Tag Archives | words

Interesting Comparison of Words

There is a great tool called Wordle. It allows you to input text in a variety of ways and then creates “word art” based on the repetition of words within the submitted text. The physical size of the words represent the number of times that word was said. So the word used most often in the text will be the largest, and so on down the line.

The past two weeks have given us the chance to see two men present very different visions of where they want to take the United States. I have taken the text of those two speeches, put it through Wordle, and produced the graphics below.

It’s an interesting experiment in not only what these men are saying, but how often they repeat specific words and phrases.

Click on an image to see it full size.

Obama’s Acceptance Speech.

Obama's Acceptance Speech

McCain’s Acceptance Speech.

McCain's Acceptance Speech

I find the contrast interesting.

What do you think?

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Empty Talk Bubbles

Talk Bubble

Not being able to communicate clearly in conversation with people sucks. After returning from my vacation to Mexico and having some time to reflect I can say that not having basic language ability can hamper the full experience.

I travelled with a friend who is fluent in Spanish and when with him for the first 5 days it was no problem. He helped translate when I needed help. However, there was a tint of feeling like I was burdening him with my inability to converse with people. This came to full bearing when meeting his relatives who spoke no English and I speak ‘poquito’ Spanish. I know 2 handfuls of words and that is about it. Those moments with his relatives were an interesting experience. I could tell they wanted to ask me many questions. They did ask some through my friend, but they too were feeling the translator burden. We did manage to go back and forth with some basic questions, but we could not get past the superficial questions.

For the last 4 days of my trip I was solo at the beach. Now being on the beach for a few days with no obligations is a great experience. However, not having your personal translator with you takes the challenge to another level. There were long stretches of time where I was around many people, but I had no conversations with anyone. I am used to being in my office and not communicating with people for long stretches. It’s being around lots of people and not engaging with them that was a bit strange and interesting.

So what do you do? I would suggest bringing a cheap phrase book for whatever country you may be heading to if you are not conversant in the language of choice. I know that when I next return to Mexico I will have that book and I have already subscribed to a couple of the free language podcasts through iTunes.

Last thing I want on my next trip is the empty talk bubble.

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15 Minutes A Day

Clock

I was thinking about the whole idea of having a blog and writing in general. Just like any exercise humans engage in one needs to “use it, or lose it.” In other words, you need to work the muscle whether that muscle is writing, designing, selling, making, or doing. Without use the ‘muscle’ will atrophy and your ability to use it efficiently and effectively will diminish.

So, in hopes of helping build my blogging and writing ‘muscles’ I plan to take only 15 minutes a day to write something relevant to the things that I am working on and things I am passionate about. To do this all I need is an Internet connection, WordPress for blogging, a copy of Mineteur to keep me on time, the free stock image website , the ideas in my head, and my fingers to type. With those elements I plan on posting once a day during the business week and perhaps on the weekends should time permit.

Here is my first resolution of the new year.

Ack! New years resolutions—perhaps that will be Mondays post.

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Over-thinking it

What a revelation I had this morning while IM’ing with my friend and collaborator Jonathan Brown. I was asking him a programming question in relation to a project I am working on. After I asked a very detailed question, he shoots back “you’re over-thinking it.” In that moment came a flood of clarity. I am over-thinking the problem. I’m over-thinking to the point of anxiety and exhaustion a great deal lately. The issues mostly surround business and work, but also personal issues as well.

What is the answer to over-thinking it? I think I may have a way to confront this.

The gears of the mindOver-thinking for me typically involves diving deep into the problem and getting narrow with my perspective. I sometimes get buried in the minutiae of what ever is at hand. The gears in my mind grind away to reveal smaller and smaller components of what I am thinking about. Eventually I get stuck either because I cannot break something down into a smaller piece, or I have two possibilities/directions that I can go and can’t figure out which is best.

Something happened a few months back that came to mind when Jon said those words to me this morning. I was attending a GTD (Getting Things Done) seminar. (If you are not familiar with GTD and its many ways of employing its methods, please investigate–it is a beautiful thing. Also, see my previous post). During the seminar we were taking projects and breaking them down into definable next actions. What next action will move a project forward? To figure this out you need to break things down. For example the next action on a project might be “Call Jon about starting new project.” In my mind I might take that action and break it down further.

  1. Lookup Jon’s phone number
  2. Dial Jon’s phone number
  3. Talk to Jon about project
  4. Confirm agreed next steps
  5. Hang up

You see how ridiculous this can get–I’m over-thinking it. I would start out with these project lists and then start falling off into the land of micro-next-actions. I was getting stuck and frustrated. So I asked our presenter, Maurice, about what I could do to stem the tide. His answer was genius.

“Look a the level of complexity with any project or task. At what level does the complexity not serve you?”

Simple, elegant, and perfect for this issue. Stop over-thinking, pull your head out of the sand and look at the bigger picture.

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A whole ramble of thoughts

This is my first attempt at speaking the text of my blog. I am using a headset with voice dictation software. The title of whole ramble of thoughts is somewhat appropriate seeing that I am going to try to speak about many things here.

First is the foray into voice dictation software.  I have used this stuff before but have never been successful.  This is proving to be a rather decent experience.  I must admit it is a bit strange speaking and watching the words show up on the screen.  So here is to the future of what I hope to be more frequent, interesting, and thought provoking entries.

Previously.
In my previous entry I spoke about modes of communication and since posting that I’ve given some more thought to the idea. It was brought to my attention by someone who read what I posted that there is real value in having a face-to-face meeting with people. I don’t deny the value in that experience.  However, when looking at the larger picture of where I am spending my time and what value is derived from where I spend my time it seems logical to me to be a bit more stringent, hell just plain stingy, with how I spend my time. That’s not to say that I will never have a face-to-face meeting with the person again, I certainly will.  I think what I’m getting at is assessing how important is it to meet with that specific person regarding that specific issue.  It’s more about assessment of the meeting than anything else.  Do you really need to spend that time doing that?  Or is there something more constructive you could be doing with that time.

del.icio.us
Also since my last post I have been trying to clean up my del.icio.us bookmarks and have been experimenting with some new social media sites.  One thing is for sure, the interface for editing and deleting book marks within del.icio.us is too damn time-consuming.  You are only allowed to select one item at a time when it’s clearly possible to engineer the screen for me to see 25, 50, 100 bookmarks at a time and edit them simultaneously and then submit them.  However, I have been pretty pleased with the experience of using the del.icio.us website as a way to manage my bookmarks.  I primarily work on a Macintosh and I also use a Windows XP machine to get work done. Having the ability to access all my bookmarks from both machines at any time is pretty sweet.

Pro Bono.
Presently I have about three or four websites that are in the very final stages of completion.  I should be publishing them within the next few weeks.  It will feel great to have these projects done. I have some new work on the horizon and I need to clear the decks before I can get started.   A couple of these websites are pro bono websites and I recently read a great article written by David C. Baker of ReCourses that spoke specifically to providing pro bono work for the public good.  He smartly suggested the idea of creating criteria that each possible pro bono project would need to measure up to in order for you to work on it.  He suggested gathering an advisory group that would review potential pro bono projects and objectively measure them against the criteria that you’ve established.  Furthermore, he suggested posting a simple one-page application on your website and having that promoted in the local business community.  This way you would receive applications for your pro bono services.  These applications would be reviewed by your advisory group and they would select the most appropriate projects for you to work on.  This is such a smart way to include pro bono work in your creative practice.  Presently, my pro bono work arrives in my workflow somehow out of the ether. I really don’t know how it ends up there. What I do know is that I plan to employ this strategy for working on pro bono projects in the future.

Closing.
This may be as many words as I have posted in a single entry.  This is largely due to the fact that I’m speaking these words and they are appearing on my screen.  It’s pretty damn cool .  But at the same timea bit disturbing to watch your words appear on screen.  I find myself pausing at weird times and that causes the thought process not to flow as well.  What I imagine happening is that I can eventually sit back and not look at the screen and the words will just come out of my head excuse me I need out of my mouth and into the microphone and onto the screen and here they are.  Overall I’ve only had to edit about five or six words from this whole entry.  The accuracy is amazing. Anyhow that’s it for now.

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