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Today from my desk I looked out the window and watched cherry blossom petals blowing around in the wind like pink snow.  It occurred to me that there must be a Japanese word that describes the phenomenon of falling pink petals.  After some research I discovered not one, but two Japanese expressions for this.

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Happy 80th Birthday, Jane Goodall.

It’s that time of the year again (さくら)

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You’ll be missed, Roger Ebert.

In 2005, the documentary film “Touch the Sound” about deaf Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie was released … without subtitles.  I wrote to the director, Thomas Riedelsheimer, to point out this irony; a movie about a deaf person that deaf people couldn’t watch.  He responded and said that he decided not to include subtitles because they would interfere with the “visual aesthetics” of the film.

I forwarded the email to Roger Ebert.  He touched on the no-subtitle issue in the last two paragraphs of his review here:

Note: “Touch the Sound” is not subtitled, and its words are therefore unavailable to the hearing-impaired. Riedelsheimer is said to oppose subtitles because they would affect his visual compositions. Presumably he is as entitled to the same control over his art that his subjects exercise, but such directors as Ozu, Bergman, Scorsese and Welles have lived with subtitles, and I imagine he could have, too.

The music in the film might in any case be out of reach to most in a hearing-impaired audience, so perhaps the DVD will be a better way for them to access it. Volume can be manipulated, the actual speakers can be touched with hands and feet or sat upon, the bass can be boosted, and the experience might approximate what Glennie herself perceives. Almost all DVDs are subtitled even in the language of their making; if the DVD of “Touch the Sound” lacks subtitles, then Riedelsheimer will have some explaining to do.

Thanks for that, Roger.  Godspeed.

Making an argument in favor of infinite scroll

Dan McKinley, who is the principal engineer at Etsy, gave an informative talk last  year about why infinite scroll failed on etsy.com.  The results of Etsy’s research surprised me.  During A/B testing, the Etsy engineers discovered that when users were presented with infinite scroll, they clicked fewer items, favorited fewer items, and stopped using the search function to find items.  In Etsy’s case, infinite scroll led to less user engagement.

Infinite scroll is a topic of consternation among UX designers.  We either love it or hate it.  Me?  I am somewhere down the middle.  I can see places where infinite scroll works and where it doesn’t (tumblr, I am looking at you.)  When designing the user experience of large-scale search results, it’s challenging to find a way to streamline the experience so the user can find what they want quickly and efficiently.

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