Tag Archives: Technology

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

The Tyranny of Battery Life

15 Dec

Or, Books shouldn’t self-destruct.

Photo credit to Mike Baird.

The other night I was in a race: me vs. my iPad’s battery life.  And I lost.

I’ve recently discovered reading on my iPad. Now that there’s an app that lets you check out library books pretty seamlessly, I’m hooked.  I checked out (is it really checked out when nothing’s physically leaving the library?) a mystery novel on Monday night, and had since spent almost all of my free time reading it.

An iPad only comes with one charger.  And they want about $30 for a second one.  As I am cheap, I only have one – it lives on my desk at work.  So there I am on my couch Thursday night, way after my bedtime but close to the end of a book – clearly it’s a legitimate excuse to stay up late.

Photo credit to RiverRatt3.

And it beeps and tells me that I’ve got 10% battery life remaining, and then only 5.  And snap, the book’s a race.  I can speed read, and with most mysteries I do. (If you don’t spend the time required to write well, I don’t spend the time required to read well – I’m looking at you, James Patterson.)  But this book is different – it is beautiful and wonderfully overwritten, clearly written by an English major.  It has sentence structure that I’ve never seen before and more m dashes than belong in any piece of writing.

Photo credit to theloushe.

It’s a book that deserves the time, but I don’t have it.  (It’s like I’ve just gotten a note: this book will self-destruct in thirty seconds.  So I’m flying through the book, picking out the subject, verb, and object of the sentence and leaving all the other words behind.  But it’s too late – and I run out.  Desperately searching for a charger that I know’s not there, the iPad dies and I’m left without resolution.  Sure they’ve already caught their guy and know who done it, but it’s that final twist, that hallmark of all good mysteries, where the information revealed in the last few pages makes you think about the whole book in a new light.  And I don’t get to read it.  At least not that night.

Books are meant to be immutable.  They’re not meant to self-destruct.  There’s something about reading that’s completely liberating – you enter a new world, and only leave when you choose to.  There’s a conscious act of leaving, that moment when you lift you head, look around, and slowly close the cover.  But suddenly, I was unceremoniously thrown out of the world that I’d been in.  Do not pass Go, do not collect $200; the book you’re reading, the world you’re in, no longer exists.

Photo credit to Gael Martin.

I’m learning to love reading on my iPad.  It’s great the gym; it’s great to be able to carry a library in my purse.  And you’d think that 10 hours of battery life would be great to.  But, I can lose myself in a book for much more than ten hours.  I can lose myself in a book for a weekend, or in a series for days on end.  And yes, that lovely and beautifully-written mystery novel that I was reading: it’s the first in a series.  So, here’s to many more battles with my battery life.  Wish me luck.

Questions of the day:  Do you have an eReader?  Have you been thwarted by the battery life?  Do I just need to suck it up and buy a second charger?


MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole.  Every day (that’s such a lie, maybe once or twice a week) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of tech, culture, or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

QR Codes and the future of technology

10 Nov
tangled technology by stuart63

Photo credit to stuart63

Or, Futurist Ramblings and a Terrible Novel Idea

I’m still working on those QR codes, so I’m still puzzling about squiggly, little boxes and what they mean for the future.  My puzzling’s been taken even further thanks to Mashable’s contest: What Will the Next 40 Years of Technology Bring?  Mashable’s giving away a shiny new laptop to the person that can come up with the best answer, and as my laptop’s been threatening an unstable hard drive of late, I’d really like to win.  (Also, I just like winning.)

I’m not a futurist, although I’d like to be.  (Best business card title ever.)  So, here’s my answer, where I think we’ll be in 40 years:

Identity by fotologic

Photo credit to fotologic

In 40 years, we’ll have a virtual layer on top of the real world that will be with us wherever we go. QR codes and location-based networks are just the beginning. First we’ll have screens that we can point at codes (although hopefully they’ll be better looking than the current black and white jumbles) and then we’ll have glasses (which we’ll wear all the time) that will allow us to see the virtual layer all around us. After that, we’ll move to contact lenses that are in all the time, so that the virtual layer will always be part of what we see. That lenses will allow us to see cont

ent (largely ad-based) that will be layered on top of everything. It’ll be customized to who we are personally and our preferences and interests. Targeted marketing will no longer be confined to a screen, but will be everywhere and on everything. We’ll see each see our own subjective virtual layer, full of feeds to which we subscribe, and ads which we’ll all (still) be trying our best to avoid.

Continue reading

QR Codes and Modern Hieroglyphics

5 Nov

Or, Beam me up, QR Code.

QR Code SignAs part of launching our new brand at work, we’re getting new business cards.  This announcement is more exciting in Oprah Voice – “You’re all getting new business cards!”  And, the new business cards will have QR codes on them.  (“You’re all getting QR codes!”)  Clearly this announcement should inspire couch jumping.  Actually, it’s inspired me to spend way too many hours staring at squiggly little boxes.

“But Maggie, what’s a QR code?”

“Thank God, I worried that your question was going to be what’s Oprah, and then I was going to worry about you.” Continue reading

Sharing Scribblings in the Digital Margins

30 Oct
#360 perhaps you do not need to write all over library books by romana klee

Photo credit to romana klee

I’ve had a hard time getting excited about things recently, but was lucky enough to stumble across Findings and its gotten my head buzzing.

The newest advancement in digital, literary culture, Findings is a website/app/digital service/what have you that allows you to share your margin notes with others across the community of readers, opening up the potential for reading to be a more dynamic and engaging experience that ever before.

WritingEven since reading Good Omens, I’ve been interested in the possibility of interactive marginalia.  In the story, a family passes a book down through the generations, each scribbling his own notes in the margins, often having contentious discussion of particular passages that last for generations.  (Yes, I recognize that that’s a very selective telling of Good Omens, but I thought it’d take too long to explain angels, demons, and the new four horsemen of the apocalypse.)

Although it’s always seemed like marginalia was a conversation, it never truly was, it was always uni-directional.  The first person that reads a book writes something and the next is left to either ignore the comment or reply to it.  (I guess the first person could then read it again and they could go back and forth ad nauseum, but books that are worth that level of attention are rare, indeed.)  So, with marginalia, as it currently stands, there’s no true back and forth; there’s acting and reacting.  But, Findings allows us to all have our own clean draft to respond to, and then the ability to selectively turn on (and off) others’ comments.

As a society, we talk about where were you at certain moments, at those historical moments that so define our collective psyche (9/11, the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall), that the divide our lives into before and afters.  But, I’d argue that there are moments in books that can be those defining moments in our lives, too.  Especially those pivotal moments in the the bildugnsromans that we read as teenagers.  The stories of growing up that are part of every high school English curriculum.  How did you feel when they murdered Piggy?  Or when George killed Lenny?  When you first read The Lottery and realized what exactly the “prize” was?   Or when Boo saved Scout?  (Personally, I was really confused on that one and had to read it over a few times before I could get passed my initial reaction: Why is she dressed as meat?)  For readers, those are defining moments, but we analyze them after the fact, in a generalized way.  Respond to the events of Chapter 5.  What was the central theme of the novel?  Was this novel romantic, realistic, or naturalistic?  Discuss.

Marginalia by serikotik1970

Photo credit to serikotik1970

I want to have conversations with people’s real honest reactions, not those that they prepare for a teacher after the fact.  I want to get to know my friends (and thoughtful strangers) through their books and through their notes.  I want to read their scribbling in the digital margins.  I’ve written that I worry that the move from paper to digital paper will fundamentally change the way that we read, that sometime tactile and beautiful will be lost.  I still fear for the loss or musty paper and old fashioned type faces, for judging a book by its weight as well as its cover, but maybe well gain something wonderful in the move to ebooks, too.  Maybe books will become vehicles for true multi-directional communication.  Just think of the possibilities for choose your own adventure books…

Questions of the day: What book moments stand out in your life?  Do you write in your books?  And why is Scout dressed as meat?


MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole.  Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

OpenGraph and Conformity

14 Oct

Or, Invasion of the Brain Snatchers

kid listening to headphones

Photo credit to vagawi

Recently, I read a post called “Is it time for an anonymity movement to challenge Facebook?”  Although the (very great) points of the post ranged far and wide, the part that stuck with me was this section about Facebook and conformity:

But having the ambition to display the whole life of their users is just insane.  Take Spotify, for example!  Sharing the music you’re listening to seems great, right?  Just put yourself in the shoes of a shy 16-year-old guy; what is he going to do to impress others and fit in?   He’s going to listen to the same music that everyone else is listening to, so as not to seem “weird” at all via his very public Facebook profile.

Imagine that he may stop listening to what he really likes because he will be ashamed to share his real taste in music, unless he is one of the rare users that figures out how to stop the feed from Spotify to Facebook.

Now take this concept and duplicate it for tastes in TV, movies, places to eat … maybe with just about everything.

Facebook is on track to homogenize society, which conversely, and ironically, may “weaken” the database that Facebook is building and the advertising targeting that they are offering! Continue reading

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