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Thoughtless acts

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

Things used in unintended ways usually indicate something about people’s needs. -- Thoughtless Acts, IDEO human factors pioneer Jane Fulton Suri


Research Goal and Method

This project is to discover, observe, and understand affordances in our environment. According to Perceptual Psychologist James J. Gibson, an affordance is the act of “perceiving the environment in terms of its possibilities for action.” For this project, I found evidence of how people respond to and reason with their environment in order to cope, the ways they adapt, exploit, and react to the conditions and made inferences about rationales behind their thoughtless response that enable certain actions, meet a need, make things more tolerable, efficient, or convenient, etc..

Research tools and methods:

  • AEIOU shot list and observation guide

  • Caption writing

  • Inference making


Thoughtless acts

Co-opt: divert to or use in a role different from the usual or original one; adopt (an idea or policy) for one's own use.

Place makers in the "pencil case"

Having poker as number cards in restaurant


Exploit: make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).


Found trash cans everywhere

Being rooting in this spot for a few year, I enjoyed my time watching people passing by alone for work or course, coming in and out of restaurant in Guadalupe street, listening to their talk about today’s assignment, tomorrow's interview, and people in their block list. Their stories for me are pieces of various exotic information about human world, which colored my boring life as a bored tree. But I do not always like some of them, they do not share their stories and use my cozy place as trash can. I have a monster energy drink can and a broken beer bottle today from a busy student just got out from the bus and a drunk girl came out of a bar. He has a large backpack and was holding the can in his hands. I did not see him looking around to fine a better place for his completed drink, but his view just came across me and the next second, he bowed down and left the can under me. Then he left. I believe students in this university — I heard that it isa nice one— have received education about how to dispose used material properly, because I always hear from my bird friend Lucy sharing how many different cans they have to throw different stuff in every corner of the city for environment protection. This gut disappointed this planet.

Although I am not a talkative tree, I still have more to complain just because they lady is not very polite to me. She came out with a bottle of beer in her hand, and she still have a half of the drink left. She walked around me and kept talking over the phone, or I should say shouting.  In a while, she squatted down with her back against me. her voice were turning off, and suddenly she smashed her bottle on the floor. I am not sure if this lady got hurt, but I heard the scream from my earthworm friend Jimmy. I still hope this lady can feel better, although she does not look like care about us that much. I just do not know what I can do. I cannot stop or talk to human. I wish they can feel me, and feel us.  

Where to sit, stand, and sleep

Austin is an exclusive city where you can always find a place to accommodate you even on the street. I have being traveling on my bike for seven days, I wanted to bike cross Texas while having being planning for this trip for a few months. I started from Houston, Austin is my third stop after Dallas. I love the art and musical culture here, enjoy every unique painting the streets, and hope to be a part of this energetic city in the future. But not every trip is always as I expected. In my last day at Austin, I lost my phone and wallet in the noon. I cannot figure out if they got stolen in somewhere or I just dropped them by mistake.

I tried to search for them. Going back to the last restaurant I went, looking down alone my way to see if they got dropped on the street. I did not find any clue.

I think I will just find a nice person and borrow the phone to call my father, probably let him place a place for me for tonight. But I am just too tired now, after searching for the whole day, it is almost sun set. I know sleeping on the street is not a very decent manner but that is the only thing my body want to do. I found a great place with spots that can just accommodate me. I am falling asleep after putting my coat under my body and parking my bike near me. Well, it is not that bad, I can still get a place to sleep, and everything will be great once I wake up and get contact to my father.

Where to keep your stuff

Where to hang the towel using the can

Where to hang towels in kitchen

Hang the bag without a nail

Hangers on the door for bath towels

Broom container

A lid as a container

Spoon and fork stand

A staw container

Fix the tires with bricks

Post your poster without a pin or sticker

A tissue as a cup coaster

A pot as a paper weight

There is always a way to make it fit -- folding larger cardboard to put it in a trash can

Adapt: make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify.

A handmade sign stand -- you can use chopsticks to do anything

Having the laptop case as a mouse pad

The position to park the skateboard

A blackboard on a yoga mat

Cable collector on vacuum cleaner's body

Increase friction to fix the rope

Conform: comply with rules, standards, or laws.

Finding a private space to talk in public

A spoon cross in kitchen

A container stack

Park scooters in parking lot

Alignment of stickers on the window of a restaurant's door

Align everything on the table to the wall

One section one sticker

No trash on the street but in the shadow

Let trash bins stand against the wall

Aligning and centering on the table

signal: indicate a state of affairs.

A standing bill folder


Familiarity and adaption of rules effect people's behaviors knowingly or unknowingly.

People making connections between similar shapes and apply the usage of one to another.

Following existing rules is more effortless comparing to creating new way of action.

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