Relay for Life Dropped the Baton

There’s always someone putting posters, flags, signs or something along the walkways in the Quad.   I’m sure I’m not alone in having trained myself to ignore most of what goes up out there.  However, today’s display caught my attention.  It was a collection of staked posters sharing facts about various common cancers and encouraging readers to get screened (or donate to Relay for Life).  I was originally caught because they had boards about colon cancer; my father happens to be an eminent colon and rectal surgeon and I have spent many years running the front desk of his surgical clinic.  So I know a thing or two about colon cancer.  More than the average English-BA-possessing communications grad student at any rate.  Needless to say, colon cancer is not a common topic of conversation.  Less so, at least, than breast cancer or skin cancer.
Upon  closer inspection, several of these signs had calls to action; find out about risk factors, call this number; visit our website for prevention tips, etc.  Yet, none of them had any interaction points.  No QRs, no NFC.  Nada.

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How to design an app, or a marketing campaign, or a business plan, or write a novel…

Otherwise known as, “Everything I needed to know in life, I learned in English Class.”

I am an English Major; some people see this as a degree in reading a lot of books and writing poetry (or essays).  I have sometimes made fun of it by saying it’s a degree in Professional BS: come up with stuff that sounds smart real fast. However, I have discovered that the basic, but often overlooked, skills of an English degree are data analysis and communication.  We take in massive amounts of data, cleverly disguised as characters and plot twists; analyze for patterns, significance, etc; strip down to the essentials; extrapolate applicable meaning; then massage and process that meaning into something easily digestible by the masses (or our professors).

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Dead Zones

A while ago a friend posted about nomophobia, the fear of being without one’s phone. I am in kind of a middle ground on this one; I am fully capable of leaving my phone in the other room and forgetting about it for hours. I also occasionally take it ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE and check it neurotically, mostly if i’m expecting a certain call or if I’m checking times.

In a previous post I mentioned the table top RPG Shadowrun. The two are related, I promise (actually, I’m pretty sure I could connect Shadowrun to just about anything, but nevertheless…). Shadowrun has a special class of characters called “technomancers,” the wizards and warriors of the cyberworld who walk our everyday internet the way Neo walks the Matrix (btw, in SR the internet is called “the matrix.”). These are my favorite characters to play!

One drawback to playing a technomancer is that whenever they enter a dead zone, a place where there is no wireless signal, and they are cut off from the matrix they frequently experience some level (determined during character creation) of withdrawal symptoms. In extreme cases they may curl up into fetal positions and whimper until someone takes them back to civilization. Basically, they shut down and become complete totally useless.

While I cannot access the internet with my mind (oh how I wish!) I realize that there are times when I experience this phenomenon. For example tonight, as I type this, I am on the ferry without internet (obviously, dear reader, I wrote this a few days ago) because for some reason Boingo was down. I don’t like to think that being disconnected truly makes me dysfunctional as a person, however, I now realized that it does make me almost totally unproductive since 98%+ of the things I have to do require being connected. It honestly took me about five minutes to remember that I can type without having internet!

This got me thinking about how we as individuals, as mobile leaders, and as a society should be thinking about crossing that boundary. How do we conceptualize, plan for, and cope with dead zones? While we make apps all the time that improve our efficiency, synch our entire lives across multiple devices, what happens when those devices no longer talk to each other or to the cloud? Can we design mobile products so that they still have value even when they don’t have signal? For instance, I am using Evernote to write this post on my xoom; once I have signal Evernote will synch this note and I can copy it to WordPress. But Evernote allows me to be productive even when I am unable to use the synching feature at the moment.

What apps or mobile features do you readers use offline? Which totally fall apart without signal?

A Shadowy Future


My husband has been a long time fan of the RPG series Shadowrun, and has passed on the addiction.  The Shadowrun world is set in futuristic earth (2072, to be precise) and a lot of history has happened in the interim.   Most of that history involves either magic (dragons! woot!) or technology, or the crossing of the two.  And the technology is wicked cool: lots of implants, controlling the internet with your mind, etc. .  We have been more and more convinced over the past four or five years that the writers if Shadowrun were actually prophets in disguise.  Seriously, people, the dragons are coming!   You have been warned!
Okay, all joking aside, we keep seeing technology almost straight out if Shadowrun showing up in real life. Its both creepy and AWESOME.

Confession

I am a slow adopter. New technology excites me ( I come by it honestly. I get it from my dad.), but it always has bugs, and usually ‘they’ haven’t figured out all the user interfaces yet etc.  Until that stuff is sorted out, learning a new platform can be … challenging.

So, while I have been an avid observer of mobile for a while, and have even owned a smartphone for over two years, and a tablet for a year now, I considered myself a neophyte in several ways. Until recently I only did what I had to on them; i didn’t go in for games, or location based stuff, or really apps in general. Mobile did not change my behavior; I did just want I’d always been doing, but with a different device.
I have also been hesitant to jump in with both feet because I recognize the potential for this to consume my life.  I like living in the real world.  I like holding real books, and cooking Continue reading