Showing posts from February, 2008

Beware. Be Very Ware: Neither West Nor East Monolithic

There’s an interesting piece by Chinese born graphic designer Yang Liu (sometimes spelled Liu Young) now appearing in emails and blogs everywhere. You can find the whole message by googling Liu Young and it is on many blogs including but it is not on her own website I give just one example here. Apparently the images in this message are taken from an exhibition called Ost Trifft West (“East Meets West”) she made at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May-June 2007 and express visually the differences between east and west. At first sight it looks very interesting and very clever, but if you have not yet mastered intercultural differences then I recommend that you beware. Be very ware! Yang lives in Germany and this clearly colors her perception of European culture. In the visual reproduced here you see that punctuality in China is not so precise, while in Europe,

First Catch Your Problem -- A Good Solution to the Wrong Problem is Not a Solution

In 2006 newspapers reported* on the results of a study to determine the best way to load passengers onto an airplane. In the study they tested various strategies: a free for all; boarding the back rows first and so on. Their conclusion was that the fastest way of boarding passengers was to board first window seats, then middle seats, then aisle seats. Not surprisingly they chose not to adopt this ruthless technique. All of this is very interesting but the problem is not how to get the passengers onto the plane faster but how to get more time for the boarding. Perhaps you could speed up boarding by using a slide instead of a walkway and by hiring ex-marine instructors to shout encouraging words. But commonsense – actually a very rare commodity – should tell you that passengers will never board much faster, whatever you do. But why do they need to get on faster anyway? Between the last passengers of one flight disembarking and the first passenger of the next boarding there is alwa

The Og Fat Mystery; Using Abbreviations Sensibly

Browsing in a supermarket today I saw a packet of crackers I had never seen before. Checking the labeling I saw a reassuring “baked in a nut free facility” (you definitely don’t want nuts baking your crackers) but I saw a worryingly long list of ingredients. The list didn’t seem to include anything obviously dangerous, but on the front of the box there was a note that it contained trans fat. Worse, reading more carefully I saw that it contained “og trans fat”. I had no idea what “og” meant but og fat doesn’t sound like something you want inside you. But then I suddenly realized that what the anonymous cracker box copy writer intended to say was that it contained zero grams of trans fat. Aaaaaah! If the copy writer intended to mean “contains no trans fat”, then I would respectfully suggest writing exactly that: “contains no trans fat”. Reasonable alternatives might include “trans fat free” or “contains zero trans fat”. If you wanted to put a more positive spin you could try “contains on