Tag Archive | technology

P(rov)okemon

Pokemon Go has really gone crazy. People are racing all over the place chasing digital characters. Personally, I just don’t get it, I’m just a bit baffled that people care so much. But I respect that others will have a completely different perspective.

While I was trying to figure out my own confusion I started wondering about the idea of augmented reality and whether there could be some seriously practical, perhaps life-saving applications of this amazing technology. It really struck me when I read about an African American guy who was also hearing impaired needing a sticker on his car so that police would know not to shoot him if he didn’t do ‘as they said’. Wow – I mean, I cannot even imagine thinking about making sure the police do not see me as a threat, simply by being me. Could a form of augmented identification be a way of creating a reality where responding to assumptions and fears could be mediated by technology? Not that this is a solution for racism but if it is going to save the life of someone, is that not a good thing?

So here is where I think augmented tech could really help: If people have unique functioning or needs they could wear a bracelet – or some other transmitter – that, as soon as scanned by police, would flash up important information before they even got out of their car. It could even work at airports and other transport agencies, to ease access. To make it more personal and less like some dystopian form of ‘big brother’, maybe people could make up their own digital character that shares important facts, with a bit of their own humour or personality.

Because honestly, seeing the obsession over Pokemon Go is a bit creepy and I’m a bit scared the digital zombie apocalypse has begun. Unplug people, you don’t need Pikachu to help you explore the outdoors, because, are you really there if you’re staring at a screen? I have a new challenge –how many different forms of wheels can you transport yourself on?

That’s my ‘provoke-mon’.

 

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Sign of the times

I came across two media posts today about sign language. The first was regarding technology translating sign language into English (although I suppose it would have to just be English), and a feature on a chef in Christchurch who managed to find an employer open to functional diversity. It was interesting to hear that staff he worked with had started to learn sign language. Now that shouldn’t be shocking, it is an official language here but actually how often do we see sign language represented as a way of communicating?

Schools offer languages and part of me is curious to know how many offer sign language as an option. I know there is a form of international sign language, and wonder why this isn’t compulsory for everyone! Think about it if you needed to talk to someone in a different language, or you had a group with multiple languages, signing would be a simple and easy way to communicate quickly.

Now, as a cyclist I have been communicating through hand signals for years and it is satisfying to have someone understand you in a short series of gestures rather than the messy vocal stuff that I often want to say but usually try and keep in my head. So I reckon signing has to be one of the most useful skills anyone could have actually. Think about all the places where you can’t have a conversation or want to communicate something across a room. Heck rugby for a start could do with some signing, how many times does the hooker put a hand to their ear at the start of a lineout to try and hear what the call is! Players could communicate instantly across the field. Not so sure about underwater hockey and water polo though, might look like everyone is just waving at you.

So perhaps if you are looking to learn a language pick sign language and if your school isn’t offering it, ask why not? Or better yet if you have someone at your school who is using sign language just give it a go, for a start there is nothing hard about smiling, putting your hand up to say ‘Hi’. Check out the New Zealand Sign Language Online site.

I’m going to be spending some time there – adding to my cycling vocabulary.

Back to the future

In 1989 Marty McFly travelled to the future. The mysterious date was 21st October 2015. That date has arrived. No hoverboards and no self lacing shoes, but plenty of other tech was spot on. Some of the fashion looks suspiciously 1980’s but with sheen and shine added. I was also a bit excited yesterday about the new Star Wars movie – The Force Awakens trailer being released. I think I freaked a few people out at work with the intensity of my enthusiasm.

When thinking future I imagine technology. I imagine what humans might be wearing and sorry Star Trek fans – it isn’t a lycra onesie. But I hope gender kind of breaks down in the future that clothing is about what works, does the job.

So how is functionality defined in clothing? Movement? Comfort? I’m not really sure anymore after talking to some insightful young people at school. They came to me about wanting the uniform reviewed. It seems we kind of got stuck back in time with dresses and skirts and this strange third option called culottes. Think skirt but with a parting in the middle, so it looks like a skirt but is supposed to ‘function’ like shorts…yeah right.

My point is no-where in any future movie do you see culottes. I don’t think Daisy Ridley will be taking down storm troopers in culottes in The Force Awakens. Culottes are a bad compromise sometimes you have to pick a side – the middle is not comfortable. To offer truly functional options there needs to be shorts and pants as well as skirts, dresses, tunics and multiple shirt options – short and long sleeve.

But maybe the really radical future idea is no uniform. At the very least not prescribing uniform based on someones hormones, chromosomes and those bits only health teachers get to talk about.

Celebrating diversity by looking the same?

Most New Zealand secondary schools have a uniform of some kind or other. They have evolved over time (thank goodness) but they essentially do the same thing – identify students with a school and are way to ensure discipline. Some might say they help foster pride and help ‘erase’ inequality. Another idea is that wearing a uniform helps prepare people for work where you might have to wear the same thing every day. Uniform doesn’t stop there though, hair length and colour can be ‘uniformed’ as with jewellery and make up. A lot of schools will have a boys and girls uniform or if you are at a single sex school, more than likely you have one uniform option.

So where did the idea for school uniform come from? I’ve done a bit of superficial research on the history of school uniforms. Essentially they came about to bring ‘order’ to perceived chaos in English schools but quickly became a way of showing educational status through what school you went to. The Blazer evolved to give status to Public Grammar schools as they emulated private schools.  Read More…

History never repeats…or does it?

After viewing the artwork of Pawel Kuczynski a number of times I hear myself wondering how often do we think we have progressed or somehow learned from history (our collective cultural experience?) only to find ourselves ‘back where we started.’ Or perhaps it isn’t quite ‘going back’ but a kind of social amnesia? This could happen due to time, as generations move through and build on the past. Maybe building is a good metaphor because you can strip something back and keep the framework and rebuild something that looks different but is really the same thing but with a new look.

Another thing we do with history is we assume that we naturally progress or get better with time. How do you measure progress? I suppose technology is a good place to start. It would be hard to argue that we are more technologically advanced but is that the same as progress? Human rights might be another measure of progress, but is this where we see different countries operating versions of rights that seem from another part of history. I find it really difficult to accept that people can be stoned to death in the year 2014.

Above is my favourite Kuczynski piece that provokes a sense of ‘wait a minute…something is wrong with this picture.’

 

Ready to pass The Ball?

All across New Zealand, High Schools are gearing up for Ball season. It’s a curious event The School Ball, generations have experienced it. I’m from a time when we actually had to formal dance and I was secretly delighted having been sent to ballroom dancing lessons and couldn’t wait to show off my skills. But I’m not sure if that is something young people miss or want, I’d be interested to find out. If we are going to hold onto such a tradition should we be making more of an effort to hold onto some of the rituals that came with The Ball up until a few years ago. Some of the markers of the modern ball are schools recognising that not everyone wants to take someone of the opposite sex and I think this is a change worth celebrating.

I do know, that regardless of your date, a lot of effort goes into preparing. It is a chance to dress up for a night and some of the worries about the big night are just the same. Do parents still give ‘the talk?’ and the ‘curfew’ or has the age of technology enabled a more fluid kind of arrangement? I know we never had ‘the Police talk’ but then our ‘after ball’ was a few mates around with the record player/tape deck (now there is a generation marker for you) turned up loud. I’ve got a feeling after balls have taken on a whole new meaning or am I missing something? What does The School Ball actually mean to young people and do we still need it? What do parents think of it? Is the After Ball actually more important? And how is technology influencing the capturing of the moment the good the bad and the ‘ugly.’  Read More…