Category Pop Culture

Surveillance in the Post Boston World

Granary Burying Ground — Boston, Massachusetts

What happened in Boston was a tragedy and it’s amazing how fast law enforcement was able to track down the perpetrators using public and private photos. Just because they were able to track these two via surveillance footage doesn’t mean we all need to be watched more. This simple conclusion jumping is near sighted and of flawed logic.

Surveillance only treats the symptom (more accurately the aftermath of the symptom) and not the cause (lack of community, lack of respect for life, hopelessness, chemical imbalances, etc.). Adding more cameras won’t stop tragedies like Boston it just makes finding the assailants simpler afterwards. We need to look at the tough questions, the ones that potentially stop these tragedies from happening in the first place. Ironically, the populous knee jerk solutions often only add to the root problems. Additional surveillance won’t stop Boston from reoccurring but it will bring us one step closer to Orwellian dystopias becoming a reality.

 

For a counter argument read: We Need More Cameras, and We Need Them Now posted at The Slate. Though if you read closely all the wins were after the crimes occurred, even the preventative nature is based on the fear of getting caught afterwards.

Toyota’s Intellegent Typography Experiment

This is a few years old but still pretty cool. Back in 2009 Toyota teamed up with Please Let Me Design to create this IQ Font (above) as a way to promote their new micro-car.

The idea is simple enough but the execution is really nicely done. The designers (Pierre and Damien) worked with Stef van Campenhoudt (driver) and Zachary Lieberman (software developer, using OpenFrameworks) to track the car’s path as a way to draw each letter. The resulting font is clean, quirky with lots of character and classic details. Even the “making of” (below) is fun to watch.

Pepsi Can Turned Social Nightmare

 

Came across this post late last night on Facebook. It’s from an US Military personnel in Iraq featuring a Pepsi can with a cityscape. The image was shared over 30k times by the time I saw it and none of the comments are positive for Pepsi. It goes to show the power of interpretation combined with the power of social media.

Do you find the image on the can offensive?

Ticketmaster lawsuit: Sticking it to the man…or does it

I doubt there too many people who are pro-Ticketmaster regarding this case (or in general) and that’s totally understandable their service is horrible, their fees excessive and their monopoly on shows/venues leaves us few options. Though after reviewing the class action lawsuit it seems that the winners in this case are the lawyers and Ticketmaster.

The lawyers are guaranteed to collect $16.5 million and those effected will get a credit towards their next purchase at Ticketmaster. Then there’s fine print, one can only combine 2 credits at a time (for a total of $3) and they expire in 48 months. So the more you were effected, the more you need to support Ticketmaster to collect any restitution. Makes you wonder how many other “class action” suits are nothing more than thin veils for lawyers to extort big businesses.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t approve of Ticketmaster ripping off their customers, but will this lawsuit really stop that? I think not, but competition will.

 

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Class Action Lawsuit Against Ticketmaster – Better Business Bureau

Steve Jobs – The Pot & The Kettle

No one can deny Steve Jobs did great things for Apple. Not only was he a founder, but he brought them focus and drive to create some of the most beloved/mimicked products to come out in the last few years (read: decade). Still, Jobs wasn’t living in a vacuum and as much as Apple innovated things they also took the best features from what was already out in the market.

So when I read about Jobs vent about his deep anger with Google (or his personal vendetta against Adobe) it makes Jobs look more of a petty, spoiled boy throwing a tantrum rather then the visionary we all respect him for. And it’s true in many ways Jobs was a spoiled brat with a giant frail ego, but his personality short comings are less memorable then his contributions and I hope in memory it’ll stay that way.

Jobs tears into Google in upcoming biography

Efficency vs. Happenstance

I don’t often read the news paper, you know the one actually made out of paper? I generally read my news online through feeds or links from the people I follow on Twitter and Google+. Though these are great ways to keep up with things I’m interested in, they often lack the random find or articles off my self-beaten path. I found the change of topics inspirational and puts my usual thoughts into a new context. Ironically, or just happenstance, the night before I was reading an article (online) regarding online discovery methods (search, recommendations and hierarchical) and how they limit the discovery process.

There’s got to be another way to filter through the noise while allowing the chance for random discovery. The efficiency of the current models slowly limit our chances of happenstance by only showing us things of known interest. They never would have provided me with the diversity of information I received by flipping through the Sunday paper. On the other hand, I don’t always have the luxury of time that I did today. Things like this only fuel my quest to find that something in-between.

A few buddies and I have been looking into ways to filter the noise even when it’s within our own bookmarks. I know we’re not the only ones that bookmarked something with the plan of going back sometime and then slowly forget what we’ve bookmarked or how we tagged it. Sooner or later the bookmark collection becomes a graveyard of links and a new system gets adopted. So we’re looking for a way to efficiently find what you’re looking for while providing the juxtaposition of other potential items of interest so the Sunday paper experience can continue in this digital age.

What do you use for discovery? Bookmarking, tags, existing services?

Response to “Why Facebook is the New Yahoo”

Mike Elgan wrote a nice controversial article called Why Facebook is the New Yahoo where he states:

“Sure, Facebook looks massively successful. With a mind-boggling 750 million users, the social site can do no wrong, right?

Wrong.

Look closer, and it looks like Facebook can do nothing right. The company has tried and failed to launch or integrate new services that might thrill users. But users aren’t thrilled. And now its strategy appears to be: Just copy Google+.

Don’t look now, but Facebook is quickly becoming the new Yahoo.”

Well written and catchy but if we all took a time machine back to when Google was announcing that they were killing Google Wave or when they launched Buzz the comments from the tech press focused on how Google lost it’s edge, or was confused as to where it wanted to go or simply Google doesn’t understand social.

Now that Google+ is public (beta) and making waves it seems that Google either learned from their mistakes, gained a sense of vision, everyone forgot all the shit talking that took place last year, or some combination of the three. So now it’s Facebook’s turn to feel the wrath of the tech fueled fads that are nearly as cliquish as what we see in high schools across the country. Let’s face it the popular kid can’t remain popular forever and right now Facebook is feeling the heat regardless of Google+.

With that in mind Mike Elgan makes some solid points regarding Facebook’s recent history. Their fumbled attempts to catch on to the latest trends. Their popularity shift from the wanted élite to being everything to everybody. Their struggle with the weight of their own existence. All of it dead on. Including the remarks regarding Yahoo’s struggle to find its place in the new world order. Still I wouldn’t count Facebook out of the race just yet. Google and Apple are two good examples of companies that were down but clearly not out.

RE: Why Facebook is the New Yahoo

Want to discover more music on Spotify?


If so, you’ll want to check out Spotibot.com, which uses the data of Last.fm to generate a playlist for you. Or tap into you own Last.fm account for more. After giving this a few tries I’m pretty impressed. This will definitely get me to use Spotify more.

Scams, Chain Letters and Other Pests

Every few months I get an email forward (of a forward) from family members warning me about this, that or the other thing. At times it’s just to me other times I’m CC’ed along with their entire address book. On the plus side these occurrences are happening less and less, though I hope that’s because they’re getting wise to the mass of scams out there. Non-the-less, they still happen and it makes me wonder how big of an issue this really is outside of my bubble of tech savvy friends.

Though those of you reading this are more than likely more tech savvy than world at large I’m sure you have family and friends sending you similar stuff. How do you explain to them they can Google the claims or usually even the email’s subject line to find out this scam has run for years? How often are you pointing them to Snopes or other debunking sites so it’s not your word versus the hype of a well crafted scam?

I know it’s a game of cat and mouse, once you educate the masses to verify sender & reply to email address, URL names and other tell-tale signs the scam artists add a little twist re-ensnaring the less informed. For example, the one featured above struck me as well crafted to skirt past the slightly informed as it has “bankofamerica.com” in the URL, but rather than being followed up with a “/” it’s just part of a long list of sub-domains. (I’ve removed a few characters for when some smart-ass wants to follow the link and mark the receiver’s email as valid and the receiver as gullible to scams).

If it sounds too good to be true or sounds like something that should have been on the nightly news but hasn’t it’s probably a scam. This is no different when online as it would be face-to-face though some seem to forget their sense of “street smarts” once they’re online. As a User Experience Designer I wonder what causes this difference of reaction between online and the physical world. Is it the feeling of being overwhelmed by technology? That it must be true as so many others are sharing it as truth? Any thoughts?

Ok, now send this to 5+ friends in the next 24-hours to save a young Nigerian prince in need of a new career.

All is Not Lost – OK Go’s Viral Tribute to Japan

Once again OK Go has created a great viral video experience. This time they’ve teamed up with Google Japan, director Trish Sie and Pilobolus (a modern dance troupe) to create All Is Not Lost a tribute/message to post tsunami Japan.

The entire video is shot from below making for some interesting visuals all on it’s own, but add the multi-window tiling of video and you get a crazy kaleidoscope effect. If that wasn’t enough there is the viral/personalization feature where you type a message and OK Go and Pilobolus will write it out with their bodies. Simple concept, great execution.

Technically speaking, the use of HTML for syncing multiple videos is still pretty impressive. Be forewarned that this may be taxing on older computers as I know last year’s video/experience for The Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown gave my laptop a bit of a work out. For more about how they made the video check out Google’s blog. Regardless of the technology used the most impressive thing is how this all came about as a tribute to a post tsunami Japan.

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Links:
All Is Not Lost (video)
OK Go
Pilobolus
Google’s blog
The Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown