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[Thursday, March 18, 2004]


The design of everyday bling

I posted the link to OK/Cancel, an online comic strip about user interface design and designers, while they were in the midst of using one of our age's more painfully unfunny "comic" devices: recasting some mundane situation in hip-hop style and lingo -- or at least, what they imagine to be the lingo*. I don't have the knowledge to say they're wrong, but subcultural dialects are even more idiomatically unforgiving than ordinary ones. This is related, I think, to the mistaken belief that rapping is easy because it's not singing. Actually it seems difficult to me, because I've heard any number of people chant rhythmic verse in what they like to think is a bad-ass manner, with lots of arm waving, and yet they don't sound like Chuck D. (Just to emphasize that this isn't a racial distinction, they don't sound much like the Beastie Boys either.) Pausing between verses to make explosive vocal noises does not help. At all. I don't know what nuances of phrasing, rhythm, emphasis, and intonation these people are missing, but they clearly exist, and learning them takes a certain amount of either innate talent or skill, and being good at them doubtless takes both. Possibly if North American education still involved a lot of poetry recitation, we would realize this at an early age, just from noticing that some people made the same poem sound fascinating and others made it sound somnolent. (This would, however, require the setting of interesting poems to recite, not a notable feature of my own education.)

Long story short, if you went and looked at OK/Cancel when they were in the midst of all that, browse through the archives, because there are some funny and clever strips there.

[*] The perceptive reader will note that I've actually done this myself in the title of the posting. I plead somewhat guilty, but using a slang word out-of-context for the sake of punfulness seems like a lesser offence. I'll do community service, honest.

posted 12:58 PM |

[Sunday, March 14, 2004]


Pentagon destroys all robots!

See the sad story here. As usual, I find myself at war 'tween "Robots! Robots are so cool! Robot endurance races in the desert even cooler!" and "Tsk tsk, military uses of computer science bad or at least depressing."

posted 10:15 AM |