Posts tagged “emergency”

ChittahChattah Quickies

Ferreting Out Fake Reviews Online [New York Times] – We recently worked with a client exploring how online reviews impact purchase decisions. It’s a fascinating, emergent space . Our focus was more on using reviews than creating reviews but we surfaced a lot of insights around authenticity and more importantly, credibility (choosing who to believe is fundamentally different than identifying what is “fake”).

“For $5, I will submit two great reviews for your business,” offered one entrepreneur on the help-for-hire site Fiverr, one of a multitude of similar pitches. On another forum, Digital Point, a poster wrote, “I will pay for positive feedback on TripAdvisor.” A Craigslist post proposed this: “If you have an active Yelp account and would like to make very easy money please respond.” The boundless demand for positive reviews has made the review system an arms race of sorts. As more five-star reviews are handed out, even more five-star reviews are needed. Few want to risk being left behind. Determining the number of fake reviews on the Web is difficult. But it is enough of a problem to attract a team of Cornell researchers, who recently published a paper about creating a computer algorithm for detecting fake reviewers. They were instantly approached by a dozen companies, including Amazon, Hilton, TripAdvisor and several specialist travel sites, all of which have a strong interest in limiting the spread of bogus reviews.

Curator Andrew Robison decides what goes into National Gallery’s emergency box [WaPo] – Extant Cold War scenarios are aging out faster than naming your kids after soap opera characters, meanwhile there’s an overwhelmed-by-stuff story lurking in here. What would you take from your house if you could take 3 things in 30 seconds? If you could take 20 things in an hour? If you had three days to pack a large duffel bag? These decisions are terrifying ones and for all our curation, enthusiasm for collection, etc., the accumulation of analog and digital artifacts alike is continually proving to be one of the defining problems of our time.

But in an emergency, not everything can be saved, and so he carefully ranks which works should be spared. The Canaletto is an obvious candidate for his top-priority list of 74 works on paper, but if it is included, something else has got to go. In 1979, with Washington worried about 52 hostages in Tehran and terrorist threats at home, Robison’s boss asked him to create a big container for works of the highest value. If catastrophe hit, the container could be spirited away to an undisclosed location. Today, Robison has seven boxes in two separate storerooms – four for European holdings, three for American. These do not include the museum’s 10,000 photographs, 3,800 paintings and 2,900 sculptures, outside of Robison’s purview and mostly too big for any mad dash out the building. In the two storerooms that Robison asked not be photographed or their locations disclosed, the black, cloth-lined boxes, each the shape of very large books, bear the label “WW3,” drawn in calligraphy. These in-case-of-World-War-III containers lie ready for any possibility, and in Robison’s absence, security guards have a floor plan that shows their exact location, like an X on a pirate map.

Was It Real for You, Too? – New York Times

NYT op-ed piece relates what happens when a near-emergency on a flight turns into fodder for reality TV

Flight 1004 made its careful descent. Later, a Southwest official would explain to me that after takeoff, the control stick in the cockpit had begun to shake violently – the universal warning to pilots that a plane is about to stall. To the captain, the jetliner seemed to be flying fine. But the shaking stick would not stop. We had reversed our course; it would turn out that an angle-of-attack measurement vane on the exterior of the plane had broken, and the pilots were receiving a false indication of the impending stall. But neither the crew nor the passengers knew that at the time.

We landed, to the audible relief of those on board, pulled up to the gate, and – before the captain could tell us what had gone wrong – four people entered through a jetway. One held a television camera; another began handing out release-permission forms.

The captain – referring to the camera crew – told us: ‘They’re ours.’

The television people were from an entertainment series called ‘Airline,’ which runs on the A&E cable network. The program is one of the many so-called reality shows – nonfiction. Highly stylized, accompanied by a soundtrack of guitars and percussion instruments, ‘Airline’ weaves in and out of several stories at Southwest Airlines each week.

Five minutes earlier, we had been holding our breaths. Now the camera was rolling; as the captain stood in the aisle and explained to us about the aborted flight, the lens pointed over his shoulder, catching our expressions.

We had already become a plot point – it had happened just that swiftly. The realness of the trepidation we had felt in the air had seamlessly been turned into reality, that parallel but separate new state. The clammy uncertainty that had filled the plane was even now being packaged as entertainment, with a beginning, a middle and an end.

We hadn’t been given permission to stand up yet, and no one had aspired to be a part of this, but the production had commenced. It felt oddly familiar, and it was, because permutations of it have been around us for a while now: 911-call audiotapes with the anguished sounds of people in the worst moments of their lives, their recorded voices involuntarily played on TV and radio for the divertissement of strangers; surveillance videotapes from brutal convenience store robberies and shootings, routinely televised for all to watch; children being beaten by school-bus bullies, caught on video, broadcast nationwide if the images are gripping enough. Life as a carnival sideshow.

Auditory Experiences

Two experiences of note with audio

i) Continental Airlines shows ads on their flights, before they begin the in-flight programming. In other words, through the regular audio system, not the headphone systems. The ads are very very loud. Painfully loud. You’re strapped into your seat and you can’t get away. The screens drop down, the audio starts. You have nowhere else to look and even with my fingers in my ears I could hear every damn noise in the Verizon and Are We There Yet? ads. Blecchgh.


ii) Walking through Midtown Manhattan this morning, I saw the all-too-familiar emergency-vehicle-gridlock scenario. An ambulance or fire truck is rushing somewhere, sirens wailing, but there’s nowhere for them to go – the lanes in front of them are blocked, so they sound the air horn, over and over again, to very little avail. Only this time it was slightly different – the ambulance in question had a modified type of siren, akin to the “wheep-WHEEP” they sometimes use as a honk, but it was almost verbal in its wide range of fluctuations. There was a large “vocabulary” if you will, and it seemed to convey more urgency, rather than rote pressure. I’m sure there is a human-factors alarm attendance specialist who designed this stuff (or at least who has written about it somewhere), but I’d never heard of it or heard it. I’m sure that eventually people will become used to it and tune it out, but since it was new to me, it caught my attention.


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