Week 1 Reading Response – Arshaan

Natural User Interfaces Are Not Natural:

Being a PS3 fanboy, I have always found the failings of the Wii hilarious. The use of actions too natural, like the example given in the article regarding the bowling ball is exactly what I laugh at. However, Sony launched their Move controller based a lot on the Wii controller. The Move controller has not fixed everything that was wrong with the Wii but it did make some improvements as listed on http://xxgamerzhavenxx.wordpress.com/2010/03/11/the-difference-between-wii-motion-controller-and-playstation-move/. I do believe that besides the weird poses you have to make (a problem with NUI as mentioned in the article) the Xbox Kinect does a pretty good job at NUI. There are a set of gestures defined by the game itself but once that is done the interface works perfectly fine with my limited use of it. Overall, I do feel that NUI will become a definite in technology once a list of gestures can be standardized over time.

Great Wall of Facebook:

This article was really interesting because to start off, I had no idea that Google wanted to buy a share of Facebook. Also, I had no idea about the ways in which Facebook was competing with Google in the search engine department. It has never occurred to me that Facebook can act as a search engine, although I do search on it subconsciously. I personally feel that a merger of both companies into one would be amazing for users as it combines two of the most used things on the internet. I do feel that Google+ does do this to some level on it’s own. The problem is that with so many people already on Facebook, people do not move across to Google+. I do have a Google+ acount myself that I do not use at all.

The Web Means the End of Forgetting:

This article makes so much sense. I used to always be afraid to post something related to my work place back in  Dubai in the fear that I might get fired if it was too negative. I had to keep telling my friends that they should not post pictures of me smoking as my family thought that I had quit. However, there is only so much you can tell your friends to do. A friend’s friend took a picture of me smoking and uploaded it to facebook where my family saw it. (I had to add them because how can I not be friends with them on facebook. That was their argument). If I had known about Diaspora I probably would have been one of the backers. The need for privacy, something which facebook keeps changing every month, is essential. The fact that any stranger can find out about me by just taking a picture of me in the near future is frightening. I do feel that legal solutions will not help us out. There are too many loop holes and besides that, it will take too much time. I truly agree with the part in the article that says that we are slowly coming to terms with the merging of identities. However, it is going to take some time for that to happen completely. I know that any embarrassing pictures that I might have on facebook are not what my friends or family(besides smoking because that was a lie & while I was working) use to judge me. The fact that they know me at face value is what really helps and I try to limit my online friends to people I know and converse with not just online.

Things That Make Us Smart:

I completely agree with the statement,”it is things that make us smart”. My grandpa used to live in a village that only had an oral culture. The fact that he was given the chance to go to a school outside his village and learn things like reading and writing helped him move to the city and land a good job. The point that Socrates makes about books is something I have never thought of before. He makes some excellent points on how it destroys thought.  I, however, from personal experience with books do not really agree with it. I do not usually read non-fiction books. I stick to fantasy and sci-fi. It is this love for books though that made me be imaginative. I am not saying this is the only way for people to be imaginative and creative. Whenever I read I take my time with a book, thinking about why the author would do something, have a mental dialogue with myself. I think this is why the author says that the fault lies with the reader. I do feel there is a lot of power in representation when done right just like the author. The amount of times I have tried to use objects to describe something that is relatively simple to explain and have people give me a ‘we are not dumb look’ is countless. The representations of the flights reminded me a lot about the data visualization project we had to do during boot camp. The data takes importance over design. Alas, if only I had Dave’s solution when I was taking a ton of medication for an injury. I kept forgetting when to take the pills. The method he uses simplifies it so much for a patient. Even though the book says that it is easier to add roman numbers, I am finding it extremely hard to work it out. However, I can see that if I was taught roman numbers as a kid, I would find this easier. I also see and understand the reasoning for why it would be a lot easier to add them up. I love the fact that they had to learn less. When I was looking at figure 3.3 I kept thinking that if I would have done this I would have used one shade and opacity to represent the percentages. It is something similar to what the author has done in figure 3.4. The most important thing to take away from this reading is to know figure out the choice of representation to make hard tasks easy.

You Are Not a Gadget:

This excerpt talks about how arguments about the human relationship with technology should take place before things are designed. It goes on to list a lot of technological innovations, that seemingly great at first, falls short and creates something called a lock-in. He fears that companies like Google and Facebook have created online environments that have restricted true individuality. He gives us a few pointers on how we can start humanizing the web again. I read a few reviews on this book and the conclusion in one of them really stood out to me. It takes a completely different and extremely interesting stand to some of the authors main points. I find myself agreeing with a review a lot more than I do with the author. “Mr. Lanier is nostalgic for that era and its homemade Web pages, the personalized outposts that have largely been replaced by the more standardized formats of Facebook and MySpace. The aesthetics of these newer options might be less than refined, but tens of millions of people are able to express themselves in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago. And let’s face it: Those personal Web pages of the 1990s are hardly worth reviving. It’ll be fine with me if I never see another blinking banner towed across the screen by a clip-art biplane. Like a remote beach that has been discovered by the masses, the Internet is no longer the pristine preserve of the well-off few. But what it now lacks in exclusivity it has more than made up for in ease of access. And for all the problems that Mr. Lanier rightly worries about, the trend seems to be toward a Web of ever more striving human activity. Indeed, we are not gadgets.”

Article link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703652104574652341134015738.html

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