whatknows :: do you?

August 31, 2007

Welcome to Georgetown, You’re Special!

Filed under: Personal — Jed @ 6:51 pm

Last week during a very hot day that was intended to orient me to the next two years of my life, Dr. Tinkcom got up to introduce himself, and welcome us to Georgetown.

“I have two favorite days each year,” he said, “and one is the annual sale at Barneys.”

He was quick to inform us that his other favorite was the orientation day for our program, although he didn’t clarify which he liked best.

When you want it the most...“You know in Las Vegas,” he continued, adjusting his fashionably thick rimmed glasses and not missing a single beat, “every night at the Celine Dion concert there is this encore. And people have talked about this…” He proceeded to describe how the show includes a second encore that is engineered with such intimacy that every night the audience is meant to feel as if this encore was just for them, that no one else had seen it before.

“And all of this is to say, this is not like that”, he finished.

Looking around the room, he was right. No one would ever have to construct a reason to be excited with my classmates. They are some of the most interesting and diverse people I have ever met.

There was only one thing that was bothering me. I had just flown in from Las Vegas where, I now must timidly admit, I saw Celine Dion. And you know what? There wasn’t a second encore. In fact, there weren’t any encores.

August 27, 2007

ARUP Labs has rejected me.

Filed under: Personal,Technology — Jed @ 9:17 pm

ARUP Labs just sent me the following rejection letter:

Dear Jed,

Thank you for your interest in the Converted Candidates position with us at ARUP Laboratories. As a result of a thorough and comprehensive candidate evaluation process, we have filled this position… Please continue to monitor the job postings at www.aruplab.com as they may change regularly.

Human Resources

This was confusing. ARUP is known to be one of the best companies for whom one can work, but I applied for this job three and a half years ago. The address in the email was four households ago. Errant database trigger? Or did my application temporarily get caught in an eddy of data management? And what is “converted candidates” anyway?

Well, everyone, it looks like I am not moving back to Salt Lake City. Georgetown will just have to do.

Update (8-28-2007): I received another letter from ARUP today. Apparently I am not going to be an entry level phlebotomist either. Despite my aversion to needles, I was still willing to give it a go. I must have really wanted to work for ARUP.


August 26, 2007

Wal-Mart and Facebook: Recipe for class warfare?

Filed under: Academic,Technology — Jed @ 6:51 pm

wal_mart.jpgGiven the rise in the social and viral aspects of the Web 2.0 movement (concept, effect, trend…) it is not surprising that Wal-Mart contracted with Facebook to create a sponsored group for dorm-room style called “Wal-Mart Roommate Style Match.” After all, what could be worse than mismatched comforters? For a generation of students who will most likely meet their roommates on Facebook before they meet in person and have the opportunity to fight for top bunk, a collaborative shopping cart seems like a good solution.

But the social web can be a unruly place, and unfortunately for Wal-Mart, Facebook groups come with a wall where users can post comments. And these comments don’t have to be nice. Computerworld ran an article that was quickly picked up by Slashdot, highlighting the reaction to the group captured on its wall. Apparently none of the posts are talking about dorm room styling.


August 24, 2007

Let the Games Begin

Filed under: Academic,Personal — Jed @ 2:16 am

A 1:00 AM flight from Las Vegas to D.C., Judith Butler in hand, haven’t really slept since (check the time stamp). Georgetown here I come.

Georgetown Skyline

August 21, 2007

Listening Applications

Filed under: Academic,Technology — Jed @ 5:37 pm

It seems that every website is bursting at the seams with the information it is trying to tell us, but lately I have been questioning this. What would it mean if we inverted the equation? What if it were the application’s responsibility to listen to the user rather than talk (or yell) at the user? What form would a “listening application” take?

Kevin Brooks, Principle Researcher at Motorola, presented on story-telling at Adaptive Path’s User Experience Week. While speaking on the role that stories play in our lives, he emphasized the importance of one reciprocal requirement of the narrative process: listening.

While his session focused on simple story structures and the interpersonal effects of listening, I am left re-applying the metaphor of story-telling to web applications.

The history of the web contains little more than a set of glorified brochures. Any story-telling is one sided, the web asking curt questions in order to provide small twists in the story that only it is allowed to tell. We on the other hand never question this, delighted when an application knows our name after only having provided it a minute earlier.

But what if the user was able to tell the story instead? What if it was the application’s job to listen? Kevin Brooks explained that when people take a listening role, understanding between people increases, the speaker is empowered, and the relationship between speaker and listener is deepened. More intriguing, Kevin spoke about listening addiction: “You just can’t get enough.”

An application that is gratifying, deepens connections with its users while empowering them. This seems like a metaphor worth exploring.