Monthly Archives: April 2011

Fonts: a love hate relationship

Put your hands up if you actually feel that fonts make a big difference!

Personally speaking, I HATE Times New Roman. It’s a Serif font, which means letters come with squiggly bits at the end of every letter. It’s the standard font in the USA, and pretty much everywhere else, especially for reports.

Here are some examples of serif fonts (in their own font). I typed them out and took a screenshot.

I prefer sans-serif fonts! Cleaner, easier, prettier! Arial and Helvetica are my personal favourites.
Here are some examples of sans-serif (in their own font), which I typed out too.

Does it matter? Serif, Sans serif? What’s the big idea? As long as it’s readable (unlike wing dings), it’s fine, right?

It actually makes a difference.
Serif is usually used for printed work, because the little lines and squiggles help make letters more individual, more recognizable. It makes each letter more distinctive.

Sans serif, on the other hand, is better for online work. This sounds really technical, but printed words have at least 1000dpi (dots per inch), while online words has a dpi of less than 100. Because the resolution is smaller, it makes serif characters harder to read, due to its complex shape (lines and squiggles).

FYI: for images, printed images have at least 300dpi, online images are usually 72dpi

FONTSPEAK: which font is the most used for brands?
-durmroll- HELVETICA! HOORAY, A SAN SERIF FONT! –throws confetti in the air-

I won’t go on about the research of the most commonly used font, but here are some really recognizable brands using Helvetica. Clicking on the images opens in a new tab. All photos are from the web page itself.


So the next time you look at notices, designs, or anything that uses lettering, stop and ponder if the font used helped to make reading better. (= If not, how else could the message be conveyed better?

Ps: yes, I’m really glad my font layout in this blog is sans-serif.

Can privacy and problem solving go hand in hand?

Week 5:
Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:

Here’s a short clip by Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of social networking site, Facebook.
(video can’t be embedded. Click on the link to view it!)

In the clip, he points out that
1) People tend to share more when they feel that they have control over what they share.
2) By limiting the sharing, the world becomes more connected
3) Problems faced by people would be easier to solve.

His rationale: There may be many people who face similar problems. When they share it, there is awareness, and people are able to brainstorm, and help solve the problems.

Gif Bin

Credits to lucario515

How does that work? How are we being more connected with the world, when we only allow certain people to view whatever we post on Facebook? Does this allow the rest of the world to interact with me, or what I said?

The fact is – nothing online is private anymore (Tapscott, 2009). Cached posts, screen shots.. Let’s face it, technology is so advanced, even if the Black Box is crushed, information still can be retrieved.

Here are some statistics. According to Solove (2007), 87.8% of Facebook users reveal their birth date, 39.9% list their phone number, and an astonishing 50.8% of them list their current residence. How are we going private, when we’re putting personal information for the world to see?

How can we ensure that private data online will never be seen by others because of the “privacy controls” we have set?

Like what Joyce Chng said, the whole need to explain privacy settings is indeed ironic. Setting privacy controls do not make a world more open and connected. In fact, privacy controls limit the amount of information being shared with the public.

Numerous times, companies send me emails like these:

(own images used)

So, I shared my email with a certain company, and other companies buy my email and send me those mails? How do these emails help me solve my problems in any way? I do understand that “the Internet” wants to solve my problems, but I’m a little shocked that they’ve predicted the problems I may, or may not face in the future.

In reality, the more you control over what you share on the internet, the less your personal information is spread. Thus, whatever “problems” one may have, it’s hard to get the world to solve it together, because only a few “trusted” people in your social networking site would be able to see the problem.

For those interested in looking at the full-length video (I didn’t just take it out of context), here it is

I admit social networking has helped us:
1) Keep in touch with friends around the world
2) Share views on topics of interest
3) Being able to spread awareness on issues

Point 3 probably has the biggest impact in solving problems, and indeed, it has been one of the more useful tools in social networking. It’s probably what Zuckerberg was referring to. I just don’t get how making your privacy setting to be set as “super restricted” will help you solve problems.

Matt Cohler, Facebook’s former strategy chief once said “Privacy meant it’s a secret, or it’s something that I don’t share with other people” (Tapscott. 2009). However, for the new generation privacy means being able to control what you share with others, not keeping information totally private (Tapscott. 2009). Have definitions changed?

Maybe I’ll ask my 5 friends (I can’t trust the other 600 of them so only 5 can see what I post) on facebook and see if they’re able to solve this problem for me.

Tubechop. 2011, ‘Extract form Mark Zuckerberg on Making Privacy Controls Simple’, Tubechop, viewed 25 April 2011.

Tapscott, D 2009, ‘A generation bathed in Bits’, in S Scott (eds), Grown up digital: How the net generation is changing your world, McGraw Hill, USA, pp. 39 – 69.

Solove, D. (2007) ‘How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrains Us’, in The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 17-49.

Are bloggers more effective in informing the public?

A new wave of “journalists” and “editiors” are the bloggers. Bloggers write about anything that is of their personal interest (Leshed & Kaye 2006).

While I agree that bloggers have their own editorial independence, collaborative structure, and merit-based popularity, I don’t necessarily agree that they are more effective in informing the public.

One online political blog with editorial independence in Singapore would be The Temasek Review. Singapore’s newspapers, when concerning politics, would usually have news about the party running the state, People’s Action Party. It has little news coverage regarding the opposition parties, such as Worker’s Party or Reform Party. However, The Temasek Review publishes news about the opposition parties, thus effectively informing the public on what actually goes on behind the political scene. This is important for voters, as they may not be able to receive all information they need to cast a vote during the general election. In this aspect, bloggers then are a more popular choice should the public need to be informed effectively.

Bloggers usually first hear about news from traditional media (Davis 2001). They then form their opinions, and talk about it. Without traditional media, one would not have that much access to current news and information. Furthermore, blogs are started by parties who feel the need to voice their opinions. Because opinions and emotions are usually involved (Leshed & Kaye 2006), and one can’t necessarily inform the public as effectively as they should because their writing is influenced by their thoughts.

Bloggers might not be popular based on merit, but instead on how witty they are. One example would be Hollywood blogger Perez Hilton, known for criticizing celebrities. He has the power to make or break someone else’s reputation. Isn’t it scary that our reputation is ours, yet, our reputation depends on other people to shape it? As Solove (2007) states, our reputation “reflects who we are”, and yet, “it is not solely our own creation”. As readers, we have to make sure that we know both sides of the story. If we just take the blogger’s points and disregard underlying issues, the blogger then has failed to inform the public effectively in any sense then.

Although most online editorials do not have gatekeepers, there are certain laws that prevent one from blogging his/her thoughts that come to mind (Niles 2010). This means that one is still bound to the law while blogging. In this case, the law acts as the invisible gate-keeper, and one might be unable to inform the public of issues that might be seen as sensitive.

Collaborations may also affect the way a blogger writes. The benefits of a sponsored product may be exaggerated just because the products are sponsored. This then does not effectively inform the public about the product itself.

Thus, I do not feel that bloggers are more effective in informing the public just because they may have their own collaborations and editorial independence. Both traditional media and interactive media have their strengths and weaknesses. However, unless we find the right balance, at the end of the day, we will still decide to trust traditional forms of media regarding credible news. It may be slower than the Internet, but it has been around for years, compared to the many blogs available online which may open for a day, and be closed down the next.

Lesheg, G & Kaye, J. J 2006, Understanding How Bloggers Feel: Recognizing Affect in Blog Posts, Montreal, Canada, viewed 26 April 2011,  <;.

Davis, R 2008, A Symbiotic Relationship Between Journalists and Bloggers, President and Fellows of Harvard College, United Kingdom, viewed 26 April 2011, <;.

Niles, R 2010, On the Internet, no one has to be a gatekeeper, but everyone can be, OJR: The Online Journalism Review, California, viewed 26 April 2011,  <;.

Solove, D. (2007) ‘How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrains Us’, in The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 17-49.

Pretty and useful

Attribution Some rights reserved by daniel_iversen

This image sums up interactivity on Web 2.0