Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why #yxu is a Bad Label

In the Twittersphere for London, Ontario there has been a trend recently to change what we use as a hashtag, or label, to identify tweets pertaining to our City and area.  For years now I have been using #LdnOnt as the hashtag for London.  As you can guess, simply using #London is often confused with London England and searching on that hashtag brings up both resident's tweets.  Recently, there has been an influx of competing hashtags, such as the current favourite #yxu.  Primarily, I see no reason to change my tried and true hashtag but let's see why I don't like #yxu.

Why is #yxu a bad Label?  It is Cryptic, Elitist, and Immemorable.

It is Cryptic because it is nonsense.  The letters do not stand for anything at all and you can not decipher its meaning by simply looking at it or cross-referencing it to any knowledge of London aside from it's actual precise representation.  So in other words, the only way to understand what it is, is to look it up and even then, it means nothing more than a code for London's Airport.

It is Elitist because if you do not know we are all using it, you would likely not intuit to use it.  My argument for this? How many people in London actually fly in or out of our Airport?  I've lived here for 6 years and have flown to British Columbia twice and don't even know where our airport is, let alone the code, I fly out of Pearson.  I have flown out of the Powell River airport twice and have no earthly idea what it's airport code is. Nor do I know the airport codes for Prince George or Orillia where I also resided for a number of years.

Ask yourself if someone in Hamilton or Chatham would think to look for London tweets by our airport code?  What about someone in Somalia?  I understand some major Canadian cities are using their codes, namely Vancouver and Toronto, but let's face it guys, those are two of the busiest International airports in all of Canada.  London is not.  So the way you'll know how to find our tweets is if... you already know the password into our elite club.

It is Immemorable because it is nonsense!  There is no mnemonic property at all to #yxu or any other airport code aside from pure coincidence.  For example, nearly every time I fly to Vancouver and decide to use the airport code at booking I have to double-check whether YVR or YYZ is Vancouver or Toronto - and that one even has a coincidental mnemonic in it (YVR has VR for VancouveR) but I start wondering, "or was it the opposite of what makes sense."  You see I can get doubtful because I know YYZ means nothing.  I know YXU means nothing.  How am I to remember them other than through sheer repetition?

In my opinion a good label, a good index, a good way for people to find each other is not something they have to learn.  It isn't something WE have to learn to use and memorize.  It is whatever comes naturally, whatever makes sense, and whatever means something. #ldnont isn't perfect, but it at least means something when you read it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An E-Prime Character Intro

Homework for my Writing Class had us writing a page in E-Prime and also beginning to jot down ideas for a Character we'd like to write about.

E-Prime, as explained in the link, has a great deal of potential as a tool to free up the English language from the constraints of too much reliance on the verb to be and with the pleasant side effect of improving readability for a broad range of individuals with difficulties reading contemporary writing.  The example given being persons with English as a Second Language (ESL) who have a difficult time following what is meant by our many subtle uses of the verb.

That sounds good, but writing in that mode takes a great deal of attention as I discovered when I combined the two objectives and wrote a story opening with a heavy focus on the main character and entirely in E-Prime.

The result follows, hit the break to see it and my thoughts on the exercise.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Intro to Fiction Class 1 - It Starts.

You may recall my fiction blurbs from last year, well they are about to resume.  Last week in Intro to Fiction we were given 10 or so minutes to jot down something in 1st Person narrative that would hopefully be intimate to the character.  This is what I threw up on the page:
I stepped out into the dim memory of a beautiful summer afternoon, diminished now to the half-light of coming night.  It was cooler and not least of all for the absence of the glowering sun overhead.

I love this time of the day, it always reminds me of the evenings I spent with my childhood friends many years ago.  How long has it been now since I last stayed out at kevin's place debating which comic book villain was best under an observant graveyard of stars?  Too long.  And yet, who thinks much of comics these days?

With a long breath I exhaled old thoughts and stretched my back, releasing old knots.  Where is that cat?

Furball is usually croaking his tired voice at me before I'm even halfway down memory lane to Kevin's old home.  I keep meaning to let him in before he can annoy the neighbours with his nighttime challenges up and down the neighbourhood and it looks like tonight I'm too early... only, I'm not.
I didn't edit this much, just a few typos and carriage returns, although a whole bunch of it is singing at me right now, not least of which is a little ditty about adverbs and useless words.  That said, it was fun to flex the creative muscle again, even if this one is highly unoriginal.  I also started reading a book on Characterization & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card which is very insightful.  I'll post whatever I write each week.  Our current assignment is to create a character of some sort so I'll post that soon.

Classes are on Wednesdays so stay tuned!

MMO Review: Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO)

Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) has gone Free to Play in the same style as previous Turbine games such as Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO). The main difference here is that LOTRO is a superior game.

While it vied to capitalize on the recent successful movie franchise, LOTRO licensed the video game rights from the books and as such, uses none of the imagery from the movies. That said it does a wonderful job of evoking a cinematic experience with such innovations as clever little intro videos for each race and class and nice short segue videos for important transitions in the main story arc of your character.

The game obviously takes the written works of Tolkien very seriously and there is a great deal of care taken to imbue every character and location with every factoid you could mine from it.

More after...