Category Archives: business

neither here nor there

I spend so much time reading about tech, science, and startups every day (thank you two hour commute!) that I’d like to throw in my two cents now. I’ve kept my comments offline because there are a million tech bloggers out there and who needs another one? But never fear, my comments will be here.

For the next few posts, I’ll test out a new approach to the old blog – my comments on tech trends or just observations as they intersect with my daily life. Ego-centric much? Never!

So, as a liberal arts grad (yes! we’re employable!) who straddles the finance, tech, and product world, I’m going to write from the “humanities” and business perspective. Also, as someone who believes in privacy and the inherent value of face to face interaction as well as contemplative alone time – you’ll get a nice stodgy secret old lady’s  perspective.

So welcome to yet another debbyexperiment!

Part I: I need (you) to know where I am 


The identification of the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a radar, mobile phone or an Internet-connected computer terminal.

-Foursquare and Opentable just teamed up. I’m not much of a foursquare user (okay, not at all) but I’m a big fan of OpenTable. This sounds like a great partnership and I look forward to seeing what happens next in their venture.

-Gaming out. I met Pota-toss awhile back. I get that there’s a lot of a hype around their gorgeous graphics and yes, they are gorgeous, but I’m not convinced I need a game to be geolocated unless I’m partner playing. And then, I’m not sure that’s the right use case for the game. Don’t we play games to “escape” more or less? I can see the novelty of playing “in my location” wearing out quickly unless the game offers some kind of additional discovery of things in my city I never would have known otherwise…

Seemed like a great team, two guys, computer whizzes with great graphic design skillz – however Pota-toss looked a bit too much angry birds with a tubular twist for me.

-News Now. It’s official; most people consume news via mobile and social. And while I’m absolutely a data point in this, it’s too bad. I think there’s been a rush to be the first at the cost of being accurate. News is going super local, and being usurped by on the ground tweeters and updaters. Let’s not forget that great journalism is still valuable and unfortunately becoming increasingly rare as we clamber for speed. (Note, that I mean great as a combination of story curation, writing clarity, style,  and factual accuracy). It’s pretty interesting how journalists have increasingly relied on social media for…inspiration.

-Date me! These apps that consolidate publicly information about you (fb, twitter, linkedin, etc) with geolocation features super freak me out. Why someone wants to broadcast details like this plus where you are — that sounds like a bad idea all around. Advertising your availability seems so…well…

I totally get where this may be a great idea — can you imagine if businesses and local shops got it together enough to know their clientele as they walked into their stores? It’d be like Minority Report shopping. Brilliant, creepy. Although physical stores haven’t quite seemed to go in this direction quite yet, airlines are getting closer.

Til next time.


quick reads

i can say that i’ve been around just long enough to recognize when i’m entering a new reading cycle. it seems to go fiction, non-fiction (like memoirs), to current non-fiction (financial crisis, design, biographies of recent figures, etc).

i’ve been on an design and tech innovation kick lately (part 3 of my cycle), possibly sparked last fall with a quick read through change by design and now spreading through to a tufte collection, don’t make me think, painters and hackers, and ultimately the steve jobs biography. and of course all of this is supplemented by an assortment of tedtalks, my favorite being hans rosling’s ‘best stats you’ve ever seen’ which actually came out 6 years ago. while on this topic of tech, i recently just got more into podcasts which are also perfect for morning commutes or easy jogs.

i just want to make a few comments on my latest reads while they’re still fresh on my mind. in order of being read:

don’t make me think – interesting, not particularly informative (now that i’m reading it about 12 years post original publication date, but i can see how he was effectively before his time – and how that time was the last decade.

tufte (collection of 4 books, visual explanations, beautiful evidence, envisioning information, visual display of quantitative information) – actually went to his talk as well. perhaps i went into the lecture with the wrong expectations, but his advice was relatively impractical. it was more or less a spiel on his achievements, how to give presentations (from poise to appropriate use of humility), and a mild advertisement of his sculpture work.

lecture aside; his books are beautiful and quite interesting in understanding the history of data visualization and also of visual integrity. they’re wonderful to read and would highly recommend anyone with any remote interest in questioning the stats he or she sees every day. it encourages you (or maybe just me?) to think just a little bit deeper and to think a little bit harder about data dimensionality.

hackers and painters, written by paul graham, who first and foremost, has accomplished great things in his field and  is a decent blogger. but as a writer, well, that’s definitely not his skill set. the chapters are choppy, a bit odd, and his intro beef with the pitfalls of high school were extraneous and conceal a hurt not yet forgiven. in other areas he goes too deep with little explanation. what’s funny is i suspect he anticipates his readers to flip over to the glossary to decipher his message. his book is very onerous on the reader. in his intro he states that a reader can pick up and leave off at any chapter at any time as well as skip around. while that’s useful for a website, it’s quite different in a novel. reading a book should not be like following a blog where i dig through your archives or look up key words. i found this strategy very annoying, disruptive to the flow and pacing, and to be quite honest, lazy.

while i do like graham’s blog and have read quite a few of his articles that i found interesting or informative, the novel is a different beast and should be appreciated and the writing elevated. writing style gripes aside, what i found useful in this book is his opinion on languages it has made me think a bit more deeply about learning how to code myself.

steve jobs biography – i will have to say that this author is very easy to read and really enjoy his style of writing. i couldn’t put it down and finished it in a few days’ time. steve is kind of inspirational and while i never understood or appreciated the hype before, i sure do now. what’s really fun is the fact that i read this after reading lehrer’s imagine. lehrer has a chapter on pixar and to intersect the Jobs’ biography with the outsider view of pixar is like fitting puzzle pieces together.

whether you love or hate apple or steve jobs, you’ll definitely appreciate both a lot more post this book.


lately, i’ve been a bit stuck in a creative rut (ok, since this past fall). it isn’t that i haven’t been thinking about what to post or write about, it’s that i can’t bring myself to do it. the mental block lies somewhere north of agitation and somewhere south of irritation.

by agitation, i mean that when i do take the time to scan the blogs and news articles for interesting tidbits, exhibits, and artist news, i haven’t been finding anything that engages me in a meaningful way. i’m a blank. the last artist i found genuinely compelling was JR. his portraits are total immersion and yet they’re actually just magnifications of a detail – the de-anonymizing and simultaneous humanizing of people (especially women) within the context of their communities.

i’m reading the painted face: portraits of women in france 1814 – 1914, this book delves into the subject-context relationship. that is, “the mutual dependency, of the subjects and objects”, that a subject becomes more meaningful by virtue of his or her the relationship to the other objects within the portrait. a man with his book, a woman and her mirror, that vase…

if i may lift and reapply this idea more liberally — what I find especially compelling about JR’s portrait is the very fact that it is “exhibited” in the very community it is derived from. a gallery exhibit would to me, drain the portraits of their power by severing their connection “home“.

ironically given his massive scale portraits, JR is actually semi-anonymous. but that just makes me appreciate his work more, that there is no inherent need for attention to the artist. he doesn’t do this for the recognition, he does it because he is compelled to do so. because what he does is more important than who he is. or so i’d like to believe.





out of touch


at the end of 2011, i did something silly. i joined a social media site because it looked so very pretty. i actually signed up in its earlier “exclusive” stages and had forgotten that i was a member. within 24 hours of remembering, i had a neatly arranged board of cool things. by cool things of course, i mean items that i felt were a reflection of not only who i am (as seen what by i peruse) but also who i’d like to be (as seen by things i’d like to do, see, or own).



in a quick glance you could easily see that i love bright patterns and bold colors in art, food, and every day items. that i coveted velvet loafers and have a soft spot for stylish grandmas.

and it was all so accurate and so disingenuous it was unbearable. disingenuous is a loaded word which i won’t bother unpacking here. but anyhow, it took all of a few seconds to post an item. i did absolutely no original work other than appropriate…and it made me sad.

so in less than 24 hours, i shut the whole thing down. that, and oh, the mother of all social media sites, too – facebook.

so here’s to 2012. to emails, phone calls, and perhaps even a letter or two.




a super cool firm doing visually amazing work.


KHD SYMPHONY IN RED from Sehsucht™ on Vimeo.