Intuitive Computing


in·tu·i·tion 
noun

  1. direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension. 2. a fact, truth, etc., perceived in this way.                                                                3. a keen and quick insight.              4. the quality or ability of having such direct perception or quick insight.      5. Philosophy a. an immediate cognition of a object not inferred or determined  by a previous cognition of the same object.  b. any object or truth so discerned. c. pure, untaught, noninferential knowledge.

When a tech person describes an interface as intuitive (the adjective form of intuition), I get a little rankled. I admit, this is a pet peeve of mine, and it’s not worth initiating an argument.

It rankles me because computers aren’t natural and every part of them is based on logic, not anything intuitive.

Every new iteration of software and hardware makes changes that are meant to improve user experience for the better. If experienced users like the changes–for example, it saves them time or effort– they compliment the change and mistakenly call it “intuitive”. What I think they mean to say is,”thanks for building on my previous user experience instead of recreating the wheel at every step. Because you built on my previous knowledge, I make educated guesses about how to use the product, and I’m right 98% of the time.” 

In contrast, a novice trying to use this same technology wouldn’t have the same success. They’d stumble through the user experience like a first time user always does. If the computers or software were really, truly intuitive, that would not happen, now would it? We wouldn’t need user manuals, tutorial books and classes on how to use computers if anything about them was really, truly intuitive.

No one was born with, or is naturally, psychically equipped to, use hardware and software from the start. One way or another, a person had to learn it, in order to get a feel for the programmers’ and designers’ logic and layout. Once the user figured out that logic, it’s easier and faster to learn even more logic created by other programmers or designers. I’m not a neurologist, but I assume once the pathways have been laid out in your brain, more can happen on those pathways, and continue to be built.

I’ve often wondered if I’m the only person rankled by this misuse of the word “intuitive”. Apparently not. The following quote is attributed to Jay Vollmer in 1995

“Actually, the only truly intuitive interface is the nipple.”

Variations of this quote are attributed to Steve Jobs, Bruce Ediger, Scott Francis, and Taylor Hutt. Ediger felt it was all learned, including nipples. Some human babies are stubborn to nurse, some mothers don’t produce milk, or not enough. This is true.

Honestly though, humans are highly unusual mammals. We don’t rely on nature, we’ve created systems to counter nature every step of the way, so why wouldn’t our natural instincts start fading as well?

Among wild mammal populations, and even our domesticated dogs and cats, nipples remain intuitive. Wild baby mammals must be nursing within 24 hours of birth, otherwise, they would die from starvation. I’m not saying that wild babies never die from starvation, but that’s the exception, not the rule. 

                                           _____________________

Let’s just say “I have a feeling” that “intuitive” as it’s misused in computing, is a battle I will ultimately lose. English is in a constant state of flux. If enough people use one word a certain way, a new meaning is established, whether it’s consistent with the previous meanings or not. 

For example, “font”. When people say font in reference to software, they really mean a typeface: Helvetica is a typeface, while Helvetica Bold 14 is a font. But only graphic designers know that, and knew that prior to the computing revolution. They were the only ones who had to know it.

Meanwhile, whoever designed the software chose the word “Font” in his/her menu options. Maybe because it’s a shorter, catchier word that neatly fits in a menu box with a keystroke shortcut. Non-designer users of the software then start calling their  ypography decisions a font choice. They didn’t know any better, and after all, that’s what the command is called.

Because I love language and I have studied design, I’ll still call it a typeface. Then when another person asks, “what?what do you mean?”. I’ll reply, “You know, the font…”

These are the wordgeek’s blues.

 

Labels

The of & illness, :

Today on Currying_favor, I tweeted a link to a editorial piece by Caroline Ravello in the Trinidad Guardian. 

She talks about labels for people with a mental illness, and how they are all derogatory on some level. There’s really no respectful way to talk about mental illness without implying there’s a defect or failure on the part of the sufferer. In English, Mad, lunatic, crazy, maniac, and manic are just a few examples. 

I have to wonder:

  • What came first, the general bad attitude and fear of the mentally ill, or the labels? ‘Doesn’t this create monsters where none existed? 
  • If we weren’t so focused on one difference, instead of another person’s obvious humanity, and everything that remains relatable between ourselves and that person, would our labels reflect more compassion and respect instead of disdain?

There’s a lot of ways people who suffer with mental illness are dehumanized by prevalant and socially acceptable ignorance. A lot of people don’t seek treatment they want and need because their health insurance, their career path, or both will be permanently harmed by that decision.

Clearly we’re teaching our children wrong, then, because it’s supposed to be a mature, rational decision to ask for help when we need it, ‘isn’t it?

We are more aware than ever that a lot of people suffer with mental illnesses, for example, PTSD, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Yet there’s still a lot most people don’t know about mental illnesses, or understand about different mental illnesses until they experience one themselves, or someone they care about develops one.

Enter “Mad Pride”, a movement started in Toronto in the 1990s to re-define “mad” as self-descriptive, but not stigmatizing terms. I hadn’t heard about this movement before now, but I do hope it gains traction. International Mad Pride Day is July 14. ‘Was it intentional to share France’s Bastille Day? I don’t know, but I think it works.

We need a more compassionate world; if we ostracize people who are different, we run out of people to talk to, and our world becomes overburdened with problems rather than solutions.

Click here for more about Mad Pride Day.

 


 

The Bible in Our Cultural Literacy

Actress Roma Downey, and her husband, television producer Mark Burnett, were featured on this weekend’s CBS Sunday Morning. They were promoting their Sunday night mini-series, “The Bible”, on History Channel. Sunday night has been a ratings magnet for dramas for decades, whether the channel is PBS, ABC, or HBO. Sunday is a religious day for Christians. ‘You really couldn’t televise such a mini-series on a more appropriate night, ‘could you?

But I am really not here to promote the show, actually to highlight something that came up in the interview:

“We don’t need to make more TV.This is way more than that. . . . It’s a movement. It’s the Bible. It’s something everybody should know. Even if you don’t want to go to church, or believe, you should know these stories.” —Mark Burnett  (click link to watch interview)

Even in times, like the present, when Americans are leaving organized religion in droves, there are merits to reading and knowing the Bible. Why? We are a Judeo-Christian culture, and nothing will ever change that. 

If someone were studying Islamic and Arab culture and/or literature, they’d have to know the Koran.

If someone were studying Israeli or Jewish culture and/or literature, they’d need to know the Torah, or have someone religious explain allegories to them. 

Religious texts are deeply woven into history and referenced throughout Western literature. You don’t have to believe in the faith or call it your own, but you do need to know its stories and the meanings of those stories.

Let Me Get This Straight…

If:

  • you had spinach in your teeth
  • your pants’ zipper was down in public
  • you exited the toilet with toilet paper stuck to your shoe.

You would want to know about it.

‘But online or offline communication errors are out of bounds?

 

Do you know who proofreads what she types quite often?

‘Even if she got it wrong after hitting send, will correct it, or delete and start over (if it’s an option)? This woman.

Because I am a writer.

I am judged by my words and my skills with words.

Furthermore, I love words, and I always have.

I care about communicating effectively, if I’m going to bother saying anything at all.

And that takes work, and thought, and rethought–even for the professionals.

 

On the move…

Well, you’ve probably heard that Posterous is going to shut down. The official date is April 30, 2013. This depresses me because it means the third move for BakingKookys, and the first move for this website. I started with tumblr, but it had issues. Posts still exist at BakingKookys tumblr, but everything is done via Posterous.

In addition to making it easy to post, Posterous was great at broadcasting a post’s arrival in multiple places. 

Anyway, once this blog has a new home I will keep you, er, posted.

 

 

My Writing Samples, Charleston Community Entrepreneur Profiles to date…

To date, I’ve written 21 profiles of local entrepreneurs. It’s been an honor to talk to all of them, and share their stories with the community.

Unfortunately, the audience has been limited; the papers I currently write for do not have my stories online. This makes it hard for anyone who might want to read them weeks after the original published date, difficult. So I’ve posted the stories here as submitted, and will update this post with new stories as they come out. [UPDATE:I’ve added 3 stories since this post was originally written: Voodoo, the Terrace, and Sushi Ninja.]

Below is a list of PDFs of the stories as submitted, accompanied by what the article looked like in print. All stories have been previously published, from November 2012-March 2013.

For convenience, they are followed by links to stories written for Eat This Charleston. Eat This Charleston stories are all online.

Sushi Ninja at Oak Barrel Tavern, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (Avondale, Savannah Highway)

Sushi_ninja_in_west_of
SUSHI_NINJA_A_FRESH_CATCH_AT_OAK_BARREL_TAVERN.pdf

 

Fourth Annual Charleston Film Festival at the Terrace Theater, March 7-10 (Maybank Highway)

Terrace_chas_film_festival
TERRACE_ROLLS_OUT_FOURTH_CHARLESTON_FILM_FESTIVAL.doc

Cuba Libre: Voodoo Tiki Bar and Lounge heats up Sundays with Havana Nights (Avondale, off Hwy 17 on Magnolia Street)

Voodoo_havana_nights
VOODOO.pdf

Spayghetti Benefit for Pet Helpers (this was 12 restaurants, all over the Lowcountry, so I can’t list all the locations).

Spayghetti_published_2-6-13
SPAYGHETTI_WEST_OF.pdf
SPAYGHETTI_JIM.pdf

 

A Detour Onto Mex 1–Mex 1 Coastal Cantina (on Hwy 61 in West Ashely, before it forks off as Hwy 171 and then links into Hwy 7.)

Mex_1
Mex1CoastalCantina.pdf

 

Going Brazilianuts…Brazilianuts & Gathering Cafe bring you a taste of Brazil, starting with Bahia…(Gathering Cafe is on Hwy 7, just after the North Bridge off I-26)

540879_10151414361521788_1143046868_n
BraziliaNuts.pdf

 

Bowling You Over…Ladles soup, salad and sandwiches (on Folly Road, James Island, and in West Ashley off Bees Ferry. There are Ladles all over the Lowcountry and they are expanding to Buffalo, NY.)

Ladles_in_jim
Ladles.pdf

The Sloppier The Better, The Sloppy Cow stuffed burgers and stuff  (off Harborview Rd. on James Island)

Photo_3
the_Sloppy_Cow.pdf

 

Blending Retro and Modern, Ms Roses Fine Food and Cocktails (on Hwy 7 near the North Bridge off I-26)

Photo_4
MsRoses.pdf

 

A Lot of Changes Going On…The Lot, the new farm to table concept at the Charleston Pour House (on Maybank Hwy.)

The_lot
THE_LOT_STORY.pdf

 

And my stories in Eat This Charleston, which are exclusively online:

‘Eleventh article written for Eat This Charleston, “Jack Hurley: Linking the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Classic American Food and the Modern Palate”

 

‘Tenth article written for Eat This Charleston, “Sellsfish, They’ve Got Their Heads On And They’re Working Their Tails Off. Paul Godbout Knows His Fish and Tells No ‘Fish Stories’ “

‘Ninth article written for Eat This Charleston,  “Coastal Cupboard Where There’s Always Something Cooking”

‘Eighth article written for Eat This Charleston, “Callie’s Charleston Biscuits Rise to Fame”:

‘Seventh article written for Eat This Charleston, “Carolina Creole, Hot and Sweet as a Lowcountry Summer”

‘Sixth article written for Eat This Charleston, “Scales, Enlightenment for the Cocktail Scene”

‘Fifth article written for Eat This Charleston, “Charleston Chops, A Cut Above”

‘Fourth article written for Eat This Charleston, “Roots Ice Cream, get your licks on route King and Calhoun”

‘Third article written for Eat This Charleston, Coastal Coffee Roasters, A Cup of Culture and Community

‘Second article written for Eat This Charleston…it’s something sweet, bon appetit! “Carla Walker Baking Up Nostalgia with a Twist–CarlaBakes of Avondale”

‘First article written for Eat This Charleston…Drink up, and cheers! Charleston Bold n’ Spicy 

Thanks for reading!

Can I tell your story? Contact me kathleenwcurry@gmail.comfind me on linkedin, on twitter @Currying_Favor and @BakingKookys, and at about.me/kathleenwcurry.

UPDATE: It’s June 10, 2014, and I’ve written over forty articles in print and online, not to mention all those blogposts. You can find my printed article portfolio online at kathleenwcurry.contently.com. I also update the slideshows on this blog when my work appears in print or online. Click the link to see an example. You will find other slideshows under “Hire Me->Samples-><<Sampleslistedbypublication>>. Thanks for checking out my work.

 

Lent and Giving Up Things

The most widely known day for giving up things is Ash Wednesday, this year it falls on February 13th. It has a lot more fame than “Give Up On Your New Years Resolutions Day”, which is January 17th.

I was raised Catholic, so giving up candy was the usual “go-to” sacrifice this time of year. On years like this one, a Valentines box of candy from my parents went into the freezer to await Easter. I can definitely say it was hard to go without chocolate for 40 days. I guess it’s a convenient vehicle for laypeople to appreciate sacrifice, or changing a habit for a little over a month.

But giving up the same thing for years is going through the motions of actual sacrifice. 

I do think there are merits to giving up things, but not because it’s New Years, or Lent, or another religious or cultural day. I think the things that are worth giving up for 40 days are, quite possibly, worth giving up forever. 

  • Like comfort zone habits that have outlived their usefulness.
  • Like old friends versus making new ones that reflect who you are now, not who you were once.
  • Like failing to learn anything new in years.
  • Like the religion you grew up with.

In the last 7 years of my life, I gave up organized religion, specifically, Catholicism. I don’t anticipate going back, ever, and I don’t miss it. 

It’s something I don’t talk about with any member of my family because, as far as I know, I am the only one who quit organized Christianity. It’s a dead-end conversation that is not worth having.

Recent polls indicate I am not alone in being an American who wants no association with an organized religion. I don’t think organized religions have a patent on creating or maintaining good people, as much as their public relations would have you believe that.

I expect my choice of giving up organized religion to be respected. I don’t walk through life trying to talk practicing followers out of their religion, because I sincerely believe it is a choice each person has to make for his or herself. I made my choice, you have to make yours.

I don’t share how I feel except on this blog, of course, and if someone specifically asks me. 

 

One other big tradition in Catholicism for Ash Wednesday is receiving an anointment of ashes on your forehead. The priest’s ashy thumb makes a sign of the cross on each parishoner’s forehead, and says “from ashes you came, and to ashes you will return”, or a similar phrase.

Regardless of your religious affiliation, it is worth asking what you have to do, before you return to ash, and focus on making those things happen.