Synesthesia

Boing Boing recently pointed to a video that explains the neurology and experience of synesthesia, the condition where some people’s sensory perception crosses wires, where numbers and letters have colors, flavors have shapes, words have tastes.

At UX Week a couple weeks ago, we had a day devoted to perception, keynoted by Dr. Temple Grandin. Before she spoke, I showed a very strange short film I had found online, also called “Synesthesia.” It’s not really worth describing in detail — it’s a four minute art piece that tries to capture the synesthetic reality in a highly impressionistic fashion, photographed beautifully.

I’m surprised that the film hasn’t gotten more traction online — it strikes me as the kind of thing that folks would love. And good for Sunday web viewing!

Awesome. And congrats!

Over 8 years ago I blogged about LineDrive, a mapping technology that attempted to simulate the types of maps humans draw. I was even emailed by it’s creator, Maneesh Agrawala.

This morning, as I read the SF Gate, I found out that Maneesh just won a MacArthur fellowship! I hadn’t kept up with him, but he’s now teaching at UC Berkeley, and continues to endeavor to understand how people process visual information, including maps. Lots and lots of maps. I’m probably fooling myself if I think I’ll find the time to look over what he’s done the past few years, but it sure seems worthwhile!

Unsee

Today’s “On Language” column in The New York Times addresses the rise of the prefix “un” in the time of increased computer use and social networking.

A word unmentioned in the article, but which I’m growing to love, is “unsee“. It’s a strange word, because, as the phrase goes, once you’ve seen something, you can’t unsee it (I think I was introduced to this unfortunate reality when someone showed me tubgirl. Which I will not link to. As I don’t want you to see it, much less vainly try to unsee it.)

A different use of “unsee” comes in China Mieville’s latest novel The City and The City, set in a geography where two cities literally overlap and integrate in space, and residents of one are raised from birth to “unsee” what goes on in the other. It’s a concept that appears bizarre at first, until you realize, as a city-dweller, just how much you unsee of what’s around you (homelessness, squalor, nefarious activity).

I’m trying to figure out what Facebook is thinking…

This New York Times article discusses how Facebook is doing more and more to come across as Twitter-like.

Which strikes me as absurd. Facebook and Twitter serve some pretty distinct needs. Any move toward “Twitter-like” will detract from Facebook’s core offerings, and is thus likely to piss off the literally hundreds of millions of people who already use it. And I’m sure there’s heaps more to do with that core offering–focusing on really blowing out that “social graph” experience must have tons of opportunity. Why distract itself with a wholly orthogonal communication model?