Beam Me Up, Scottie


Monday, April 30, 2007

In Seven Years...

Step back to the future. Tell me what you don't see as you watch this clip from the original Star Trek. ( Please ignore the sponsor commercial a the beginning of the clip. I couldn't make it go away. Just click on the photo.)

After you watch the Star Trek clip, think about what is there but never mentioned or acknowledged.

In developing the series in the mid-1960's Gene Roddenberry invited leading scientists and researchers to review the technology. In addition to possibilities, Roddenberry asked these scientists to answer one additional question. "What technology, what advances would people in the future notice?"

The story goes that the consensus, which proved Roddenberry's point, was that people don't pay attention to technology. They use it and expect it to respond.

In fact, humans become overwhelmed with too much technology. Just take a look at what happens when technology takes center stage. (Again, ignore the sponsor's plug I can't seem to get it to go away.)

An interesting aside, both Get Smart and Star Trek were made during the same era. Wireless communication for the masses didn't exist. Telephones were hard-wired into walls. Infrared motion detectors that allow doors to slide open as you approach didn't exist. computers filled stories of buildings. No PCs. No Macs. No Microwaves. Yet the creators of both shows envisioned the possibilities.

And that is exactly what we have been asked to do in JOMC 712--envision a world that yet does not exist.

So where do we begin to dream? echos the premise of Star Trek's creator and the scientists who help craft his vision of the future. Technology changes, but people do not.
In 100 years, no one will remember memory sticks, or CDs or iPods.
In 100 years, people will laugh, love, struggle and dream.

This thread of life, if you will, crosses the centuries. These sentiments have been expressed through every generation, in every culture, in every language. The technology we use only connects us to one another. It is only when we are isolated that we search for better ways to connect. So, where will technology place us in seven years? What will survive?

Seven years ago, the ultimate technology in cellular phones was this Nokia. Sleek. Simple. Users could play a few games. Using a computer connection or perhaps one of the rare wireless 'hubs', users could also download a ring tone and a new game. The phone contained a simple calendar, memo and contact functions.

Connect with your world. Send and receive e-mails. Download attachments in Outlook. Write Word documents. Synchronize your world. In less than a decade, your world has moved from the desktop and to that of a single user, to a community.
And the promise of a world to to come suggests
you will always be able to stay in touch.

"Computer. On!"

So, how far in the future can tricorders, communicators, phasers and computers that rely solely upon voice command be ?
According to many communications futurists, the future is upon us and it's all about creating a community. If the first wave of Web technology connected computers and Web 2.0 aggregates those resources to create powerful communities, then the next wave will integrate all the media and all the data.
Rather than searching for words in a narrow box, the Web will eventually evolve into a "thinking" resource with the technology to support abstract questions. That work is already underway. At CalTech, at MIT, and other prestigious schools researchers are creating a "thinking" Web. Perhaps in the next decade, we will be closer to the dream that was Star Trek. Perhaps it will be a time when all you do is touch a screen, voice a command and ask a question.

Go Where No Man Has Gone Before...but Goes Forever

Where will we be in seven years. Technology and research indicate that we will be able to call up a video, share it around the world and using technology like Twttr, provide the world with a moment by moment snippet of our lives. Video journalists will carry iPhones with video capabilities and decent audio. CDs will be on the wane and HDTV will have a questionable future. You'll be able to access the Web easily from your phone, your television set or your iPod.

But people will live, love, laugh, cry and mindlessly use technology, just the same way they did--and will do in the 23rd century. Technology will continue to help us, to confound us, and amaze us.

As for that Star Trek episode, the things that no one paid attention to included elevators that travel in all directions, large screen viewers, instant, clear communications to a planet far away. Still the most important elements on the screen were the relationships.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I gave myself the task of finding a specific obituary in my former newspaper. After all, I regularly searched for obits for both readers and as research for stories. I was bolstered by the knowledge that th e paper was the beta test site for the corporate 's efforts to integrate print and cyber news.

The Projected Process

Steps I thought it would take

  1. Call my mother to see if she remember when Jimmy Woods died. She thought it was the first of March.

  2. Log onto the Star Web site.

  3. Navigate to "sections" and then chose "obituaries."

  4. Fill in Jimmy's name in a search box.

  5. Retrieve obituary

Steps it Actually took

  1. Call my mother to see if she remember when Jimmy Woods died. She thought it was the first of March.

  2. Log onto the Star Web site.

  3. Navigate to "sections" and then chose "obituaries."

  4. The page opened to a list of obituaries by date.

  5. There is no search mechanism for names.

  6. The user must remember the date of the death.
    Worse yet the list does not include dates specifically. You must guess the date.

  7. I try several of the "March" dates. Finally I find Jimmy's obit.

  8. Retrieve obituary

This task proved much more difficult than I anticipated. I proved much more frustrating and enlightening. I expected that because I knew the paper, this would be an easy task. I believe my paper's web navigatgion and user interface fails to meet the test of a good Web site.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Color Pallate

I chose a photo with subtle shades -- one which happened to be close to Carolina Blue. I had the most difficulty getting my color pallate out of Photoshop Elements. In fact, it's still in there and I can't figure out how to bring it over.

But the predominate colors were used to recolor the blog itself and used in the typography as well as in the backgrounds. I also wanted to connect to a real person and emotion that I could integrate into the site as well. What this means is that I wanted the little girl, who appears to be one with the monkeys that surround her, to symbolize the integration of color and emotion into the site itself.

Finally, I picked a color from the girl's shirt and made the text beneath her. Carolina Journeys symbolizes both the trip through this coursework and a real journey the child might take as she travels through Carolina and the imagination of "being one of the monkeys." This sense of imagination and wonder is what I hope to capture with my posts.


Expansion. Migration. Compression. Elimination.

This proved a challenging creative process that began with a trip through my Oxford American Unabridged. I wanted to know the shades of meaning in each one.
Then I began to think of each word telling a visual, stand-alone story based upon one of the major shades of meaning from the dictionary. This became the narrowest opportunity for success. Essentially, I had one opportunity to have a user comprehend the meaning that I illustrated in text only.

According to Prof. Jakob Nielsen, text as graphics is a "No!". However, I am rethinking there may be appropriate ways to use text to tell the story.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mom & the Museum

"But You Can't Park There!"

So, Mother, Josh, and I are headed out to explore Nothern Virginia and maybe D.C. We all love museums. We all love different types of museums. We hate the crowds that flow like lemmings to the big tourist museums. We've narrowed our choices to two -- the George Washington Masonic Lodge in Alexandria and the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

Mom: 75, knees give out easily and she may need a wheel chair to get back to the hotel. Since we are staying in Alexandria, we've arranged for a wheel chair from the hotel, which we will take with us.
<National Masonic Lodge. Josh can explore the floors devoted to the Knights Templar... the Tall Cedars... and even get a bird's eye view of the seaport of Alexandria from the 7th story observatory.

Then there's the Spy Museum that fills two city blocks in Washington D.C.

The Food
If we choose the Masonic Museum, we can eat on the water and get a taste of British goods, with the Tea Room. The prices vary from 7-15 dollars for entrees and there's tea and wonderful desserts for Josh to get a fill of tasty goodies.

The Spy Museum houses two on site choices --a cafe with the usual fare of hotdogs and sandwiches. There's a reservations preferred restaurant open during the museum hours. The restaurant bosts a "spy atmosphere". This may draw Josh's interests
. --The Best Web Site

The George Washington Masonic Lodge Web site

FREE ADMISSION OPEN TO THE PUBLIC DAILY from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Except Major Holidays Guided Tower Tours Daily at 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Masonic Tours (details below) are on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 2:00 p.m. and once each month on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Please call for details. The next Masonic Tour will be on Saturday, May 26, 20.
The museum also offers special tours for the disabled. I wasn't able to find information about parking, but a phone call that was returned almost immediately by a kindly gentleman told me parking was free on the property. They even have an escort for the disabled. Could Be Better Web Site

Located just Northwest of the White House, the Spy Musuem sounds like an intrigue dream. The Web site is a bit confusing because the HOME page is really a listing of events. To find your information, you must learn to go to the "plan to visit" link. You have to guess your way through the site. I will say that once you find your way around, it's fairly straight forward to navigate. While I am certain that Josh will love the Museum, it's not clear whether the museum offers a slow pace with lots of opportunities for seniors like my mother. Another concern is parking. all the Web site says is that there are plenty of garages within walking distance. This lack of information is despite a section on the Plan Your Visit site for Adults, Seniors, and Children. The map is very good, but knowing exactly where to park is a challenge. This is a pretty Web site, but it's not always functional.

Assignment 14: Persona

Meet Bill Grimm, retired industrial painter, who lives at the end of Harry-Davis Lane which terminates just past Hall Park in the Near North Neighborhood of zip code 55411, a sprawling northwest neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Like 39 percent of his neighbors in this urban, Grimm, 68, has lived in his two bedroom, one bath home on a quarter acre lot for more than 20 years. The houses in this section of Ward 5 tend to be solid, older and built before 1939. In what Grimm terms "gentrified circles", they call his home a "city bungalow."

He and his wife, Alice, raised three daughters here. The girls, grown now live in other Ward 5 neighborhoods of the same zip code. That's typical of the residents. Many are third generation homeowners and more than 60 percent of the homes are owned rather than rented. When he was working, Bill made "good money" because he was in the union. Now that he is retired, that union pension helps him live comfortably with twice the average income of his fellow senior citizens. They live on an average of $31,500 a year.

When Bill and Alice aren't visiting grandchildren or working in their gardens, they enjoy the neighborhood street parties. Alice makes the best cheese pies and fried ravoli and she's always on the look out for new recipies. That's why the couple subscribes to the Sunday paper only. There are recipes along with money saving coupons. Retired and conservative in their spending, Bill and Alice like the "tried" and "true." The are brand loyal. They don't experiment much.

However, Bill saw how the use of computers improved productivity on the job site where he was a supervisor, and he bought a computer. It's a DELL DIMENSION, circa 2000 with Windows ME and Internet Explorer 6 and AOL. He has enjoyed keeping up with friends who've retired and moved South. He's also discovered a few sites for researching his fly fishing interests and Alice has found a few good home and garden sites. But Bill is not an adventurer. He jokes that his response to a "Midlife Crisis" way back when was putting a luggage rack on his mini-van.

He needs to see how things work and find value in them before trying them. Bill stopped subscribing to the daily newspaper and rarely checks the TwinCities Web site after a redesign left him bewildered as to where to find his favorite column on fly fishing.

He's not opposed to new things, but they have to make sense. He doesn't mind the changes in Ward 5 that are bringing young, hardworking people to his neighborhood. Bill understands that these young professionals bring new life to his beloved city.

Gary Larsons

One of the young professionals who finds value in The Near North neighborhood is Gary Larsons, a project manager for Welch-Abbott, a small advertising firm in the heart of Minneapolis. Gary works with words and ideas all day. Therefore, he likes thinking abstractly and is willing to learn about any new idea.

After finishing his communications program at Northwestern University, Gary married a fellow student and Minneapolis native. They moved to her home neighborhood as quickly as they could find work. Gary enjoys the clean air, the parks, where he's likely to be found running, the lakes where he sails and he loves ice skating.

The Near North neighborhood appealed because of its amenities -- proximity to the center of the city, the older homes on graceful lanes and a canopy of trees. He and his wife, Jennifer, live on Plymouth Avenue -- literally across from Bill and Alice. But their interests and work schedules make them neighbors in passing. Gary represents the new neighbors moving into Bill and Alice's neighborhood. Now, more than half the neighborhood is made up of young, professionals of African American and Hispanic origins. The African American population tends to be college educated, with higher incomes than the rest of their neighbors. Gary makes about $48,000 a year.

Gary is among the young professionals moving into Ward 5, snapping up the low cost sturdy homes, pouring sweat equity into remodeling them, while retaining the area's charm. Because he'd rather be outdoors and not in stores, Gary prefers to shop on line, and he's accustomed to navigating the Web. He runs Windows XP on one of his laptops -- Microsoft Office 2003 -- he hates 2007!

On his MAC he edits a newsletter and maintains a small video production suite with Final Cut Pro.

Gary gave up Twincities because he found it "clunky" and outdated. He would go back if the content were more to his interests and more in depth. He can read national headlines on any site and he's not too concerned with Minneapolis-St. Paul sports.

Computer Interface