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The shoemaker isn’t throwing in the towel on technology. Rather, it’s turning away from hardware and realigning its focus exclusively on fitness and athletic software, a strategic shift that would still benefit the company in the long run, analysts said. (via Exclusive: Nike fires majority of FuelBand team, will stop making wearable hardware - CNET)

The shoemaker isn’t throwing in the towel on technology. Rather, it’s turning away from hardware and realigning its focus exclusively on fitness and athletic software, a strategic shift that would still benefit the company in the long run, analysts said. (via Exclusive: Nike fires majority of FuelBand team, will stop making wearable hardware - CNET)

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For the past several months, a number of elderly Korean patrons and this McDonald’s they frequent have been battling over the benches inside. The restaurant says the people who colonize the seats on a daily basis are quashing business, taking up tables for hours while splitting a small packet of French fries ($1.39); the group say they are customers and entitled to take their time. A lot of time. (via Fighting a McDonald’s in Queens for the Right to Sit. And Sit. And Sit. - NYTimes.com)

This reminds me of the former McDonald’s at Coolidge Corner in Brookline. I heard about it several times from interviews I did for the master’s thesis. Many seniors used to gather there, enjoying cheap coffee and socializing with friends. They were largely ignored since they came in during the day and avoided peak times. Ultimately the McDonald’s left the space, much to their dismay.
The Korea Times has a follow-up post to the NYTimes story here, which adds some more nuance to the tale. Is a McDonald’s dining area public, or private? Legally it’s clear, but our norms dictate otherwise, and the fact that it’s an ethnic, immigrant, elderly group against a huge corporation (backed by police) makes it easy to sympathize from afar. But there are countless small conflicts like this, between local businesses and blocks of customers, over access to hybrid spaces, and it takes similarly localized efforts to understand the roots of conflict and design win-win solutions.
In this case, the restaurant and seniors seem to have reached a deal.
What’s interesting to me is why they insisted on using the McDonald’s, even looping around to re-enter the restaurant after being asked to leave, despite no lack of public senior centers in the area. The Brookline senior center was a really nice facility within walking distance of the Coolidge Corner McDonald’s, but some seniors still preferred the latter. Some thoughts:
Not everyone knows or thinks about the senior centers. It still takes a lot of outreach to remind seniors of these resources, of where they are and how to get transportation. Social networks are less fluid and technology use is less uniform; information doesn’t travel as freely. The Brookline senior center dealt with this a lot.
Dynamism isn’t always a virtue for senior centers. It’s not just a matter of crankiness. When locations, opening hours, and transport options change frequently or suddenly, seniors may avoid such places altogether. As your memory and physical mobility start to falter, you become less risk-taking, and something like a McDonald’s is consistent, familiar, and transparent. I find grabbing a quick meal at a McDonald’s is a psychological comfort after the overload of experiences when travelling abroad.
Not all senior centers are created equal. My maternal grandparents live in downtown Los Angeles, and used to take a shuttle bus to their preferred senior center in the Valley. When that bus funding was cut during the financial crisis, they simply stopped going out, despite several closer options nearby. I’m not sure why the strong preference, but I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for choosing to play at one park over another.
Don’t underestimate the psychological barrier of distance. Even a few blocks can be a serious challenge, both perceived and real. Add in the cold weather (an issue in both Queens and Brookline) and snow/ice/water on the ground, and the range of a senior can be severely limited compared with someone middle-aged.
Not all seniors are the same. Everyone has different preferences and faculties, degrees of independence, etc. If people are meeting in groups, you have to take into account the most accessible options.
Maybe people just don’t want to be surrounded by old people all the time. If you were a senior, wouldn’t you like to not only meet friends, but also see people of all ages, even if you’re not directly interacting? It’s funny that we encourage seniors to get outside their homes and stay active and stimulated, but then try to funnel them towards their own age and ethnic group.
Culture can be a factor, but it’s hard to measure. The seniors interviewed seemed to be aware of the burden they placed on the store, so the truth wasn’t “lost in translation”. I think the issues here are more universal. It’s true that in Korea coffee shops tend to allow longer sitting and socializing, but it’s mostly younger people in these (pricier) Starbucks and similar chains. Seoul has dozens of really nice senior centers, but many seniors congregate at crowded subway stations like Jongno 3-ga, just sitting on the floor, shooting the breeze. (I used to volunteer with a group that handed out free coffee and snacks to these guys once a week.) It seems like the only real reason for continuing to hang out in these not-very-comfortable places is because that’s what they’ve always done.
I think it’s a really interesting and important question to research as the US population ages.

For the past several months, a number of elderly Korean patrons and this McDonald’s they frequent have been battling over the benches inside. The restaurant says the people who colonize the seats on a daily basis are quashing business, taking up tables for hours while splitting a small packet of French fries ($1.39); the group say they are customers and entitled to take their time. A lot of time. (via Fighting a McDonald’s in Queens for the Right to Sit. And Sit. And Sit. - NYTimes.com)

This reminds me of the former McDonald’s at Coolidge Corner in Brookline. I heard about it several times from interviews I did for the master’s thesis. Many seniors used to gather there, enjoying cheap coffee and socializing with friends. They were largely ignored since they came in during the day and avoided peak times. Ultimately the McDonald’s left the space, much to their dismay.

The Korea Times has a follow-up post to the NYTimes story here, which adds some more nuance to the tale. Is a McDonald’s dining area public, or private? Legally it’s clear, but our norms dictate otherwise, and the fact that it’s an ethnic, immigrant, elderly group against a huge corporation (backed by police) makes it easy to sympathize from afar. But there are countless small conflicts like this, between local businesses and blocks of customers, over access to hybrid spaces, and it takes similarly localized efforts to understand the roots of conflict and design win-win solutions.

In this case, the restaurant and seniors seem to have reached a deal.

What’s interesting to me is why they insisted on using the McDonald’s, even looping around to re-enter the restaurant after being asked to leave, despite no lack of public senior centers in the area. The Brookline senior center was a really nice facility within walking distance of the Coolidge Corner McDonald’s, but some seniors still preferred the latter. Some thoughts:

  • Not everyone knows or thinks about the senior centers. It still takes a lot of outreach to remind seniors of these resources, of where they are and how to get transportation. Social networks are less fluid and technology use is less uniform; information doesn’t travel as freely. The Brookline senior center dealt with this a lot.
  • Dynamism isn’t always a virtue for senior centers. It’s not just a matter of crankiness. When locations, opening hours, and transport options change frequently or suddenly, seniors may avoid such places altogether. As your memory and physical mobility start to falter, you become less risk-taking, and something like a McDonald’s is consistent, familiar, and transparent. I find grabbing a quick meal at a McDonald’s is a psychological comfort after the overload of experiences when travelling abroad.
  • Not all senior centers are created equal. My maternal grandparents live in downtown Los Angeles, and used to take a shuttle bus to their preferred senior center in the Valley. When that bus funding was cut during the financial crisis, they simply stopped going out, despite several closer options nearby. I’m not sure why the strong preference, but I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for choosing to play at one park over another.
  • Don’t underestimate the psychological barrier of distance. Even a few blocks can be a serious challenge, both perceived and real. Add in the cold weather (an issue in both Queens and Brookline) and snow/ice/water on the ground, and the range of a senior can be severely limited compared with someone middle-aged.
  • Not all seniors are the same. Everyone has different preferences and faculties, degrees of independence, etc. If people are meeting in groups, you have to take into account the most accessible options.
  • Maybe people just don’t want to be surrounded by old people all the time. If you were a senior, wouldn’t you like to not only meet friends, but also see people of all ages, even if you’re not directly interacting? It’s funny that we encourage seniors to get outside their homes and stay active and stimulated, but then try to funnel them towards their own age and ethnic group.
  • Culture can be a factor, but it’s hard to measure. The seniors interviewed seemed to be aware of the burden they placed on the store, so the truth wasn’t “lost in translation”. I think the issues here are more universal. It’s true that in Korea coffee shops tend to allow longer sitting and socializing, but it’s mostly younger people in these (pricier) Starbucks and similar chains. Seoul has dozens of really nice senior centers, but many seniors congregate at crowded subway stations like Jongno 3-ga, just sitting on the floor, shooting the breeze. (I used to volunteer with a group that handed out free coffee and snacks to these guys once a week.) It seems like the only real reason for continuing to hang out in these not-very-comfortable places is because that’s what they’ve always done.

I think it’s a really interesting and important question to research as the US population ages.

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The Youth Herb was in need of space for youth job creation. Both sides agreed to revitalize the lagged underground shopping center and find opportunities for unemployed youth in July of last year by offering empty stores in the Jongno 4-ga underground shopping center. SMFMC offered space and The Youth Herb offered human resources, which are now the engine of market revitalization. (via [Feature] Young entrepreneurs revitalize fading underground shopping center : National : Home)

The Youth Herb was in need of space for youth job creation. Both sides agreed to revitalize the lagged underground shopping center and find opportunities for unemployed youth in July of last year by offering empty stores in the Jongno 4-ga underground shopping center. SMFMC offered space and The Youth Herb offered human resources, which are now the engine of market revitalization. (via [Feature] Young entrepreneurs revitalize fading underground shopping center : National : Home)

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An overview or our informal recycling tracking project, in Prezi form!

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TEDxCambridge 2013
I don’t look too happy to be there…

TEDxCambridge 2013

I don’t look too happy to be there…

(Source: Flickr / tedxcambridge)

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theimpossiblecool:

Kurosawa & Mifune. 

theimpossiblecool:

Kurosawa & Mifune. 

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An older article on a paper I co-wrote last year on measuring building energy performance based on human occupancy tracked electronically. My role was data crunching and running the regressions. (via Reducing wasted energy in commercial buildings - MIT News Office)

An older article on a paper I co-wrote last year on measuring building energy performance based on human occupancy tracked electronically. My role was data crunching and running the regressions. (via Reducing wasted energy in commercial buildings - MIT News Office)

(Source: )

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Check out my latest project, a map (in progress) of all the professional baseball teams in the world! Yes, minor leagues are professional leagues.
The Big Map of Professional Baseball

Check out my latest project, a map (in progress) of all the professional baseball teams in the world! Yes, minor leagues are professional leagues.

The Big Map of Professional Baseball

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"Starting in August, car owners will be able to park for free at San Francisco International Airport in exchange for allowing RelayRides to rent out their cars while they’re gone. Insurance is included, in much the same way as it works for car-sharing companies like Zipcar. The free parking even comes with a car wash and a full tank of gas."

What If You Never Had to Pay for Parking at the Airport Again? - Emily Badger - The Atlantic Cities

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Next come sensors strapped to the palms of the driver’s hands. These detect how well his skin conducts electricity. Conductivity changes when we sweat, which people tend to do when they are nervous or frustrated, so it is a good way to measure emotional turmoil. So far, Greco and four of his colleagues have taken test drives of about 45 minutes each.

(via MIT studies seek to limit the stress of driving - Business - The Boston Globe)
Go Kael! I was one of those test drivers!

Next come sensors strapped to the palms of the driver’s hands. These detect how well his skin conducts electricity. Conductivity changes when we sweat, which people tend to do when they are nervous or frustrated, so it is a good way to measure emotional turmoil. So far, Greco and four of his colleagues have taken test drives of about 45 minutes each.

(via MIT studies seek to limit the stress of driving - Business - The Boston Globe)

Go Kael! I was one of those test drivers!

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One interesting question is what drives these encounters and Lijun and co show that it is largely the result of similar behaviour patterns rather than random meetings. In other words, humans are creatures of habit and that these habits can become synchronised both in time and in space. Indeed, the more regular an individual’s behaviour, the more likely he or she is to have regular encounters. (via The Science of Familiar Strangers: Society’s Hidden Social Network | MIT Technology Review)

One interesting question is what drives these encounters and Lijun and co show that it is largely the result of similar behaviour patterns rather than random meetings. In other words, humans are creatures of habit and that these habits can become synchronised both in time and in space. Indeed, the more regular an individual’s behaviour, the more likely he or she is to have regular encounters. (via The Science of Familiar Strangers: Society’s Hidden Social Network | MIT Technology Review)

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Many of them are cheap phones that can do little besides make calls and send text messages. But all such activity can be tracked back to cell-phone towers, providing a rough way to trace a person’s movements. Throw in the spread of mobile payment technology for simple commerce and you have the raw material for insights not only into epidemiology but into employment trends, social tensions, poverty, transportation, and economic activity. (via Researchers Use Data from Cheap Cell Phones in the Developing World to Combat Disease Outbreaks | MIT Technology Review)

Many of them are cheap phones that can do little besides make calls and send text messages. But all such activity can be tracked back to cell-phone towers, providing a rough way to trace a person’s movements. Throw in the spread of mobile payment technology for simple commerce and you have the raw material for insights not only into epidemiology but into employment trends, social tensions, poverty, transportation, and economic activity. (via Researchers Use Data from Cheap Cell Phones in the Developing World to Combat Disease Outbreaks | MIT Technology Review)

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As users’ mobile devices ping cellular towers in different locations, AirSage’s algorithms look for patterns in that location data—mostly to help transportation planners and traffic reports, so far. For example, the software might infer that the owners of devices that spend time in a business park from nine to five are likely at work, so a highway engineer might be able to estimate how much traffic on the local freeway exit is due to commuters. (via How Verizon and Other Wireless Carriers Are Mining Customer Data | MIT Technology Review)

As users’ mobile devices ping cellular towers in different locations, AirSage’s algorithms look for patterns in that location data—mostly to help transportation planners and traffic reports, so far. For example, the software might infer that the owners of devices that spend time in a business park from nine to five are likely at work, so a highway engineer might be able to estimate how much traffic on the local freeway exit is due to commuters. (via How Verizon and Other Wireless Carriers Are Mining Customer Data | MIT Technology Review)

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"Coffitivity plays an audio feed of the optimal noise level of clinking cups and people talking. It also makes recommendations on the volume at which to overlay your own music for maximum concentration."

Streaming Fake Ambient Coffee Shop Noise Is Big in Seoul - Bonnie Tsui - The Atlantic Cities

My hypothesis: Coffee shops (Starbucks and knockoffs) are very very popular in Seoul, but are relatively expensive compared to other cities. Koreans are just being economical about getting the experience.

Why are they so popular? There’s always been a coffeehouse culture in Korea, part of the “bang” culture that carves out temporary private space in dense urban environments. Historically the quality was not so great, often instant coffee, and the rooms were darker and cozier, but Starbucks introduced high quality roasts and modern glassy interiors. The new shops became a status symbol, where young affluent people could meet and be seen, then quickly became the norm as competitors rapidly sprang up overnight (retail trends move extremely quickly in Seoul).

Meeting up with a friend or a date usually starts or ends at a coffee shop, often as a way to reciprocate after one person pays for a meal. You get used to spending a lot of time in them, until you realize how much money you’ve spent…

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To make this map, Tweets are grouped by user and sorted into locals—who post in one city for one consecutive month—and tourists—whose tweets are centered in another city. Relatively inactive users simply don’t appear on the map, since we can’t confidently determine their group. (via Visualizing 3 Billion Tweets | MapBox)

To make this map, Tweets are grouped by user and sorted into locals—who post in one city for one consecutive month—and tourists—whose tweets are centered in another city. Relatively inactive users simply don’t appear on the map, since we can’t confidently determine their group. (via Visualizing 3 Billion Tweets | MapBox)