Posts By admin

human connection technologies

Photography is still more powerful than video

analog will always be more powerful than digital


don’t confuse the actuality with the possibility

analog reality is possible in the virtual world. As it were, we’re all just bits of energy anyway…

There are technologies which provide connection portals between points in
the real world, i.e. photo sharing applications, video conferencing
applications, e-mail.

Then there are technologies which somewhat virtualize and abstract and enhance the
real world, i.e. message boards, which serve as both communication medium
and repositories of information, thereby facilitating social

And then there are completely virtual worlds which provide a deep shared
experience between participants, thereby facilitating connectedness.  These
are realities such as Chess, Checkers, tennis, World
of Warcraft, Minecraft.  These realities consist of an abstract reality in
which people can share experience and interaction.  The ‘work’ that gets
done in abstract realities is not directly useful or applicable to the
‘real world’ reality, but the shared experience and shared interaction is
vitally important because it provides an experience of connectedness
between the participants.  The social connection and solidarity does
transfer from the virtual world over to the real world.

Minecraft is interesting because as a 3D CAD system, it could be used to
re-create a virtual ‘copy’ of a real world space which would be topographically
accurate, so it could emulate some of the reality of the real world, and
assist with visualization, orientation for members of the real world space, and planning of
topography and layout.  But the main value of Minecraft is in
the social connection and solidarity which it enables.

A BBS is can facilitate collaboration for people, both on-site and off-site,
as even on-site, not everyone can be in the same place
at the same time, and not everyone can have a photographic memory to
remember what all is being worked on, and what is on hold, and what
various options are.  Obviously a group doesn’t cram everything into a
BBS, but a BBS can be useful in its own way, in the same way that a
grocery list can be useful for not forgetting important things when you go
grocery shopping.

Useful in different ways is a text-based chat room such as IRC.  In my experience
text-based chat can be extremely effective for supporting social
connectedness.    Most of the time there
wouldn’t be much going on in the IRC window, or, if there was something
going on, it might be on a subject you don’t connect with, and you would
not participate, you might merely interject a : -) the same way you might
just smile and walk by if you cross paths with an interaction that is old news to you.
Still the IRC window is a portal into a virtual space where there can be shared
experience and resulting social connection.  Some of the real world does
bleed into the virtual world, in the bits and pieces of real-world
information that people discuss.  So this mix of real-world information
and connectedness from shared virtual experience is a powerful mortar that
can cement connection and can allow people to feel involved, aware, and

Another obvious platform for social connectedness is Minecraft.  It might be hard
to imagine busy people hanging out on a Minecraft server, as this is not something
that lends its self to multitasking very well, and the obvious reaction to
this idea is something along the lines of ‘why would I spend time working
in a virtual world when there is real-world work to be done.’  Of course,
the reason someone would do this is to relax.  Most people don’t work 100%
of the time, people need a break that allows them to engage in something
different.  Minecraft is no less of a challenging puzzle than a game of
chess or checkers, and Minecraft can be a solo experience, or a shared
experience, or BOTH… (you can build something alone when you feel like
being alone, and later on you can show people what you built when you feel
like social connection.)

So as to why anyone would spend time in Minecraft instead of doing
something else non-productive, the answer is that of all the
non-productive things you can do to relax and blow off steam, few or none
of these have the added bonus of having an integral social connectedness
with other people both in your local area and far from you.

One thing that would be very helpful for a Minecraft server would be a
phone conference system such as ventrillo where people can participate in
a shared phone call concurrent with their minecraft session.  You don’t do
a conference every time you are doing a minecraft session, but for
those times when you are doing a shared minecraft session where you are
directly interacting with other people in the minecraft server, the
conference call adds so much value to the experience.

Imagine Dragons _Radioactive_

The music video starts at 3:30 in the above video

Some viewers will be disturbed by the use of muppets and mexicans in the below video. Not for children.

VLOG – cleaning out the sewer

cleaning out the sewer drain yo

VLOG – 2013.04.02 – climbing stairs

VLOG – driving

Driving to the home depot store yo

Cultural paradigms are like smart phones

Cultural paradigms are like smart phones. Both are high-level
constructs in a complicated multi-level architecture. The vast majority
of high-level programming and interface design is just not done very well.

Does Brain Training really work? – PsyFile

Let’s Dance

CBC website interface needs work

Subject:   CBC website interface needs work
From:   “Elliot Smith” <>
Date:   Mon, February 18, 2013 5:46 am
To: (less)
Options:   View Full Header |  View Printable Version  | Download this as a file | | Add to Address Book


Dear CBC person:

I am writing you with a concern that more than likely isn't within your
sphere of responsibility...  I'm writing about user interface.  The user
interface for the CBC radio web site is nuts.  I'm guessing that it got
designed by a committee, I'm guessing that the design was more a product
of procedure and due process than of common sense.  If you could take a
minute to take your own personal common sense out for a spin, and examine
this question, you might find that you agree with this concern... or you
might find that you disagree...  Either way, whatever initiative you can
personally muster and bring to bear on this concern would be better than
the endless string of transfers and referrals and total lack of initiative
and ownership that I've encountered so far in attempting to bring this
concern to the attention of CBC...

What is the concern?  Well, ironically enough, my concern stems from my
interest in the CBC programme "Ideas," although, this concern probably
applies to all CBC programmes.  (I haven't actually checked as whenever I
visit the CBC web site I'm generally too distracted from fighting the
website interface just trying to find some "Ideas" episodes to have any
energy (or motivation) left over to want to explore any other CBC

I live in Chicago, and the local PBS stations broadcast your "Ideas"
programme on a regular basis.  Every now and again I would happen upon
"Ideas" whilst driving to or from my job, and I would sometimes be so
impressed with your "Ideas" program that I would go home to listen to the
entire program via your web site, and I would even sometimes e-mail a
friend or colleague a link to the "Ideas" episode in question.  There's
only one problem.  The interface on the "Ideas" web site is junk, so much
so that actually listening to the "Ideas" program poses real and
significant obstacles for most users.

To get around CBC's junky website interface, I sometimes have to download
the programme, often with the help of 'ripping' software which 'rips' the
programme from the streaming audio player, (since often no podcast aka MP3
file is available to download) and then I have to upload the program to my
own web site so that I can provide my friends with a link to an MP3 file
of the program in question.  You don't need to make life this difficult
for your listeners...

Yes, CBC's website interface is junk.  Strong language, maybe.  But it is
what it is.  This is how I, as a listener, feel about the CBC website
interface...  I would venture to say that many of your listeners who have
ever tried to download a simple podcast from your website probably feel
the same way:

There is on your web site what I would call a 'streaming' player.  This is
the player that pops up in the listeners web browser when they click on
the "listen" link for a programme...  This unfortunate 'streaming' player
doesn't provide random access to rewind or fast-forward the programme...

Perhaps some of you are old enough to recall the cassette tape, and before
that, the record player.  Imagine if you will, that you have ordered a
copy of a CBC "Ideas" episode, and you have received it on cassette tape. 
Imagine playing it on a cassette tape player.  Imagine being distracted
whilst listening to the programme, hitting "stop," answering the phone, or
doing whatever, and then coming back to the programme later on.  Now what
do you want to do?  Do you want to hit play and resume listening where you
left off?  No... You want to hit "rewind" and go back about 30 seconds or
so to re-find the context, the overall place where you left off...  With a
cassette tape, this is easy to do.. the longer you hold down the rewind
button, the further back you go in the programme...

Now, try doing this in your streaming audio player on your web site.  It's
sort of possible, but it's clumsy as all hell.  Instead of being able to
rewind a precise amount, proportional to how long you hold down the rewind
button, you are only able to rewind a random amount, by sliding the caret
on the slider which is so sensitive that the slightest twitch of your
mouse pointer moves it several minutes too far one direction or another...
You have to repeat this process of rewinding and fastforwarding random
amounts until you get lucky and you find the point which you are seeking,
or, more likely, until you get lost and frustrated.

Congratulations.  Decades after the advent of the analog tape recorder,
you've found a technology which is substantially inferior.  The low cost
of this digital technology as compared to the more expensive analog
technology of the tape recorder means that you can now saddle ALL of your
listeners with this stupid interface and the unfortunate listening
experience that comes with it.

This inability to easily rewind the audio is but one example of the
inadequacy of your streaming audio player.  There are other specific ways
in which your streaming audio player produces an unfortunate listening
experience.  I won't bore you (and myself) with an in-depth explanation of
every way in which your streaming audio player falls short.

User interface design is both a science and an art.  Think of it like
building design... There are certain basic rules... (stairs have to be
spaced evenly, one step should not be shorter than the other steps... hand
railings need to be at a certain height to be of use to most people...
doorways have to be a certain minimum width and height, etc etc...)  There
are books of arcane rules about building design...

My purpose is not to write a book for you.  My purpose is to merely point
out that it's quite apparent that whoever puts together your web site
needs to find a book on user interface design, and read it...  That would
be a start.  User interface design is both a science AND an art, but to
start with, how can you impart any sort of artistic sensibility into the
design when it's so fundamentally flawed to start with....

None of these problems with your streaming audio player would be a problem
if you simply made the episodes available to download, in a standard file
format, so that your listeners could listen to the radio programs using
their own software.  There is software out there that doesn't suck, and
even if CBC doesn't avail its self of such software, many of your
listeners do have decent software at their disposition.  To be able to use
their own decent quality listening software to listen to a CBC programme,
all your listeners would need is a copy of the programme in a standard
file format, such as MP3.

To your credit, it is possible to download an MP3 file of some of the
"Ideas" episodes.  But only some.  Invariably, it's really hard, and
sometimes impossible, to find the MP3 download for a particular episode,
especially the episode that most recently aired.  You have the proprietary
stupid streaming audio player copy right here on your web site, and
meanwhile, the MP3 download copy is... completely elsewhere on the web
site, and, I might add, not easy to find.  An abundance of links to
"download podcasts" turn out to be teasers that are dead ends which DO NOT
in fact allow the listener to download the desired podcast...  What...
the... hell?  Seriously?  Words fail me at this point.  To explain to you
how this is unacceptable is like a traffic cop trying to explain to a
pedestrian how failing to use the crosswalk to cross a busy street is
unacceptable.  If you don't understand the concept innately, then you're
probably drunk.  Or high.  Or both.

Yes.  I know that CBC is on iTunes, and that your radio programmes are
apparently available to download there.  No, this is not a solution for
many of your listeners.  Most people in the world don't have an iTunes
account.  iTunes is a proprietary 'network.'  iTunes is not the same as
the internet.  Out here on the internet, there are various standard file
formats which afford maximum compatibility with the software and hardware
that your listeners have at their disposition, and one of those formats is
the MP3 format.  Your "podcasts" are nothing more than MP3 files.  This is
great.  This will work just fine for all of your listeners.  Now, if
somehow, someone at CBC could realize that anywhere in the interface where
there is an option to bring up a programme in that unfortunate proprietary
steaming audio player, there should also be an option to download the MP3
file of the same programme, without having to go on a wild goose chase for
said MP3 file... if someone could just realize this... and then if said
someone could just act on this realization... then listeners could
actually... listen to your programmes a hell of a lot more easily, with
absolutely minimal frustration and difficulty.  Hey.  What a concept, huh?
 If anyone could implement this, I'd appreciate it.

I've been complaining about this for a while, but, evidently, CBC doesn't
respond to listener complaints and suggestions, or, perhaps, the process
that created the failed web site interface is the same process that
processes listener feedback.  Hence the reason why I have circumvented
your listener feedback process and I've gone in search of contact
information for people who might actually get the importance of not having
substantial barriers between listeners and the programmes they want to
listen to.

Best of luck,

-Elliot Smith, interface wonk

Ideas — Paperback Love


Toronto writer Erika Blair (a.k.a Greg Kelly) explores the myths and realities of romance fiction in 1992.

download mp3:

Bertrice Small:

I think the reason that women read romance, and this goes for any of the subgenres within the genre, is that women are looking for a happily ever after, we give you boy meets girl, they fall in love, and they end up one way or another happily ever after, and women want this, and I think men want this too.  No, I don’t think romances create wild expectations.  The wild expectations that most women have are to find the right man, to have a happy home, to possibly have a good career.  The one thing I think it gives them to shoot for is that they see in the better of the books written in this genre that there can be normal relationships between men and women, and I think that’s something in this day and age to shoot for.


David Reef:

One understands perfectly well that the feminist revolution, that is, women in the labor force, women in the professions, is one of the great advents of the 20th century, and even the romance novel is going to reflect it to some extent.  That is to say, a new set of perhaps more progressive cliches have replace an older set of more reactionary ones seems to me perhaps a slight improvement but scarcely anything to crow about.  I think the interesting criticism of romance novels is not that they are a particular kind of fantasy, but that they are completely unreal.  The trouble with this work is that it’s psychologically reductive, that it pedals notions of how life works out that have nothing to do with how it works out even when it works out well, there’s no notion of the tragic, there’s the disaster: he leaves her, she doesn’t get the job, whatever the formula is, there’s no notion that things are difficult, that people age, that life is complicated, that it’s full of salt as well as sugar.  It seems to me that that’s what’s wrong with these books, not whether they have the correct line on women becoming partners in law firms.


David Reef:

One of the things that distinguishes good writing from bad writing in English is simply the good writer’s ability to be spare with the details, to know when the reader can do the work.  The romance writer will never do that.


Angela Miles:

I think we have to look at this fantasy, and also look at the reading, the huge amount of romance reading that women do, as a very successful coping mechanism in very very difficult situations.  In dialogue with readers I find that very often they will have periods of intense romance reading [which] may coincide with the birth of their first child, or having three children under five, or being an undergraduate, and with women the kind of pressure tends to be a pressure where they can’t justify taking time for themselves.  Women have said to me they’re better than drugs and alcohol.  They serve the purpose of escape.

David Reef:

I think if you look at these not as books but as products, or if you like as comic books, you’ll get a much better sense.  No one is surprised that in Japan these things called Manga which are these mass circulation comic books, sort of softcore porn slash adventure comic books are read by millions of people.  It appeals to our baser natures, and that’s what Hollywood does, and that’s what romance books do.  You know, if you said unhappy people also like to eat vast quantities, they like to stuff eclairs into their mouths, I really don’t think that anyone except perhaps an eclair manufacturer would suggest that this was very good for them or was to be encouraged or had some political justification.  I still maintain that they are, however consoling they may feel, they’re a kind of false consolation, and like any opiate they make you feel worse in the long run.

Angela Miles:

One of the needs that women have is a need for nurture, really. It’s something that I would say most women in this society are deprived of and really can’t expect after a fairly young age. Our society is structured in such a way that women give that out to children and to men, and really can’t have much expectation of getting that back, and the romances are full of males nurturing females.  The heroes are always independent, that is, not dependent and not requiring nurture or a lot of care and attention from the woman, but are in turn paying a lot of attention to her and nurturing her.  Now, once you’ve said that the hero is a mother figure, it shrieks out at you, you read him being bossy and exasperated in ways that are very much like a mother.  Occasionally I’ll find myself longing for that feeling of escape.  I don’t particularly resist that longing because what the romance fantasy shows when it’s analyzed in terms of an understanding of the hero as a mother figure is the depth of that need and the potential for social change when we can recognize that our nurture does come largely from women, and that we need to in fact develop our woman identification and our woman power.