Watching the Swabians

Years ago, RIM – who developed the Blackberry and changed the world of mobile phones and email – carried out observational research on its core users. By just watching what Blackberry junkies did, they worked out that it was more than just a nifty way to keep in touch while out and about.

This redefined the role played by Blackberry. Its benefits shifted from being a device for telephony and emails to become a ‘gap filler’. When a businessman was in a queue, he’d use the dead time to do emails. When waiting at the airport, he’d do emails. Blackberry was a time-efficiency tool and downtime eradication device, not a mere mobile.

An experience, not a snack

An experience, not a snack

In recent months I’ve observed Swabians and their pretzels (yes, this is what expats resort to after so many years in Germany). I’ve come to realise from my own informal research that pretzels the way the locals make them – smothered in salt – are not just a food. As people talk and stir their drink, they toy with the salt, pick bits off, make small piles out of excess salt, line it up, or nibble at it.

I’ve always hated this excess salt and worried about its effect on my health – there’s too much of it. But when I found myself picking away at it like many others here, I realised its role is not nutritional.

Salt is part of the ‘pretzel eating experience’. At least that’s my observation.

Alex Woodruff

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