Glassdoor.com ranked the top 25 oddball job interview questions from 2011.
Jack LambertResearcher/Reporter - Baltimore Business JournalEmail
Interviewing for a job can be very stressful. Some of the questions can really make you sweat as you try and find the right things to say.
Others, not so much.
Glassdoor.com, a jobs and career website, recently released its top-25 “oddball questions” from interviewers in 2011. The company picked through more than 150,000 interview questions to come up with some of the wackiest things job candidates were asked in 2011.
Here is the list:
1. “How many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30pm on a Friday?” – asked at Google, vendor relations manager candidate
2. “Just entertain me for five minutes, I’m not going to talk.” – asked at Acosta, leadership development program associate candidate.
3. “If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?” – asked at Hewlett-Packard, product marketing manager candidate
4. “What do you think of garden gnomes?” – asked at Trader Joe’s, team member candidate
5. “Is your college GPA reflective of your potential?” – asked at the Advisory Board, strategic marketing associate candidate
6. “Would Mahatma Gandhi have made a good software engineer?” – asked at Deloitte, analyst candidate
7. “If you could be number one employee but have all your coworkers dislike you or you could be number 15 employee and have all your coworkers like you, which would you choose?” – asked at ADP, inside sales associate candidate
8. “How would you cure world hunger?” – asked at Amazon.com, software developer candidate
9. “Room, desk and car - which do you clean first?” – asked at Pinkberry, shift lead candidate
10. “Does life fascinate you?” – asked at Ernst & Young, tax analyst candidate
11. “Given 20 ‘destructible’ light bulbs (which breaks at certain height), and a building with 100 floors, how do you determine the height that the light bulb breaks?” – asked at QUALCOMM, engineering candidate
12. “Please spell ‘diverticulitis’.” – asked at EMSI Engineering, account manager candidate
13. “Name 5 uses of a stapler without staple pins.” – asked at EvaluServe, business analyst candidate
14. “How much money did residents of Dallas/Ft. Worth spend on gasoline in 2008?” – asked at American Airlines, revenue management candidate
15. “How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?” – asked at Horizon Group Properties, office assistant candidate
16. “You have a bouquet of flowers. All but two are roses, all but two are daisies, and all but two are tulips. How many flowers do you have?” – asked at Epic Systems, corp. project manager/implementation consultant candidate
17. “How many planes are currently flying over Kansas?” – asked at Best Buy, demand planning analyst candidate
18. “How many different ways can you get water from a lake at the foot of a mountain, up to the top of the mountain?” – asked at Disney Parks and Resorts, project engineering intern candidate
19. “What is 37 times 37?” – asked at Jane Street Capital, assistant trader candidate
20. “If you could be a superhero, what power would you possess?” – asked at Rain and Hail Insurance, claim auditor candidate
21. “If you were a Microsoft Office program, which one would you be?” – asked at Summit Racing Equipment, ecommerce candidate
22. “Pepsi or Coke?” – asked at United Health Group, associate project manager candidate
23. “Are you exhaling warm air?” – Asked at Walker Marketing, client manager candidate
24. “You’re in a row boat, which is in a large tank filled with water. You have an anchor on board, which you throw overboard (the chain is long enough so the anchor rests completely on the bottom of the tank). Does the water level in the tank rise or fall?” – asked at Tesla Motors, mechanical engineer candidate
25. “How do you feel about those jokers at Congress?” – asked at Consolidated Electrical, management trainee candidate
Nick Bilton/The New York TimesEMT Labs, a testing center in Mountain View, Calif., measures electromagnetic interference from gadgets to ensure that they meet Federal Communications Commission standards.
Since I wrote a column last month asking why these rules exist, I’ve spoken with the F.A.A., American Airlines, Boeing and several others trying to find answers. Each has given me a radically different rationale that contradicts the others. The F.A.A. admits that its reasons have nothing to do with the undivided attention of passengers or the fear of Kindles flying out of passengers’ hands in case there is turbulence. That leaves us with the danger of electrical emissions.
The Federal Aviation Administration has its reasons for preventing passengers from reading from their Kindles and iPads during takeoff and landing. But they just don’t add up.
For answers, I headed down to EMT Labs, an independent testing facility in Mountain View, Calif., that screens electrical emissions of gadgets that need to pass health, safety and interference standards.
Before I share the results of the tests EMT ran, let me explain what this means. Every electronic device throws off electrical emissions. This is the slight hum of energy that emanates from a device when in use. Labs like EMT test electronics of all sizes to ensure that they meet government standards and will not interfere with other electronics when in use.
Gadgets are tested by monitoring the number of volts per meter coming off a device. The F.A.A. requires that before a plane can be approved as safe, it must be able to withstand up to 100 volts per meter of electrical interference.
When EMT Labs put an Amazon Kindle through a number of tests, the company consistently found that this e-reader emitted less than 30 microvolts per meter when in use. That’s only 0.00003 of a volt.
“The power coming off a Kindle is completely minuscule and can’t do anything to interfere with a plane,” said Jay Gandhi, chief executive of EMT Labs, after going over the results of the test. “It’s so low that it just isn’t sending out any real interference.”
But one Kindle isn’t sending out a lot of electrical emissions. But surely a plane’s cabin with dozens or even hundreds will? That’s what both the F.A.A. and American Airlines asserted when I asked why pilots in the cockpit could use iPads, but the people back in coach could not. Yet that’s not right either.
“Electromagnetic energy doesn’t add up like that. Five Kindles will not put off five times the energy that one Kindle would,” explained Kevin Bothmann, EMT Labs testing manager. “If it added up like that, people wouldn’t be able to go into offices, where there are dozens of computers, without wearing protective gear.”
Bill Ruck, principal engineer at CSI Telecommunications, a firm that does radio communications engineering, added: “Saying that 100 devices is 100 times worse is factually incorrect. Noise from these devices increases less and less as you add more.”
The F.A.A. does allow some electronics during takeoff and landing. Portable voice recorders, hearing aids, heart pacemakers and electric shavers are permitted during all times of a flight.
So I took a Sony voice recorder that I bought at Best Buy and tested that too. The results? The voice recorder puts off almost exactly the same electrical emissions as the Kindle. In many instances of the test, the voice recorder actually emitted more.
In 2006, a report commissioned by the F.A.A. determined that people could not use electronics during takeoff and landing. I asked Dave Carson, a Boeing engineer who was co-chairman of the group that wrote the report, why we are allowed voice recorders and electric razors but not Kindles and iPads.
In an e-mail, Mr. Carson said that voice recorders and razors had been determined to “not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used” though he wrongly thought that the F.A.A. banned those devices nonetheless. Mr. Ruck said: “The only reason these rules exist from the F.A.A. is because of agency inertia and paranoia.”
The F.A.A. and other groups seem to be running out of reasons we can’t use digital e-readers on planes during takeoff and landing. Maybe their next response will be: “Because I said so!”
What is the deal with international comedy? Join me each week to ask that very question in Comedy Tourism as I explore different trends and traditions of how the rest of the world makes funny in their respective native tongues. Don’t forget your passports! Just kidding, you don’t need your passport. Or do you? (You don’t.)
This joke, or some modified version of it, is one of the most famous jokes in the canon of Gabrovian humor. Gabrovo is a small city in the Republic of Bulgaria, a small former-Soviet country in Eastern Europe nestled under Romania and next to the Black Sea (I’ve heard it’s simply gorgeous this time of year).
Hey, did you hear the one about the people who cut off the tails of their cats?
Why would anyone do such a thing?
So the door closes faster when they let the cat out.
At some point in the past, residents of Gabrovo gained notoriety for being excessively stingy. Like, stingy to the point they might cut off the tails of their cats in order to save heat. Were you to put this in the context of a playground insult battle in America, or “snaps,” one would simply need to launch a “This one Gabrovonian was sooooo cheap he…” and most Bulgarians would follow suit. To be clear, though, this miserly reputation does not extend to Bulgarians as a people. It’s an incredibly specific characterization of one town that has over time become a national joke. Of course, when life hands the people of Gabrovo lemons, they don’t need them because no one in town will pay a nickel for lemonade.
See, at some point in time Gabrovo decided to take the jokes made at their expense and turn them into a badge of honor. Talk about thrifty. In fact, Gabrovo went so far as to declare themselves an international capital of humor and satire. Hubris and self-deprecation, yeah we got that. Now on sites such as Wikipedia, Gabrovonians are described as the ones having a sense of humor about themselves. I personally doubt a joke singling out a group of people for their flaws would be incepted within that group, but this humor is so strongly tied to their identity at this point it may as well be true.
According to the House of Humor and Satire, which we will get to in just a moment, Gabrovonian jokes came about when the industrial revolution reached the town. As business folk, they knew the value of laughing at themselves. As a people, Gabrovonians had a reputation for being “fast, inventive, sharp-witted and able to make something out of nothing.” So when booming industry birthed a middle-class in the town, the socially elevated couldn’t quite shake the urge to pinch pennies — from this came Gabrovo anecdotes. The oral tradition got a boost from national newspaper coverage throughout Bulgaria, and the jokes are still well known within the nation’s borders today. Now, the cat with the stub for a tail has long been a famous symbol of the Gabrovo town. The other part of his tail has gone on to lesser successes.
With a light googling of “Gabrovo jokes,” you will find the Internet aplomb with some of the classics. One such:
A good Gabrovian always heats their knives when guests come over for tea so that they are unable to help themselves to butter.
But I was disappointed to happen on the same 7 or 8 over and over again — that is, until I found book of books Gabrovo Anecdotes available in its entirety online. Published by the House of Humor and Satire (I promise we will get to it) this book attempts to put to page a near century if not more of oral tradition poking fun at the Gabrovonian way. I can’t vouch for the legality of the source, but if you find your appetite whet for more Gabrovo zingers — you’ll find the book in three parts: here, here and here. For the rest of you, here’s a choice few examples I’ve plucked from the pages:
Well, you get the idea right? I could go on but it would be a disservice to the Gabrovonian way.
A friend from the war years paid a Gabrovonian a visit, the latter hastened to show him the town and its sights. Finally, they came to a new restaurant and the host suggested:
“You can have a cheap meal here, while I run over to my place for a little while.”
It’s Always Worth Trying
A Gabrovonian had to mend his door and sent his little son to the neighbor’s to ask for a hatchet. The child soon returned empty-handed — the neighbor had lied to him he had none. “Don’t bother about that miser,” was the father’s indignant reply. “Bring ours up from the cellar.”
One Will Do
“Have you got a picture of your twins?”
“Here it is”
“But there’s only [one] of them on it”
“That’s quite enough. The other one is just like him.”
So why don’t we talk about the House of Humor and Satire. As I mentioned, Gabrovo has deemed itself an international destination for humor and satire. They continue to host annual comedy festivals, and in the past have honored the likes of Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut. The early 1970’s saw the transformation of a leather factory into a museum devoted entirely to the funny: aptly named the House of Humor and Satire. Its motto: “The World Lasts Because It Laughs.” At the very least, that certainly holds true for Gabrovonians.
Despite accruing a sizeable collection of humorous literature and art, the fall of the Berlin Wall and dissolution of the Soviet Union has not always been kind to the Bulgarian economy. Though still standing, the House of Humor and Satire is struggling. A few months ago, Michael Kimmelman from the New York Times visited the House as told in his article entitled “Take My Bulgarian Joke Book. Please.” He describes the museum to be too “earnest” to be just an ironic tourist attraction, yet still in danger of becoming a relic. They don’t just need currency in monetary form, they are desperately seeking it culturally too.
That said, the Gabrovo Carnival of Humor marches on. As seen in this NTD television report, everything is fodder.
Truth is, the jokes feel dated. Despite dark undertones, always in style, Gabrovo anecdotes feel more like historical artifacts than relatable stories. To be completely honest, when I read they declared themselves a comedy capital I laughed. At them. Not with them. But knowing the Gabrovonians, they’ve probably taken on the joke as their own already.
Laura Turner Garrison sometimes writes commercials, she sometimes writes comedy, but she always rights wrongs.
I want to publish my own e-book and sell it online on a major Web site. Where do I start?
Writing, editing and proofreading your book manuscript is the first step. Once you have finished your book, perhaps one of the easiest ways to get it out there for sale is to use publishing tools from the major online bookstores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Amazon has a Kindle Direct Publishing service that lets you self-publish your own e-books and sell them in its online Kindle store. The site has tutorials for properly formatting and uploading your book file to make it compatible with the Kindle, Amazon’s own e-reader hardware. You need an account to use the service, but you can use your existing Amazon.com account if you already buy things from the site. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Help page has the information you need to get started, including an explanation of the royalties you can earn and Amazon’s share of the profits.
Barnes and Noble has its own publishing platform called PubIt that can be used to upload and distribute e-books in its Nook online bookstore. The PubIt site accepts files in the ePub format, but it also has tools that convert Microsoft Word, RTF files, HTML documents and plain-text files into ePub. It doesn’t cost anything to use PubIt, but you do need an account, and Barnes and Noble takes a percentage of your book’s list price in exchange for selling your work. The PubIt Support page has information on prices, percentages and using the service.
If you do not want to use a publishing tool dedicated to a specific online store, an e-book distribution service like Smashwords can help you get your work out to a variety of online bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple’s iBookstore and the Sony Reader store.
It’s a good thing I enjoy humor because, if I had to estimate, I’d put the number of humor pieces I’ve read this year somewhere in the low thousands. As a fan — and someone who’s numb the the embarrassment that comes with laughing aloud while riding public transportation — I imagine I’d have read some fraction of these just for fun. But as someone who’s had the privilege of editing Splitsider’s Humor Section for the past nine months and compiling the list below (who am I kidding? tl;dr), I’ve been overwhelmed in the best way possible by the volume and quality of the humorists populating the internet. So many good things exist! And here are more than a few:
“American Dream” by Teddy Wayne – Shouts and Murmurs: If you’re anything like me, you’ve always wanted to read Dick Cheney’s paleoconservative fan fiction, fever dream-induced vision of America. Lucky for us all, the consistently funny Teddy Wayne ventures where liberals fear to tread – into the unconscious mind of Dick – in “American Dream.” If the twin terrors of “the rap music” and “The New York Times” keep you up at night, remove your tongue from your cheek and enjoy.
“Paywall” by John Gillespie – Shouts and Murmurs: John Gillespie successfully lampoons several things at once in “Paywall” – oversharing, insipid suburbanites, the oversaturation of content on the web, the value of intellectual property, web marketing, and tons more. So what is “Paywall” about? Imagine that improbably long Christmas letter your mom sends every year, but weekly and behind the eponymous paywall – because when you’ve got something good, why not incentivize?
“Do You Like Me? Click Yes or No” by Jason Harrington – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Spoofing online opportunists was definitely a thing this year. From “Paywall” above to Alex Blagg’s pitch-perfect A Bajillion Hits to Jason Harrington’s “Do You Like Me? Click Yes or No” – the story of a grade school relationship in the digital age, humorists made their feelings known about your personal brand. After all, if everyone’s a content creator, who’s consuming all this stuff?
“Money Can Buy Happiness, As If” by Woody Allen – Shouts and Murmurs: Did you think Woody Allenwouldn’t be on this list? The inclusion of Woody Allen’s annual Shouts and Murmurs contribution almost feels like hype, but the emperor is still fully clothed! In “Money”, Woody Allen imagines Monopoly – the boardgame – with real world stakes: insider trading, legal ramifications, familial strains, and more. This simple, but well-executed piece almost makes the idea of the forthcoming Monopoly movie (ugh…) seem palatable. Almost. With lines like “[he] had recently passed Go and was liquid” and “his demands for rent after the next person had thrown the dice led to complicated litigation,” I don’t think I’d mind a Monopoly movie with Woody Allen at the helm. But we all know that’s never EVER going to happen.
“Wager” by Ben Greenman – Shouts and Murmurs: Even it weren’t bylined, I’d probably recognize a Ben Greenman piece by its ending – which will often simultaneously provide the reader with a satisfying sense of completion and the feeling that he or she is trapped on one of MC Escher’s staircases. I have very few opinions about sports, but in “Wager,” Greenman mobiuses his way into a pretty convincing extended metaphor about the similarities between athletes and politicians. Similarly, after finishing his “Paper Trail” for McSweeney’s, I was reminded of one of my favorite Jack Lewis sci-fi shorts, the baffling “Who’s Cribbing?” – the titular question is never answered, by the way.
“I’d Like To Buy Your Novel, Good Sir” by Andrew Ford – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Writing, as we all know, is a very public performance art and should be done before an audience of as many people as can be tolerated. That’s obviously FALSE, but if aliens came to any of Earth’s coffee shops, I’m not sure we’d be able to convince them otherwise. Andrew Ford takes on the caffeinated literati in “I’d Like To Buy Your Novel, Good Sir”, the tale of every entitled scribe/temporarily embarrassed millionaire’s wildest dream – that a kind benefactor would fund their aimlessness. This Mad Men quote comes to mind:
Roger Sterling: “I guarantee it—in the bottom drawer of every desk in this place is the first ten pages of a novel.”
Don Draper: “Five.”
“Family Meeting Announcing My Recently Published Submission” by Tim Cushing – The Bygone Bureau: If you write things on the internet – and let’s be honest, who doesn’t? – it may be hard to explain to your family exactly what you’re doing with your life. In this piece for The Bygone Bureau, Tim Cushing attempts the impossible. My mom still isn’t comfortable with me being featured on a site called “Jezebel” because of its Bibical slut-shaming implications, so Cushing’s narrator veers almost too deeply into it’s-funny-because-it’s-true territory with this piece, telling his family, on the subject of his obscure publishing credit: “Your previous unawareness of its existence has little bearing on its renown and respectability.” OKAY, MOM?
“The Seething Resentment Reading Series” by Lucas Klauss – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:Don’t you hate it when people are successful AT you? It’s the worst! Just as in Mike Drucker’s hilarious “A Form Letter to Your Friends Regarding Their New TV Show” for Splitsider, Klauss’s “Reading Series” speaker manages to tunnel away his resentment by being as passive-aggressive and underminer-y as is humanly possible.
“What your Favorite ____ Says About You” series by John Peck – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: It was a great year for music-related comedy writing! John Peck, in an ongoing series for McSweeney’s, explains to music-lovers of all sorts just what their tastes say about them. And those tastes speak volumes. As a huge Phil Lynott fan and self-proclaimed layabout, I wasn’t too surprised to learn that my love for Thin Lizzy shouted to the world that I was “often forced to change or cancel plans due to NO LOITERING signs.” Of course, most of these insights are patently ridiculous (“Foghat: You swim in man-made lakes exclusively”), but some seem likely enough (“Rick Springfield: Your wallet weighs over a pound”). Really, I just want SO BADLY for them all to be true!
“Billy Joel vs. Allentown” by Brian Boone – The Humor Section: It’s not often that a piece about a personified steel town’s protracted beef with piano fellow William Joel will tug at your heart strings AND make you laugh, but Brian Boone’s “Billy Joel vs. Allentown” does just that. Dripping with Mainstreet, blue-collar, Carhartt-clad pathos and a delightful streak of absurdism, this piece was one of the most popular to be featured in The Humor Section and certainly one of my favorites.
“My Ex-Girlfriend Reviews the Mix CD I Made Her in High School” by Pedro Salinas – The Humor Section: Women, as a rule, just don’t like Rush. It’s one of those things that sounds like a sweeping generalization, but there’s so much anecdotal evidence to back it up that you can’t help but accept it as canon. If that’s too much of a leap for you, read this piece by Pedro Salinas because he makes a good case. With their cosmic lyrics and impenetrably ornate instrumentation, Rush’s music is a more fitting soundtrack for an alien abduction than a high school hook-up. All the same, the latter’s the case in “My Ex-Girlfriend Reviews the Mix CD I Made Her in High School”. It’s just as ridiculous as it sounds.
“Your Movie SucksTM”- All of Roger Eberts one-star movie reviews: Few things are funnier than when Roger Ebert reviews movies he hates. For that reason, I recommend reading all of his one star movie reviews from 2011. When he loves a movie, you can expect to read a well-written, sometimes even saccharine and erudite love letter; on the other hand, the eviscerations are much more fun. Channeling one of my favorite early lines from A Confederacy of Dunces (“This city is famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians, all of whom are only too well protected by graft.”), Ebert had this to say about Conan the Barbarian: “’Conan the Barbarian’ involves a clash of civilizations whose vocabularies are limited to screams, oaths, grunts, howls, ejaculations, exclamations, vulgarities, screeches, wails, bellows, yelps and woofs. I’d love to get my hands on the paycheck for subtitling this movie.” I’ve mentioned this before, but strange pluralizations are the funniest thing in the world to me. On Trespass’ constant threat of gun-violence: “First, we’re afraid somebody will get shot. Then we’re afraid no one will be.” Describing the gravity of Transformers 3’s climactic fight scene: “a battle for the universe which for some reason is held at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive in Chicago”. Don’t you ever change, Roger.
“An Open Letter to the Guys Who Kicked the Soccer Ball Over the Fence and Asked Me to Throw it Back to Them, Thus Scarring Me for Life” by Jen Cordery – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: This open letter from Jen Cordery would make Paul Feig proud. It’s got everything he loves in a personal essay: public humiliations (“my smiles were more and more forced (no, you can’t normally see my wisdom teeth)”), epiphanies, mortifications in front of the opposite sex… all in a story about a woman with no athletic proclivities being put on the spot by upsettingly handsome intramural sportsmen. The first time I read this, I cackled aloud in a library and was probably mistaken for one of the local vagrants. My rereading was no different. Jen Cordery has the motor skills of a toddler and I find that hilarious.
“Corrections to Last Night’s Party” by Melodie Maksin – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: If you’ve ever attended an event hosted by an ill-timed, uninformed, crying party people-pleaser, this piece from Melodie Maksin will be a gratifying read. My takeaway: if you’re cripplingly awkward and insufferable, maybe don’t host so many parties. You’re making people uncomfortable.
“An Open Letter to the Gentleman Blow-Drying His Balls in the Gym Locker Room” by Ross Beeley – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: My first reaction to this was – Great. Dick Jokes. But this piece is muchmore than that. If anything, it’s a character study; an investigation into the motivations of a man – according to Beeley’s speaker, a “gentleman” (strange thing to call a guy whose uninvited balls are in your line of sight) – with no qualms about baring his all in public. The physical descriptions of the dimensions and particulars of this fellow’s genitals alone (“Your scrotum reminds me of boardwalk taffy.”) make this piece worth a bookmark.
“Yiddish Words for the 21st Century” by Tim Harrod – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Is there any better way to precisely express a hyper-specific situation or emotion than with a Yiddish or German word? I think not. And if anyone wants to get in on the ground floor of this thing, I think IsThereOneWordForThat.com could really be a lucrative venture for all the aspiring polyglots out there. Kummerspeck - “the excess weight one gains from emotion-related overeating. (It translates literally as “grief bacon.”)” -,for example, is now a part of my vocabulary. You’d be surprised at how frequently there’s occasion to use it. Tim Harrod has clearly got the right idea in “Yiddish Words for the 21st Century”. I’ve often failed to succinctly describe “the phantom vibration that makes you wrongly believe your smartphone has rung” – and now we have the word “Ziternenlign” for just such a phenomenon. Thanks, Tim!
“As a Background Extra in the Film’s Café Scene, You Can Say Anything So Long As You Appear To Be Smiling and Talking” by Don Kennedy – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: 2011 was a banner year for gibberish. In the Don Kennedy piece linked above, “An Open Letter to Window’s Speech Recognition” by Quentin Rodreiguez, and Paul F. Tompkins’ wonderful Google Voice Transcripts podcast segment – we all learn what we’d sound like if suddenly afflicted with an aggressive aphasia. Rutland Weekend Television tackled this conceit decades ago, but the thing that separates these modern incarnations from glorified games of Mad Libs is context. Kennedy’s speaker is a real life troll, taking the chance to weird/creep out a fellow on-set extra by recounting youthful insect torture and being a general asshole. Still, I wonder if those two kept in touch! For bonus laughs, try reading any of these pieces aloud. There is really no use trying to impose meaning on gibberish with inflection – but that’s never stopped me!
“Ineffective Pick Up Lines for the Modern Internet Persona” by Stephanie Georgopulos – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: I consider myself a right-on-time to fashionably-late adapter, so this piece from Stephanie Georgopulos mostly seemed like things extraterrestrials would say during mating rituals. (Paul F. Tompkins put it best in a tweet: “I just saw some blog headline that read, “Will Spotify Kill Pandora?” Which I assume is some sort of Game of Thrones shit.”) That said, I GET that none of our social currency is tangible. If the internet were to cease to exist tomorrow, my resume would be 80% null and void. This piece is funny because nebulous things like our Tumblr notes and Klout scores are actually more important to us than we’d ever dare admit.
“Review: The Mead Spiral 100 College Ruled Notebook” by Zach Miller – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Here’s the thing about this piece: if it were published in earnest, I’m sure there’s some anti-tech, analog purist print-zine that’d pick it up. As far as things-I’m-not-sure-would-be-a-joke-if-in-the-hands-of-the-right-or-is-it-WRONG-people go, this is right up there with Artisanal Pencil Sharpening. It takes all types! In this review of a literal notebook, Zach Miller’s incongruous diction parodies gadget blog language perfectly; the pen is a stylus, the pages a graphic user interface. And yea, from a notebook loyalist, I’ve got to say that the thing’s pretty intuitive. Would buy.
“Minutes from the Ridgeside, Pennsylvania Town Hall Meeting” by Michael Pielocik – The Humor Section: This piece from Michael Pielocik begins harmlessly enough but quickly degenerates into a plotline that wouldn’t be out of place on Star Trek or Doctor Who. Borgs? Child’s play! Daleks? WHO-leks? It’s the sac you should really fear. Pielocik’s inclusion of business-as-usual town hall bureaucracy is what makes this more than just an amusing sci-fi short and secures its place as one of my favorite pieces of humor writing of the year.
“An Open Letter to Writers of Open Letters” by Teddy Wayne – The Morning News: The open letter is a staple in humor writing, a tried-and-true construction that isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. That said, Teddy Wayne’s taking umbrage! I’ve got several open letters on this list, so I hope they don’t take offense to being called out. No telling how many open letters that could trigger.
“The Most Emailed ‘New York Times’ Article Ever” by David Parker – The Awl: Though this is a flawless parody of The Times’ weeks late trend pieces, infatuation with excruciatingly precocious wunderkinds, deference to only tangentially relevant “experts”, and tendency to shoe-horn in buzzwords wherever possible, all while pandering to each of its overeducated demographics, the best thing about this piece is the commentsand online reactions. Some people just Did Not Get It – which amplifies the effectiveness of the whole thing.
“Area Woman’s Baseless Hatred of Anne Hathaway Reciprocated” – The Onion: When Gawker polled commenters at the beginning of the year about which actors and actresses they irrationally hated, it felt more than a bit silly. The questions were posed in jest, but skimming the comments told another story. People really have strong feelings about famous strangers! Perhaps that’s why The Onion’s June retort – “Area Woman’s Baseless Hatred of Anne Hathaway Reciprocated” – was so spot on: “’You can tell Cathy Lerro’s totally in love with herself, even though she’s really just fucking annoying,’ Hathaway said in reference to the 36-year-old Sudbury resident, who the Devil Wears Prada star grudgingly acknowledged was decent that one time as an office manager but hasn’t done anything nearly that good since.” Area woman just got told!
“American Marvel” by Edith Zimmerman – GQ: I’m not sure how well this piece worked as a celebrity profile (I don’t read many, so I’m no judge), but as a piece of humor writing it is amazing. I came away from this even more indifferent to Chris Evans than I’d been before – which is, by definition, impossible – and an even bigger fan of Edith Zimmerman’s unique and hilarious writing. I honestly think this could have been a think piece about a paper clip and it would have been as good a read, which is not any reflection on Mr. Evans, but an indication of how much I enjoy Zimmerman’s style. There is no category for this kind of thing – is it Gonzo reporting? Is it a personal essay? Is it a celebrity profile? I don’t know, but it’s funny. Read this. You’ll love it.
“Friend’s Excuses For Why He Can’t Hang Out Getting More Sophisticated Over Time” – The Onion:Uh oh. I’m definitely the “friend” in this article. Social anxiety and depression have the unpublicized side effects of making those stricken very resourceful avoiders! Lines like “Shulman, whose routine brush-offs of invitations were once vague and somewhat predictable, now reportedly offers highly detailed, plausible-seeming, yet entirely made-up reasons for his unavailability anytime a friend asks what he’s up to this weekend” hit almost too close too home. I feel indicted by you, The Onion. Also, I spy humorist Mike Sacks in the article’s lead picture!
“Sometimes State Flags” by Caity Weaver – The Hairpin: I was unaware of my interest in vexillology until this post. Apparently, flags are a thing I enjoy. A lot. Honestly, if you can wring the comedy out of state flags, you’ve got a new fan.
“The League of Ordinary Ladies” series by Esther C. Werdiger – The Hairpin: 2011 showed us that normal women are very, very funny. The comic strip linked above – Esther C. Werdiger’s “The League of Ordinary Ladies”- was one of my favorite comedy ANYTHINGS of the past year. It’s really funnier than it has any right to be. Innocuous things like haircuts, and travel, and wifi, mayonnaise, and moms aren’t inherently funny, but Werdiger’s sensibility and staccato illustrations make them so. This along with Aisha Muharrar’s “Women’s Magazine Profile of a Normal Girl” for Hello Giggles (the patron site of average girls everywhere, I guess….), the optioning of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s Broad City for FX, and Tiny Furniture’s Lena Dunham’s aptly titled Girls for HBO made 2011 a great year to be … regular… and funny and female!
“Remembrances of Being Very Very Skinny” and “Remembrances of Being A Little Bit Fat” by Tina Fey – Bossypants: Obviously, you should read all of Bossypants, but it was impossible to pick a favorite for this list – especially because everyone’s already read the piece Tina Fey had excerpted for the New Yorkerabout her male SNL coworkers peeing in cups. The companion pieces “Very Very Skinny” and “A Little Bit Fat” are as funny as anything else in the book – plus their parallel structures make for some poignant callbacks that are really pleasant to read. But yea, read the whole thing.
“How to Kill a Joke (And Your Boss)” by Todd Levin – GOOD: This really isn’t a humor piece. It’s a piece about comedy writing by a comedy writer, so naturally it’s very funny. If you’re at all interested, even peripherally, in what goes on behind the scenes at Conan, or what it’s like to be a comedy writer – or really, any kind of writer who can be tentative about his or her own work – read this. It’s reassuring, servicey, and you’ll get a good laugh!
“I Fuck Food” by Rob Delaney – Vice: All of Rob Delaney’s Vice contributions are stellar, but “I Fuck Food” is a real standout. The title leaves no room for subtlety. This isn’t a quiet meditation on the sensuality of eating. No. The – given the insights in this piece – remarkably fit Rob Delaney gets off from devouring horrible processed foods. That is it.
“Nation’s Weirdest Teenager Buys Season One DVD Of ‘Murphy Brown’” and “Cool Dad Raising Daughter On Media That Will Put Her Entirely Out Of Touch With Her Generation” – The Onion: Like last year, this year’s Onion pieces jumped out at me in pairs. I want the Murphy Brown kid and this culturally irrelevant tween to meet and live happily ever after with their anachronistic passions.
“The Do Monkeys” by Patrick Mortensen: You won’t have read this piece from Splitsider contributor Patrick Mortensen anywhere before now, which is a real shame because it’s fantastic. Coming in at a lean ten pages, this piece is truly the best saved for last. I mentioned in an earlier Splitsider contribution that pieces attempting, from an adult’s point of view, to accurately describe childhood perceptions will, when done right, always be favorites of mine. I wrote that over a year ago and rereading this piece reminds me why. If you were ever endeared to Ralphie’s heartbreak at the consumerism pervading his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Pin in A Christmas Story, or, like me, loved pieces like Robert Benchley’s “Yesterday’s Sweetmeats”, S.J. Perelman’s “Cloudland Revisited”, or Simon Rich’s “The Wisdom of Children” – or if you’ve ever been a kid! (which, I mean… of course you have. If not, there are bigger concerns than whether or not you will enjoy this piece) – read this. Without giving too much away, it’s basically about mail-order Sea Monkeys. But don’t let that put you off! Stick this in your Instapaper account or on your list of longform reads; bookmark it or print it out. Whenever you get around to it, you’ll be glad you did.
Desalination plant in Hadera Photo: Mor Dagan
National water company says new facility will not only meet Israel’s own water needs, it could also make it a top regional water exporter by 2014
Israel’s national water company signed a financing agreement to build a desalination plant, which officials said could allow drought-ridden Israel to export water to its neighbors upon completion in 2013.
Israel’s ADL, a subsidiary of state-owned Mekorot, will build and operate the plant in the coastal city of Ashdod for 25 years, supplying 100 million cubic meters of desalinated water annually, the Finance Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
Israel is two-thirds arid and to avoid further depleting its fresh water sources it has become a world leader in desalination and wastewater recycling. The new Ashdod plant will join four other desalination facilities that to provide, by the end of 2013, 85% of the country’s household water consumption.
“In the coming years we will be able to return water to nature and even sell water to our neighbors,” said Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau.
ADL secured funding for the project from Israel’s Bank Hapoalim and the European Investment Bank (EIB), the statement said.
The Finance Ministry had previously put a $400 million price tag on the plant, which will use reverse-osmosis to desalinate seawater from the Mediterranean.
I use my Time Machine to go back in time and witness first hand certain events, or for entertainment (I can’t get enough of the Arena games in ancient Rome), but just after inventing the Time Machine, I tried to bring them technology to accelerate their technological advances and delay, indeed, even prevent the fall of the Roman Empire, but invariably failed. To wit, I can only carry small items with me in the machine.
A Swiss Army knife. My Roman ancestors were totally unimpressed. The blade was too short to be a dagger, the screwdriver was useless because they didn’t have screws, and so was the can opener because they didn’t have cans.
A torchlight. It amused people for a while until it ran out of batteries.
The cellphone. No signal. Bummer. Why didn’t I think about that?
A watch. They said they had hourglasses. I told them, morons (Stulti!), you can’t wear an hourglass on your wrist, but they replied who needs to wear a timepiece on the wrist?
A digital camera. Heavy scene as capturing their images was regarded as witchcraft. Had a narrow escape.
An MP3 player. Some entertainment for the crowds even though they hated the music (what’s to hate about Lady Gaga?), until the batteries ran out.
A cigarette lighter. So I can make fire? They said their flints work just as well. Then my lighter ran out of gas. They laughed and left, shaking their heads.
Blueprints of an internal combustion engine. Gave them to Publius Lucius, the chariot builder. Told me to come back the following day.
Did that, with great expectations. Told me the paper made a good fire.
A copy of Playboy magazine. They were amused by those reproductions on
paper, but then they took me to a brothel in the Suburra and showed me
the murals. Put Playboy to shame.
A vibrator. Several Roman matrons were, ahem, entertained, but then it ran out of batteries and they went back to dildos.
In short, nothing I took with me helped them. Those idiots were quite happy with what they had. Well, morons, don’t blame me when Alaric will sack Rome in 420 AD. I tried.
I just received the below message from the New York Times.
I live in Israel, to which I’m quite certain the NY Times does not make home deliveries.
Hay, NY Times, something’s fishy with your records…
Dear Home Delivery Subscriber,
Our records indicate that you recently requested to cancel your home delivery subscription. Please keep in mind when your delivery service ends, you will no longer have unlimited access to NYTimes.com and our NYTimes apps.
We do hope you’ll reconsider.
As a valued Times reader we invite you to continue your current subscription at an exclusive rate of 50% off for 16 weeks. This is a limited-time offer and will no longer be valid once your current subscription ends.*
Continue your subscription and you’ll keep your free, unlimited digital access, a benefit available only for our home delivery subscribers. You’ll receive unlimited access to NYTimes.com on any device, full access to our smartphone and iPad® apps, plus you can now share your unlimited access with a family member.†
To continue your subscription call 1-877-698-0025 and mention code 38H9H (Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. E.D.T.).
Next day, the NY Times sent the following.
Seems they got a few surprised responses to the previous messages.
Dear New York Times Reader,
You may have received an e-mail today from The New York Times with the subject line “Important information regarding your subscription.”
This e-mail was sent by us in error. Please disregard the message. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
The New York Times
‘Abbas was never sincere in pursuing a peace agreement with Israel’ Photo: AP
Eighteen years have passed since the signing of the Oslo accords, and it seems justifiable to reach the conclusion that there will be no final-status agreement that will solve the Arab Israeli conflict in the foreseeable future.
The recent reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority andHamas – including the announcement that Hamas will join the PLO - is further evidence that Mahmoud Abbas was never sincere in pursuing a peace agreement with Israel.
Now that the chimera of a “peace process” has been exposed, the time has come to finally face the truth.
The Palestinian leadership has deceived Israel and the international community by speaking the language of “peace” to Western English-speaking audiences, while continually preaching hate and war to their own people in Arabic.
Duplicity and deceit have long concealed the true intentions of the Palestinian Authority, but its most recent actions and rhetoric have definitively revealed that it is not truly interested in peace and reconciliation with the Jewish state.‘Intelligent resistance’
A recent example of Palestinian deception is the manner in which the PA officially explains its refusal to negotiate with Israel.
The decision not to negotiate has been presented as a result of the Israeli insistence on building in the settlements while, in reality, the deadlock is the result of a revised policy that the PA adopted more than two years ago.
This revised policy was discussed by the Palestine Strategy Group and formed the basis for the 13th program of the Palestinian Authority published in 2009.
The program calls for “intelligent resistance” – meaning law fare, boycott campaigns and propaganda – as a means of continuing the struggle against Israel.
While terror has always been the main Palestinian weapon against Israel, under Abbas’ leadership the strategy changed, and political warfare has proven to be more successful in winning over the international community to the Palestinian cause.
But there is more. Other factors, which were not openly discussed by the Palestinians, contributed significantly to the failure of the peace process.
The absence of truth in Palestinian politics and society is one of those factors. Jihad or Ribat (a religious war for Allah), and Islamic anti-Semitism (including incitement against Jews and Israel) are the others.Confusing the world
Ever since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, deception has been a tactic to confuse Israel and the rest of the world.
Conflicting reports about the meaning of Hamas’ membership in the PLO issued recently by Fatah and Hamas leaders are the latest example of this tactic of deception, which is called al-Taqiyya and is primary based on the Koran.
According to the authoritative Arab text, Al-Taqiyya Fi Al-Islam, “Taqiyyah (deception) is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practices it…Taqiyyah is very prevalent in Islamic politics, especially in the modern era.”
Muhammad first practiced Taqiyyah during the Battle of the Trench (627AD,) which pitted his army against several non-Muslim tribes known as “the Confederates.”
Arafat referred repeatedly to the use of Taqiyyah by Muhammad when he spoke about the Oslo accords to Islamic audiences.‘We will drive them out’
Fatah leader, Abbas Zaki, has repeatedly revealed the duplicity of the PA leaders.
On April 9th 2008 he told NBN TV the following: “The PLO has not changed its platform even one iota….The PLO proceeds through phases…..Allah willing we will drive them out of all of Palestine.
The same Zaki said the following this year on Lebanon TV: “When we say that the settlement should be based upon these (1967) borders, President (Abbas) understands, we understand, and everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go. If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers and dismantles the wall – what will become of Israel? It will come to an end.”
He then said: “It is not acceptable policy to say that we want to wipe Israel out. Don’t say these things to the world, keep it to yourself.”
Mahmoud Abbas is less outspoken but is no less involved in deceiving the international community. Take for example an interview with European reporters about the unity agreement with Hamas two weeks ago, in which he said the following:
“We set the agreement’s pillars, and Hamas agreed with us that resistance will be popular and adopt peaceful ways, rather than military resistance.” Peaceful resistance?
Well, when Hamas celebrated its 23th anniversary in Gaza the same week, Hamas PM Haniyeh called upon the Muslim Brotherhood to start a war to liberate Jerusalem He also said the following:
“We affirm that armed resistance is our strategic option and the only way to liberate our land, from the (Mediterranean) sea to the River (Jordan.) God willing, Hamas will lead the people… to the uprising until we liberate Palestine, all of Palestine”.Water issues
Deception and incitement have also been the hallmark of the way Palestinians inform the world about the day-to-day situation in the West Bank and in Gaza.
This summer our organization, Missing Peace, revealed that the PA continually lies about water issues in the West Bank in order to advance the narrative of Israeli repression and Palestinian victimhood.
Additionally, the PA has actually failed to implement approved water projects and ignored undeniable evidence of Palestinian water theft.
Reports by individual Palestinian citizens or Palestinian NGOs often contain similar false claims.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Media Watch just published a book titled Deception, which documents the hate, incitement and promotion of violence by PA officials and media.
The book also demonstrates how the Palestinian public, and especially children, are brainwashed into believing the most outrageous lies about Palestinian history, Israel and the Jews.
The book also recounts a meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and president Obama in the White House on June 9, 2010. During that meeting Abbas said:
“And I say in front of you, Mr. President, that we have nothing to do with incitement against Israel, and we’re not doing that.”
Until now, large parts of the international community have ignored the evidence about the Palestinian deception and insist that the conflict is about territorial claims. Yet it is not. This conflict is about the existence of a Jewish state in the Dar al-Islam (territory of Islam).
The EU even raised its contribution to the PA by €100 million for 2012 and keeps admonishing Israel for building activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
If foreign interlocutors like the EU are serious about ending the conflict they should first insist that the PA end incitement and confront the clear pattern of deception by Palestinian leaders.
Yochanan Visser is the Director of Missing Peace Middle East News and writer of ‘Israel indicted’ a recently published book about the cognitive war against Israel (Dutch language)www.missingpeace.eu
Sharon Shaked, Arab affairs research at Missing Peace, holds a BA in Islam and Mideast studies from Hebrew University
A kid goes into a saloon in the Old West. He spots a famous gunfighter,
goes over to him and says, ” I’m going to be a famous gunfighter like
you. Can you give me any tips?”.
The gunfighter says, ” Well, first you should have your holster lower on
your leg so you can get to your gun quicker when you draw. So the kid
lowers it. The gunfighter says, “Give that a try.” So the kid draws his
gun and ”BLAM” he shoots the hat off of the piano player’s head.
”Wow”, says the kid. “Do you have any other tips?”
”Well”, says the gunfighter, “You should cut a notch in the front of your
holster so the barrel will clear faster when you draw.” So the kid cuts a
notch in the front of his holster. “O. K., give that a try”. says the
gunfighter. So the kid draws and “BLAM” he blows the cigar out of the
piano player’s mouth.
”Boy, this is great”, says the kid. “Anything else?
”Well”, says the gunfighter, “now you should go out in the kitchen and
have the cook coat your .45 with grease.”
”I get it, ” says the kid. “It’ll slide out of the holster faster, right?”
”Well, that”, says the gunfighter. “Plus when Wyatt Earp gets through
playing the piano, I’m pretty sure he’s going to shove that gun up your ass!”
What would have happened if three wise Jewish women had gone to Bethlehem instead of three wise men?
They would have asked directions.
Arrived on time.
Helped deliver the baby.
Hired someone to clean the stable.
Made a brisket.
And brought practical gifts.
And what would they have said to each other after they left?
“Did you see the sandals Mary was wearing with that schmatta?”
“That baby doesn’t look anything like Joseph!”
“What virgin? I knew her in school!”
“Can you believe they let all of those disgusting animals in there?”
“I heard that Joseph doesn’t have a job.”
“And that donkey they are riding has seen better days!”
“We’ll just see how long it will take to get your brisket dish back!”
60 ~ Californians put on sweaters (if they can find one).
50 ~ Miami residents turn on the heat.
45 ~ Vermont residents go to outdoor concerts.
40 ~ You can see your breath. Californians shiver uncontrollably. Minnesotans go swimming.
35 ~ Italian cars don’t start.
32 ~ Water freezes.
30 ~ You plan your vacation to Australia.
25 ~ Ohio water freezes. Californians weep pitiably. Minnesotans eat ice cream. Canadians go swimming.
20 ~ Politicians begin to talk about the homeless. New York City water freezes. Miami residents plan vacation further South.
15 ~ French cars don’t start. Cat insists on sleeping in your bed with you.
10 ~ You need jumper cables to get the car going.
05 ~ American cars don’t start.
00 ~ Alaskans put on T-shirts.
-10 ~ German cars don’t start. Eyes freeze shut when you blink.
-15 ~ You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo. Arkansans stick tongue on metal objects. Miami residents cease to exist.
-20 ~ Cat insists on sleeping in pajamas with you. Politicians actually do something about the homeless. Minnesotans shovel snow off roof. Japanese cars don’t start.
-25 ~ Too cold to think. You need jumper cables to get the driver going.
-30 ~ You plan a two week hot bath. Swedish cars don’t start.
-40 ~ Californians disappear. Minnesotans button top button. Canadians put on sweaters. Your car helps you plan your trip South.
-50 ~ Congressional hot air freezes. Alaskans close the bathroom window.
-80 ~ Hell freezes over. Polar bears move South. Viking Fans order hot cocoa at
-90 ~ Lawyers put their hands in their own pockets.
BY KIT EATON
Katy Perry looks cute in the video for Last Friday Night, no? Glad you agree—glasses, despite their bum rap, can be sexy. But even Katy’s orbular charms can’t stop ‘em going by the wayside as fashion, contact lens science, and laser surgery all evolve. Yet Google may have a way to get us all wearing glasses in the near future: Not to help us see better, necessarily, but to see “extra.” The tech behemoth is now throwing considerable, hefty resources behind creating augmented-reality glasses—and they may be ready rather soon.
The New York Times spurred lots of debate this week with inside information from both Google and Apple, indicating that the firms were working on wearable technology. The story got more interesting when 9to5Google learned from sources that Google is building technology that’s not the wristwatch-style device people had imagined, but rather goggles. Further information suggests that Google’s in late prototype stages and the device resembles traditional eyeglasses just with slightly thicker rims, and with limited button controls on the arms. It’s likely running an Android OS inside, and logic would suggest it has a wireless connection to a device like an Android phone—possibly something like Bluetooth 4.0. Google’s Sergey Brin is closely involved with the project, which will be Google-branded, and it’s also noted that back in June Dr. Richard DuVaul, an expert in wearable heads-up displays, moved from Apple to Google. (DuVaul’s dissertation was about something he called “The Memory Glasses,” which are apparently very much like what Google now has in mind.)
So what we’re looking at is a genuine piece of Google high-tech goggle trickery that may be getting close to real production levels. It’s probably based on existing technology, but knowing how much money Google has available to spend on R&D, as well as its powerful connections and Google’s habit of pushing novel tech into its flagship Android phones—like NFC—it’s likely that Google may have achieved some very clever things with the display technology in the goggles.
And what they’ll be used for is pretty evident: Augmented Reality. This is a technology that’s been bubbling along for ages, and has exploded thanks to the current smartphone revolution. It’s being championed by bespoke uses inside some apps—where holding your phone up to view the world around you adds in extra information to the scene as seen on the screen, with historical data or imagery—as well as by novel “reality browser” systems like Layar and Metaio, which give third-party developers the opportunity to write apps within the browser for a host of uses, from gaming to fact discovery to education to navigation. The technology has virtually limitless uses, the most interesting of which probably won’t be dreamed up until it’s ubiquitous. For a sci-fi sample, check out the multispectral, data-rich view of the world James Cameron imagined the Terminator would have—its eye-replacing cameras “see” the world more richly than we do:
That’s where Google’s technology stable comes in incredibly handy. Existing AR applications need specially populated databases, or access to them, in order to deliver additional location-aware information to the smartphone user. Google, on the other hand, has untold terabytes of information about practically everything on Earth already indexed by its search engines—as well as highly specific location-tagged imagery and wireless data acquired as part of its Street View service. It’s also been buying other companies recently at the rate of roughly one per month, and this has recently included gems like Zagat — essentially a rich a source of location-tagged, curated reviews of services. Imagine you’re wearing Google’s goggles and they pop up a review of the restaurant you’re looking at in the field of view—that would definitely change how you visit a new city.
Mapping and navigation while a tourist would change too — all Google has to do is project a red line on your field of view that tells you which road to walk down. The application of Google augmented goggles even extends to shopping—presumably the high-tech eyewear would know where you are when you’re using them, and could tell you’ve stepped into Macy’s, for example. Imagine that Google has an offer-based deal with Macy’s that day for a particular clothing item, and the goggles would instantly alert you and probably even help you walk to where the display stand is. Google also knows a wealth of data about you, and we seem happy to surrender more: So we can forsee AR goggle applications like a virtual running coach, where your last timed-and-GPS’d run is represented as a virtual character jogging alongside—or ahead of—you.
Perhaps the most worrying, but powerful, part of this kind of tech is the ability it would give to Google to get advertising plastered over the whole world—essentially inserting an ad display layer between your eyes and the world. Who would need postered ad hoardings when everyone’s Google goggles would be showing them highly tailored AR ads superimposed on a blank whiteboard at an ad location…or on a cup of coffee, or on someone’s T-shirt (students renting out space on it for a small fee?). And since the ads wouldn’t have to be traditional static imagery, there’s all sorts of crazy possibilities for 3-D augmented reality object ads: Characters from the next war movie strolling down the street next to you, passersby wearing dramatic spiky red AR hairdos graphically hijacked over their own to promote a local avant-garde hair salon. The kind of ad revenues one could command from ads that’re so intertwined with your daily life probably haven’t been calculated…except at Google.
There’re a couple of things to think about here. AR technology may seem like a gimmick or a flash in the pan to you, but that’s because of existing technical and fiscal limitations. Holding your phone up at arm’s length for any period of time is a pain, and a mugging invitation in some places, and it means your experience of AR has never been “immersive” for longer than a handful of seconds. That’s limited how innovative people can get with current AR applications. Head-mounted displays, goggles, are a solution to this but the current players in the game don’t have the big name social influence nor the raw cash to develop tech that’s both clever, good-looking and that the average Joe—by the million—would be persuaded to wear.
Google can do this. With its Android tech and its ecosystem, it’s also got access to data that other AR firms can’t compete with and it has the globe-spanning clout to actually change habits. And don’t worry that AR goggles would suffer the same user resistance as 3-D TV goggles—the experience delivered by AR is way more sci-fi than the slightly unsatisfying home 3-D experience: The information we’ve covered here simply assumes the goggles would overlay extra info, but what if they also let you see in the dark via IR, or spot the UV colors in flowers? Would you be more interested then? We’re not imagining a near future where we all stroll around 24/7 with digital display goggles strapped to our faces—a fashion as ubiquitous as hats were in the early part of the 20th century. But if any firm has the power to make it a habit to slip on a pair to aid with work, navigation or shopping, it’s Google.
[Image: Flickr user breatheindigital]