Intrinsic, extrinsic, and the magic of association

By Gordon Rugg

As regular readers of this blog will know, I have an awed respect for the ability of Ancient Greek philosophers to spot a really important point, and to then produce an extremely plausible but only partially correct explanation, sending everyone else off in the wrong direction for the next couple of thousand years.

Today’s article is about one of those points, where the Ancient Greeks didn’t actually get anything wrong, but where they laid out a concept that’s only part of the story. It involves a concept that can be very useful for making sense of consumer preferences and life choices, namely the difference between intrinsic properties in the broad sense, and extrinsic properties in the broad sense.

Here’s an example. The image below shows a pair of Zippo lighters. One of them is worth a few dollars; the other is worth tens of thousands of dollars, even though it’s physically indistinguishable from the first one. Why the difference? The answer is below…

zippo banner

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Client requirements: The shape of the elephant, part 3

By Gordon Rugg

This article is part of a series about identifying and clarifying client requirements. Handling client requirements isn’t always easy. However, that isn’t the same as “impossible” or “not worth trying”.  The previous article covered three ways of getting it wrong, and various ways of getting it right; this article follows on from that point.

As a running theme through this series, we’re imagining that you’re dealing with a client who has asked you to produce an image of an elephant. Here’s another inadvisable solution.

Bad solution 4: My design is in a witty dialogue with its environment  


Client’s response: Very funny, go get a job at the circus.

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Our main posts: An overview by topic

By Gordon Rugg

This article gives an overvew of our posts so far on three main areas.

Two of these are about research methods and development methods, namely elicitation methods for gathering client requirements, and systematic approaches to visualising information.

The third area involves our Verifier approach for tackling long-standing problems, which we’ve applied to the Voynich Manuscript and to the D’Agapeyeff Cipher.

All the material listed below is copyleft Hyde & Rugg; you’re welcome to use it for any non-commercial purpose (including lectures) provided that you include the “copyleft Hyde & Rugg” acknowledgement with any material you use.

Gathering and clarifying client requirements

We’re posting a series of tutorial articles on a wide range of methods, and articles about the bigger picture of requirements gathering. The main articles that we’re posted so far are as follows.

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A Card Sorts Tutorial

By Gordon Rugg

Card sorts aren’t as widely known as they should be. They’re a neat, efficient method for finding out about how people categorise their world. They also make it possible to investigate topics that are hard to describe in words, which is particularly useful when you’re investigating perceptions of visual items such as web pages and physical artefacts.

This article is an introductory tutorial; there are links to further reading in the notes at the end. If you’re encountering problems when using interviews or questionnaires or focus groups, then you might find that using card sorts will give you new insights. Card sorts are popular with research participants and with novice researchers, because the procedures are easy to grasp; for experienced researchers, card sorts are a powerful, flexible tool.



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