VizThink2: MindMaps – May 7, 2007

I’m pleased to announce we’ve got VizThink2 lined up.

This time around Mark Mulholland will be delving into the world of mindmapping. In much the same way as VizThink1 Mark is planning to cover some of the basic theory and show you other uses for MindMaps that you may not have thought of – he’ll also be mixing in some practical exercises for good measure.

Check out the VizThink2 Wiki if you’re interested or want to sign up.

If you’re interested in sponsoring this, or other upcoming VizThinks (VizThink3 is already in the planning stages, watch for an announcement shortly) please get in touch with me – ryan(dot)coleman(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hope to see you at VizThink2!

Cards & Photos from VizThink1

VizThink1_comm

For those who were at VizThink1 I’ve also managed to get the cards (thanks for scanning Nick!) and some photos up on Flickr. You can view them here.

When did Critical Thinking fall by the wayside?

A while back I did a “tongue-in-cheek” post about how the computers will eventually take us (humans) out. The underlying idea though is my serious concern of the apparant lack of critical thinking skills within the population in general.

James Woods (the geek not the actor) passed me over another “Driver blindly follows GPS” story this morning.

…when a U.K. woman sent her £96k Mercedes SL500 flying into a river, trusting the car’s optimistic GPS guidance instead of the road signs warning of impending doom.

The sad thing is this has gotten to be a weekly, if not daily occurance at this point. If anyone knows this woman, or someone who’s done something equally as ridiculous, can you please ask them on my behalf “At what point did you realize something was wrong?” or even better “Did you even hit the brakes?”

I see it every day as well where people step out into a crosswalk, without looking, simply because the “walking man” is lit.

This is very much in the same vein of the increasingly ridiculous use of common sense warnings, on signs and products – Like the fast food coffee cups that now all carry “This beverage is hot, please enjoy carefully” (or something thereabouts). It scares me that people who deliberately order coffee have to then be told “It’s hot”.

Scarier still is the fact I always assume that if it was important enough to put on a label then someone has probably tried it – seriously do people think at all before they do something? At the end of the day I feel pretty strongly that one of the biggest problems in society today is a total lack of personal responsibility – there is always someone, or usually something, else to blame for your misfortune.

In the case of the woman above many will probably blame the GPS device because it told her to turn left, but in the end there’s only one person who is holding the wheel and pushing the pedals. I guess it’s only a matter of time until car manufacturers decide that the simple disclaimer that appears when you start the car is no longer sufficient:

“Attention. If there is no oncoming traffic and the road ahead of you is not blocked, partially submerged, under construction or gone entirely you should turn left in 10 metres. Please be advised though that the temperature is around freezing and ice may be present. Under inflation of tires may also cause for slight understeer, please compensate accordingly accordingly. I also sense that the cell phone is in operation and you only have one hand on the wheel, it is reccomended that one have both hands on the wheel at all times while operating a motor vehicle. XYZ Autocorp is not responsible for any accidents that may occur as a result of this direction, please honk your horn before turning to indicate acceptance of these turns.”

Toot. toot.

Photo: Grant Mitchell

Found in, uh, Translation

Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics, put up an interesting post over on the Freakonomics blog a little earlier this evening about a copy of the book he just received which had just been translated into Serbian and released:

It seems that whoever performed the translation (perhaps localization is the better term after reading the post) also took the liberty of translating the authors’ names for them:

The second thing I noticed is that it was written by Stiven D. Levit and Stiven Dz. Dabner. Isn’t it strange to change the names of the authors? I can see if you are using a different alphabet you might not have a choice, but would it be normal to take the second “t” off my last name, or to turn “Dubner” into “Dabner?”

One of the chapters in the book was focused entirely on popular names in the US and amusingly they were also changed. A commenter on the post suggests:

It’s common in Eastern Europe to print foreign names using their prounciation. Hence I grew up learning about Waszyngton located in Wirginia named after Jerzy Waszyngton.

The blog in general is quite good but be sure to give this post a quick read at the very least.

To the language professionals out there I ask – what is the “rule” around this?

I’m going to be in San Francisco April 9-12….

I’m going to be in San Francisco April 9-12th for the Gilbane Conference.

Right now I’ve managed to set aside the Monday night (Apr 9) as a definite evening to meet up with SF locals from the BarCamp (or other) scenes as well as people coming into town for the conference.

I created an event over on Upcoming.org which you can find here. If you’re interested in meeting up, grabbing a bite and/or a few drinks please add yourself to the list.

Hope to meet some of you in San Francisco!