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August 12, 2005

Only losers wear striped shirts

A gift from Brenda Laurel has cost me dear. The eminent design professor at Art Center, in California, sent me a copy of a new report called 'Tweens: Technology, Personal Agency, Engagement'. The result of a year-long research project sponsored by HP, the book is an intriguing portrait of Californian tweens (ages 11-14): How they think, feel. act, and relate to each other and the world. One of the researchers responds: 'the tweens research has made me ponder the nature of why kids are becoming more consumer conscious at an earlier age'. The book does not address the questions: Who owns information about these young adults' lives? Are we comfortable, as design researchers, making such intimate insights available to a big tech company? I would have pontificated further on these weighty issues had not a more imnportant one distracted me. A knowing 12-year-old is quoted saying that 'only losers wear striped shirts'. So I now have to find a loser to give about seven of mine to.

Posted by John Thackara at August 12, 2005 11:33 AM


John, I think you needn't worry about HP exploiting information about the "tweens." It seems not to do too well with information about the rest of us. Certainly, I don't feel compromised by HP's more acute understanding of why I like to surf, if it knows.

More thrilling for me was that Brenda managed to persuade HP to spend money studying tweens. It's not like they're a major market for printers. Maybe she'll tell us!

Posted by: Bob Jacobson at August 20, 2005 02:39 AM

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