"Real Artists Ship"

Colin Johnson’s blog

Archive for the ‘Visual’ Category

Scotland (1)

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Breaking news: new Scottish government announces minor changes to the Scotland-England border.


Tech is Blue

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Here’s an interesting and unexpected result. Do a google image search for “tech”. You will, at the time of writing, get something like this:


Tech is clearly blue. The same is true for “digital”:


and for “cyber”:


I had to make sure that the search-by-colour filter was turned off. This is really surprising to me. I have seen lots of these kinds of images before, but I am gobsmacked at how dominant this colour scheme is as a way of depicting technology. Where does it come from? Some vague notion of “computers are made of electricity, and electricity looks something like a lighting bolt going across a twilit sky”? The second choice seems to be some kind of green-screen terminal green, which is vaguely comprehensible; but, even so, odd. I am in my forties and probably of the youngest generation to have used a terminal for real, and even then only for a few years whilst I was at university.

I wonder what other hidden colour schemes there are out there?

Aside: our university timetable still calls classes held in a computer room “terminal” classes. I wonder what proportion of the students would have any idea why they have this name? I suspect that the vast majority just take it as an arbitrary signifier, and have no idea of its origins.

Artefact (1)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

A wonderful Google Streetview artefact—the top of the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh appears to be floating off into the distance.

Google Streetview picture with a spire seeming to be floating on clouds.

Joke (5)

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Joke for time-management junkies who also remember a particular, rather obscure internet meme. Probably rather a small demographic.

(See www.schneierfacts.com and www.pomodorotechnique.com for some hint towards an explanation/justification.)

Grabbing Attention

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

This advertising image is very clever; making use of a very specific visual image (the “number of new emails” graphic from iOS) as a way of drawing the eye to a specific part of the screen.

ad with iOS new mails graphic

There is clearly a balance here. The image is unremarkable as such, but to people who use iOS devices the attentional grab of the image is large, much more so than a generic “look here!” sort of splash. The other side of the balance is that people unfamiliar with those devices will not get any of the advantage. Presumably a really finessed version of this would deliver a personalised version of the image depending on the device being used.

Next Door to the Tonic-Clonic Bazaar

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

A bizarrely-named vending machine from Japan. I can understand that “petit mall” kinda makes sense as the name of a vending machine, but the weird riff on a dated piece of medical terminology for an epileptic seizure is odd.

Vending machine: "Petit Mall"

National Self-storage

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Liked the categorisation that Google maps places on this building:

National Archives of Scotland. Category: Self-storage


Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Make up your own political joke here…

Access up to Conservative club (turn left)

Modulo Arithmetic Fail

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

No Nothing

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

No crocs, no segways, no flipflops…

sign from Barcelona Airport: no crocs, no segways, no flipflops

From the escalator at Barcelona Airport; there is a little bit of explanation, because the security guards at the airport ride Segways, which is more-or-less the only time I’ve seen them being used for real.

Don’t Panic

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

A sign from the gents loos at St. Pancras.

"During an emergency: Mime, Body-pop, do 'The Robot'."

Interestingly, it has been there for several weeks. It presumably looks official enough that anyone cleaning the area doesn’t notice that it isn’t an “official” sign.

Like, so Twentieth Century

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

When I visit my parents in Nottingham, I often pass by this delightful shop on my way to the station from their house (image courtesy of Google Street View, obviously):

The Monitor Shop: Purveyors of 386's and VGA monitors

I like the unrepentant refusal to change the signage, as well as the name. The idea of a shop specialising in something as prosaic as monitors is charming, as are the signs advertising VGA and SVGA monitors in sizes up to 21″, and the proud claim that they sell 386, 486 and Pentium computers.

A decade or so ago this just looked sad: a shop advertising technology that was several years out of date. Now, though, it has transcended that, and its wilful display of advertising for products that were dated when my students were babes-in-arms seems daring and self-confident. They appear to do a decent trade, anyway; perhaps I will go in one day.