On the Origin of Things

In 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species and described the means by which populations evolve—that environmental pressures naturally select the individuals best suited to their habitat to procreate. Culminating from this work was a phylogenetic tree of life, graphically illustrating and describing the relationships between the species of the world and how…

Hierarchy of Possibilities: Designing Smart IoT Products

In simplifying complex systems that involve humans, frameworks such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are often used to model product and service features based on various predetermined scenarios. Such frameworks are often taken out of context of their original proposition, and lack empirical evidence. For example, Maslow originally proposed his hierarchy as a set of…

How IoT Can Help Feed 9 Billion People

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that by 2050, the world population will rise by 2.3 billion and, to effectively feed that population, our food production needs to increase by 70%. According to research conducted by the University of Minnesota, production for essential crops—such as maize and rice—is currently increasing by increments…

Ocean of Noise: The Sharing of Emotions Through Brain-to-Brain Communication

As we stand today, the ways in which humans communicate emotion are mediated by tools, such as pictures, body language, and spoken and written language morphologies constructed of recombinatory signs. Imaginative refinement of these base communications, combined with advancements in technology, have resulted in poems, songs, books, telegraph messaging, telephone calling, radio and television broadcasting,…

Power in Numbers: IoT and the Quantified Self

Self-knowledge through numbers has long been the unspoken slogan of the Quantified Self Movement (QSM). Since its inception, the movement’s goal has been to enable a better understanding of ourselves and our actions and motivators through a quantified lens. However, as wearables give us access to personalized data, they also allow the sharing of this…

A Human History of IoT

A basic procedure in thinking about the future is to look back into our shared history and understand how people did something in the past. This hindsight allows us to learn from the way humans have approached change and apply this knowledge to future situations. Not only does it allow us to avoid the problem…

Food & Drink: Ripe for a Rethink

It’s hard to imagine wholesale disruption of the food and beverage space, where innovation tends to be incremental. Our resident food anthropologist Dylan Gordon provides three prescriptions for change. Vitamins & Minerals Vitaminwater is so yesterday. With natural, unmanipulated foods being the champions of the day, “fortifying” water with synthetic chemicals is a turn-off. Meanwhile, bottled water brands are confronted…

From a Market Economy to a Human Economy

In today’s increasingly polarized economic and political environment, to question the capitalist narrative is like challenging the Roman Catholic Church at the height of the Spanish Inquisition. These days, no one will burn you at the stake, but you stand a good chance of being labeled by neoliberals as a heretic, an apostate, a communist, an…

Down with BASES!

Nielsen BASES. Whether you swear by it or swear at it, if you work in consumer products innovation, chances are Nielsen BASES has consumed – and perhaps cost you – more than a few days of your life. Founded nearly four decades ago to help large consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies mitigate the risks of…

How to Win in the Experience Economy

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” These mythic lines from Shakespeare’s As You Like It serve to illustrate a key pillar of The Anthropology of Experience: that identity is created as it is performed. Everyday actions and practices – like taking public transit, attending business meetings, eating meals,…

Justina Blakeney: The New Bohemian

How do you integrate your love for plants and nature with your passion for design and textiles? I use both plants and textiles very liberally in my design work. They are the easiest things to use quickly and totally transform a space, even on a budget. Plus, plants carry good energy, so bringing them into…

Enter the Liminal Zone

When anthropologist Victor Turner began writing about the three stages of the ritual process and the role of the middle stage in facilitating experiences of personal, social, and cultural transformation, he was inspired, in part, by the turmoil and transition of the late 1960s. Today, we are living in what feels like another period of…

Gray Malin: Artist from Above

How would you describe your style, both personally and professionally? 
My personal style is classic, but always with a pop of color. This carries over into my work aesthetic, as well as interior decorating style. Describe what you consider the
 lifecycle of one of your pieces – from ideation, to purchase, and beyond.
 Some concepts…

The Second Life of Print

The notion of digital publishing obliterating print is as enduring as it is popular. This is in no small part due to the fact that it fits neatly into a nice and linear narrative of evolution. Just as the introduction of the printing press provided literacy to the masses and democratized the dissemination of information,…