I am sitting in the train from Brussels to Rotterdam. I have work to do, but I am also too tired to do it well. I need to entertain myself instead. What to do? Hmm. Hey, write a blog entry. But I have the strangest problem. I don't have internet connectivity. I can't write. But I could write a post and upload it later.
I still have the same feeling: I just can't write.
Can't write? Well, first, I have my blog drafts stored on blogger.com. I currently have one half finished and I'd like to finish it off. But I can't get to my draft and if I could, I couldn't finish it, since I'd like to put in some links and check some data sources and facts...that requires connectivity. Slowly it strikes me: I carry an inner conviction that I can't write without access to a search engine. Is it true? I can't create without search? I'm moved to prove that this is not true.
Pause of several minutes.
We pass over the Hollands Diep by Dordrecht. Is that really what it's called? I've just always thought that this water here was what people were talking about when they say Hollands Diep.
Well, no way to look that up now. Instead I gaze out on it, the first few seconds wishing that I was making a video of the view from the bridge. It's the fading light. The sky and the water are nearly the same color and the struts of the bridge (hmm, shall I call them struts or girders--can't check that either...) pass by in regular intervals, with a comforting rhythm. I realize the bridge will be over, so I give my thought flow a little nudge towards simply enjoying the view and not wishing I were capturing it.
The conductor comes by and checks my ticket...ok that was another couple minutes.
Now were stopped in Dordrecht...here comes the coffee guy...in Dordrecht still...Hey, at least I can add a nice Dordrecht image to this entry.
The first several don't come out well. Then the station is gone, but there are trees. Rows of trees. That's iconic for the Netherlands, at least in my mind. Click, click, I capture a couple images. Trees and telephone lines. Whereby the telephone lines are strangely crisp against the blurry trees. Color looks interesting grey/blue. That's nice...I can fiddle with it more later.
I've listened to quite a few talks lately on classifying multimedia according to affect. These talks are mostly discussion the emotional impact that an image or a video has on the viewer as opposed to discussion of the affect being experienced by humans depicted in the image or video.
I look at my trees and telephone line shot again and wonder what the emotional impact on the viewer would be. I guess the color would be sadness: the Dutch word verdriet comes to my mind. Of course, I can't go and look up what the affect people say about this color. I think it's a cool color. I also remember one talk in which there was a slide that wanted to convince me that people consider this sort of color masculine.
I remember that slide exactly because it caused me a bit of mental distress. If I had a group of subjects doing user test and I asked them to arrange pictures on a masculine to feminine scale -- what exactly would they be doing? Accessing their emotional experience? Or, and I consider this more plausible, "cheating" by tapping into past baby congratulations card selection experience? Look around the train, where do we see blue? The button that closes the doors. Blue. The button that opens the doors. Yellow. The labels get removed or the malicious switch them, but the regular train riders know. It's convention and not emotion.
I think that when I will look at this picture the future, it will remind me of tiredness. Of how exhausted I was when I took it. Of my failure to capture the moment in the way I thought it should be captured. And how befuddled my brain was both by the tiredness and also by the attempt to write -- to develop a coherent point -- without access to search.
I divide my time between Radboud University Nijmegen and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. My research focuses on multimedia retrieval techniques that exploit speech and language and focus on human interpretations of meaning. I am particularly interested in internet video, in networked communities, and crowdsourcing techniques. Lately, I've been noticing how difficult it is to imagine life without search.