Clippings — week of 7 September 2015

The Apple announcement took up most of my reading time this week, analysing various marketing material and articles for my daily job. I’ve decided not to go into detail for today, but I will mention that I have pre-ordered an iPhone 6S (64GB, space grey to match the Watch). What a geek.

In other news, I finally subscribed to The New York Times. The combination of neat illustrations paired with top quality writing pushed me to give in to the subscription modal dialogue that really bugged me every time I hit the monthly quota.

The myth of quality time →
Life doesn’t work like a pre-written script of a play. You can’t plan for “quality time”. Good interactions happen organically, and it’s important to be present in the moment to walk into moments of sincerity.

The internet of way too many things →
For some solutions, there are no problems that need solving. “Innovative” solutions that are supposed to take care of (made-up) problems can be downright ridiculous. You wonder how the products managed to go through all the hoops and into reality. It leaves us to think about our values and expectations as consumers. When is it appropriate to adopt technology, and at what point do we draw the line?

Dear Google designers →
What a massive undertaking the redesign must have been for the Google designers. While details are not yet perfect, it’s highly likely the logotype will keep refining. It hasn’t grown on me yet, but one of my favourite details is the pagination of search results. The repeated ‘o’ above the page numbers is playful and, the red amongst the yellow rings makes the component very usable.

The perfect product designer →
Sounds like a daunting specimen.

Offline reading

Princess Bari by Hwang Sok-yong was the novel I read this week. The story revolves around Bari, a girl who escapes from North Korea and endures unimaginable hardship from a young age. Bari is sensitive to the spirit of others around her, something that she’d inherited from her grandmother. Conversing with the spirit of her grandmother, she learns to cope with loss by comparing such a tragic event to a commonplace situation.

The people who brush past you on the street are gone as soon as that moment passes. Think of those you saw yesterday, or even a moment ago. They’re gone. You can’t hear them or see them.

This is something that all Koreans have learned to do, especially those who have gone through depression that the Korean War brought, learning to re-evaluate situations and get on with life. It was how my parents were raised by our grandparents, and a lot of the values were transferred to us.

The story drew attention to the sharing of many values, and the wider culture and tradition that both North and South Koreans adhered to. It was a difficult reminder of the hardship faced by the North compared to the privileged lifestyle that the South have come to live and expect. The contrasting fates due to the arbitrary divide.

Sora Kim-Russell translated the text wonderfully well. It was certainly interesting to read the novel in English. When the phrases were too Korean to translate well, I would try translating back, brining about a smile to my lips. These moments added to the experience of reading, like a small exchange between the author, the translator, and myself (the native reader). The translation is smooth sailing overall and makes the important piece of Korean literature readily accessable.