Red Crosses

“A red cross symbol is not a generic symbol for first-aid, emergency, hospitals, healthcare or medical services, products or personnel. The red cross symbol is a trademark owned by the American Red Cross and protected by federal and state trademark law, unfair competition law and anti-dilution law, and it is also protected by federal criminal law (See 18 U.S.C. 706, 917). The American Red Cross vigorously pursues those who infringe American Red Cross trademarks.”

Wii Sports

“What strikes you immediately playing Wii Sports — and particularly Tennis — is this feeling of fluidity, the feeling that subtle, organic shifts in your body’s motion will lead to different results onscreen. My wife has a crosscourt slam she hits at the net that for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out; I have a topspin return of soft serves that I’ve half-perfected that’s unhittable. We both got to those techniques through our own athletic experimentation with various gestures, and I’m not sure I could even fully explain what I’m doing with my killer topspin shot. In a traditional game, I’d know exactly what I was doing: hitting the B button, say, while holding down the right trigger. Instead, my expertise with the shot has evolved through the physical trial-and-error of swinging the controller, experimenting with different gestures and timings. And that’s ultimately what’s so amazing about the device.” Steven Johnson

In my language

“Someone mentioned being dropped in the woods alone. That’s an interesting example… There are many other stories of autistic children — some thought to not understand a whole lot — who suddenly perform very well in survival situations. I have said before that I would probably perform better in a survival situation than in an apartment. In an apartment, the steps required to get things like sustenance are pretty divorced from what the things around you tell you. There’s nothing about refrigerators or stoves that tells me how to get food from them, and that’s something I in fact have a good deal of trouble with. In a survival situation, obtaining food becomes a much more physical and practical problem, something that I could probably handle better. It’s been shown that if you put me alone in an apartment for awhile, I can’t pick up any environmental cues for how to do things, so I don’t do a lot (I am not as good at most purely internally-directed physical actions). In a survival situation there are a wide variety of environmental cues that would prompt me into more action more readily. (Even living on the streets, which I only did for a few days during a housing problem, makes what needs to be done more apparent than living in an apartment.) This is of course not true for all of us, but I don’t doubt that it would be true for a substantial minority, and stories seem to bear that out.” Silent Miaow, an autistic woman who comments on her YouTube video, In My Own Language

We need to talk

“If you’ve ever wondered how it works, this is how it works: I don’t call Steve, Steve calls me. Or more accurately, someone in Steve Jobs’s office calls someone in my office—someone at a much higher pay grade —to say that he has something cool. I then fly to the metastasized strip mall called Cupertino, Calif., where Apple lives, sign some legal confidentiality stuff and am escorted to a conference room that contains Jobs, some associates, and some lumps concealed under some black towels. I stare at what was under the towels. Everybody else stares at me. This is how Apple, and nobody else, introduces new products to the press. It can be awkward, because Jobs is high-strung and he expects you to be impressed. I was, fortunately, and with good reason. Apple’s new iPhone could do to the cell phone market what the iPod did to the portable music player market: crush it pitilessly beneath the weight of its own superiority. This is unfortunate for anybody else who makes cell phones, but it’s good news for those of us who use them.” Lev Grossman, Time

They don’t build them like they use to

“Also something people seem to forget is that the examples of old things around today that we see are the good ones by definition. Sure that XT that still works today is reliable, but what about the ones that failed? Well you don’t see them because they are on the trash heap. Just because there’s a few examples of old items that have survived doesn’t mean they were all well made, may have just been some that were particularly lucky.”

Branding fidelity

“Wi-Fi doesn’t stand for anything. It is not an acronym. There is no meaning. Wi-Fi and the ying yang style logo were invented by Interbrand. We hired Interbrand to come up with the name and logo that we could use for our interoperability seal and marketing efforts. We needed something that was a little catchier than ‘IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence’. Interbrand created ‘Prozac’, ‘Compaq’, ‘oneworld’, ‘Imation’ and many other brand names that you have heard of… The only reason that you hear anything about ‘Wireless Fidelity’ is some of my colleagues in the group were afraid. They didn’t understand branding or marketing. They could not imagine using the name ‘Wi-Fi’ without having some sort of literal explanation.” Phil Belanger, founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance

It’s simple

Mistake 1: Simple visual appearance doesn’t = simple interface” Bruce Tognazzini

German engineering

“By 1941-42, the allies knew that US and even British tanks had been technically superior to German Panzer tanks in combat, but they were worried about the capabilities of the new marks IV and V. More troubling, they had really very little idea of how many tanks the enemy was capable of producing in a year… Both the British and the Americans… asked statistical intelligence to see whether the accuracy of the estimates could be improved. The statisticians had one key piece of information, which was the serial numbers on captured mark V tanks. The statisticians believed that the Germans, being Germans, had logically numbered their tanks in the order in which they were produced. And this deduction turned out to be right. It was enough to enable them to make an estimate of the total number of tanks that had been produced up to any given moment.” The Guardian


“After 30 years without a major design overhaul, the 51-year-old fast-food giant is adopting a hip new look. The world’s largest hamburger chain is redesigning its 30,000 eateries around the globe in a 21st century makeover of unprecedented scale… What will the new McDonald’s look like? ‘Think iPod: clean lines, simplicity’ … The signature mansard roof? … It’s being replaced by a flat roof topped by a newly designed, contemporary, golden sloping curve. Ronald McDonald appears safe: The mascot was given a leaner, sportier look just last year. And the iconic twin golden arches will still play a big role in the branding.” BusinessWeek


A grand unified theory

“I’ve got a different theory. YouTube and MySpace are runaway hits because they combine two attributes rarely found together in tech products. They’re easy to use, and they don’t tell you what to do.” Paul Boutin