Sunday, January 31, 2010

The visible invisible

One of the classrooms close to my office are used by CIEP students (The Culture and Intensive English Program). The building I am working in is logistical nightmare and no one is surprised seeing people running circles in search for a room which according to every logic should be next to rooms with similar numbers but it is not! Once in a while some poor soul asks me where to find the restroom or classroom. But recently it happened twice that after pointed to the right place the foreign student could not find the man restroom. Finally I decided to investigate the problem.

Imagine that you are a foreign student still struggling with English (or generally with Latin-based alphabet). While looking in the direction where the bathroom should be you are arriving to the generic door and here is what you see at first (eye level)How would you interpret this symbol?

Still not sure what you are looking at and despite the sign to "keep closed" you are opening the door and here it is what you see:

The image is not quite showing the actual depth, but after opening the door one can see fairly long corridor - The fire escape route?
Now, if you only looked up you would see the sign: men. But remember, you really need to use the restroom and you already run circles around the crazy building! Also, as a world traveler you are use to the symbols marking the restroom and other pivotal places, not just words!

Does the fire door sticker really communicate the message? What exactly is that message about anyway? It it universal enough to be correctly interpreted by anyone? How would you improve the visibility of the restroom?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Help for Haiti

On January 12, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. Majority of Port-au-Prince is destroyed and tone of people are buried dead or alive under the fallen buildings. The Red Cross counts about 3 million people killed, injured or homeless...
I cannot even begin to imagine how the survives feel. Many of them will never find their loved ones, as many of the dead bodies are being buried in the mass graves. For those who survived new challenges are paling up. How to feed the family? How to find the missing close ones? How to put together shattered life? How to survive in chaos after the quake? Libraries, churches, schools, archives are destroyed and with that, big part of historical and cultural artifacts. Peoples' personal belongings, photos and keepsakes are gone. Official documents are gone! Haitian who are dealing with extreme poverty anyway (the poorest country in the entire western hemisphere) will have to face the whole another level of challenges.

The silver lining of the traged
y is that the whole world jumped to help.
Within only two days Red cross raised $4 million just via text donations (brilliant and convenient!). Private people and businesses are donating money to their favorite organizations. Celebrities are donating and/or raising private money. 11 networks will air "Hope for Haiti" telethon lead by Gorge Clooney, Wyclef Jean, and CNN's Anderson Cooper. Almost all popular websites have some kind of button linking to the charities or offering products raising the money to help Haiti (below the screen captures from: amazon, google, itunes, e-online, ebay, overstock, cafe press, target, yahoo, and mtv).
I wonder how the tragedy will influence (and vice verse) tonight Golden Globes Ceremony?

You can bid on PAT ROBERTSON VOODOO DOLL! All proceeds Go To Haiti relief and so far the highest bid is $560! Pat Robertson showed his lack of empathy and unchristian behavior when he blamed Haitian tragedy on their pact with the Devil.

There is a will to help and there are the money in the world. Now let's hope that all the money will be used to the best and won't dissapear in some corrupted hands...

Here are the places I chose to support (and why).
  • SMS text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts (because it was cool idea to use SMS)
  • SMS text “HAITI” to 20222 and $10 will be given to the Clinton Foundation's Haiti Relief Fund (because I trust Bill Clinton)
  • Go to to donate any money to help children (because it is a first place I am going to when the disaster strikes in the world, and I trust that organization).
For the list of whole bunch of other relief organizations and the relevant to Haiti materials you can visit Google crisis response page