Posts Tagged opinion
It has occurred to me that it would be very helpful in Google searches if years could be searched for the way synonyms for words typically are. For example, searching for ‘Bob Eckels’ also returns results for ‘Robert Eckels,’ Bob being recognized as a nickname of Robert. I know I’ve encountered similar inclusions for a variety of words. In terms of years, it would be nice, sometimes, if searching ’1969′ also caught results for the ’1960s’ in general. I can see how that would be less useful than the names, but when I’m trying to find a person in a reel from some particular year, that particular year may or may not have any significance in that person’s legacy, neither in written material about things they accomplished nor in photographs hanging around the internet. I could–and do– just search by decade from the get-go, but as I said, sometimes a particular year is significant, but it would be nice to automatically pick up a range of years…figuratively widen the net.
Alternately, the built-in ‘search by time’ function could be expanded. Searching for ‘Neil Armstrong,’ for example, limited to results prior to 12/31/1969 results in nothing; limiting results to preceding 12/31/1970 returns a plethora of materials. On the plus side, it has the ability to search by a page’s original chronological context and not just its upload/update timestamp, of which I hadn’t been aware, so that’s nice. (A less famous figure, of course, is still very under-represented.)
In the process of embroiling myself in a discussion about the merits of proper capitalization, spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc, I realized a handy metaphor to help illustrate my point. My primary points of argument were/are:
- It’s not that hard, nor is it time-consuming to be correct.
- In a communication medium hinged on writing, stripped of the nuance of tone and body language, it pays to be as precise and clear in one’s writing as possible. You have no idea what experience another person is having in relation to your words– help them as much as possible
- If someone does not care enough for the thoughts they’re expressing to ensure their clarity, then why would I waste my time trying to parse their semi-coherent rambling? (Note: thankfully, most people on the forums I visit are highly lucid in their writings. This is something of hyperbole to illustrate a point.)
- Further, one’s writing is frequently the only exposure others have to you. Clear, thoughtful typing can bring equal gravitas to the opinions of a 14-year-old in an anonymous conversation as those of adults, while a 35-year-old typing irregularly will have him dismissed as a child.
That said, I have tried putting my point in terms of fashion, which is something everyone can relate to.
Horrendous misspellings, run-on sentences, lack of proper spacing… are like leaving your house in pajama pants and a torn, stained, wrinkled sweatshirt. Technically, yes, it’s more comfortable and required less thought and effort [though throwing on a still-casual yet far more presentable pair of jeans and a clean, new tshirt isn't exactly taxing yet has markedly better results], and yes, it’s getting the job done (i.e. modesty is preserved). However, if you go to a store, restaurant…any place that requires interacting with strangers…, you can bet that the fellow in a tailored suit is going to receive much better service and won’t be followed around the store with suspicions of potential shoplifting.
In this scenario, the clean jeans and tshirt are, say, not ignoring the angry red zigzag under misspelled words and taking the 10 extra seconds to maybe visit Dictionary.com to check that a particular word is both accurate and correctly spelled. Perhaps some appropriate paragraph breaks are included. Honest typos might be an untied shoelace. Modesty equates to technically conveying some kind of message: it’s functional, but maybe not what you intended to show about yourself. The eloquent and well-crafted statement is the tailored suit.
What really makes me love this metaphor is how much nuance it crams in. After all, the scuzzy pajama pants-wearer may have a heart of gold (i.e. a brilliant point to make) and the suit could be scammer or professional shoplifter who knows how to play on people’s prejudices to avoid suspicion (i.e. stylistically accurate concealing misinformation or random whimsy).
As I’ve been applying to jobs these last few months, I’ve noticed that basically every single one includes the same sort of padding– not that those requirements are unimportant, mind, just that they’re fairly universal and seem like they should go without saying. You know, things like “must be able to work well in a team” and “must demonstrate excellent oral and written communication skills.” So much information is conveyed in a written format, be it for hobbies, work, school, or casual chatter: it’s not like this is some arcane skill you only learn about in theory in school and never pick up again (unlike, say, solving quadratic equations for most people– but even those who might regularly use that formula need to communicate).
There is more information around us right at our fingertips than ever before! Exabytes of it! What’s salient, what’s relevant, what’s important– we don’t know these things, and for many topics, we can’t decide for other people, nor predict what people in the future will find valuable. And to be so flippant about trying to convey all of it– …sigh.
Related post: “It’s only the Internet”, where I’ve touched on this (to me, very frustrating) problem before
First, let me disclaim that the creation of such a tool is far beyond my abilities, and for both concept and the coding of the tool, I give the creators utmost admiration. Also, Prezi presentations just look way cooler than Powerpoint– they’re exciting, refreshing! That said, I think Prezi is the worst piece of software I have ever used. What would have taken us an hour to create in PowerPoint took 10 hours in Prezi, and we even tried it on both Mac and PC, Firefox and IE, desktop and online. I have never felt like a program was trying to actively sabotage my work before!
On the surface, it has a fairly intuitive interface, so that’s nice. It just that…
- I couldn’t tell what level zoom I had to be in to make things the right size and placement;
- often trying to select an object to move it resulted in zooming further and further away;
- the scale option of the”Zebra tool” seems to only make things bigger (much, much, much bigger) and never smaller;
- there’s no ability to copy/paste text in the desktop version;
- at close-up zoom levels, it becomes almost impossible to pan around;
- and quite frequently I was unable to see the text I was typing due to the text window getting in the way of itself or the text (for reasons unknown) was making its initial appearance somewhere off to the side of the box or maybe it was just because it wasn’t midnight under a full moon in a leap year. Who knows.
Perhaps we were just using the wrong tool for the job. Perhaps our presentation’s content did not really need all the animation and pizazz of Prezi. Even with just basic text, though, I had ideas to make parts of it nifty that the software just did not cooperate well enough for me to follow through on. E.g., I wanted to put each item for Technology & Tools of Assessment in a circular pattern– even once a basic, sort-of circle was made, I needed to create frames around each word so the presentation would be properly centered on each on, none of which would size properly nor center around the words. I gave up and went linear after all.
I like the results… I just don’t think I ever want to deal with the procedure of getting those results again any time soon. I’m left with the impression that it’s not so much a matter of skill in getting Prezi to do what you envision as it is–well, I’m not even sure how much luck factors in, really.
Our presentation can be viewed here, though the file alone is not particularly helpful without the context of the full project and our spoken parts.