Speak Up

My 9-year-old daughter is a bit shy. She’s loud at home, and with her friends, but usually not in class or in other environments. I often implore her, “speak up, I want to hear, everyone wants to hear, what you have to say.” Her teachers have commented that she needs to find her voice and speak out. It’s different from my experience as a kid. I was talkative and chatty. Adults used to ask me to stop asking questions and stop talking.

This year my daughter is in a 4th/5th mixed class at a public school. They’re studying US history, and they began with the history of how Columbus mistreated (“was so mean to people he didn’t even know!” exclaims my daughter) the people he met when he “sailed the ocean blue.”

The class is now studying Native American history. They divided into groups of 4 kids with each group assigned a tribe to study. Her group is studying the Nez Perce (Nimíipuu). She’s fascinated. She’s read/devoured 3 books about the Nez Perce and highlighted and notated a book on her Kindle. Recently she recited a bunch of quotes from Chief Joseph to me (“Do you want to hear my favorites of all the things I read about Chief Joseph?”). I was surprised.

Yesterday morning, on our walk to school, she described how her group only wants to put a big picture of Chief Joseph in the middle of their presentation board. “But he wasn’t the only chief,” she said, “there were other chiefs and so many other people. A tribe isn’t just one chief. A tribe is everyone in the community. He was a leader but you’re not a leader without a community. How do I convince my group that the Nez Perce are not just one chief?”

Oh, kid. You have to speak up.

She moved on to talk about how Chief Joseph died of a broken heart, “so is that natural causes? Or is it murder? Is it natural to die of a broken heart? How does someone die of a broken heart? How does the heart break?”

I don’t know.

This morning her teacher told me that yesterday my daughter stood up and quoted Chief Joseph to the class. She spoke up! The surrender speech is what my daughter loves. She memorized a portion of this and recites parts of this regularly:

“Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Too-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are, perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

She’s speaking up and speaking about injustice. Warm fuzzies.

I Don’t Miss Paper Books

It’s still pretty common that a friend of mine is taken aback when I say I don’t miss paper books. How many years until that’s more common than uncommon? My 9yrold daughter reads both on screen and paper and she loves highlighting and bookmarking on screen. Three years ago she wasn’t reading on screen.

I’ve been reading since I was 3 years old. I grew up in a house without TV or much mass/popular media (not my choice, of course!). I was friends with librarians at schools and the town’s public library. I checked out stacks of books every week. My goal was to own a lot of books when I grew up (my family didn’t own a lot of books and I admired houses with huge bookshelves full of books). I went to college, I got a job, I acquired books, and I loved living with books.

The experience of reading was always a mix of the images and scenes in my head, the sensation of the weight of the book, and the physical space of the page currently read. I associated plot twists in the book with where the page was in the stack of pages. There was as much a physical sense of content as there was a mental and emotional sensation.

Over the past few years I’ve given away almost all of my hardback and paperback fiction and nonfiction books. I gave them away because we live in a small house in a city and my reading was almost all on a screen. Three years ago I wrote about my experiences in paperless reading. At that time (January 2011) I was reading books both in paper and on screen, and I was starting to read more only on a screen.

I’ve noticed that reading a book on a device has given me a different, and more desirable, experience of engaging with the story or the content. The story and the characters are now all alive in my head, invading and influencing my stream of daily thoughts, as pure content not associated with (or sometimes constricted by) a physical sense of place-in-pages and heft of a stack of paper.

The downside for me, of reading books without paper, is that I don’t pay attention to my place in the book and some books end before I’m ready for them to end. That never happened, of course, with a hardback or paperback because I physically knew my place in a book.

The only type of book I don’t read, yet, on screen is graphic novels. I still buy, and read, and then give away, graphic novels. I haven’t yet cottoned to the experience of reading a graphic novel in an app on a device. How much longer until those will be just as easy to read and enjoy on a screen? Or have I missed an improvement in reading graphic novels in an app? Please tell me!

What’s New?

I installed 4 app updates on a Samsung Galaxy S4 today and glanced at “What’s New” for each of the apps. When I glance at “What’s New” I’m usually looking for bug fix information, but I rarely see that. Today the 4 apps with updates available on this device were Path, Google Maps, Twitter, and Facebook.

For the updates I installed today, Google and Path mention bug fixes (Thank you! But what bugs were fixed?). Facebook writes about features and functionalities and permissions. Google advertises “navigating your world faster” while Path is about “trust” and “stay close” and “share life” and “complete control.” Oops, Path, your description says you maintain a 5star rating but in the Play Store your average rating is now 4.5.  Twitter’s  list of features is helpful to me, and, while using the updated app, I noticed at least one bug fix. I wish companies would be more proud of bug fixes by publicizing them.

Google maps Android app description of what's new in the play store Path Android app description of what's new in the play store Twitter Android app description of what's new in the play store Facebook Android app description of what's new in the play store

I miss detailed Release Notes that used to come out with software and applications. They were good references for users and consumers and customers who are looking for more information (or just looking for an answer to “Did they finally fix that bug? Yes?! Yay!”).

I wish the app company’s people, who write the content for their app in the app/play store, would keep the user in mind when writing “What’s new” or when writing the description. What do you think they want to know? Have you ever asked or observed them? When I read these descriptions, I wonder.

Get to know some of the people who use your app.