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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Remembering George Economou (1934-2019): The Magic in the Gaps between the Words and Worlds

Today, we take a moment to remember George Economou, poet, literary scholar, and translator, who passed away in early May at the age of 84.  George, who was quite unusual in his broad range of scholarly endeavors (poetry, translation, medieval literature, modernism, and classical Greek), produced a fascinating work, Ananios of Kleitor, which we contemplate here, along with his life.

George Economou
A conversation about Sappho
I’ll never forget a conversation I had with George Economou one evening when I was visiting his wife,  Rochelle Owens, and him in Philadelphia.  I had taken the train that winds its way down the Hudson River from Albany, New York, where I was living and working at Excelsior College. I had just completed a study of Classical Greek and Latin literature and had been immersing myself in Sappho.  It always surprised me that the classicists could fawn over Sappho when all that remained of her manuscripts were very small fragments and scraps.

“How can anyone possible assess the merit of the poetry of disconnected scraps, fragments, partial phrases and words?  And, how do you know which goes with which?  Do any of them actually go together?  Are they from separate pieces of parchment or papyrus?”
George went into a long discussion of how it was possible assess the poetic merit of a work even if all you had were disconnected, disjointed bits of distressed papyrus.

Scraps of papyrus and a rediscovered minor Greek poet
This conversation took place a few years before Ananios of Kleitor was published. He was, I believe, working on it… Ananios of Kleitor was (in theory) an extremely scholarly investigation of long-lost papyri, found by German investigators working in Egypt in the 1930s. The fragments were assembled on the page of the book to represent how the scholar had pieced them back together. In doing so, Economou discusses the life, times, contexts, and accomplishments of an ancient Greek poet, Ananios of Kleitor, with bawdy details as well as technical preoccupations. The poem fragments, when rendered as a full poem, turn out in some cases to be erotic (even pornographic), you would never guess it by looking at the minimalist layout of seemingly random words and letters.  The overall impression reminded on of the early 20th century DaDa and concrete poetry. 

But, back to the question, which George had clearly been considering in-depth for some time: “How do you know what goes in the gaps?  And, how do you know if it’s any good?”

The introduction to Ananios of Kleitor explains just how the gaps (and even intellectual lacunae) are filled; he describes the way that people attach well-known narratives or quotes from anecdotes in the cultural consciousness to a quote. The extreme exigesis reminds one of Borges and Nabokov.

Supposedly, the provenance of the papyri was a German library’s special collection, and one immediately thought of the Vermeers and other classics collected by the Nazis (along with a number of brazen forgeries). The layer upon layer of ontological uncertainty is intriguing for many reasons. I was reminded of the prolific schizophrenic forger of renowned artists’ minor works, and when finally exposed (he made the mistake of forging the same work five or six times, and then gifting them to different museums, not thinking about how they might issue press releases that would make some recognize they had the same gift), he had duped more than 40 museums in the United States. 

George did not go as far as to fabricate papyri or have extensive photographic plates in his book (or on the publisher’s website), but I suppose he could have done so.

Classical Greek, Medieval, and Modernist / Postmodernist mergings
In doing so, Economou gives a living example of the rhizome-type quality of texts (those which appear in on the page and those which remain in what Derrida might call the “trace” of signification).  But, instead of being incredibly obscure, Economou made the abstract deconstructivist notion a living, organic example.

The rhizome has interconnected roots beneath the surface, just as the fragmentary piece of a well-known quote or extract from song, literary work, folklore, or even quotes from drama or film, will trigger what is in the mind(s) of the audience. It is the mechanism behind the dialogical imagination as described by Bakhtin.

And, even as you erase the words between those in a well-known phrase, you leave the “trace” and full erasure is never possible.

Economou, who loved the intertextualities between periods of literature (even when the relationships were antagonistic or appropriative), was extremely rigorous in pointing out all the references and inter-textualities in Dante and Piers Plowman, not just to other works of literature or antecedents, but also to religious and philosophical belief systems. The tension between appropriation and appreciation were always a matter of the political realities of the day. Dante, Boethius, and Rabelais were just a few of those who spent some uncomfortable moments in prison for the various ways they subverted authority. It was interesting to see in Dante, in particularly, how the blend of Greek and Christian personae led to layer after layer of interpretative possibilities (and their subversions and reversals).

Lifework: Translating Piers Plowman
In addition to working with medieval and 20th century texts (which often resituated themselves in the medieval), George was a prolific translator.  In one course I took from him, we examined theories of translation and took “translation” to anything that is transported from one side to another. In doing so, we looked at Lawrence Venuti’s ideas about translation, which could be considered “interpretation” and thus a work of art as viable as the original.  Such was obviously the case in many of the translations of Dante.

Now we live in a world of Google Translate, and I believe there is a privileging of the literal, rather than the artistic or interpretive version. Economou, who was a friend of Louis Zukofsky, pointed to Zukofsky’s homophonic translations of Catullus, which focused only on the sound of the words, and rejected altogether any sense of denotative meaning.

In doing so, Zukofsky forced a return to the actual sound of poetry; the meanings we spontaneously weave from the sounds when they hit our verdant minds.

And, in the gaps in the texts from Ananios of Kleitor, we have a chance to return to what our own minds contribute to the meaning-making process. Those gaps are filled in with projections from our own mental libraries and emotional repositories.

What is fascinating about Ananios of Kleitor is that we see the process of gap-filling, as Economou creates ruptures in the text itself, opens up gaps, lets the reader mull the gaps, filling in from his or her own repositories. Then, the reader is able to see the filling-in process of the author himself, in his notes, findings, inter-textual discoveries, and scholarly detective work. All is a construction, and the suggestion is that both construction and the disruption of meaning are intentional – until they’re not.

I’m very sad that Dr. George Economou passed away. He touched my life in many ways, first as a refugee from the earth sciences who for some odd reason wanted to follow my Bachelor of Science degree with a Master of Arts in English.  Dr. Economou was the chair of my thesis committee, and then when I followed with my Ph.D., he was the chair of my dissertation committee.  More than that, he and Rochelle were deep friends, guides, and inspirations. Dr. Economou placed in my hand the keys to a locked door that, once unlocked, changed my life with an infinitude of tools and texts.

And, deep abiding admiration and friendship. 

Susan Smith Nash
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Interview with Raven Howell: Children's Book Writer and Artist

Inspiring children to feel good about themselves, to express their creativity, and to embrace nature are some of the goals of Raven Howell, a children's author who lives and works in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York.

1.   What is your name and your background? 
My name is Raven Howell and I live and work in the Hudson Valley, NY. Writing for children has always come naturally to me. I’m also the daughter of a poet. Creativity, writing and all the arts were encouraged in our household during my childhood. As a full time author, a lot of my time is spent in classrooms, working along students with learning disabilities, and presenting workshops in libraries.

For the past 25 years I’ve been specifically focused on children’s stories and poetry, releasing picture and poetry books, and writing regularly for many kids’ magazines such as Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, Jack and Jill, High Five, and Humpty Dumpty. Before that, my work also involved writing verse for greeting cards, and I enjoyed being a songwriter and working in publishing at Atlantic Records in NYC.

2.  What is the name of your book and what is it about? Greetings is the title of my latest release, a picture book for preschool through K. Written in lyrical rhyme with bright, colorful illustrations, it melds the seasonal joys that occur between nature and children.

3.  What inspired you to write it?
Two things inspired my writing Greetings. I credit my mother for instilling me with my love of nature and the seasons. She was the first to teach me tenderness and awe with the new sprung sprout, an unexpected rain shower, or the magic of patting and rolling snowballs for snowmen. I learned appreciation for the slinky green inchworm or sneaky fox in the woods. I wanted to share that joy with the preschooler! Also, my publisher was in the midst of expanding their children’s book division, and a concept book was the perfect fit.

4.   What is special about it?
Greetings is a special combination of being a concept teaching book as well as poetry! The reader is not only taught the four seasons, but taken on a journey through the year exploring sights, sounds, smells, touch and even taste.

5.   Can you give a few examples of people who have successfully used the approach?
Preschool and K class teachers have used the seasons to help students understand cycles. It can be an “Ah-ha” moment when a child starts experiencing the world as it runs on cycles of time, day and night, and the seasons.

As far as parenting is concerned, what’s a better way to inspire your child to physically go outdoors and explore nature and get exercise than to encourage them with the gifts of the seasons? A teacher who had been given a pre-release copy of my book mentioned how it helped her students relate to nature better and in turn relate to the environment in their own lives.

6.   What are your plans?
I have many book events during this school year until the end of June, and am scheduling presentations for the fall already. Some of the events coming up: I will be at the Blodgett Library in Fishkill, NY on May 11th, The Millbrook Literary festival on May 18th, Hellertown Library in Pennsylvania on June 21stand sharing my books with underprivileged children at the Beacon Book-reading Blast-off June 26th in NY. My book events are coupled with fun children's activities including a simple magic marker/water dropper craft the kids create into weather clouds and seasonal suns!

I also have another book release in June, a picture poetry book for readers ages 5 and up. It’s titled Glimmer, Sing of Sun, and is a companion book to Shimmer, Songs of Night. Presently I'm writing six fractured fairytales for a publisher's new imprint. My website is a good go-to for updates, information on all my available work, and teaching tips. I hope you’ll check it out!

A big thank you for the opportunity to share and participate!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

PreDoctoral Fellowships Offered by Humanities Institute

Humanities Institute has established a Predoctoral Fellowship program which may award up to $30,000 to each fellow.  Following a highly competitive application and selection process, each fellow pursues research in conjunction with interdisciplinary humanities courses. Fellows will also receive free tuition.

The mission of the Humanities Institute (HI) ( is to provide high-quality humanities education free of charge.  Over the years, HI has developed an extensive array of courses, articles, and studies written and developed by experts and commissioned directly by HI for the purposes of developing a unique body of knowledge

Art Nouveau by Antonio Gaudí - Barcelona - Casa Battlo - mosaic battlements
Art Nouveau by Antonio Gaudí - Barcelona - Casa Battlo - mosaic battlements
In addition to making its library of resources available to the public free of charge, HI also has developed high quality courses and certificates, which consist of lesson plans and assessments. They can be used by professors for their courses.  In addition, the courses are used in conjunction with HI’s certificate programs.

HI courses are taught by HI by Ph.D.-credentialed experts who work one-on-one with students.

To apply for the Predoctoral Fellowship, please visit the website, and send your materials to If you have more detailed questions, please contact the Humanities Institute's founder, Dr. Turhan Baykan (  He is happy to answer your questions and discuss your goals and aspirations.

The Importance of a Humanities Education

The humanities matter now more than ever, in a time of rapid change across the spectrum of human endeavor. The study of the humanities helps us develop an appreciation for multiple points of view, and to approach problems with flexible, creative thinking.

To study literature, history, philosophy, the arts, we learn about different cultures and how civilizations are born, develop, and evolve. We also explore how and why a knowledge of the humanities is foundational for development and application of organizations, business, math, science, and technology.

Studying humanities develops multi-disciplinary, multi-faceted thinking skills, and an ability to think about the future, its opportunities and challenges, and to approach them with fresh insights and wisdom.
The Mysterious Stone Kingdom of the Great Zimbabwe
The Mysterious Stone Kingdom of the Great Zimbabwe

Art Nouveau by Antonio Gaudí - Barcelona - mosaic
Art Nouveau by Antonio Gaudí - Barcelona - Casa Battlo - mosaic battlements

Monday, April 22, 2019

These Are the Slides You Need to Include in Your Next Pitch Deck

You will need a strong pitch deck in your quest to find funding and commercialization partners for your new technology or business idea. Welcome to a discussion with Rae Steinbach, The Funding Circle, about the perfect pitch deck. 

Businesswoman, Consulting, Business, Meeting

A strong pitch deck is an invaluable tool for any entrepreneur looking to attract small business funding or an investment, and there are countless examples available online detailing the various strategies startups use in their presentations. Many entrepreneurs aren’t aware of the factors that are most important to potential investors, so it’s crucial to consider things from their point of view when designing your pitch.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to a successful pitch deck, and it’s important to remember that what works for one business may not be as effective for another. That said, you should consider including these fundamental slides in your upcoming pitch deck.

Your Problem

Finding a problem to fix is one of the most crucial steps involved in creating a successful business, and the problem you plan to solve is just as important to your investors.

Connect your idea to real-world situations and needs that investors can relate to. Numbers and strategies are important too, but every strong pitch fills a critical need in the market.

Your Solution

Following the explanation of the problem you plan to solve is the way you plan to solve it. Solution slides are all about explaining how your idea changes the way people approach your problem.

Demonstrating your solution typically involves showing how your service or product would be used. Again, this section ties the big ideas from your other slides in with real-world examples and shares a clear value.

Your Team

Investors are used to hearing about the next big thing, but what they’re really interested in is what makes your team the right group for the job.

Your team slide should highlight the main contributors along with their expertise and relevant experience. If you’re still looking for new members, use this slide to identify the positions you need to fill and what they will do for your business.

Your Competition

Competition is critical to the success of any business, especially for startups that are still building their brand.

Including a slide about your competition gives you a chance to talk about other ways users are solving the problem your business targets and how your company is different. You’ll be able to highlight any competitive advantages and demonstrate why you’ll succeed over other businesses in the same niche.

Your Investment

The point of a pitch deck is to encourage investment, so you should add at least one slide on investment near the end of your presentation.

This slide is meant to explain how much investment money you need and how it will contribute to your short- and long-term goals. You can also mention others who have already invested in your business.

More than 600,000 new businesses are founded every year in the United States alone, and investment is crucial to growth and stability in the early phases. Adding these critical slides to your upcoming pitch deck will tell investors everything they need to know to feel confident in your startup.

About Rae Steinbach: 
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Flared and Stranded Gas Solutions: Mini LNG Plant

--> First, there was horizontal drilling, then massive multistage hydraulic fracturing. Then "smart oilfield" with factory drilling and remotely operated operations dramatically improved productivity.

This was good, except that production outstripped pipeline capacity, especially for gas. It also glutted already saturated markets, resulting in a price collapse. The best thing to do with gas was either to flare it or not produce it all, and neither option was good for companies that counted on cash flow from operations to pay for their capital expenditures and private equity financing.

Martin was in a bind. He raised money for two different projects. One was a plan to go into the Panhandle Gas Field and drill horizontal wells to liberate the gas left behind by vertical drilling.

"Fish in a barrel," he gloated inwardly. And, it worked.  What he had not counted on was the terrible condition of the 40-year-old pipelines that had weathered price collapses and negligent owners.  He had "stranded gas" unless he wanted to pay the midstream company to update the system.

"Good grief," he said.  "I might as well buy my own midstream company." But, buying a pipeline did not make sense. After all, he did not know how long the gas production would hold up. or at what production volume.

Martin's other project was equally challenging. He drilled horizontal wells in the Antrim Shale in Michigan, which was really close to the hungry market of Chicago. But, the field was not huge, and there were no nearby pipelines. Given that the wells had a productive life of about 36 months, he could continue to time the development of the new wells to compensate for the depleting ones for at least 5 or 6 years. But, after that, unless they found another field, there would be nothing to produce into a pipeline.  Given those conditions, no midstream companies would touch him.

Martin found a solution:  small-scale, portable LNG facilities

He decided to contact the company and find out how to put in portable LNG solutions, and instead of putting the produced gas into a pipeline, the produced gas would go to the LNG plant, and then they'd put the liquid natural gas in bottles to sell or put in a warehouse (rather than flaring or not producing at all).

  • Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles (old Panhandle Gas Field)
  • Marcellus (remote parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania)
  • New Mexico stranded gas
  • Utica (remote parts of New York and Ohio)
  • Antrim (Michigan)
  • New Albany (Indiana)
  • Mancos (remote parts of Colorado
  • Haynesville (Louisiana, East Texas)
  • Fayetteville (remote parts of Arkansas)
  • others...
Now Martin is looking for more available gas fields.
Contact me him if you'd like to explore the economics of getting a mini-LNG plant on your property.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Mysteries of Dinosaur Extinction: What Really Happened? Dragon's Heir.

Part of the mesmerizing pull of science fiction and fantasy is the opportunity to travel in the mind to a new universe and to experience what Mikhail Bakhtin referred to as “bestrangement” – that vertiginous experience of being off-balance and aware that language and languages are only loosely anchored in a correlative “other,” and that we rely perhaps more than we should on our own experience and what we have socially learned is “real” or “true.”

In a text, the space within the words where there is little or no comprehension of the denotation, much less the cultural meaning(s), gives a reader a feeling of extreme vulnerability due to the inability to “read” the discourse and anticipate behaviors of others.  At the same time, “bestrangement” imbues a sense of invulnerability and a sheltering psychological distance from the workaday reality that the reader may live in. It’s escape in its purest form.

The novel by medical specialist Glenn Parris, The Dragon’s Heir: The Archeologist’s Tale, begins comfortably enough in coastal Maine in a tavern. But, the conversation quickly becomes bestranging, as we become aware that Earth has had some sort of transformation and we’re either in the distant past or in the future, where there has been an Exodus Corridor, a Jing Pen, and Efilu, Nelky, and more. There are no explanations of what the terms mean, and in Chapter 1, the special vocabulary and language of the different world, continue to be developed. The narrative does not pause to explain the terms (although there is an Abridged Jing Pen Translator at the end of the book.

So, it’s a bit of work to make one’s way through the world and follow the dialogue and plot. But, as one reads, and continues to float along in a sense of being transported to another world and another time, it becomes clear that what has happened is that we’re seeing a world that is the result of a mass extinction event – the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T) boundary event 65 million years ago that marked the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the subsequent rise of the mammals.

Instead of being single-mindedly predatory (the gaudy, feathered raptors), the dinosaurs were highly evolved creatures with technologies that allowed them to escape the terrible conditions on Earth. In their absence, the mammals rose to power.

Now, as in the way of all diasporas, there is a desire to return to the original home. In this case, it’s also a time to find out what happened to the ancient beliefs, the culture’s leaders, and to understand the traditions. So, they launch a space ship with archeologists, soldiers, and scientists.  Vit Na, the head archeologist, is in charge.

What she finds is a culture of vile mammals who rose, as Vit Na observes, without the pressure of a predator class.  And, they have been able to run amok, undisciplined, and to develop divided, sneaky minds as they foul their own nests.

The book begins to shift tone and to be about survival and hope, and also about levels of communication and alienation in experiences of beings that have powers unfathomable by those who do not share the same ones.

In a certain way, Dragon’s Heir evokes James Joyce’s Ulysses, with a sense of wandering and extreme attention to detail. The narrative refuses to attach to a single plot or sub-plot, and the only reality that one can be sure of is the reality of the body itself. In the heroic acts (or villainous), there is a building sense of philosophy of beingness and reality. What does it take to reinvent our way of understanding the world so we have a chance of survival? Where are the ancient beliefs? What good is a mystic? What good is magic (or technology)?

As in Ulysses, the main issue is that of time travel – in other words, of memory, experience, and the uncovered beliefs and institutions of the past. What have we lost?  In the case of Dragon’s Heir, what has been lost is reborn in the heart of a reinvented heroism: Vit Na’s careful listening to all of those around her, and an awareness that learning the language and beliefs of those around her will require her to decide on her own reality, and to live in a constrained world. The “rage for order” in Ulysses is a return to Dublin, and an affirmation of the power of love, and in the case of Dragon’s Heir, an enlightened self.
Parris, Glenn. (2019) The Dragon’s Heir: The Archeologist’s Tale.   X-Libris. 978-1-9845-4151-2.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Brexit Supply Chain Collapse: What Should Sarah Do?

Sarah Carruthers was fit to be tied. She watched with horror the way that the members of the British government argued and debated with each other, but were unable to come up with a plan to harmonize with the European Union. That mean that all imports and exports from the European Union would hit a wall of red tape, not only tariffs but of documentation, which could amount to, in some cases, upwards of a hundred documents required for a single export into the European Union.

"Don't worry! We're going to replace the European Union market with our old standby, the Commonwealth!" crowed a 20-something Brexit-er on his YouTube channel.

Sarah watched him with mounting animus. "I hope you get deplatformed!" she glowered to herself.

She thought of her own business. She had a small restaurant in the cathedral town of Bury St. Edmunds and she catered to Londoners who liked to go to farmer's markets on the weekends, and also to walk through some of Britain's most historic reaches, where assiduous treasure hunters had found hoards of Roman silver, Anglo-Saxon cloisonne and intricate braid-patterned knife hilts, hidden Catholic abbey chalices during Henry VIII's rampages, and then Georgian and Victorian knick-knacks. There were walking and biking paths, and it was altogether a historical gold mine.

"I should expand into a boutique hotel," she told herself. But with the impending Brexit shock, Londoners were scared. They were not in a mood to explore history, charming walks in nature, and fascinating churchyards immortalized by novelists and poets.

Sarah went into survival mode.

1.  She looked at what it would take to keep up her sales to Germany and France of English Shortbread and Peter Rabbit Chocolates. Most of her sales were around Easter and Christmas. Perhaps she could work with a broker.  At least she understood the anatomy of the demand.

2.  She looked at how complicated it would be to import the packaging, and other elements she used to create her hand-crafted shortbread cookies and chocolate rabbits.

Then, Phase II. She looked at how she could replace lost sales to the Commonwealth. Here were her first thoughts.  The biggest markets in the Commonwealth were India, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and South Africa.

1.  Peter Rabbit chocolates for Easter.  Sarah had to smile (albeit through tears) at this one. Easter?  in India? Pakistan? Peter Rabbit may seem exotic, but it's not going to capture the Hindi, Muslim, or Buddhist populations.

2.  Christmas shortbread. Same problem as Peter Rabbit in South Asia.

3.  There's always Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand, right??  Sarah's heart sank. They celebrated Easter and Christmas, but the seasons were opposite, and she did not know how chocolates and shortcake were viewed.  Plus, there was the distance, and the costs of transportation.

Also, there were complications with logistics: transportation, warehousing..

And, there was the pesky issue of brand recognition and marketing -- Sarah's products were well-known in France and Germany, and, thanks to quirky and cute advertising, their jingles were a part of the culture at large.  With the Commonwealth, they'd be starting from ZERO.

Challenge: You've been hired to give Sarah advice. What should she do to keep her sales high and profitable?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Creativity and Psychological Well-Being: A Detailed Look

I came across a very interesting article that provides details about the ways in which getting involved in creative activities will help your psychological well-being. It also discusses the development of creativity and how to make yourself more resilient, particularly when going through difficult times.

Link to the podcast:

Friedman, M. B. (2014). Creativity and Psychological Well-Being. Contemporary Readings in Law and; Social Justice6(2), 39–58.

Purpose of the article:  
Look at how creativity contributes to mental health and where it can be most effective.  

Useful findings:  
Instead of holding to the stereotypical connection between madness and creativity, this article points out that creativity actually helps maintain mental health. 

Applicability of the article: 

  • Creativity involves cultivating a skill, which increases engagement and leads to a sense of accomplishment.  It satisfies needs for accomplishment, recognition, and affiliation. 
  • Artistic activities affirm and validate one’s unique identity and sense of self (and self-worth).
  • There are four dimensions of the experience of art that can help one’s mental health
  • Cultivating skill:  builds self-efficacy and confidence
  • Immersion in activity:  generates the joy and happiness; the process is almost meditative; if done with others, it meets the need for affiliation
  • Accomplishment: satisfies the need for recognition, builds sense of identity and self-efficacy
  • Connection and celebration: Makes validating and emotions-sharing connections with other people
  • Useful strategies for healing for those with anxiety, depression, and more.

Monday, March 11, 2019

What to Do when the Robot Comes for Your Job

It's not a matter of "if" but "when."  An excellent article published in Mother Jones breaks it down and provides a timeline of the kinds of jobs that will be replaced between now and 2040.  The article examples many of the arguments that have been used to make the predictions less apocalyptic.

Mother Jones breaks them all down. It's apocalyptic, indeed, but at least with warning, you can develop a plan.

Link to podcast: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Drum, K., and; D, A. D. (2017). You Will Lose Your Job to a RobotMother Jones42(6), 38–69  Purpose of the article:  To address the questions about when and how AI-powered machines replace jobs, and to point out that the owners of the AI-powered machines and the businesses are the ones who will benefit most.
  Useful findings:  Machines powered by artificial intelligence will become better than humans in many different tasks. The article provides a useful timeline.
  Applicability of the article:
*Routine physical tasks will be the first to be replaced, which includes packing boxes, driving trucks, etc.
*Routine cognitive tasks will be next to be replaced (teller, phone sales)*Non-routine cognitive will be the last to be  replaced. 
 Here is a chart with a timeline showing the robot take-over.  It's not "if" but "when."



Tuesday, March 05, 2019

When To Use Visuals in Your Report, Presentation, or Informational Social Media

What’s the quickest way to “Death By PowerPoint”?  Put together a presentation that consists only of bullet points.  Conversely, a presentation or report that consists only of visuals may seem superficial and confusing.  So, when should you use visuals? How should they be placed for maximum impact and effectiveness?

Lime or Bird? You decide.... Mexico City 2019 (photo credit: Susan Nash)
 What Is a Visual?

Generally speaking, a visual is anything that is pictoral, graphic, or semiotic.  A visual can be composed of text (a sign, etc.).  Generally speaking, visuals are graphics that may include diagrams, drawings, photographs, charts, graphs, figures, and more.

According to Patrick Cavenaugh, visual elements within a report or presentation are highly effective because they both capture the viewer’s attention and then direct or guide it. The visual architecture creates a process that then continues to arouse interest and direct attention from visual stimulus to visual stimulus (Cavanaugh, 2011).

 Video on using visuals:

When to Use a Visual

Think of your overall goal or objective in writing your report or creating your presentation.  Then, consider your audience.  What will they relate to? What will they expect?  What will resonate with their values and beliefs?

Keep in mind the following purposes of visuals:

* Instruct or persuade
* Draw attention to something immediately important
* Provide information quickly
* Engage the audience
* Keep the audience focused
* Provide accurate information concisely

Then, as you organize the content, think of the sequencing and space out the visual elements in order to maintain an optimized pace and to keep attention focused.

Roses before the storm in Mexico City. Photo credit: Susan Nash
 Audience Perspective

As you prepare your visuals, and determine where to place them, it is useful to keep in mind the following questions that your audience will have as they approach the material.

*Why is the visual here?
*What does it tell me?
* Which aspect of the visual is most important?
* Where, exactly, should I focus?
* What do these numbers or statistics mean?
* What should I be thinking or doing?
* Where does the graphic begin? Where does the information end?

How Visuals Work

Make the abstract concrete.  Your audience can more easily relate the content to their own experience.

Analyze relationships.  If the visuals appear on the same page, or next to each other, it is fairly easy to discuss how they relate to each other.  The relationships can be grasped at a glance with skillful use of design, color, pattern, and placement.

Facilitate comparisons. With visuals, it is easy to discuss to things, particularly when you locate them side by side.

Emphasize key points.  You can make key points clear using visuals.

Transcend language barriers.  It is possible to create visuals that can be communicated across language and cultural differences.

A memorial for a man who drowned in the Arkansas River, Tulsa, Oklahoma (photo credit: Susan Nash)
 What Types of Visuals to Consider

Tables.  Tables display data (as number or words) in rows and columns for comparison. 

Photographs.  Photographs can help document a place, person, or thing, and they can help emphasize the application of a concept in real life. Be sure to give proper attribution to the graphics you use, and to obtain permission.  If you use graphics that have a Creative Commons license, be sure to give it the correct attribution.

Graphs.  Graphs translate numbers into shapes, shades, and patterns by plotting two or more data sets on a coordinate system.

Maps.  Maps or grids are very helpful when discussing locations, demographics, and even the results of data mining (for example, for marketing).

Charts.  Charts depict relationships without the use of a coordinate system by using circles, rectangles, arrows, connecting lines, and other design elements.

Graphs.  Graphic illustrations are pictorial devices for helping readers visualize what something looks like, how it's done, how it happens, or where it's located. 

Maintaining Effectiveness With Visuals
After you’ve analyzed your goals and objectives, and have determined where and when to use visuals, be sure to let another person take a look at your presentation or report.  Peer review can be quite helpful – they can help you gain insight into how diverse learning styles and preferences can be accommodated by using visuals. You can also get an idea if your visuals are of the appropriate complexity.


Cavanaugh, P. (2011) Visual cognition. Vision Research. 51 (13): 1538-51. 

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