QOTD August 2, 2010

I found this quote and posted it on another blog of mine.  Today, weeks later, I read it and appreciate that it still resonates for me.  How about you?

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square hole. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

This quote is from Apple Computer, Inc. I hope that in no way diminishes your enjoyment of the thought.

Have a great day!

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Vigilance –> Twenty Ten

This is simply a housekeeping note, but I have changed WordPress themes, transitioning to the Twenty Ten theme.  I like its look and hope it works well for me.

At the same time, I renamed and reordered pages, adding a quick little graphic on the About Me page, in keeping with the earlier graphic on Sincere, Thoughtful Communication.

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Slow Down when Reading

Flitting through multiple Facebook posts this morning, I came across an article from the London Guardian on slow reading.  Huh?  What’s that?

I’ve heard of the Slow Food movement, joined the online group and practice it in a moderate sort of way.   Slow reading does not appear to be as well organized, but is gaining ground as a worthwhile and important strategy in response to the onslaught of the Information Age.

The article posits the question, “Is the Internet making us stupider?”  Put another way, is our need to hop from website to website, link to link, typically never completing an article, much less thinking about what the author is trying to say, negatively impacting the way we process information?  What is the result?

. . . [while] we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual titbits, we are also gradually forgetting how to sit back, contemplate, and relate all these facts to each other. — from The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

I encourage you to read the article.  It is lengthy and cites numerous sources.  And yes, it was a challenge to force myself to sit back and read it in its entirety.  Confession:  I, too, am an online skimmer.

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Sincere, Thoughtful Communication

Communication can take many forms

My savvy daughter pointed me to this article regarding communication.  The author, David Murray, makes the point that we communicate in many ways beyond words:  facial expressions, reactions, silence as well as responses, patterns of absence as well as presence.

He asserts that, “people come to know everything they need to know about their family, their friends, and yes, even their company.”

After offering a personal example, the author goes on to extrapolate these covert communications in the workplace:

. . . a friend knows when he’s second-fiddle, a colleague knows a real compliment from a political kudos, a direct report knows you know when he’s slacking, a boss knows if you think she’s dumb, and eventually, the whole of the employee population knows whether management is in touch or out of touch, sympathetic or downright creepy.

As someone looking for employment, but more importantly, someone who values genuineness and authenticity, this speaks volumes to me.  Give me an employer who values honesty and openness versus subterfuge and political games in the workplace any day.

Here’s a quote from the movie, “As Good As It Gets”,  that comes to mind regarding insincere communication: “… Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.”

And here’s my favorite sentence from Murray’s article:

“It is why sincere, thoughtful communication—no matter how provocative—is usually a comfort and often a relief from the constant tension of knowledge without permission to acknowledge.”

His premise is that we are the recipients of constant, authentic communication.  Are we ready to receive it?  Are we prepared to acknowledge it?

In my humble opinion, this is an important and yes, provocative issue for the workplace.  How much honesty are we prepared to handle?

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The square root of two

I just finished reading the book, Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett.   One of my eagerly anticipated summer book reads, it was even better than I had hoped.

I particularly enjoyed reading Follett’s description of the structure and geometries inherent in the building of a large medieval cathedral.  Here’s a brief excerpt:

All Jack’s designs were based on simple geometrical shapes and some not-so-simple proportions, such as the ration of the square root of two to the square root of three. … They knew that if a circle was drawn around the four corners of a square, the diameter of the circle was bigger than the side of the square in the ratio of the square root of two to one.  That ratio, root-two to one, was the most ancient of the masons’ formulas, for in a simple building it was the ratio of the outside width to the inside width, and therefore gave the thickness of the wall.

Who knew that medieval masons were aware of the square root of two?  Who knew that ratios were understood and integrated into the construction of grand stone buildings?  I certainly did not!

Many times, we as students, as workers, even as consumers, fail to appreciate how much mathematics and geometry affect our lives.  Some of us declare emphatically that we hate math!  While I can understand others’ antipathy towards it, I like math and always have.  Do we really have to consider whether or not mathematics makes our lives better?   I hope not.

Reading this book makes me want to delve into more applications of mathematics …  like building a cathedral.  Stay tuned.

Posted in design, math, reading | 2 Comments

What else but Death and Taxes?

Since publishing my last post, I’ve been on the lookout for more well-designed infographics.  Maybe I’m uninformed or simply not looking in the right places, but they seem rather rare.  Many infographics are pleasing to the eye, but what the heck are they trying to convey?  Others presumably have loads of good info but one scan through it and I’m ready to move on.

Here’s an infographic that immediately caught my eye and looking at it, I wanted to study it more.  Death and Taxes is “a large representational graph and poster of the federal budget,” for 2011.  Researched and created by Jess Bachman, a freelance graphic designer, he is selling it as a 24 inch x 36 inch poster.  Even being unemployed and low on disposable income, I’m considering purchasing one.  What do you think?

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About infographics

As I search, sort and distill my interests for my next career opportunity, I am focusing more on infographics.

From this informative article, here are some important qualities of a good infographic:

  • It provides a new way of seeing and thinking
  • The information tells a story
  • The information is well-organized
  • It works on multiple levels
  • The visual is well-designed

Most of these points are self-explanatory.  The ‘multiple levels’ one, however, deserves a bit of elaboration.

from the blog Understanding Graphics

An infographic working on multiple levels

The author, Connie Malamed, uses the graphic above to convey her point.  Immediately, you and I know that this graphic involves some information about the United States, likely population or density or some metric that correlates to urban vs. rural distribution.  That’s the first level.  As you explore the graphic, you learn more in-depth knowledge, such as, “The entire state of Wyoming (pop. 509,300) has fewer people than the Harrisburg, PA metro area.”  That’s another level of information.  As a viewer, I am drawn further in to the graphic to understand its multiple levels.  As a designer, I appreciate its clarity of design and the complexity of its message. (This graphic was designed by Joe Lertola and originally published here.)

I will finish this post with another thought from Malamed: “It seems that infographics become more valuable as our need to understand a complex world increases.”   Everything in my world and my experience tells me this is absolutely true.

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