Walking around the Maxwell Food Market near Singapore's Chinatown reminded of Wong Kar Wai's excellent movie about Hong Kong in the early 60's In the Mood for Love. After I watched it last night, I couldn't decide whether I wanted to actually travel back in time, or just walk inside an imagined version of the past.
I'm doing some work in Singapore right now, and I've quickly noticed a couple of things: Singaporean people love to shop, and they love deals. But they don't have access to certain brands — American Apparel, Forever 21, Victoria's Secret, etc. To get stuff from these places, they have to order stuff over the Internet, and have it shipped across the world. And this can be really expensive.
A community of practice. The practice of finding deals.So, some industrious, deal-seeking shoppers have created LiveJournal communities in which shoppers can band together to save shipping costs from online retailers. These so-called "sprees" usually correspond to global shipping deals offered by a retailer, and they're available until certain criteria are met — minimum amounts for the shipping deal, or whenever the spree-launcher decides to take care of the order.In the above example, the spree is for a retailer called "Apparel," it's open, and there are 35 "comments," many of which are actually "orders." That's right, you submit your order in a public space, so that others can see how close the spree is to being filled.In order to build trust among their users, the community above provides a way to give feedback; they've created a separate community called "spreefeedback" where users leave comments about the trustworthiness of the users who launch the sprees. Hacky, but apparently effective. Pretty cool, huh?On related notes, Jane Fulton Suri's Thoughtless Acts?: Observations on Intuitive Design is filled with intriguing examples of everyday hacks in the physical world.