Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tech: Don't let people know what you're saying

I saw a blurb today so wonderful I have to share it:

“If you need to look family, friends, and colleagues in the eye, Logitech’s QuickCam Fusion has a 1.3-megapixel sensor and a 78-degree field of vision. It comes bundled with a stereo headset but Logitech’s “RightSound” technology reduces echo so you can use the QuickCam Fusion with its integrated microphone and your computer’s speakers. “RightLight” compensates for low-light conditions while the flexible clip lets you attach the QuickCam Fusion to a CRT or LCD monitor.”

Got it? This was a snippet in the new devices column of today’s paper. I suspect it was written by the vendor, and inserted in toto by a journo too busy to read it.

So you know what it’s talking about? Did you read it more than once? Or did you take more time over it because I’ve highlighted it over all the other press release drebbidge this week?

It was gibberish to me at first, and I went on to the next item. But I went back And figured it’s some sort of camera. For me, they’re webcams – put them on your computer so someone else can see you over the net. But if you don’t immediately extract the term “Cam”, or if you think “Fusion” is the type of device, well it gets harder. The implication – at first – was that it somehow allowed you to look at “family, friends and colleagues”, but no. It allows them to see you. Now why does it start talking about “stereo headsets” and mikes/speakers? Hmm, I guess it bundles a combined headphones and microphone, and the device itself has a built-in mike.

There was a photo with the piece, but it was even more inscrutible – and resolution was low.

Sorry, but before I get to parse it properly, I’ve already passed on to the next item. In this particular case, I did a double take because the whole thing was so obtuse.

a) it didn’t say clearly what it was
b) it didn’t say clearly what it did for me
c) it quickly veered on tangents (or are speakers and microphones now standard in webcams?)

I guess the language should make sense to someone already familiar with it. Maybe it’s aimed only at those who work extensively with webcams, and are currently looking to upgrade. But for the average punter, or for the time-poor technorati – and that covers most of us – it’s mumbo jumbo. The eye scans the item quickly, but the brain doesn’t absorb it.

I stopped for this one because it was laughable. But I didn’t stop for countless other items I read over the past week. Next week this vendor won’t be so lucky.

Obviously technologists still find it easier to come up with new ways of communicating than to improve their own communication.

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