Foreign Fiction to be Discussed this Week

On Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble, the R-Spec group features a discussion of foreign fiction. This is admittedly more low-tech than most things I post here, but it should be a very interesting evening.

Join us as Ruhan Zhao, Gabriel Prajitura and David Pascal discuss science fiction in China, Romania, and the former Soviet Union. Nancy Kress will most likely be on hand, too, and we look forward to hearing about her perspective on science fiction in China following the convention she attended last summer.

The meeting is free and open to the public, and begins at 7 pm at Barnes & Noble in Pittsford Plaza.

Reworking the User Experience at the Genius Bar

I went to the Apple store a few days ago and was blown away by the user experience. The staff is knowledgeable and approachable, and once they’ve thoroughly answered your questions and you’re ready to make a purchase, they simply pull out their handheld device, scan the products, scan your card, and send you happily on your way. No need to stand in long pre-Christmas lines. This is cool for two reasons: it makes the buyer’s life easier, but it also clinches the sale immediately. Standing in a long line gives the buyer the opportunity to second guess whether or not they really want to drop a couple hundred dollars. Immediate purchase ensures the credit card is scanned while the buyer is still in the warm glow of an enthusiastic, helpful salesperson.

But they’re not salespeople. They’re Geniuses. They work at a Genius Bar, not a customer service desk. A genius inspires confidence in a way that a salesperson cannot. And a “bar” suggests an openness that a “desk” does not. Putting those two words together was a brilliant idea. “Yes, we’re geniuses. But we’re not intimidating. C’mon over to the bar and let’s chat.” It gives a sense of getting a useful explanation of a complicated subject, while chatting with a friend over a latte. A little bit of genius rubs off and you walk away feeling good about technology that you previously didn’t understand.

Oh, and if you happen to be paying by check or cash and have to stand in line, they have a way cool way to pass the time. The screens (which are extremely readable) behind the Genius Bar give you changing information to read while you wait. A glossary defines terms (bandwidth came up while I was there), there are quick how-to snippets for your Apple products, and random interesting facts.

In the Christmas Eve hecticity of mall shopping, I found this to be a soothing little oasis.

It also led me to wonder about the “Reference Desk” moniker. Can’t that be renamed to reflect it’s purpose as THE place to go for information provided by friendly, approachable, knowledgeable people?

Beyond Print: Presentation December 4

On Tuesday, December 4th Dana Paxson and I will be giving a presentation for the Rochester Speculative Literature Writers Association on the future of fiction. We will be discussing emerging technology and it’s impact on writers. Dana will demonstrate his Electronic Literary Macrame, I will give a tour of Second Life, and we will both discuss how writers can take advantage of social networking tools to promote their writing.

R-Spec meets the first Tuesday of every month at Barnes & Noble in Pittsford Plaza, in Pittsford, New York at 7 pm. Meetings are free and open to the public. Anyone with an interest in speculative fiction is welcome to join us.