Posts tagged “kindle”

Curating Consumption

More observations and stuff that Beth and Steve have assembled over the past few weeks.

Can’t get there from here
This is such a fundamental usability issue I have to think there’s something wrong with my iPad or the Kindle app. Which operation is not supported? Buying this book. That’s right…click on that inviting little link down there that says “Buy Now” and get this error. Okay, this is Amazon taking a swipe at Apple (“Mo way you’re getting 30% of our revenue for something on the Kindle!”) But I’m not sure the average user will get that. They’ve helpfully provided another link for me: “What? That Buy Now link that should take you to iTunes to purchase this book doesn’t work? Goodness! Well, how about you See details for this book in the Kindle Store!” Nope – no mas. That operation isn’t currently supported either. So two lovely, juicy links tempting me to buy this book with no way to act [Conceptual sidenote: This would be an ideal design for many vices if they could tempt you but never give you the ability to follow through…the beer that can’t be opened, or the hermetically sealed chocolate bar]. I imagine there’s a product team somewhere at Amazon scratching their heads wondering why sales aren’t tracking but see an astronomical number of clicks on their buy links.Hint: we users will keep clicking thinking we must be doing something wrong, thinking “surely both buy options aren’t dead ends”. When we realize that they are, we get frustrated and take our own stand, in this case simply not buying. /BT

Two is better than one?
In nearly every bathroom I’ve been in (in the US at least) there are at least two soap dispensers – one in use and the other over to the side like yesterday’s newspaper. They’re in all shapes and sizes, usually one (like this one) is discreetly attached to the sink while the other is mounted proudly on the wall. I’m guessing it was aesthetics that sold the sleek little bar peeking from the counter top, I just wonder how long it took for the folks who had to crawl under the sink and refill it to put up a silent revolt – leaving people to pump furiously at one sink, then another then another, to no avail – before management broke down and put the one on the wall. /BT

Too soon or too late?
Gangnam Style is the global sensation that ever your parents know about. I imagine the restaurant owners protest-too-much denial of cashing in on a (no doubt fleeting) trend by pointing to the district in Seoul over the song. But then why is the clucky poultry mascot doing such a distinctive little dance?

Update (June 2013) – Church’s Chicken in Canada is doing something similar (thanks, Mom!)!

The remote control that gives you a lecture in virtue
In a hotel in Melbourne, the staff have clearly become tired of people complaining. Sure it’s partly about delayed gratification but it’s also a well-understood usability problem when feedback is slower than we expect. If the elevator call light doesn’t go on, you’re going to hit it again. But the warm-up for hotel televisions is its own flavor of usability hell. Will the set turn on? Will an LED change color? And how quickly? Apparently this particular TV set is so far off of expectations than the solution was a lovely sticker appealing to your sense of decency. Whatever, that’s a multiple of 8 seconds I’ll never get back again. /SP

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Le Laboratoire des Nouvelles Lectures (LNL) – a community centered around the future of reading – This week Lift is launching a new project: Le Laboratoire des Nouvelles Lectures (LNL) – a community centered around the future of reading. LNL is an open platform designed to inspire and incubate new forms of reading experiences based on all the new technologies now available. The LNL is an initiative of the Salon du Livre et de la Presse de Geneve (the Geneva Book Fair), and is produced by LIFT, Edipresse and
  • [from julienorvaisas] Tablets Rekindle Our Love of Reading–Books, Too [Fast Company] – [MFD is used here by the survey companies Brock Associates and iModerate Research Technologies – quite a name, that one! – to signify a Multi-Function Device which includes ebook readers as well as tablets. And possibly smartphones. You know, personal electronic devices. Mobile technology. We don't know what to call things anymore. In any case, here's more research to suggest that though people enjoy reading on and read more on their "MFDs," it's an additive effect, encouraging non-digital reading activity as well. Ereading does not replace non-ereading. Reading begets reading.] Despite the fact that the survey showed MFD users had great "affinity" for their devices, "struggling to to come up with significant shortcomings to reading ebooks on them" they were also inspired to read more old-school books. Perhaps they were reminded of the pleasures of reading, and were reluctant to haul their Kindle into the bath with them for a book-accompanied relaxing soak?

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Lending Coming Soon for Kindle [Kindle Forum] – [This announcement from Amazon produced a lot of skepticism on the important caveat – that lending will be dependent on the publishers. Nice move that allows Amazon to raise their eyebrows innocently, "Oh, sure, we're allowing people to share eBooks. It's those greedy publishers that won't let you do it. But don't look at us!"] Later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.
  • [from steve_portigal] Proposing a Taxonomy of Social Reading [Institute for the Future of the Book] – [Bob Stein opens the conversation on how we can further the dialog about what it means to be social in reading. The wiki-like format he's used allows for discussion but is pretty difficult to navigate. I've linked here to the overview page that summarizes the current entries in the taxonomy] In recent months the phrase “social reading” has been showing up in conversation and seems well on its way to being a both a useful and increasingly used meme. While I find this very exciting, as with any newly minted phrase, it’s often used to express quite different things…In order to advance our understanding of how reading (and writing) are changing as they begin to shift decisively into the digital era, it occurred to me that we need a taxonomy to make sense of a range of behaviors all of which fit within the current “social reading” rubric.
  • [from steve_portigal] Cross-examining your interview skills [Slideshare] – [Discovered through Google Alerts since it quotes me, but shared here because it's a great reference for a lot of fundamental interpersonal (and other) aspects of interviewing]
  • [from steve_portigal] Some crayons belong in kids’ mouths [Seattle Times Newspaper] – [Old news perhaps, but new news to me. A surprising brand name for a beverage!] In 2003, Seay bought the Crayons trademark for use with food and beverages from someone who had been tinkering with using it with juices on the East Coast. The crayons trademark is not the same as Crayola, a company that sells a popular brand of the colorful writing instruments known as crayons. Coincidentally, another local company — Advanced H2O on Mercer Island — uses the Crayola brand name for a bottled-water line called Crayola Color Coolerz.
  • [from steve_portigal] HP’s Slate specs slated by bloggers [Boing Boing] – [As Homer Simpson said, it's funny cuz it's true] it's just a pretty keyboardless netbook. Its most interesting characteristic is a bizarre slide-out tray that exists only to display the Windows 7 licensing information. It's like something from some kind of screwball comedy about awful product design: HP was apparently obliged to do this because it didn't want to mess up the exterior with this compulsory information panel.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] – [Technology continues to trickle down, where image processing and digital printing previously associated with movie special effects and commercial printing now enable little businesses to crop up, offering fairly unique types of products] Gifts with personalized faces, including custom action figures, celebrity action figures, 3D portraits, masks, jewelry, papercraft, and ornamental heads.
  • [from steve_portigal] How to Have an Idea [Frank Chimero] – [A little comic that amuses as it inspires and teaches, suggesting that creativity is tied to doing, not just thinking or (gulp) talking. Manifests so adroitly while we believe user research really comes alive when you use it to start generating concepts for things to make and do] No one crumples a blank sheet of paper.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Medium – E-Readers Collective [] – [A Kindle feature takes advantage of the inherently digital nature of the medium, but has consequences for the experience] But many writers don’t write aphoristically, and many readers don’t read for aphorisms. In a popularly highlighted world, we all may begin to. The dotted line, like the distinctive hue or underscore that signals a word is clickable on the Web, may be a new kind of punctuation that affects contemporary style. (Amazon's most heavily highlighted books include Gladwell’s “Outliers” and Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”) Readers coming to e-books freshly purchased from Amazon might be taken aback to find them already marked up. Stumbling on a passage that other people care about, framed as though you should care about it too, can seem like a violation of virgin text. It’s bad enough that vandals have gotten to your “new” edition before you have and added emphases unendorsed by author or publisher. What’s worse is that they invariably choose the most Polonius-like passages.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] newWitch Magazine – Cutting Edge Paganism – [Seen in a "magic" shop today during a post-fieldwork ramble] newWitch is a magazine dedicated to, featuring, and partially written by young or beginning Witches, Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, and other earth-based, ethnic, pre-Christian, shamanic, and magical practitioners. Everyone from Traditional Wiccans to potion-makers to Asatruar to eco-Pagans can find something in these pages. The one thing we all have in common is a willingness to look at the world, our magical and spiritual paths, and ourselves in new ways. We hope to reach not only those already involved in what we cover, but the curious and completely new as well.
  • [from steve_portigal] Can the Kindle and Its Ilk Ease Textbook Inflation? [Village Voice] – [Thanks @dastillman] Pace offered the Kindle to students with course materials already preloaded on the device. Students had the option to buy the Kindle (at a discounted price) at the end of the course. Student complaints ranged from difficulties in taking notes to clumsy navigation controls. The electronic annotation feature was especially “slow and cumbersome,” requiring students to manipulate a tiny button to underline passages and type notes on the Kindle’s ergonomically unfriendly keyboard. The photos, pictures, and diagrams in the e-textbook were all black and white and image quality was not quite as sharp as in print….Soares found time eaten away by technical issues. Kindle books have no page numbers, so it was a challenge to get all the students on the same page. “It’s one thing to read a mystery or novel on the Kindle, but the way you read a textbook is different. You are flipping back and forth while reading, and navigation was cumbersome, even with bookmarks.”
  • [from steve_portigal] Doomsday shelters making a comeback [] – The Vivos network, which offers partial ownerships similar to a timeshare in underground shelter communities, is one of several ventures touting escape from a surface-level calamity. Vicino, who launched the Vivos project last December, says he seeks buyers willing to pay $50,000 for adults and $25,000 for children. The company is starting with a 13,000-square-foot refurbished underground shelter formerly operated by the U.S. government at an undisclosed location near Barstow, Calif., that will have room for 134 people. Vicino puts the average cost for a shelter at $10 million. Vivos plans for facilities as large as 100,000 square feet, says real estate broker Dan Hotes, who over the past four years has collaborated with Vicino on partial ownership of luxury homes and is now involved with Vivos. Catastrophe shelters today may appeal to those who seek to bring order to a world full of risk and uncertainty, says Alexander Riley, an associate professor of sociology at Bucknell University.
  • [from steve_portigal] Market researchers get new tool in iPad [] – [No doubt getting people to participate in surveys is an exercise in persuasion or seduction, but if there's a cool factor, something seems wrong to me] The gadget is luring curious consumers who've never seen one to participate in research projects conducted at shopping malls, primarily because they just want to see how it works. At many of the centers response was so good that survey takers collected the required information in about three weeks instead of the four they'd anticipated. The iPad presented its own set of research challenges. Some overheated in direct sunlight and shut down. In one case, a consumer at a mall in Rhode Island was so enamored with the iPad, he grabbed it from the interviewer and ran off.

E-books outsell hardovers

What’s there to say but, “it’s happened?” At Amazon, e-books are outselling hardover books.

Amazon hit a symbolic milestone last holiday season, when for one day its sales of e-books exceeded the number of dead-tree books it had sold.

Now the company has hit a more significant milestone, selling 143 e-books for every 100 hardcover books sold over the course of the second quarter. The rate is accelerating: For the past month, Amazon sold 180 e-books for every 100 hardcovers, and it sold three times as many e-books in the first six months of this year as it did in the first half of 2009. [via Wired]

Ironically, I just went to the Burlingame library and got myself a new library card. I loved libraries as a kid, and still do. The Kindle doesn’t have a place around it – it’s almost purely about content. But reading is so much more than the imbibing of content (see our Reading Ahead research for more about this).

Amazon’s customer reviews start to bring in some of the social aspect of reading, and it will be interesting to see whether the company goes further into the total reading experience, or remains primarily a provider of content and devices.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Google Voice Now Available to Everyone in the U.S. [Fast Company] – [Spend a few minutes with this fun, fascinating, rich infographic describing A Modern History of Human Communication] Google Voice, which began as an app called GrandCentral before Google bought it back in 2007, is a difficult beast to explain. It's sort of like a phone management system–it gives users one number which, when called, rings however many devices that user wants (cellphones, landlines, work phones, whatever). It provides an alternate web-based voice mail system which transcribes voice (sometimes well, sometimes with odd and hilarious mistakes) and pops the messages into your email for listening or reading. It's also a mobile app for Android and web (that web app can be used by the iPhone and Palm's WebOS phones) that can place outgoing calls.
  • [from steve_portigal] A Moleskine Cover for your Kindle? [Design Sojourn] – [Associating your analog experience with a digital product: sometimes it evokes relevance, sometimes it screams desperation. Moleskine?] The interesting question with this Kindle cover is whether people associate the Moleskine brand with the design of its product/cover and or associate the brand with the product’s function i.e. sketchbooks? Whether this Kindle cover makes sense or not, it is always interesting to see how brands with strong design languages leverage it on product extensions. They even have a cool design justification that does make sense: "The very idea of this new cover came from the Moleskine “notebook hackers”, who create their own custom-made accessories weaving together paper pages and digital tools. Throughout the web, hundreds of communities and discussions can be found where such Moleskine “hackers” publish their inventions. Dedicated blogs, Flickr pages, and even YouTube videos highlight the power and vitality of the Moleskine digital-analog connection."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Brains, Behavior & Design: A toolkit by graduate students at IIT Institute of Design – In the real world, people are often irrational. Over the past few decades, researchers have codified many of the patterns that describe why people behave irrationally. As researchers, how can we be on the lookout for these patterns of behavior when we go into the field? As designers, how can we use our understanding of patterned irrational behavior to help people make better choices? We are developing tools that apply findings from the fields of cognitive psychology and behavioral economics to the design process. These tools provide a head start on framing research as well as developing new strategies for solving user problems.
  • Reading on iPad before bed can affect sleep habits [Los Angeles Times] – Staring at the screen before bed could leave you lying awake. That's because direct exposure to such abnormal light sources inhibits the body's secretion of melatonin. Light-emitting devices, including cellphones and the iPad, tell the brain to stay alert. Because users hold those devices so close to their face, staring directly into the light, the effect is amplified compared with a TV across the room or a bedside lamp, said Frisca Yan-Go, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center in Santa Monica. Some say e-ink is easier on the eyes than the screen on a computer (tablet or otherwise). However, the Wall Street Journal published a report this month to the contrary. Yan-Go was eager to point out the advantages of books over e-readers. Paper books are often lighter; they can be dropped when you doze off holding them; and if they get wet, it's not the end of the world. And they won't mess with your sleep cycle…However, "Kindle is better for your sleep," Avidan wrote in another e-mail.
  • A New Character in Archie’s Town [] – A new man is moving into Riverdale, the home of comics’ perennial teenager Archie Andrews and his gang. His name is Kevin Keller, and he’s blond-haired, blue-eyed and gay. Kevin will be introduced in Veronica No. 202, in a story titled, “Isn’t it Bromantic?” The inclusion of the character meets twin goals, one real world and one in-story. “Riverdale has to reflect the diversity of the world today,” said Jon Goldwater, co-chief executive of Archie Comic Publications. “We want to be all inclusive.” Mr. Goldwater also said he’s not afraid of any repercussions. “We think everyone is going to enjoy the story,” he said. “It’s completely in the tradition of your typical Archie comic.” Dan Parent will be writing and illustrating the story of Kevin’s introduction. “Veronica is always chasing guys and getting what she wants. Who could we introduce that she could not get?” Mr. Parent said Kevin would be more than a one-off character with future stories already mapped out.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Last supper ‘has been super-sized’, say obesity experts [BBC News] – The food portions depicted in paintings of the Last Supper have grown larger – in line with our own super-sizing of meals, say obesity experts. A Cornell University team studied 52 of the most famous paintings of the Biblical scene over the millennium and scrutinized the size of the feast. They found the main courses, bread and plates put before Jesus and his disciples have progressively grown by up to two-thirds. Based on the assumption that the width of an average loaf of bread from the time should be twice that of the average disciple's head, the researchers plotted the size of the Passover evening dishes. The main meals grew 69% and plate size 66% between the oldest (carried out in 1000AD) and most recent (1700s) paintings. Bread size grew by about 23%.
  • Butch Bakery – Where Butch Meets Buttercream – "Butch Bakery was born when David Arrick felt it was time to combine a masculine aesthetic to a traditionally cute product -the cupcake. When a magazine article mentioned that cupcakes were a combination of everything "pink, sweet, cute, and magical", he felt it was time to take action, and butch it up." Flavors include Rum & Coke, Mojito, Home Run, Beer Run, Campout, Tailgate, Driller, and (ahem) Jackhammer
  • Making Design Research Less of a Mystery [ChangeOrder] – Design researchers don't work exactly like professional detectives. We don't sit down with their users and start asking them point-blank questions regarding a single moment in time, such as, "Exactly where were you on the night of November 17th, when Joe Coxson was found floating face-down in a kiddie pool?" We don't consider the users as criminals, having perpetrated crimes against the state—our clients?—that must be solved. The crimes are the points of friction that go remarked (or unremarked) about the course of our subject's lives, in using the tools that surround them, and in the myths and beliefs that drive their everyday behavior. Our methods of detection are geared towards being sponges, soaking up both the large-scale and minute details that indicate layers of behavior that may have gone unremarked in the design and everyday use of various products, services, and interactive systems.
  • The Medium – Shelf Life [] – People who reject e-books often say they can’t live without the heft, the texture and the scent of traditional books. This aria of hypersensual book love is not my favorite performance. I sometimes suspect that those who gush about book odor might not like to read. If they did, why would they waste so much time inhaling? Among the best features of the Kindleis that there’s none of that. The device, which consigns all poetry and prose to the same homely fog-toned screen, leaves nothing to the experience of books but reading. This strikes me as honest, even revolutionary….Most of these books were bought impulsively, more like making a note to myself to read this or that than acquiring a tangible 3-D book; the list is a list of resolutions with price tags that will, with any luck, make the resolutions more urgent. Though it’s different from Benjamin’s ecstatic book collecting, this cycle of list making and resolution and constant-reading-to-keep-up is not unpleasurable.
  • Human-flesh Search Engines in China [] – The popular meaning of the Chinese term for human-flesh search engine is now not just a search by humans but also a search for humans, initially performed online but intended to cause real-world consequences. Searches have been directed against all kinds of people, including cheating spouses, corrupt government officials, amateur pornography makers, Chinese citizens who are perceived as unpatriotic, journalists who urge a moderate stance on Tibet and rich people who try to game the Chinese system. Human-flesh searches highlight what people are willing to fight for: the political issues, polarizing events and contested moral standards that are the fault lines of contemporary China.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Klaus Kaasgaard: Why Designers Sometimes Make Me Cringe [interactions magazine] – [A response to Dan Formosa's piece about marketing research] There is no doubt that Formosa has been exposed to a lot of bad market research in his career. So have I. But I have also been exposed to a lot of bad design research, whether dealing with qualitative data or quantitative data. I cringe at both. And while we should point out when the emperor has no clothes in our daily work situations, it is not the bad research that defines a discipline. I have been exposed to both good market research and good design research as well and, more important, some of the most compelling and impactful research combined different research techniques for a more comprehensive and insightful outcome. That, I suppose, leads me to my conclusion.
  • How many Kindles have really been sold? (And other interesting tidbits about ebooks) [Mobile Opportunity] – Some interesting numbers about the size and dynamics of the market: sales, usage, platforms, content. One highlight is the preferred device used to read ebooks
    -PC: 47%
    -Kindle: 32% (and rising in later waves of the survey)
    -iPhone: 11%
    -iPod Touch: 10%
    -Other smartphones (including Blackberry) 9%
    -Netbooks 9%
    -Sony Reader 8%
    -Barnes & Noble Nook 8%
  • Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy [SF Chronicle] – Altruism is the whole idea behind the new charity, called the Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy. It's the brainchild of Courtney Martin, a South of Market writer who dreamed up the idea four years ago in New York and has handed out a stack of her own $100 bills every year to select good-deed doers who agree to dream up unusual ways to use the dough. Jeremy Mende took a stack of cash to Union Square and offered pairs of strangers $1 apiece if they would have one-on-one conversations with each other. Then he videotaped the conversations and made a home movie. The strangers talked to each other about sex, fireworks, banana slugs, gin, orgasms and Marlon Brando. Some of the conversations were worth a lot more than $1. The best idea seemed to come from Martin's own mother. She used her $100 to buy 400 quarters and scatter them on a grammar school playground.
  • R.J. Cutler: What I Learned From Anna Wintour [HuffPo] – Some principles of management from the director of The September Issue. We watched the film this week and highly recommend it. I thought about work as well; the film offers up lots of provocation around collaboration, artistic vision, managing teams of people, power, prototyping, and more.
    (via Kottke)

Book lovers

In Reading Ahead, our recent self-funded study on books and digital readers, we saw how much people prize the physicality of books – the tactile and kinesthetic aspects of the reading experience. One of our design recommendations was to “include the sensual” in designing digital readers.

One tongue-in-cheek example of including the sensual is this Kindle case by Busted Typewriter.

Here is a recent iteration of the same idea; this time in a case for the MacBook.

Artist Brian Dettmer creates “book autopsies” by carving away the pages of books to reveal the images inside.

Talking about the growing popularity of digital readers, one of the people we interviewed for the Reading Ahead study said, “Someday there will be this cool retro thing called a book.”

If she’s right, what else will people do with them?

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Lost Garden: Ribbon Hero turns learning Office into a game – If an activity can be learned; If the player’s performance can be measured; If the player can be rewarded or punished in a timely fashion, then any activity that meets these criteria can be turned into a game. Not only can you make a game out of the activity, but you can turn tasks traditionally seen as a rote or frustrating into compelling experiences that users find delightful.
  • With Rival E-Book Readers, It’s Amazon vs. Apple – [] – Ian Freed, vice president for the Kindle at Amazon, said he expected developers would devise a wide range of programs, including utilities like calculators, stock tickers and casual video games. He also predicts publishers will begin selling a new breed of e-books, like searchable travel books and restaurant guides that can be tailored to the Kindle owner’s location; textbooks with interactive quizzes; and novels that combine text and audio. “We knew from the earliest days of the Kindle that invention was not all going to take place within the walls of Amazon,” Mr. Freed said. “We wanted to open this up to a wide range of creative people, from developers to publishers to authors, to build whatever they like.”
  • Pushing Military Styles to a New Level of Ferocity [] – A stepped-up demand for vests, blazers and hoodies tough enough to deflect a .22-caliber blast but sleek enough for a night of clubbing suggests that body armor is not just for the security-conscious. Fake or real, it exerts a pull on those inclined to flaunt it as a flinty fashion statement. “The trend to protective gear is pretty strong right now,” said Richard Geist, the founder of Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters in downtown Manhattan. “It’s big with rappers, alternative types and even some women.” Uncle Sam’s sells protective gear to the military. But most of its clients are civilians who snap up authentic bulletproof vests for as much as $1,000 or trade down to look-alike versions stripped of their armored lining ($24).
  • ComScore Calls Shenanigans on Gartner’s 99.4% App Store Figure [Maximum PC] – Gartner says 99.4% of app sales in 2009 were from Apple. ComScore disputes the figures but Gartner stands by its determination.
  • Amazon launching Kindle Development Kit so third parties can develop apps – Active content will be available to customers in the Kindle Store later this year. Remember that unlike smart phones, the Kindle user does not pay a monthly wireless fee or enter into an annual wireless contract. Kindle active content must be priced to cover the costs of downloads and on-going usage. Voice over IP functionality, advertising, offensive materials, collection of customer information without express customer knowledge and consent, or usage of the Amazon or Kindle brand in any way are not allowed. In addition, active content must meet all Amazon technical requirements, not be a generic reader, and not contain malicious code.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Profile of Hollywood dialect coach Tim Monich – Until the advent of television news, we had little idea about how people spoke in other regions and so there was little expectation (or awareness) among viewers for authentic accents in film.
  • Authenticity in languages for science-fiction films – Among discerning science-fiction movie fans, however, expectations are more sophisticated now when it comes to alien tongues, and for that we have the Berkeley-trained linguist Marc Okrand to thank. Okrand worked as a consultant on the “Star Trek” films, and his crowning glory is the development of Klingon, the most fully realized science-fiction language devised thus far.
  • In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent – Just about everyone has heard of Esperanto, which was nothing less than one man’s attempt to bring about world peace by means of linguistic solidarity. And every Star Trek fan knows about Klingon, which was nothing more than a television show’s attempt to create a tough-sounding language befitting a warrior race with ridged foreheads. But few people have heard of Babm, Blissymbolics, and the nearly nine hundred other invented languages that represent the hard work, high hopes, and full-blown delusions of so many misguided souls over the centuries.
  • Deborah Solomon’s questions for Jeff Bezos – Q: What do you say to Kindle users who like to read in the bathtub?
    A: I’ll tell you what I do. I take a one-gallon Ziploc bag, and I put my Kindle in my one-gallon Ziploc bag, and it works beautifully. It’s much better than a physical book, because obviously if you put your physical book in a Ziploc bag you can’t turn the pages. But with Kindle, you can just push the buttons.
    Q: What if you dropped your Kindle in the bathtub?
    A: If it’s sealed in a one-gallon Ziploc bag? Why don’t you try that experiment and let me know.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Universities reject Kindle over inaccessibility for the blind – The National Federation for the Blind said Wednesday that while it appreciates the Kindle's text-to-speech feature, the "menus of the device are not accessible to the blind…making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon's Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available on the Kindle DX."

    "The big disappointment was learning that the Kindle DX is not accessible to the blind," Ken Frazier, the University of Wisconsin-Madison director of libraries, said in a statement. "Advancements in text-to-speech technology have created a market opportunity for an e-book reading device that is fully accessible for everyone. This version of the Kindle e-book reader missed the mark."

  • ‘Sesame Street’ Responds to Dispute – An executive for Sesame Workshop said a segment on the show that upset political conservatives was “equal-opportunity parody” that made fun of both CNN and Fox News. The skit featured Oscar the Grouch as a reporter for the Grouch News Network (or GNN). When his work upsets a female viewer and fellow Grouch, she tells Oscar: “From now on I am watching Pox News. Now there’s a trashy news show!” Some conservative bloggers called the comment a veiled shot at Fox News, and Michael Getler, the PBS ombudsman, wrote that “Sesame Street” producers should have avoided the joke. Miranda Barry, an executive vice president at Sesame Workshop, responded that “no political comment or comment about Fox News, subtle or overt, was intended.” Having the “grumpy, grouchy, contrarian Oscar” on “Sesame Street,” Ms. Barry wrote, “shows kids that you can listen to someone with a very different worldview, and even be friends with them, without losing your own perspective.
  • The Media Lab | Center for Future Storytelling – Storytelling is fundamental to being human: it's how we share our experiences, learn from our past, and imagine our future. With the establishment of the Media Lab's Center for Future Storytelling, the Media Lab, together with Plymouth Rock Studios, is rethinking what "storytelling" will be in the 21st century. The Center will take a dynamic new approach to storytelling, developing new creative methods, technologies, and learning programs that recognize and respond to the changing communications landscape. The Center will examine ways for transforming storytelling into social experiences, creating expressive tools for the audience and enabling people from all walks of life to embellish and integrate stories into their lives, making tomorrow's stories more interactive, creative, democratized, and improvisational.


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