i’m currently taking a visualisation course in Python and it has reminded me of red and green colour blindness: both hues appear similar to them.

while they are still granted driver’s licenses as a “strong” convention for traffic lights exist, the position and not just the colour convey information.

this made me think of truly inclusive designs: where a “best effort” is placed that a design is accessible by default (or a “reasonable” alternative or accomodation is provided). this is “good” to know since coming up with a “universal” design can be “problematic” (as more effort can be required) but in media without guidelines this can invaluable.

i was so hung up on words that i “overlooked” visualisations can deceive audiences. i’ve been recently exposed to the works of Edward Tufte and Alberto Cairo on Information Graphics (commonly known by its portmanteau, Infographics). Aside from the important role it can play in emphasising statistics, it also has the power to mislead “consumers” of the information (whether intentional or not). The main point is that they need to be designed carefully and not simply thrown in to break the “monotony” of words or “pretty” things up – they must only be included to serve a particular purpose.

here are a few guidelines to help make the figure you generate “better”:

https://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003833

ironic

October 2, 2019

it was “surreal” last night.  on ABC last night, it featured MoJo (an iconic advertising consultancy and, eventually, a “full-blown” agency)that influenced and shaped Australia.  For those that don’t know, ABC  is a national TV channel that’s mainly funded by the government and disallows all forms of commercialism (including ads) – you can’t even discuss (much less promote) any brands on their shows.

it was so meta.  Admittedly, they have a programme called Gruen that “humorously” critiques ads but this somehow felt different as it impacted Australian culture.  It can be argued that it was simply a mirror and a true insight into the Australian zeitgeist.

While prior to them “proper” American or British accents were used to voice over commercials, authentic Australian enunciation and expressions were instead  used (although they were considered “vulgar” by the “establishment”). i think this “honesty” was greatly appreciated by the Australian public. i now believe that you should never be ashamed of your actual heritage despite what you were “taught” and the constant stream of messages to put you down. i’ve got a feeling that’s why they dislike the old country so much – it is said that POME was originally an acronym for Prisoner Of Mother England.

Hogs (Paul Hogan better known by some Americans as Mick “Crocodile” Dundee) was the human face of a former tourism campaign – i challenge anyone to say it wasn’t effective as Australia moved from the 78th preferred holiday destination by Americans to the 7th.  Prior to him, it was all wildlife (like koalas and kangaroos) and he was even recognised, arguably, as Australian of the Year for its success.  The catchphrase was even adapted to the Yanks: “put another shrimp on the barbie” – as no one Down Under referred to them as “shrimp” but as “prawns”.  They say a real measure of a tourism campaign isn’t just about the foreign visits but also abut how good the locals feel about their country.

(sliding) doors

January 24, 2019

as a pragmatist, I’m conscious that automated doors can be expensive or impractical for disability toilets but i don’t understand why some doors are really heavy and require at least two people to open it (and keep it open).  Some of them aren’t designed properly:  there are doors that open the wrong way, there are quite a few doors where you’ve got to form a plan in order to open a door with a walking aid or wheelchair, and there was even one where you couldn’t close the door with a walker inside.  Moreover, there are locks that are problematic as well: some don’t indicate when they’re locked (or are not that obvious to the occupant), there are a few double locks so you’re not sure which to use (and sometimes you need to use both as the engaged indicator is seperate), and few locks require fine, manual dexterity to operate.  It underscores how compliance isn’t a substitute about thinking about the practicalities of actual use.

born to run

November 24, 2017

PBS Newshour showed again Part 1 of Jeffrey Brown‘s interview with Bruce Springsteen (originally aired December 19, 2016; the video url: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/bruce-springsteen-tackles-truth-song-memoir ). It was meant to be a promo of his memoir but it was much more to me.

He might not be my favourite artist or a technical singer but like he says: he’s learned to ‘inhabit his songs’ which makes his songs more believable.  Moreover, his working-class roots makes him seem authentic and relatable. I don’t pretend to be an expert on him (or his numerous works) but it wasn’t until I heard the original acoustic (and much more slower) version of ‘Born in the USA’ that I thought I understood the lyrics and what that song was truly about.

As he says in his interview and his in his new memoir “I wasn’t modest in the assessment of my abilities. Of course, I thought I was a phony (sic). That is the way of the artist. But I also thought I was the realest thing you had ever seen.” It’s about dichotomy, I guess – existing on two different planes at the same time.  For me, a real artist lives (and exists) with contradictions – they are only human after all.

You can watch Part 2 at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/music-medicine-bruce-springsteen

matilda

July 3, 2017

the other night we watched the musical in the Adelaide Festival Centre with my “youngish” family.  We thought it was quite good and my 13 year old son really liked it.  It was my second favourite of everything I’ve seen (and I’ve watched a few Broadway productions). The kids were amazing.

turn that frown upside down

November 12, 2013

psychologists say that the act of smiling can change your mood.  As anyone that knows me can attest, I’m naturally grumpy – so much so that my son calls me a Grinch even if I’m not anti-Christmas (I’m not a big fan of carols though.) I’ve always believed that one needs to be true to one’s self but trying a “forced” smile is worth it to experience some happiness.