Thursday, July 8, 2010


To say that I'm a little behind on my reading would be putting it mildly. To say that I'm a little behind on my blogging would be just plain true. So it is with great pleasure that I bring you [totally dated] noteworthy blurbs from the January 2010 issue of Wallpaper* magazine.

First off, this issue used a customized version of QR codes (example above right) to supplement the physical magazine content with online content. They called these "Augmented Reality" or "AR" graphics (below right). Unfortunately for those of us without the requisite cutting edge technology of a webcam, the idea fell a bit flat. In theory, one would find the AR graphics (little pixelated squares) throughout the magazine and hold them up to a webcam while on the appropriate Wallpaper* website and see some spiffy extras. As yours truly doesn't have a webcam to test this with, you'll just have to believe that it was awesomely augmented. QR codes are a pretty neat idea in general, but I haven't seen them catching on much in the States. I like the idea of being able to easily access information on the fly. Someday, someday we'll catch up to all these bits of the future. Someday I'll have a car that flies, dangit.

The interesting bits (which I summarily tore out of the issue, the better to blog about) were these:

Gapminder: From Sweden, a data toy that makes statistics about social, economic and environmental development do things like cartwheels. What makes me most happy about the service is that they neatly list where the data comes from. With 430 tidy data sets, it's a pretty handy tool for the general public. I'd be interested to hear what people who work in data services think about it.

Gapminder also offers that you can make your own visualization using Motion Chart in Google docs, and since their data is downloadable, you're free to use it. It's also the same gadget that does visualizations in Google Analytics, from the looks of it. I wanted to embed one of their graphs here, but I don't think "Trendanalyzer" will let me do it. Click through the sample image for the real thing:

And then there's Enhanced Editions: Again with the augmented, this time with plenty of peripherals added into an ebook to make the experience more, uhm, contemporary. It looks like you can alter (annotate and change the font size) your ebook on your iPhone (and only your iphone) to your desire the extent that they allow, as well as get video and audio content interspersed with the text. Personally, I don't think our short attention spans needed any encouragement. However, this is a much better use of ebooks than simply putting text on a digital screen and expecting a revolution to come through the front door carrying flags and blowing trumpets. Their premise is that everyone goes to video for their "information" these days (quotes because I don't think the greater part of youtube could be called a research repository), and this is certainly reflected in their features page. There isn't even an option to read, you have to watch the video.

Quite frankly I find that frustrating and I never watch video unless it tells a story itself (you know, movies, music videos...) because if it's informational, I can get that information much faster by scanning text. I suppose I'm old fashioned, but I just haven't got time to sit around watching video after video, no matter how short they are.

And now I can check "get that pile of stuff I've been meaning to blog about into the recycling" off my to-do list. Hoorah!

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