Care Labels For Humans: Help me test version 2

Sticky

clfh-header

Having toyed with the Care Labels For Humans concept for nearly four years, I decided that 2018 was going to be *the year* when I made some real progress.

If you’d like to take part in the next prototyping on Sunday 14th January, then you can sign up to be a participant here. Please note that although this is Manchester Girl Geeks event it is open to all genders (those under 14 need to be accompanied by an adult).

Care Labels For Humans v1

Back in October 2017, I gave my first paper prototype for Care Labels For Humans its first test at a Geek Mental Help Week event held with Manchester Girl Geeks.

The badge back for Care Labels custom stickers.

Label badge from October 2017

The Care Labels were simple. A standard name badge bearing three slots for labels:

  • A – how the wearer wanted to be approached
  • B – the behaviour desired by the wearer
  • C – an interest as a conversation starter

I really loved testing the first prototype with a small group of engaged people,  it’s amazing how much I learned from a relatively unstructured session.

carelabel2

Inventive use of Care Labels

My favourite thing about testing the prototype is when people break my ‘system’, as it gives me so much insight into how creative people can be when it comes to expressing their needs.

This badge took the ‘toxic’ symbol, offered as one of the A (Approach) labels and repurposed it to express their passion for physics.

OK, so what’s new?

As well as having had the chance to mull over the findings from the October test, I discussed the Care Labels concept with lots of different people.

I’ve been delighted by the positivity of so many people, and these discussions have allowed me to add features which deepen the Care Labels experience.

Bigger = better?

The badge back for the Care Labels is now much bigger and worn on an A6 lanyard rather than fixed to an item of clothing.

Identity matters

  • Space for you to write your name
  • A place to specify your pronouns e.g. she, he, they etc

Asking permission

The B (Behaviour) badge is now used to identify how open the wearer might be to questioning. The options are:

  • Ask me about anything
  • Ask me about some things
  • Ask me about nothing

More freedom of expression

The badge front has space for the wearer to display more than one C (conversation) label, as well as options for those who do not wish to engage in verbal communication.

Participants will also be able to customise their Care Labels to suit their mood.

There’s a back to the badge!

I’ve introduced an extra element which allows the wearer to display some additional label types, but only to those they really want to.

I’m not going to say too much more here or it will spoil the fun!

Don’t miss out…

Please come along and join in the experiment at Virgin Money Lounge in Manchester city centre for our Blue Sunday event.

Tickets are just £3 and include tea, cake and a ‘lean coffee’ talks session.

See you there!

Better off out than in?

Sticky

care-5-sketch

Would you be happy for other people to know that you were feeling vulnerable?

Or that you were feeling angry, or hungry or tired?

I have been reading up on wearable technologies lately, and one of the things that strikes me is that of many people a big deal for other people to know just how we’re feeling. It’s an issue of privacy.

Many wearables rely on interpreting, almost in real-time, physiological changes which indicate that a person is experiencing a particular emotion.

The differences with Care Labels are:

  • They disclose a need rather than an emotion
  • The wearer sets them manually, they do not ‘read’ data directly from elsewhere

My hope is that people would use a variety of different tools to help inform their choice of Care Label at any particular point. This could include tools like mood-tracker MoodScope, or any of the other types of applications experimented with by people involved in the Quantified Self movement.

Depending on how much data you wish to collect about yourself you could track your nutrition, exercise, sleep, mood, heart-rate, blood pressure – whatever you believe can help inform you about what your needs are at any given moment.

You could adjust your Care Labels as often or as rarely as you wished, and, importantly, take them off if you really feel that they will really give away too much about you.

How happy would you be to wear Care Labels? Are there any Care Labels that you would not want other people to see you wearing?

You can find a list of suggested Care Labels here – please add your thoughts in Comments below.

You can read more about the thinking behind Care Labels For Humans on the About page.

First steps to generating a list of care labels

Sticky

fragile

To get started I wrote a massive list of the kind of needs I thought people would feel the need to express using care labels. They fall into these general categories:

Sustenance

  • have a cup of tea and a chat
  • share a meal and talk

Communication

  • call me
  • text me
  • Facebook / Twitter / G+ me

Mood-related

  • handle with care
  • no questions
  • no difficult questions
  • smile at me
  • be patient with me
  • let me be alone
  • don’t take offence

Openness

  • ask me how I am
  • be listened to
  • to listen to you
  • smile at me
  • introduce me to a friend
  • include me in your plans
  • tell me the truth

Physical presence

  • just be there
  • share a hug
  • need some space
  • approach with caution
  • leave me alone
  • spend some time together one-to-one
  • spend some time together in a group

Entertainment

  • celebrate with me
  • a good night out
  • have a laugh
  • see some comedy
  • watch a film
  • go to the theatre
  • dancing / clubbing

As you can see there is some room for fluidity in these categories, with several suggested care labels fitting into more than one list. I suspect there may be a Venn diagram in there somewhere and will be having a look at that next.

Mood scores

Additionally, I came up with the possibility of adding a score of 0-100. This is what the mood-tracking website MoodScope allows you to. This level of detail would not be possible with care label beads that only allowed for four variations, but could be stripped down to:

  •  < 25
  •  25 – 50
  •  50 – 75
  •  > 75

Is there anything obvious I have missed? Please add your thoughts to the comments below.

You can read more about the thinking behind Care Labels For Humans on the About page.

Care Labels For Humans: This time it’s sticky

Standard

Why Care Labels?

carelabel1
I can’t believe that it was February 2014 when I first blogged about my Care Labels For Humans idea.

In brief, the Care Labels are applied to customisable badge which serves to communicate how the wearer wishes to be treated.

Our clothes have care labels because our clothes can’t tell us exactly how they need to be treated to be kept in good condition.

Care Labels For Humans are being developed to allow people to communicate their needs without the having to be explicit about their emotional state.

So why have I returned to the Care Labels project after such a long break?

Back in 2014, I had thought about using elements of the Rubik’s Cube or Lego bricks to build the customisable badge. I had also generated a bunch of wearable item ideas.

I also explored how the wearable could become a connected device, sending Care Label signatures to a mobile phone.

There was just so much potential for Care Labels For Humans, and I became convinced I needed to get started with a commercial-standard product. Work ground to a halt.

Why now?

This summer, I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Italy on a retreat called F**k It: Do What You Love.

Through a series of workshops I began to uncover some of the things that I’d forgotten I loved doing like writing this blog and creating wellbeing tools.

At the end of the week I pledged to develop the Care Labels For Humans concept.

What are you doing?

So, back in September 2017, I’m committed to prototyping. I also have relatively little time to prepare a prototype in time for Geek Mental Help Week.

Lego brick badges rapidly became replaced with cardboard while custom elements became stickers that I would print myself.

Care Labels For Humans was back in business!

How does it work?

The badge back

The badge back for Care Labels custom stickers.

The badge back for Care Labels custom stickers.

I’ve done some recent development on the concept.

I decided to start testing with three areas where sticky care labels could be applied to the badge back. Each of the letters on the badge back corresponds to a type of care label.

The three types are:

A for Approach

How would you like others to approach you? Are you feeling fragile and in need of being handled with care or are you ‘open for business’. There are five stickers in this group:

  • Approach with caution
  • Do not disturb
  • Handle with care
  • Open shop sign

B is for Behaviour

What kind of behaviour would you like people to have around you. There are six stickers in this group.

  • Ask me anything
  • Ask me about what I’m thinking
  • Ask me about what I’m feeling
  • Don’t ask me any questions
  • Listen to me
  • Speak to me

C is for chat

Assuming the previous two conditions permit it, c stands for ‘chat’ – interests that you might share in common with others. There are twenty of these and I’m not going to list them all here but they range from art & design, to the outdoors and comedy.

The experiment

At this stage in their development, I just wanted to gather some feedback from a small number of people on how Care Labels For Humans worked for them.

Geek Mental Help Week is run in Manchester by fellow Girl Geek @Gem_Hill, creator and host of Inner Pod mental health podcast (among other things), and developer @mikebell_

ThoughtWorks generously hosted us in their brand new home at The Federation.

Geek Mental Help Week is a week-long series of articles, blog posts, conversations, podcasts and events across the web about mental health issues, how to help people who suffer, and those who care for us.

As the guests arrived I handed them the badge back to pique their curiosity. It was a small group of around 15 people, ideal for talking about mental health.

carelabel3After very brief introduction from me, we encouraged people to select their A, B and C stickers. We did this during a food break so that people had lots of time to choose their care labels and chat to each other.

I encouraged our guests to talk about their care labels to each other, and after the break we reconvened to share comments.

The main findings

  • People didn’t always follow the A, B, C order I suggested (which is fine!)
  • Some labels needed clarification on their meanings, for example:
    • How is ‘talk to me’ different from ‘ask me anything’
    • C (chat labels) need to have some way of making them easier to identify
  • When I pointed out to someone they shared an C label with another participant they felt ease about approaching that person
  • Several people wanted to use multiple C labels

The discussion afterwards focused a lot how people interacted with each other at large industry events such as conferences. These events can often seem quite cliquey, and there was a suggestion that people often hide behind their technology to avoid the self-consciousness of being alone outside talks and workshops.

It was felt that Care Labels For Humans could be particularly helpful in these kind of scenarios. Naturally, the conversation extended to how the Care Labels could be connected to other devices.

I shared my thoughts about how the wearable items could be adjusted physically but communicate digitally to produce Care Label signatures which could be embedded in messaging and other social tools.

Conclusion

logo

I was delighted with the feedback and insights I had from the group. I can make some immediate changes from the feedback on the clarity of individual care labels.

I’m particularly interested in different sequences of Care Labels (other than A, B, C) could work and how I could build flexibility into the concept.

There is still lots more testing to do with the Care Labels For Humans. I am particularly delighted that I managed to put together the prototype with a spend of around £30. I have lots of badges or labels left over so I will be looking for different places to test.

Street art tour in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter

Gallery
hayley-portrait

Hayley Flynn aka Skyliner

Manchester is brimming with street art and the Northern Quarter, playground of the hip crowd, has probably attracted more than any part of the city.

I took a walking tour with award-winning local expert Hayley Flynn AKA Skyliner. I learned more about the street art I had seen and was guided to pieces I would have missed on my own.

Hayley’s knowledge of the history of the Northern Quarter was extensive, giving us background on each artist and work.

Delivered with great humour and a true passion for our burgeoning city of Manchester.

Look up!

These days we can find our tendency to look down at our phones means that we miss the beauty and spectacle in our own surrounding. So, using my  mobile purely for its camera function I set off on a mini adventure.

I’m not going to give a blow by blow account of the tour or tell you where you can find the art – you really should try Hayley’s tour  yourself.

Below is selection of my snaps from the tour. Find out more at Skyliner.org

 

Mood Nudges: The Science Bit

Standard

bookcoverI’d like to give a massive thanks to everyone who attended my workshop on ‘Mood Nudges’ as part of Manchester Girl Geeks (MGG) event for Geek Mental Help Week.

I’ve written about the workshop in more detail on the MGG website, where we used exercises from Jon Cousins’ Nudge Your Way to Happiness: The 30 Day Workbook for a Happier You to generate simple mood-boosting ideas.

You can read more about what we did in the workshop here.

The Science Bit

At the end of the workshop I alluded to some recent research Jon that suggested the Mood Nudges 30 day programme made a real difference to those who completed the workbook.

Jon has given me a sneak preview of the findings which are outlined below:

We set out to understand whether using the book Nudge Your Way To Happiness can help people who are clinically depressed.

If we measured their depression with a test that doctors use, before and after working their way through the book (which
takes 30 days) would we see a difference?

The test we used, called the PHQ-9 – the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire) – produces a score between 0 and 27, with 0 meaning no depression, and 27 representing the most severe depression possible.

The score range is divided into five bands that, apart from the highest division, are drawn at five-point intervals.

Healthcare professionals use the PHQ-9 to help decide, in part, what treatment – such as antidepressants or psychotherapy / counselling might best help a patient.

They also ask patients to complete the test as one way of determining whether or not a chosen treatment is working.

When the PHQ-9 is used to measure progress, the rule of thumb is that a reduction in score of 5 points or more over a period of 4-6 weeks means the current treatment regime is working, and should therefore be continued.

We asked 51 people to use the book for 30 days, completing the PHQ-9 before they started, and again when they’d finished.

The participants were a randomly chosen subset of readers of the Moodnudges blog who weren’t pre-selected on the basis of being depressed, so the sample included a range of individuals from those who had only the most minimal depression to others who were experiencing moderately severe depression.

The results, which can be seen in graph form, show two important findings:1. Across the board, the average reduction in PHQ-9 score over 30 days was 5.3, suggesting that using Nudge Your Way to Happiness can be as clinically effective as antidepressants or psychotherapy.

2. The greatest reductions in score were seen in those who were most depressed to start with. On average these participants’ scores fell from a level definitely placing them in the Moderately Severe category to one at the very lowest end of the Moderate division: only a whisker away from being labelled Mild.

Future work could involve working with a larger sample, and structuring the study as a randomized controlled trial. But these early results do seem promising.

Resources

Find out what we did at the Mood Nudges workshop for Geek Mental Help Week hosted by Manchester Girl Geeks.

Mood Nudges website and daily blog: http://moodnudges.com/

Moodscope (free and paid options): https://www.moodscope.com/

Geek Mental Help website

Geek Mental Help on Twitter

Thanks to Mark Brown aka @markoneinfour and my brother Ellis for helping me develop the workshop format.

Stand up to your public speaking fears

Standard
John Cooper of Comedysportz

John Cooper of Comedysportz

I’m not someone who has a ‘bucket list’ as such. But I am a great believer of putting yourself outside your comfort zone, especially if it helps further your ambitions.

Public speaking is one the areas I’d love to improve in. I’ve done a few bits and pieces for Manchester Girl Geeks but would like to build the confidence to give longer talks and workshops.

This week, I stretched myself by signing up (and showing up) to John Cooper’s ‘Present Yourself’ workshop in Manchester.

John is a stand-up comedian, writer, illustrator and part of the Comedysportz line-up of talent.

I met him a few weeks ago at Bliss Group‘s ‘Laugh Your Head Off’ workshop where I enjoyed a brief comedy writing exercise he shared with us.

I had so much fun with that I decided to brush up on my presentation skills with John’s public speaking workshop which builds confidence by using a variety of games and activities.

It was great to join a mixed group of men and women of all ages, backgrounds and reasons for wanting to develop their public speaking skills and confidence.

Here’s a few things that we tried out at the workshop.

Danish Clapping

Fast action hand clapping game done in pairs.  The rules are very simply, when your gestures match you high five your partner. Sounds simple right? Try doing this at high speed with someone you’ve not met before – a great ice-breaker high energy and lots of fun!

There are also more advanced variations of the game with multiple players, but to see what we did at the workshop you only need to watch up 1m 14s – after that it goes into some more complicated options!

Speak for a minute

Each of us were invited on stage to talk for a one minute on a subject of our choice. Because of the small group (15 of us) and John’s use of games and activities as a warm up, everyone felt comfortable (enough) to get up on stage and have a go.

The interesting thing about ‘speak for a minute’ was that our performances weren’t timed. Without this discipline most of us performed for two to three minutes, something than John re-assured us was quite natural.

The spontaneity of the exercise generated a wide range of topics, ranging from grumpy bus drivers, lawn mowing techniques, beauty treatments, the futility of bacon and long-distance relationships.

I really relished the opportunity to get up on stage to try out my own material and even got some laughs which was really thrilling. Who knew my brother’s daily porridge ritual would go down so well?

OK, so what next?

1. Go to another one of John’s ‘Present Yourself’ workshops, each one is a bit different so it would be a great way to develop my skills and confidence.

2. Consider signing up for the more in-depth courses offered by Comedysportz – now just decide between improv and stand-up…

Become comfortable with being uncomfortable

This is mantra that was repeated by the guy who used to run the circuits class at my gym. I started off hating this phrase but it helped to numb the pain of squats an star jumps and I slowly bought into it.

comfort-zone

Truth.

Here are some things I’ve done in the past year which encroached on my comfort zone:

And here’s my list of ambitions from January – it’s definitely in need of a review!

“Cheer up love… it might never happen!”

Standard
13645169_10153905444583160_9080017688104286510_n

A collage of my mother’s many psychedelic photographs

“Cheer up love… it might never happen!” is a common cat-call a woman might be subjected to (almost always by a man) should she fail to wear an agreeable facial expression when out of doors.

Vagenda magazine does a pretty good job of explaining just how annoying this is, and I hated it so much I (ironically) named my blog after it.

I’m not always cheery, I have what I consider to be a fairly normal range of emotions, but I reserve the right not to be cheerful on demand.

While it might be true that many things we ruminate on allow our anxiety to grow out of all proportion, there are times where we are dealing with something grave. Something painful or difficult and inevitable – specifically something bad that will happen – but in its own way that’s ok too.

Life’s not fair!

carol-coventry-dark

Carol Ann Breen: 1st June 1947 – 22nd June 2016

My mum, Carol Breen,  passed away on 22nd June this year. She waited until we’d broken our round-the-clock vigil to finally ‘do one’. She’d also managed it through the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, though I don’t imagine that she was aware of that fact at the time.

One of the statements my mum used to come out with, far too often for my comfort, was “Life’s not fair”. I was not brought up with an expectation that life is or should be fair, which at times I found rather sad.

Cancer confidential

Around a year ago mum was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Even before a full prognosis had been delivered, she was acutely aware of the fact she might have only a short time left.

She was deeply private about her diagnosis and prognosis, and like most things in life chose to deal with the details alone.

In early days of her illness, we had hope. We researched different treatments and looked for hospitals with expertise in treating this difficult to treat cancer.

Chemo and hoping for a ‘cure’

zoe-mum

In Eaton Park with mum, spring 2016

Mum started chemo last November, it had a terrible effect her causing severe nausea and weight loss – she used to boast about how she now weighed less than me!

In January, mum decided to try some experimental surgery. The site of her tumour was such that conventional surgery was not ‘viable’, but this treatment may have reduced the size of the growth that it would buy mum valuable months or even years.

Soon after the operation it became apparent that in mum’s case it had not been successful. This is something that we accepted as part and parcel of a treatment that was in its infancy and not extensively tried and tested.

Watching the days go by

From February this year, mum’s health took a nosedive. Fortunately my brother, Ellis, had been able to take some time out to be there for her in her own home – for this I am truly grateful to him.

She was too sick to continue with chemo and pain relief took over as the main focus of managing the effects of the cancer. She was taken into a hospice to have this stabilised but was glad to be back in her own home three weeks later.

The following weeks seemed to take on a timescale of their own…

The slowness of watching a woman holding on to life, contrasted with the rapidly revolving door carrying, doctors, nurses, carers, friends and neighbours into the home.

Beauty beyond the body

boatshed

At the boatyard for Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios

One thing we were adamant that mum would do before she passed away was to visit her exhibition which was part of Norwich & Norfolk Open Studios (along with fellow artists Denise Wingrove and Joan Sandford-Cook).

Ellis and I couldn’t persuade her to go to the opening weekend. Despite this Denise and Joan sold over £150 of mum’s jewellery and photographs.

The next weekend we took an uncompromising approach – we told mum she HAD TO get ready for the exhibition. Our usually stubborn mother allowed herself to be cajoled into the trip.

We are thankful for the help of friends Carole and Bruce and their delightful doggies Lulu and Leo in making this happen.

In the following weeks, mum began to let go as her health deteriorated. I consider myself very lucky to have spent time with her as she edged closer to death. Within three weeks she had passed away.

Carol Breen – a lasting legacy

Mum's photos (left) with Denise's collages (right)

Mum’s photos (left) with Denise’s collages (right)

We were pleased that so many of mum’s friends could come to celebrate her life in they was she would’ve wish – with wine, art, flowers and laughs.

Her digital photography was really something. You can view much of her wonderful work on Flickr – but she was also a talented silversmith, potter and sculptor.

She was also huge reader and we made sure that her precious collection of art books were given to artist friends in return for donations to two local charities.

The last word…

hearse

With the funky gold Buddhist hearse we booked for mum (left to right) Ellis, Karen, Zoe and Linda.

I miss my mother terribly, even the times when she told me that life wasn’t fair!

I hope that I have inherited some of her creativity and resourcefulness, and I am blessed that I will soon be able to decorate my own home with  many of her artworks.

Thanks to everyone who cared about and for Carol, I’m not going to name names because you know who you are.

And. To anyone, anywhere who utters the words “Cheer up love, it might never happen!” to a woman going about her own business, I’d like to extend a swiftly delivered two fingers on behalf of my mother!

Cheer Up Love…

Standard
norwich-newyork-flare

In the business lounge of Norwich International Airport

Dear CheerUpLove.com,

I’m sorry I’ve neglected you. I’ve been busy, but that’s not the only reason that I’ve not visited you. True, I have been spending more time in Norwich of late, and granted, I’m working on an exciting new project.

I’ve been off courting inspiration at Thinking Digital London and Manchester’s Future Everything ideas-fests. And I’ve had some really interesting thoughts, which are currently in the incubation stage so not quite ready for you yet!

I have been enjoying doing my work as a board member of digital inclusion charity Tinder Foundation (completely unrelated to the app!).

painting-bannerI’ve not shared ‘My Week In Happy’ for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t felt happy.

There is some sadness, but I don’t want that to get in the way of talking about the good things. Indeed, it’s possibly more important than ever to focus on the positive.

I have a few exciting projects in the pipeline, some of which I’m keeping to myself for now! In the meantime, I’m sharing with you some paintings which I unearthed in my archive (under bed storage).

I’d all but forgotten these colourful pieces and I plan to display them in my apartment. I can’t believe that I’ve already been here for a year – I feel so lucky!