Archive | May, 2012

Of Paradigms and Pirates

23 May
paradigm shift keyboard

Photo credit to askpang.

The other day, I talked with coworker who is retiring after 50 years at my company.  (Can we just take a minute to revel in the fact that anyone works at a company for 50 years?  ‘Cause wow.)  We talked a lot about how computers had changed the way the company operates in so many ways, from the work that we do to the ways that we interact with each other.

She’s a very nice old lady who was trying to be positive about the changes, but I could tell that, underneath it all, she blamed computers for causing change that she couldn’t keep up with.  She said that over the years, she’s learned how to use a number of programs for work, but had never figured out the computer as a whole.  Like the way you learn to say “Una mas cervasa por favor” or “Ou et les toilettes?” when you’re traveling – you know the meaning of the phrase, but don’t necessarily understand which word is which.  For her, every new program or task was another set of memorized steps – she couldn’t get to the underlying logic of it, nothing was intuitive. Continue reading

Could you break Harry Potter’s spine?

15 May

Wizard of Oz - Dorothy and Apple Tree

Would you destroy your physical book to get an ebook in return?

The other day, I was going on about the triumph of the digital form and how we should all give up or paper.  And then I got an e-mail about 1dollarscanAnd it seemed like the universe going, “Yeah, how do you like them apples?”

1dollarscan is a tech company out of Japan that does just what its name implies – scans and digitizes text, at a rate of $1 per 100 pages.  You send them your books and they scan them and turn them into ebooks, optimized for viewing on the device of your choice.  Sounds pretty great, right?  Continue reading

In Soviet Google, image tags you

14 May

Or, Why we still need image curators

Piccry Release Version 2.0Today I got an e-mail inviting me to join Piccsy, a social media service that goes live later this week.  It’s clearly a challenge to Pinterest, but combines some of the channel type features of FlipBoard.  Piccsy, the brain child of one of the vizualize.me founders, is aiming for a piece of the visual content curation space.  Why there?  It’s not a very blue ocean – but it is a very big ocean.  Why so big?  Because it’s one of the last areas of search that still requires a human touch. 

Images are a realm where computers haven’t yet caught up to people.  Google image search works because of the tags that people manually add to photos, or because of the way that people name their pictures.  The Great and Powerful Wizard of Google can’t (yet) look at an image and know what it’s a picture of.  (I know, I know, don’t end a sentence with a preposition; but “know of what it’s a picture” makes me sound like a sophomore English major.)  Google can’t read images the way it can read text.  So, while search can help us to discover images, we still need that human element.  We still need people to act as curators, telling us what an image is of, tagging it in a way that helps us to find just the perfect image to match our search terms. Continue reading

Would a digitized rose smell as sweet?

10 May

It’s the end of paper… I’m not sure if I care.

Wedding invitation supplies

Photo credit to y-a-n.

The other day I got a wedding invitation… via Facebook message.  My reactions, in this order, were:

  1. Friend 1 and Friend 2 are getting married!
  2. They like me enough to invite me?!
  3. A wedding invitation via Facebook message – that’s just wrong.
  4. Of course they sent the invitation via Facebook, it’s the only way that they have of getting in touch with me.

For the vast majority of people in my life, Facebook is the only way that I have of getting a hold of them, and vice versa.  I don’t keep Outlook or Google contacts; I definitely don’t have a phone book.  My phone is synced to Facebook, so it automatically grabs my friend’s numbers and e-mail addresses.  Directly or indirectly, my knowledge of how to get in touch with people stems from our Facebook connections. Continue reading

On Representation in a Digital World

9 May

Maybe I should represent this post with a printing press.

Williamsburg recreated printing press letters

Recently, I’ve been struggling to get my head around how we, graphically, represent our work.  I work at an accounting firm, and was asked to assist with the design of our new trade show banners.  There are a lot of schools of thought as to what should go into a trade show display, but they all seem to agree that, within a second of looking at your booth, someone should be able to understand what you do.

I wanted to find an image that was shorthand for accountant – the way a wrench means a mechanic and a stethoscope means a doctor.  So, I thought about everything that we do and tried to match each task up with an image.  Turns out, they’re all the same image: someone hunched over a computer.  For anyone who works in my company, from a tax preparer to someone in HR, a pictographic representation of their work would be the same – for me, in the marketing department, too.  I didn’t want to put a picture of someone staring at a computer screen on our banners (didn’t seem too inviting), so I copped out and put “CPAs and business consultants” in big letters with pictures of our shiniest, happiest team members. Continue reading

You have the like to remain silent

8 May

Anything you like can and will be used against you in a court of law

Image

Yes, this is a very dramatic picture for a post about Facebook, but I never get to use the pictures that I took at Williamsburg.

Four score and seven days ago… was the last time I updated my blog.  Okay, so it was probably more like ten score and seven days ago, but that’s not nearly as auspicious an opening line.  And auspicious opening lines do relate to the subject at hand: freedom of speech, more specifically if a like constitutes speech.  So really, freedom of likes.

The New York Times is reporting that, in a case that’s sure to go up on appeal (seriously, anyone want to bet on this?) a judge found that:

“Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient.  It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection … For the Court to assume that the Plaintiffs made some specific statement without evidence of such statements is improper.”

Here’s my question: since when does speech need to be substantive to be protected?  I say insubstantial things all the time…  bippity boppity boo, see?  So, what was the like that warranted such a hubbub?  A man was fired from his job at a sheriff’s department, the reason: creating discord in the office by liking the sheriff’s political opponent’s Facebook page.  Okay, probably not the most savvy thing to do, but not exactly the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theatre.  Continue reading

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