is probably much less important.

Another interesting aspect here is that they are disposable electronic devices (as disposable as anything electronic, I suppose). Much like "disposable" cameras, they contain non-biodegradable components, including a battery.

Opposites Attract

20140316-122656.jpg A rather disorderly bookstore in Chicago, Bookman's Corner, makes for some unlikely pairings.

"The Unwanted Gaze" on top of "The Art of Mingling"

What Not to Do

I just unsubscribed from an email list that had become irrelevant to me. The process was impressively long and convoluted. It was like so... At the bottom of the email was the following:

To unsubscribe from this list email to, you will be removed within 24 hours. Or click the link below for the DIY approach. community mailing list

The punctuation makes it difficult to read, and the option most likely to be used, click a link, is downplayed. Knowing what actually happens when you go down that road, I guess I'm not surprised.

So, I clicked the link, and rather than a simple confirmation, I was taken to an admin page with lots of information and options. Unable to immediately locate the unsubscribe section, I searched the page for “unsubscribe”. Down yonder way, I found an input field to enter my email address, but the associated button unexpectedly said “unsubscribe or edit options”.

So, I clicked the button, and it took me to a page with yet more options. There was a section labeled "unsubscribe" with a simple "unsubscribe" button about half way down. "Ah," I thought, "this has got to be it."

So, I clicked the button... and I was taken to another page that said to check my email for a confirmation link that I would need to follow to unsubscribe. Ugh.

So, I got the email. Granted, it did come immediately, but after all the previous steps, its contents added insult to injury. The email contained not one but three different options for unsubscribing, including the aforementioned link:

Mailing list removal confirmation notice for mailing list xcommunity

We have received a request from for the removal of your email address, "" from the mailing list. To confirm that you want to be removed from this mailing list, simply reply to this message, keeping the Subject: header intact. Or visit this web page:

Or include the following line -- and only the following line -- in a message to

confirm d36190b587de1f92

Note that simply sending a 'reply' to this message should work from most mail readers, since that usually leaves the Subject: line in the right form (additional "Re:" text in the Subject: is okay).

If you do not wish to be removed from this list, please simply disregard this message. If you think you are being maliciously removed from the list, or have any other questions, send them to

Wow. So, I clicked the link. Alas, I had finally accomplished my goal. The page told me, finally, and in no uncertain terms, that I had been unsubscribed. I wept, picked myself back up, and resolved to never treat users so poorly.