Clicker Casting
Often, we don’t simply click a remote. We click and really stick it to the TV with our wrist.

Haunted Interfaces
Much like Clicker Casting, sometimes we shake game controllers that have no motion sensors in them, like it’ll help.

The Active Companion (Phone Holding)
There’s one pocketless pair of workout shorts I own that gets me with this every time.

Fussy Owner Syndrome
"Comforting micro-gestures" with our phones serve as a comforting distraction in social situations, even when we’re four feet from a friend at dinner.

Baboon’s Face
Have you ever seen someone cover their phone receiver and their face for an entire conversation? It’s a way of hiding reactions and making a public conversation more private. It also makes everyone on the subway know that you have some secret that they probably wouldn’t care about anyway.

Low Dosage
"I’m not putting my face against that phone!" because of a) radiation b) germs c) makeup d) the carryout guy can hear me better like this e) this looks so cool.

Security Blanket
Maybe you run into a friend and someone else you don’t know, and you’re not part of the conversation. There’s an (every) app for that.

The Periscope
I’m so guilty of this one, and yet I despise it when people in front of me block the stage.

Cell Trance
When someone walks around talking on their phone in a public place, and no part of their face or body language acknowledges the public space around them. This Jamba Juice is now 50% their office.

Bag Swiping
Because nobody wants to pull their RFID pass from their purse.


I’ve never done this one before, but now that I’ve seen it, I’m going to return my iPad.

Halfway Courtesy
"I’m listening, really! Your background track is that Gotye song. I know it’s kinda old but I just can’t get enough of it. Have you seen the video? Oh, wanna watch it again?!?"

Conversation Generator
"Oh hey, check this funny thing from my Instagram/Facebook/Twitter feed that you probably don’t care about. And yes, please put a kink in your neck to get the viewing angle just right."


15 Weird Postures Forced Upon Us By Technology

Curious Rituals is a fascinating design study that illustrates all of the strange ways we bend our bodies (and our psyches) for the technology we hold so dear.

We pull a smartphone from our pocket, and it seems to squeeze perfectly well into our life. It fits in our hand. It works on a table. But is the smartphone accommodating us, or are we accommodating the smartphone?

That’s the crux of Curious Rituals, an ebook from the Art Center College of Design (by Nicolas Nova, Katherine Miyake, Nancy Kwon, and Walton Chiu) that illustrates the odd, often inhuman gestures that technology has convinced us all to adopt, and the way these practices impact our social lives. It features moves like the Halfway Courtesy—checking out a grocery store, you remove a single earbud to express some level of attention to the clerk—and the Periscope—at a concert, you lift your phone above the crowd to take a photo. Glance around the room, and you’ll see that these glowing periscopes have entirely reshaped the aesthetic of the event.

"It’s actually a chicken-and-egg situation where both the design of the object and the way we look in public influence the gesture," researcher Nicolas Nova explains, and he would know. Over five years of studying gesture interfaces at Near Future Laboratory, Nova began to notice trends—"common threads"—in how people postured themselves in response to everything from laptops to VR goggles. So he spent two months at the Media Design Practice department of the Art Center College of Design to explore the topic further.

This study culminated in a free ebook illustrated by Katherine Miyake. And despite its source in academia, the project is anything but esoteric: This catalog of digital/social gestures is so spot-on, it’s almost painful to read through. Just wait until you reach the part where someone is feigning to kill time on their cellphone when surrounded by strangers.

So try to enjoy the gallery above knowing that, for however weird you’ve been acting since getting that iPhone, well, at least you’re not alone.

Download the book (PDF), and see the blog here.

[Hat tip: Core77]

Add New Comment


  • Irene Velveteen

    "I know it’s kinda old but I just can’t get enough of it. Have you seen the video? Oh, wanna watch it again?!?"
    I can't tell you how much disinterest I have for a conversation in this manner.
    I don't give a rats-ass about your phone.
    We're human beings.
    Talk to me.

  • Bianca

    So true! I saw a guy today at a cafe and it looked like he was having an epileptic fit, but was in fact swiping through his iPhone. Oh society. 

  • what8ever

    "The Active Companion (Phone Holding)": People have been doing this since the days of transistor radios, then the Sony Walkman, then CD Walkman...

  • V2Blast

    The only actually weird one I've done is "rotilt", on very rare occasions.Also,
    I'm not sure how the author defines "natural", or "forced", or why he
    thinks technology is the only reason we might adopt some postures.

  • hpnh87

    This is interesting a sort of creative writing experiment, but the article assumes a lot about what "natural positions" are. There's one part that mentions toilets....well using a a toilet isn't natural in the first place. In fact they weren't popularized until the turn of the century. 
    The points are basically meaningless, except for providing a tongue-in-cheek kind chuckle.  

  • dolphin91

    In the self explanatory one they are using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, I have always seen this freedom of posture as a surprise feature, letting me sit with my hands and shoulders further apart and more relaxed.

  • V2Blast

     I agree with Shawn, in that if you're using a phone as an MP3 player, you hopefully have some sort of armband to tuck it into (or some other way to hold it in place). Running while holding it in your hand is pretty dumb.