Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Why eBooks must fail

Monday, July 27th, 2009

John Naughton, writing in The Guardian, identifies excellent reasons why eBooks must fail:

I own my copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four and can do with it what I wish. I can, for example, lend it to friends, family and students. I can, if I wish, tear out pages and send them to people in the post, or stick them up on noticeboards. I can sell the book – if I could find a buyer. I can donate it to the local Oxfam shop. I can read sobering or inflammatory passages from it at political demonstrations. And so on.

But if I had purchased an electronic copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four to read on my Kindle device, I would have none of those freedoms


Up to now, the debate about eBooks has been dominated by technical issues: ergonomics, portability, storage capacity, the readability of display screens, the quality of the user interface and so on. These are important matters, but ignore the biggest issue of all, namely the ways in which the technology enables content owners to assert a level of control over the reader that would be deemed unconscionable – and unacceptable – in the world of print.

He’s right – designers tend to focus on the aesthetic and affective aspects – how useable is the technology, how open is it, does it replicate the “experience” of reading a paperback… but the real “experience” of reading a book is bound up in the tactile and the social. Lending a book to someone – or even just saying you’ll lend it to someone, is an important part of reading.

All the hoo-hah about Amazon deleting books and tracking what you do with what you buy aside, the real issue with eBooks is that all the focus and research has gone into the technology and completely missed what it means to read a really good book.


Big Brother Amazon is Watching You

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

This is why I don’t think books are going to be replaced by e-readers anytime soon. Bizarre (and ironic):

Amazon apparently sent out its robotic droogs last night, deleting copies of the George Orwell novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four from Kindles without explanation, then refunding the purchase price. As you can imagine, a lot of people caught in the thick of Winston and Julia’s love story aren’t very happy — and rightfully so — the idea that we “own” the things we buy is pretty fundamental to… ownership.

Jeff Jarvis Kevin Marks says “I dread to think what happens if you buy Fahrenheit 451 for your Kindle…”

The Guardian covers the story too and Talking Points Memo is calling it a “big, big step backwards” for the platform. David Pogue of The New York Times is also covering it.

The Studio Unbound: Social Networking in Design Education

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

The Studio Unbound: Social Networking and Design Education from Jonathan Baldwin on Vimeo.

University of Dundee Master of Design student Lauren Currie, and design writer Kate Andrews explore the power of online social networking, and demonstrate the tools students they use to move ideas forward, form networks with practitioners around the world, and build a reputation before and after graduation.

“For the designer to become a producer, she must have the skills to begin directing content, by critically navigating the social, aesthetic, and technological systems across which communications flow.” (Ellen Lupton, 1998).

In highlighting the creative people all over the world using social networking to their advantage, Lauren discusses the dynamic, conversational value of online networking and shows how ideas of teaching and learning need to move away from the confines of the studio towards other, often ad-hoc and virtual, venues.

Joining from London via video conferencing, Kate Andrews, design writer and networker extraordinaire, shares her own insights into the potential offered by new technology.

Focusing on the new possibilities and opportunities the digital world presents, this talk will demonstrate that the world has changed and is changing, and that design courses must change with it if they are to stay relevant.

My MA thesis Wordled…

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

This is rather nice. Wordle is a web tool that takes a bunch of text and converts it in to something akin to a tag cloud, with word size based on the frequency they occur.

Here’s my 2001 MA thesis on polysemy in advertising:

Click on the thumbnail to try it out yourself, and take a look at these created from the subtitles for various episodes of Doctor Who.

Insightful article from the BBC

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

BBC NEWS | Have Your Say | What will be 2008_s must-have gadget?.jpg

Glad to see my license fee producing in-depth analysis from the BBC

Update: here’s another one. What’s going on?
The URL for the story below is odd:

Seems to me that a few stories are being posted in the wrong place, or the wrong links are going up. Whatever, it’s all very strange.

BBC NEWS | Have Your Say | Lights out for traditional bulbs.jpg

Mac OS X Leopard Server looks like a potential VLE winner

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Apple announced the release of Leopard, the new version of the Mac OS, this week.
What hasn’t got so much attention is ‘Leopard Server’ which has two features that make it particularly appealing as an educational tool.

The first is ‘iCal server’ (above) which seems a simple way to handle room and equipment bookings in a transparent way – anyone with iCal or a standards-based calendar program could see when that data projector was being used, for example, and by whom.

But here’s the potential killer: a Wiki server.
Most wikis suffer because they look awful and are really tricky to edit, but Apple’s solution looks like it has great WYSIWYG editing tools. The potential for collaborative research sites, student writing/research and VLEs is massive – I can see this being much better than systems like Blackboard, for example.

Worth checking out if you’re into that sort of stuff.

Cityware – an interesting Facebook application

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Here’s an interesting idea from the uNiversity of Bath. Cityware is a Facebook application that connects to a Bluetooth-enabled device and logs who you encounter throughout the day (assuming they are also on Facebook and using Cityware).

It has a lot of potential in teh social networking area, not to mention making those adverts in Time Out redundant (“to the girl with blonde hair on the 7.12 to Paddington. I was the weirdo who kept staring at you. Call me.”) as you could, in theory, look at your daily log and then pry in to the personal details of anyone who even so much as wandered past you in the supermarket.

Scary. But there you go. I’m up for giving it a go, in the name of science.

(Of course, it’ll give the civil liberties lot nightmares. If the government suggested everyone wander round with devices tracking their movements there’d be uproar. But as it’s Facebook, it’s okay…)

To sign up you need to visit the Cityware page on Facebook. Oh, and you also need to be living in a Cityware node but there are only three in the world at the moment. However, it’s easy to set your own computer up as a node.
So although I’m now using this application, as I don’t have any plans to visit UC San Diego, the University of Bath, or UCL in London any time soon it’ll be a long time before I pop up on anyone’s radar. Unless we can get one started where I work. In the interests of science.

On second thoughts I’ve just thought of several reasons why this might be a bad idea… It would obviate the need for gossip, for one thing. Just check Facebook every morning and you’d immediately see if your suspicions about Jill from Accounts and Fred from Catering were true (made up names and people, incidentally – heaven forbid I’ve stumbled on something there!)

Edit: In a (rare) moment of self-doubt I looked up ‘obviate’ wondering if it’s one of those words I’ve either misheard or used incorrectly. Like ‘fulsome’. Turns out I’m right – it means ‘avoid’ (which makes me wonder why I didn’t say that – but wrong in that ‘obviate’ means ‘avoid the need for’ so instead of ‘obviates the need for gossip’ I should’ve said ‘obviates gossip’.

You learn something new everyday!

Stop your food playing with you…

Thursday, August 16th, 2007