Today, an “urgent appeal” was issued by Greenpeace and the collective of Ontario nurses to the provincial government, to defer discussions meant to result in the construction of new nuclear power stations in Ontario.
What sad, ignorant fools they are. Nuclear energy – though not a definitive long term solution – is an excellent intermediate measure that can be used very safely while we find better, more usable energy sources – and learn to stop being such energy hogs.
Scientific American recently reported on research on the effects of tobacco and coffee on the brain. It turns out that there’s something in tobacco and coffee that helps keep dopamine cells healthy, which means that we may be on the verge of figuring out why coffee-drinkers and smokers tend to have a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. This reinforces what I’ve always thought: value judgements suck.
Google has reported that they will no longer continue to develop its highly innovative Wave product, and that it will likely take the system down within a year. Touted as a revolution in web-based software, Wave just never caught on. There’s no shortage of opinions on the reasons for Wave’s demise, but none of them (that I’ve seen) looked at it from a designerly point of view. Hence this post.
Steven Harper’s ultracon, intelligence-free government is at it again. Der Führer von Kanada and his cronies have decided to drop the mandatory long census form that was distributed to one in five households, in favour of a different – and relatively useless – optional long form to be distributed to more people. Besides the increased environmental impact (“optional” only means that more of them will end up unused in the trash), it undermines the information-gathering that is absolutely fundamental to plan for Canada’s future. (Updated 21 July 2010.)
I recently saw a billboard that advertised the Chevrolet Malibu. The caption read: “By definition, an Accord is a Compromise.” Very funny. The ad also puzzled me, because I’d never thought the word “accord” had anything to do with “compromise.”
So I looked it up. In four dictionaries, including the Concise Oxford Dictionary, I found no evidence of “accord” meaning in any sense a compromise. Indeed, it typically referred to harmonious correspondence, or some kind of mutual agreement.
After a little Googling, I did find one site that actually uses the word “compromise” in its definition of “accord.” But that particular sense is based on the interpretation of “accord” in American Law.
If GM were advertising to lawyers, then I’d have no problem with this ad. But since it is clearly targeted at a much broader audience, it seems entirely inappropriate to focus on such a narrow – indeed, technical – sense of the word. And the tone of the ad suggests a definitive statement about the word “accord” that discourages questioning it.
I know I wouldn’t want to live in a country where everyone used language as lawyers do….
I’m not sure what to make of this – except to think that using the narrow American legal sense of a word is a really smarmy thing to do, especially in Canada. Indeed, I’d say this ad definitely qualifies for status in the weasel words lexicon.
Message to GM: go back to grade one and learn how to speak real English, not lawyer-ese. And while you’re at it, stop thinking that Canadians would know or care about American legal definitions.
If designing is a process of addressing situational imbalances (and I believe it is), then the problem I am writing about here is certainly a design matter.
I love wikis. I think they’re one of the great inventions of the Web Age and far more flexible and usable than alternatives like content management systems. Right now I’m struggling to choose a wiki to use in my work. Because I know many others have struggled like me in this matter, I offer my experience for you here as a case study of one person’s thoughts.
One year after it’s inception, foswiki is setting itself up as a great wiki engine.
A wiki is a software platform that facilitates collaborative web content development. Invented in 1995 by Ward Cunningham, this approach to content development was brought to serious public attention by Wikipedia, an attempt to create a collaborative encyclopedia of knowledge. While Wikipedia may have its problems as an encyclopedia, the software that makes it work, a wiki engine called MediaWiki, has become one of the gold standards of open source software.
A student of mine, apparently taken by my enthusiasm for design, once asked me how I had come to the field. This gave me pause, because as I tried to formulate an answer, I found myself pushing further and further into my memory. Finally, I told the student, “It’s a long story,” because I realized it all started when I played in my parents’ gravel driveway as a child.
I think the story is interesting, not because I love talking about myself, but because of how natural a progression it was. It suggests to me that we really are a blend of our basic individual natures and what experiences we’ve had.
Perhaps one of the greatest shortcomings of our modern and sophisticated society is the disparity between those who think they’re entitled to something and those who do not. Until we get this sorted, we stand precious little chance of living in a truly fair or reasonable society.
One day, I was on my usual way home, and was exiting the Yorkdale subway station to get my car. At the exit, there are two sets of double doors that swing outward. I habitually steer right through these doors to avoid foot traffic entering the station to my left. Indeed I almost always use the rightmost door. That day, there was another person just slightly ahead of me and to my left. This person went through the left mirror image door, just in front of me. She only pushed the door open halfway, which required her to step to the right as she went through and she ended up right in front of the door I was about to use.
In case you’re confused by my description, consider the image below. This is the view going in to the Yorkdale station entrance, so the door I used is the one on the extreme right. The one next to it is the one the woman used.