Explaining Bandwidth and File Size

January 24, 2012

What is bandwidth? Why does everything seem to slow down when viewing a large photograph or YouTube video on a PC?

Faced with explaining (to a non-technical audience) how internet connection speed and file size impact the user’s experience, I came up with a simple explanation using props: balloons. Here’s the 90-second version that should be adequate for most “normal users.”

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Books: when old and new technology meet

January 20, 2012

Are books old or new technology? Is printing books on paper obsolete, or does it still have an advantage in some cases? After Apple’s announcement about iBooks Textbooks yesterday, I think the answer is: both.

At the heart of it, iBooks is 1.) about the difference between electronic and printed books and 2.) about bringing the real-time digital world into the traditional publishing sphere. Kindle, Nook, and (to a lesser extent) iPad have been in the business of taking that which was formerly constrained to paper and making it available quickly, sometimes more cheaply, but certainly in a more portable package: e-books. And there’s not doubt that the fusion of e-books with the rest of the digital world was going to happen eventually. Plus, there’s that unspoken rule in the tech market which says, “New is always better than anything older.” So by that reasoning, books must be no exception, right? Well, there are numerous advantages, but I think there is one exception. Read the rest of this entry »