The ‘Fly on the Wall’ is a year old!

They say time flies. True. Before I knew it, it’s already been a year since “The Fly on the Wall” was born. 🙂

Here’s some statistics to feel good about (not earth-shattering, but it’s a start)…

  • Total posts: 110
  • Comments: 134
  • Total page views (excluding me): 14,278
  • Number of spam comments: 882

Most popular posts (in terms of traffic; not necessarily my favourite ones):

Popular search keywords leading to this blog:

  • “indian feet” (I still don’t get why people search for “indian feet”!!!)
  • “chevrolet spark”
  • “lord shiva”
  • “car dashboard”
  • “rajini”

What’s in store for the next year:

  • More authors other than me (anybody interested?)
  • More posts (including video-interviews & conversations with interesting people) of research & innovation related topics
  • Sharing more of the (non-client) work we do at Onward
  • More consistent/regular updates
  • Re-design of the blog user interface

Any other suggestions/ideas?

And finally, to all those loyal/faithful/patient/supportive readers of the blog out there, here’s a BIG…THANK YOU!!!!!! 🙂


Talk at MindTree: “Understanding Your Users”

Was invited for a talk at MindTree, at their fancy “Global Village” campus in Bangalore, to talk about “Understanding Your Users“.

Heavily loaded topic, of course. I decided to focus on 1 possible way of understanding users — using photo documentation techniques to uncover unmet & unarticulated needs. Walked through some examples of photo documentation based user research, using a recent informal study we conducted on the topic, ‘Car Storage Behaviour & Needs’. And, at the end, I also shared some “best practices” from my personal experience of having used this technique over the years.

The audience consisted of people from varied disciplines – Engineering, User Experience/Usability, Product Management and Business Analysts…so, decided to keep the content relevant for audiences that are completely new to user research, as well as those who have basic awareness and minimal practical experience in field techniques.

The complete presentation can be downloaded here.

Interestingly, the crowd was very enthusiastic and inquisitive. Unlike similar sessions I’ve conducted before, the audience here warmed up very quickly and were full of questions in the very first few minutes. Was quite impressed with the level of enthusiasm and “aliveness” in the group. It made the whole effort very fulfilling!

And, here’s what it looked like…

Param\'s talk at MindTree

Nothing is everything

Here’s a fantastic marketing campaign created by my ol’ buddy, Avinash (serial award-winning copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi, Amsterdam):

Facebook and pedigree

The Nielsen Company has published this report (via on the usage patterns of online social networking trends in India. Excerpts:

The Nielsen Company recently conducted a survey in India using its online research panel “Your Voice” on the usage patterns of Social Networking websites and found keeping in touch with people they know to be the strongest reason for joining a social networking site for the vast majority of Indian respondents (82%). The Nielsen survey also found over half (58%) joined a social networking site to reconnect with old acquaintances they have lost touch with, and to make new friends (53%). Professional networking was a strong fourth for 43%.


Security reasons were cited by 68 percent of the respondents for using alternate identities on sites. They prefer not to reveal their personal details. 35 percent chose to use an alternate identity “Just for fun”.

What (especially) didn’t work for me about this study…

The survey was conducted amongst 301 people across various age groups starting from 15 years onwards.

When one is drawing usage patterns in online social networking in India, would a sample size of 301 suffice? Sounds rather strange.

Anyways, here’s another interesting observation (about the competition in the social networking space in India) from a cover story about Facebook (registered users only) in India’s leading weekly magazine, Outlook:

Facebook, on the other hand, has a whiff of pedigree, privilege and exclusivity about it, since it was founded by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and was originally restricted to students of Harvard and other Ivy League colleges; an impression strongly reinforced when a study last year concluded that Facebook users tended to be better-educated and wealthier than those on other networking sites. That Facebook comprises a well-heeled crowd that freely shares its consumer tastes means that even if its numbers don’t quite match Orkut’s, it’s by far the most sought-after hunting ground for market researchers and targeted advertising.

Experientially, I’d agree with this strong generalization (about “whiff of pedigree, privilege and exclusivity”). But, I wonder if the origins of Facebook really have much to do with the kind of people who populate the site? I can understand that being an influencer in the US, where it all started, but would that trend spread to far flung countries like India as well?

Gadget revenge time

And finally, someone’s realized people aren’t really enjoying their relationship with their gadgets (isn’t that what it is, a “relationship”?). Wired is running a ‘contest’ on documenting the worst thing you’ve done to your cellphone/TV/laptop or any other gadget.

These are the moments when you wish that your cellphone — an otherwise helpful gadget — had nerves and self-awareness so that you could cause it pain. Now is your chance to get even.

We want to see you take revenge on all the old electronic equipment that has bumped you into a higher health-risk bracket from increased blood pressure.

Here’s the entry that I’m voting for:

I had this crappy phone from LG that never got a good signal at my apartment. One day I was trying to send a text and it kept saying “Sending failure. Try again?” After getting that error message for the 100th time I got very angry. I thought about throwing the phone down on my porch but I knew it would smash into smithereens. So instead I yelled “You piece of sh*t!!” and I bit the phone. Yes, I BIT it. The LCD screen never worked again.


India, viewed through an American lens

Nothing new (reinforcing several stereotypes, in fact), but nevertheless, still interesting to look at your own country through a different lens. Not able to find a way to give a direct link to specific posts, so here goes a collection of several posts from Jojo’s blog:

PDAs : a big cultural difference

I’ve been waiting to get the right picture to make this post since I first observed it. However, stopping to take pictures of men as they pass me seems to garner some unwanted attention! So this pic will have to do.

In the US when we think of Public Displays of Affection some of us think of slobbering teenagers (or perhaps a certain female friend who shall go unnamed!) making out in public places (bars). It’s quite the opposite here. Couples, even married couples, never touch in public. I have yet to see as much as a hand-holding.

From Wikipedia:
In India, the Supreme Court of India – the seat of the highest authority of the law of the land – has described PDA to be in bad taste and an unacceptable act, which may be considered an act of public nuisance, and sometimes leading to conviction and/or fine from the involved parties.

On the other hand, where in the US some guy friends will actually sit with a seat in between them at a movie, men in India are very affectionate with their friends.
I was at first taken aback by the sight of two men walking holding hands, fingers actually intertwined as well as men with their arms around each other. Our connotations of these behaviors is quite different. In India, homosexuality is still quite taboo, and these are purely gestures of friendship.

Just another cultural difference observation from me to you!

Here’s a hilarious picture illustrating the dangers of bad punctuation (again, courtesy Jojo’s blog):


If you’re not satiated yet, here’s the whole story

New age marketing

HDFC Standard Life Insurance has created a ‘Responsibility Quotient’ application on Facebook, I’m guessing one of (if not the first) time a major Indian business entity is taking to the social networking platform for marketing and brand building.

The ‘application’ is nothing but a contest-quiz, which if you happen to win, your parents get to fly to Paris for a vacation! Cool, eh? I think the whole thing’s a decent idea considering it reinforces the concept behind one of their recent products, a ‘Unit Linked Savings Plan’, that’s apparently “a plan ideal for young professionals”.