Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Here's a Chocolate Memory

Figurative Language in a Restaurant Review

English: This is a tongue
English: This is a tongue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I took a bite of the chili. I thought: "So this is what it's like to have your tongue sandpapered."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

L'esprit de l'escalier

English: View of the staircase Français : Vue ...
English: View of the staircase Français : Vue de l'escalier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ask me why

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Make Way for Adele?

Monday, January 25, 2016


the fourth blot of the Rorschach inkblot test
the fourth blot of the Rorschach inkblot test (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
the second blot of the Rorschach inkblot test
the second blot of the Rorschach inkblot test (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
the fifth blot of the Rorschach inkblot test
the fifth blot of the Rorschach inkblot test (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Write text here...

Former Class Does a Video of Quickie Reviews

Where's my Decoder Ring?

A four rotor Enigma machine.
A four rotor Enigma machine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In this review, I shall attempt to explore the broad discursive formations of hegemonic masculinity, and its relation to race, ethnicity and crime. For this, I will situate R.W. Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity in the critically acclaimed HBO TV show, The Wire (2002-2008), which primarily explores the drug culture and the political decadence and corruption of the city of Baltimore in early 21st century America.

My focus shall be on the reading Connell’s, as well as other theorists’ discussions on hegemonic masculinities, and focus specifically on locating multiple masculinities in geography of The Wire. For this, I shall specifically explore the relations within genders (masculinities) as relations between them, and proffer an understanding of what I call the patriarchal political-moral economy.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

"Encouraging" Thoughts about Writing Reviews in Hopes of Compensation

New York Times
Any paid news site would be competing with alternative versions of the same articles, delivered by multiple free news sources. "One of the problems is newspapers fired so many journalists and turned them loose to start so many blogs," says Alan Mutter. "They should have executed them. They wouldn't have had competition. But they foolishly let them out alive."

Posted at 8:27 AM Dec. 28, 2009

I Smash Your Face with a Power Tweet

English: Tweety Bird in his moment of debut wi...
English: Tweety Bird in his moment of debut with Catstello. Taken from the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Twitter Postings: Iterative Design

We made a timeline message more punchy, credible, and viral through 5 rounds of redesign.
A few days ago, I posted the announcement of our next usability conferences to Nielsen Norman Group's timeline on Twitter (@NNgroup).
I don't have all the guidelines for stream-based postings yet, because we're still conducting usability studies (particularly of B2B users, like my audience). But, based on the user sessions I've observed already, I put this posting through 5 rounds of iterative design.

1st Design

Announcing LAS VEGAS and BERLIN as the venues for our biggest usability conference of the year
Good: City names are highlighted, drawing the eye.
Bad: Starts with the non-information-carrying word "announcing." Of course it's an announcement — otherwise I wouldn't be posting it...
Remember that users tend to read only the first few characters as they scan down a list. Make them count.

2nd Design

LAS VEGAS and BERLIN are the venues for our biggest usability conference of the year
Good: Frontloading attractive keywords makes this version more scannable.
Bad: We lost the sense of news that "announcing" implied in the previous version.
Because many companies molest their poor followers with repeat postings about the same event, users have become somewhat hardened against event promotions.

3rd Design

LAS VEGAS (October) and BERLIN (November) are the venues for our biggest usability conference of the year
Good: Adding the months highlights that the conferences are coming up soon, regaining us some of that sense of news. Also, specificity is always a plus: it makes users feel like they're getting concrete and useful info, instead of the blather that characterizes so many B2B websites.
Bad: This draft Tweet is 133 characters, leaving only 7 characters for users who want to retweet. This isn't enough to add the customary 11-character attribution (RT@NNgroup), which is a must if we're going to benefit from the viral effect of our followers' followers being made aware of our feed.
(Keeping tweets below 130 characters won't be a long-term guideline because Twitter is redesigning to remove the source attributions from the main message content for repostings. Until this redesign goes live, however, it's best to leave slack in your original postings if you expect followers to share them.)

4th Design

LAS VEGAS (October) and BERLIN (November): venues for our biggest usability conference of the year
Good: Saved 6 characters by replacing "are the" with a colon. Full sentences aren't necessary for such short content, which users are scanning anyway. We're not trying to be the next Hemingway in a tweet.
Also: Fragments fine here. MS Word's squiggles frowning at you? Ignore them.
(Alternatively, I could have used a shorter URL shortcut, but there are benefits to giving people an idea of where the link will lead.)

5th Design

LAS VEGAS (October) and BERLIN (November): venues for our biggest usability conference ever
Good: Changed the awkward "biggest of the year" to the punchier "biggest ever." In addition to being shorter, "biggest ever" provides two additional benefits:
  • It's a more compelling argument for why readers should care and click through to see the full program
  • Growing during a bad recession is evidence of our strength and promises a positive experience, which is appealing to audiences who are tired of doom and gloom
This year, I'm producing 33 full-day seminars in Vegas compared with 31 in 2008, so I could have tried to squeeze in a reference to "6.5% growth since last year." But even though exact numbers have higher credibility than broader assertions, a tweet should be highly focused and not try to make multiple points.
Expanding by 6.5% during a recession is what evolutionary scientists call a "costly signal." That is, it's a way of communicating both the healthy status of usability in general and the high interest in our conference, which can't be faked: it costs real money to book more lecture rooms and fly in more speakers. Only a healthy peacock can grow a big tail.
Costly signals are more credible than unsupported boasts — whether you want to attract peahens or Web users. I was particularly interested in communicating a strong position last week, because we're currently recruiting new usability staff. The best people will consider leaving their current jobs only if they're confident of the new company's prospects.

When to Tweet

My last design decision was when to post the message to the Twitter timeline. My preferred tweeting time is 9:01 a.m. because it encompasses working hours from California to the U.K. and thus reaches a majority of our customers. (It's best to post a minute after the hour so you'll be listed on top of anybody who naively sets their software to release postings at exactly 9:00.)
In this case, however, German readers and others in continental Europe were particularly important, because we're going to Berlin for the first time. Thus, I pulled the posting time forward to 7:51 a.m. Pacific time, which is 4:51 p.m. in Germany and will still reach Californians who check Twitter during breakfast.
One of the big downsides of stream-based communication compared to email newsletters is the highly ephemeral nature of the postings: Once they scroll off the first screen, they're essentially 6 feet under.
A look at clickthrough statistics for links posted to Twitter vs. those circulated in email newsletters shows a drastically steeper decay function: lots of clicks the first few minutes, and then almost none. In contrast, email continues to generate clicks for days as people work their way through their inboxes.
  • Clickthrough decay: Twitter time passes 10 times faster than email time.
This makes it hard to reach an international customer base on Twitter, and makes it important to tweak the posting time relative to each topic's main target. (It's also one of the many reasons I continue to believe that email is a more powerful medium.)

Text is a UI

It's a common mistake to think that only full-fledged graphical user interfaces count as interaction design and deserve usability attention. As our earlier research has shown, URLs and email both contribute strongly to the Internet user experience and thus require close attention to usability to enhance the profitability of a company's Internet efforts.

In fact, the shorter it is, the more important it is to design text for usability.

Getting to Know You. Getting to Know All About You. Getting to Like You. Getting to Hope You Like Me.

Deutsch: Cocktail
Deutsch: Cocktail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Although we certainly don't read smart reviews so that we can engage in facile, superficial conversation with people who might be of use to us, if we ever find ourselves engaged in facile, superficial conversation with people who might be of use to us, having read the occasional smart review gives us a choice in the matter:

Cocktail Party Conversation: The Etiquette of Small Talk
Posted: 03/01/10 05:10 PM ET from Huffington Post

Be Well Informed , Business Cards , Cocktail Party Conversation , Etiquette Of Small Talk ,Meet And Greet , Potential ClientsMingle , Questions And Answers , 

The definition of small talk includes both light conversation and idle banter. Small talk is what people say to one another to be social. It breaks the ice. By asking general questions and giving answers, people connect. Small talk is not in-depth conversation, but rather an exchange of social niceties. A lot is written about the importance of grooming and proper dress, but if we can't make intelligent conversation it won't matter how we look once we open our mouths.
Many people feel right home in the office but are uncomfortable in the social arena for fear of making small talk, especially with potential clients or new friends. If you find small talk a big challenge, it's important to realize that all it really takes is a little preparation. George Bernard Shaw said, "One way to be popular is to listen attentively to a lot of things you already know."
What are some ways to make small talk?
Be well informed. Read at least one daily newspaper, weekly news magazine, or Internet news page.
A good conversation requires more listening than talking. If you forget names, it helps to repeat the person's name a few times in conversation.
If self-confidence is your issue, practice in front of a mirror. Smile, use good eye contact, and imagine Cary Grant staring back at you.
Before going to an event, read the headlines of the day, including the sports page. Current events are perfect for small talk.
Ask the other person about him- or herself. People are flattered to be asked and love to talk about themselves.
Be ready for a conversational pause and be ready to fill the void.
Focus on safe topics such as current events, new restaurants, hobbies, movies, mutual family or friends, and sports.
Avoid anything personal such as family issues, health issues, gossip, off-color jokes, religion, and the cost of things.
Learn when to exit a conversation. You should talk to someone just long enough to be polite and not let a three-minute conversation turn into thirty minutes. When you need to exit, try "Please excuse me" or "It was nice talking with you." No other explanation is necessary. A successful brief encounter requires a few well-chosen words, good eye contact, and a few minutes of your time. Susan Roane ( author of What Do I Say Next? says: "Your objective in all encounters should be to make a good impression and leave people wanting more." To do that, she advises: "Be bright. Be brief. Be gone."
If all of the above fails, play the game that Eleanor Roosevelt did while she was First Lady. She went down the alphabet until a subject sparked a listener's interest, starting with A. For example, A: Airline travel is sure not what it used to be?; B: Have you read Dan Brown's latest novel?; C: I hope the Chicago Cubs make it to the World Series in 2010? Got the idea?

Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the City & County of San Francisco and the founder of The AML Group, (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Cornell University and Microsoft to Nordstrom and KPMG. She has been quoted by The Sunday Times, the San Francisco Business Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. She has appeared on various radio and television stations, such as ABC, CBS, and Fox News. To learn more about Lisa, follow her and