One of the building blocks of futures work is the task of making the present seem strange so that one can see ways in which assumptions about the everyday might change in future. There’s a good example of this process in a short photo-essay courtesy of International Herald Tribune which illustrates the work of the Cornell University economist Robert H Frank on the economic, social, and anthropological roots of design, well worth five minutes of your time.

Answers to questions (from a US perspective) as to why CD cases are smaller than DVD cases, why men’s clothes have button on the opposite side from women’s clothes, and why you can never find a taxi in the rain. Obviously if your appetite is whetted there’s more in his book The Economic Naturalist, and in this short New York Times article, and on his personal website.

Thanks to core 77 for the tip.

When I sent this internally at work, one of my colleagues, Jake Goretzki, alerted me to a ‘raff’ of his on a blog (a raff being halfway between a rant and a riff) on a similar theme; why British bathrooms have two taps.