Your Language

I received a medical form in the mail with the following message at the top: “For language assistance in your language call the number listed on your ID card at no cost.” That statement, or something similar, appears in 19 other languages below it. In addition to the usual languages we see in the United States, like Spanish, French and German, this statement has been translated into Navajo, French Creole, Samoan and Taglog. I’ve never seen such language diversity.

Picture This

In the latest Michael Chabon book, Moonglow, there is a beautiful sequence where a mother and a son are looking at a photo album without pictures. It is the old style album with the black tabs on the corners of the pictures, but the pictures had fallen out. The mother describes the pictures to her son and it is a lot like the memory of her childhood, as opposed to an objective record of her childhood.

Its Bark is Worse than its Bite

I saw a tree, a very skinny tree, with bark that peels off in big strips. The strips just pile up at the base of the tree. It is almost as if every day someone comes by, and in their boredom, they peel off a little more the bark. They don’t tear it up into small pieces. They just leave it on the ground. But this seems to happen naturally.

Web Content in Real Life

As website owners have been trying to find the right mix of content – or words that people would actually want to read – for their shopping sites, I encountered an example of this going in the other direction. I saw an in-store display of online content in the teen section of a department store. These short, helpful articles added to the shopping experience, and ideally convinced customers to buy the nearby products.