Educated Drivers Wanted

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Advertisements for the first automatic transmissions, 1939. Image: NTY/General Motors

Interesting article in the Times recently about the explosion of problems surrounding gear selectors in automobiles that have come to light since the tragic death of actor Anton Yelchin a month or so ago.

The most interesting takeaway for me was about the intersections of technology and psychonomics, the link between products and minds. A well-crafted bicycle handbrake is an example given in the article of something that one intuitively knows how to use.

For me, ever a car nut, I was reminded of driving my 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco, the cockpit of which was perfectly laid for me. I didn’t have to think; I just moved an arm or finger or foot. It was a brilliant automobile. And I think its brilliance ultimately lay in its simplicity of operation.

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Ergonomically and psychonmically perfect, at least from this driver’s viewpoint, was the last of the Volkswagen Sciroccos sold in America. I sold mine when it was 10 years old with a hair under 200,000 miles on the clock. Image: German Cars For Sale Blog.

Recently, I heard Jay Leno posit that operating an automobile has changed more in the last 20 years than it has since its invention. And I think he’s onto something.

We are cramming more and more technology into our cars while we’re hampering the driver experience. I am absolutely sure that cars manufactured today are safer than those built 20 or 25 or 50 years ago, but I’m not sure that we are operating them more safely.

In the last few years, automotive designers have been experimenting with new and different ways of electronically shifting gears — buttons, joysticks, paddles, dials — and placing these shifting mechanisms in areas of the car that may be counterintuitive; especially if you are seeking an old-fashioned (but tried and true) PRNDL shifter. However, are we actually doing the driving public a disservice when we produce vehicles that the average consumer can’t be sure they’ve put it in Park correctly?

I’m all for technology, but let’s be savvy about it.

The Rise of Ad Blockers

This is a really good article from Luke Richards on eConsultancy about the astonishing rise of ad blockers.

The latest data published by PageFair really puts into perspective just how fast the ad blocking market is growing, with the global use of ad blockers being up 41% (to 198m) between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015.

It’s something that you shouldn’t ignore, especially if you are reliant on online advertising as a revenue generator. And it’s very important to understand the user mindset, too. In the UK, generally people use ad blockers because they feel that their browsing experience is slowed down by ads, but in the US, its about privacy and use of personal data. That’s an important distinction and one that deserves some pondering by marketers.

P.S. – If you ever have a chance to sit down with someone in the business of selling online advertising, ask about what statistics they can get. If they are good, they can basically tell you all of your browsing habits, your address and your age. Unless you’re sloppy, they can’t tell your name, but they probably know what you’re eating for breakfast. Orwellian enough for you on Halloween??

H/T Gerry McGovern

New York Times Digital Innovation Report Leaked; Significant Document Reveals Much

The leaked New York Times innovation report is one of the key documents of this media age » Nieman Journalism Lab.

This is essential reading for those looking at digital solutions to information dissemination. This Nieman article outlines some of the key takeaways from the leaked report, but if you are really into this (read: geek, like me) then you’ll want to download the PDF and read the whole thing.

The biggest thing I take from this is — and this is no surprise — if top management is not going to agitate for change, or at least back up the communications leaders who are trying to affect the change, well, stop hitting your head against the wall, babies, ’cause it ain’t gonna happen.

PS — Search out the Customer Carewords international report on web management from 2013 (he thinks, guessing off the top of his head) where they reveal that worldwide the single biggest deterrent to innovation on the web is senior management.

Why Employers Don’t Respond After a Job Interview

5 Reasons Why Employers Don’t Respond After a Job Interview.

Interesting piece this morning on Mashable. With the exception of Reason Number 5, I think they are all bogus. No. 5: They’re Just Rude is the overarching reason here.

Look, my contention is that we have taken the “human” out of human resources. We are using too many resume scanners, too many online applications, too many catch-all job search aggregator sites and we are treating job seekers as resumes instead of as human beings.

How many of our corporate overlords understand that human resources is actually a PR function? There is a disconnect between a hiring manager requiring an applicant to submit a resume and cover letter and the corporate catch-all online app system that requires you to list your education starting in elementary school. If I’m applying to be your vice president, don’t make me go through this tomfoolery because, guess what? Your system sucks.

How to Recreate Your Favorite Instagram Filters in Photoshop

With its 20 filters that fit handily in an app, Instagram is undoubtedly a gamechanger for mobile photography. Unfortunately, the filters themselves aren’t readily available outside of the app.

via How to Recreate Your Favorite Instagram Filters in Photoshop.

Now that print publications are seeking to replicate the photo filters so easily accessible in Instagram, Hipstamatic and other apps, here’s a smart, short tutorial about recreating some of them in PhotoShop.

I think it’s fun. I also think it’s hilarious that some of the commenters are utterly scandalized by it all. Just like film photogs were when darkrooms were replaced with desktops 20 years or so ago!

Change. It’s what makes the world go ’round!

Here’s what you miss by only talking to white men about the digital revolution and journalism

Here’s what you miss by only talking to white men about the digital revolution and journalism.| The Washington Post – The Switch blog

On Monday, Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on The Press, Politics and Public Policy and the Nieman Journalism Lab launched Riptide, a new project about the disruption of journalism by technology. The project bills itself as an “oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present.”

But looking at the final product and their list of sources, it appears that the project misses a key aspect of how the digital age disrupted traditional journalism: Digital advances, particularly the spread of the Internet and the rise of blogging, gave a powerful new way for voices marginalized in the elite journalism sphere to spread their stories.

I love this. And it’s so true. In journalism, certainly, but across the Western World in its entirety. Whenever you see a “captain of industry” that is anything other than a white man — more specifically, a white man 55+ — it’s a novelty. It’s true. It’s sad; but it’s true.

The project would have been stronger if it had done a better job of incorporating the perspective of female and minority voices. For example, one of the ways the digital age disrupted the journalism field was making it easier for marginalized voices to find audiences. 

Indeed. African-Americans, women, the LGBT community, Latinos — all groups that have been marginalized by the mainstream and all groups which have embraced the Internet with vigor. Who needs a white male out-of-step gatekeeper when you can produce your own content and get it to your constituents??