Rescue Annie

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A chance to link to one of my favourite sites: Aesthetics of the invisible world.

A breathtaking article which made me stop in my tracks, mostly because as the son of a Swimming teacher I did a lot of Lifesaving badges up to and including The Royal Life Saving Association’s (RLSA) Bronze Medallion and got to know Rescue Annie quite as well as any 14 year old boy should.

In full:

“In the late 1880s, the body of a 16-year-old girl was pulled from the Seine.  She was apparently a suicide, as her body showed no marks of violence but her beauty and her enigmatic smile led a Paris pathologist to order a plaster death mask of her face.

In the romantic atmosphere of fin de siecle Europe the girl’s face became an ideal of feminine beauty.  The protagonist of Rainer Maria Rilke’s 1910 novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge writes, “The mauler, whose shop I pas every day, has hung two plaster masks beside his door.  [One is] the face of the young drowned woman, which they took a cast of in the morgue, because it was beautiful, because it smiled, because it smiled so deceptively, as if it knew.”

Ironically, in 1958 the anonymous girl’s features were used to model the first-aid mannequin Rescue Annie, on which thousands of students have practiced CPR.  Though the girl’s identity remains a mystery, her face, it’s said, has become “the most kissed face of all time.”

Internet 1 RLSA 0

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The Social Graph is neither…

Rdf hell

Put simply, my most shared/forwarded article of 2011 although coming late – Nov.

I’m a big user of pinboard and a fan.

Let’s just say it’s a must read.

It’s not a graph – “When you start talking about building a social graph that transcends any specific implementation, you quickly find yourself in the weeds. Is accepting someone’s invitation on LinkedIn the same kind of connection as mutually following them on Twitter? Can we define some generic connections like ‘fan of’ or ‘follower’ and re-use them for multiple sites? Does it matter that you can see who your followers are on site X but not on site Y? … This is supposed to be a canonical representation of human relationships. But it only takes five minutes of reading the existing standards to see that they’re completely inadequate”

Privacy is another sticking point which I think will be a massive portent of things to come

“There’s another fundamental problem in that a graph is a static thing, with no concept of time. Real life relationships are a shared history, but in the social graph they’re just a single connection.”

Declaring relationships explicitly is a social act: “Your best friend from high school surfaces and sends a friend request. Do you just click accept, or do you send a little message? Or do you ignore him because you don’t want to deal with the awkward situation? Declaring connections is about as much fun as trying to whittle people from a guest list, with the added stress that social networking is too new for us to have shared social conventions around it.”

Leaving aside the technical issues of how to implement, how does cutting ties actually work socially? Is there any way to be discreet, for example, or have connections naturally degrade over time? In real life, all relationships fade naturally if you don’t maintain them, but right now social networks preserve ties in amber until we explicitly break them.

“Social networks exist to sell you crap. The icky feeling you get when your friend starts to talk to you about Amway, or when you spot someone passing out business cards at a birthday party, is the entire driving force behind a site like Facebook.”

And my favourite : “The funny thing is, no one’s really hiding the secret of how to make awesome online communities. Give people something cool to do and a way to talk to each other, moderate a little bit, and your job is done.”

“My hope is that whatever replaces Facebook and Google+ will look equally inevitable, and that our kids will think we were complete rubes for ever having thrown a sheep or clicked a +1 button. It’s just a matter of waiting things out, and leaving ourselves enough freedom to find some interesting, organic, and human ways to bring our social lives online.”

Amen.


Killing The Myth Of The Average Consumer

047 Symphony orchestra
(image from here)

Very interesting Fast Company article about discarding the idea of an ‘Average Customer’.

“It turns out the secret to unlocking demand for classical music–as for most products–is discarding the Myth of the Average Customer. Designing a product offer to appeal to one archetypal customer is always wasteful–one size fits few, not all. Instead, demand creators have to constantly focus on demand variation, asking how customers differ from one another and how those differences impact demand.”

With regard to orchestras, and following some rigorous research:

“It turns out the quality of the orchestra, magnificence of the hall, and virtuosity of the conductor were not particularly important attributes. What was? Drum roll!

The most powerful “driver of revisitation” was parking! As with other orchestras, veteran members of the core BSO audience had figured out where to park, but trialists identified it as a huge hassle–so they didn’t come back.

Another driver was the ability to exchange tickets; trialists found the “no refunds, no exchanges” policy a deal breaker.”

The process of ‘de-averaging’ offers big opportunities.


Never forgotten house

Childhood memories by musicalfish d2yksha
(image from Musicalfish)

Pure wonder from Joanne McNeil over at Rhizome

In the world of superabundancy of information including images, there’s something as valuable as our privacy that we could lose.

(My unease with aspects of the ‘new photography’ are well known to my peers!)

Full article after the break but here is the final paragraph and sentence:

“We could accumulate hundreds of thousands of images throughout our lives but they will never taste like anything. An image represents and verifies a memory but the rest is left to imagination. Every essential moment of a child’s life is documented if he was born in the West. With digital album after album for every birthday, every Christmas, he will never struggle to remember what his childhood home looked like. That reaching, that vague warm feeling for a place one remembers but cannot see; that is a sense now growing extinct.

A child today grows up in a never forgotten house.”

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