Friday, December 02, 2011


In our life we tend to take a lot things for granted knowingly or unknowingly. Most of us will agree, that we  take our friends & families for granted, quite often. We expect them to be there for us, whenever we need them, like nothing else matters to them other than ourselves. And often we realise that, like us, the people around us also have their own priorities. I am not going to talk about that subject here, instead I'll be talking about things/subjects, that we take for granted, inadvertently, in a more subtle way.

I come across many things in my daily life, and I think sometimes, I take it for granted. I don't even know who spend their time, inventing these things to make my life better. Language is something that we  use daily and I feel everyone takes it for granted, like we own it. Well, who gave that language to you? or Who created/invented the language you speak? It is so complex that, it's not possible to have come into existence all of a sudden, from nothing to its final form. It got evolved and evolved from the sign languages and sounds that our primate ancestors used. And depending on the geographic divisions, we got numerous diverse and beautiful languages that we speak and hear now. Linguistics is a fascinating field of research, especially the origin and diversity of languages, but I am not a language expert to have my say on the origin of any language. All I wanted to say is we are lucky to have learned a language, and have a medium for communicating our views and visions in a proper way, unlike our primate ancestors.

Coming to the geographic divisions, that caused the diversity in languages as I said, there is something else we take for granted: Our Country. I would argue that all countries are imaginary, it's something inside your head, it's something we have been taught from our childhood, that this is our country and that's our neighbouring country. You are naming a piece of land on the planet and claiming that it is yours. My point is that, the earth was not meant to be divided into countries with borders and passports. We love our country, for we were born there, and we feel its ours and we follow her culture and fight for her and that is being human. But  there was a time, when there were no countries as we see today. It is just a perception of mind, a feeling, that you belong to a country. Of course, there is a constitution and government that takes up the control of a country and who decides the borders and who enters the country, that's something real. The 'my country' patriotism is human nature, a feeling of security and homeliness and many times we take our home land for granted, even if we are far far away from her.

I am sorry that I can't talk more on the 'imaginary countries', but I'll take your attention to something else very simple. Take a look at the save icon on your favourite word processor, which looks like a floppy disk. A very thoughtful designer designed this icon, during the time when floppy disk was the only storage medium. Anyone who is used to computers, sees that icon as a rescuer of their work. But the fact is, we don't use floppy disks any more, we are the generation who have seen a floppy disk and knows its use. I have used floppy disk only a few times, to boot into dos just out of curiosity. The next generation is not going to see floppy disk any ways, but they will definitely see the floppy disk icon. This is one icon idea that majority of software manufacturers have copied and have become a kind of standard in user interface designing. As a user, you expect all your work to be saved, the moment you click on that icon. Granted?

And talking about user interface design, there is a lot of brains and tests that go into it when designing a user focused system. Features like the use colours, images, work flow, persuasive elements etc play a lot, in planning what you want your users to do with the system that you have created. The blue colour of ambulance and police siren have been thoughtfully given and is illegal to use without permission in many countries. I have no idea  clue who designed the media control buttons, the play, pause, stop, fast forward and others, which is internationally standardised. Most music lovers use it everyday, and have started seeing it from their childhood. We've learnt that the triangle button means, music will be played on pushing it and  the square button means music will be stopped, thats all that is to be needed to know. Who created it? I just came to know that it was standardised in 1973 under the title "IEC60417 Graphical symbols for use on equipment", by International Electrotechnical Commission in Geneva. Here goes the link to its preview version.

A very common thing that we all have taken for granted would be the zipper. You find it with almost all fabric in and around you. A very simple invention, which is extremely handy. This great and most useful inventions of all was developed to today's form by a Swedish-American electrical engineer Gideon_Sundback, someone whom you should thank while zipping up your pants after peeing or whiling putting your jacket.

You may find these things are very small to even take notice of. The bottom line is we should learn to thank everyone who has spend considerable part of their life-time to make our lives better. Today someone have helped me and I will not take that for granted.

Lectures by Linday Marshall and Ewan McLaren Mackenzie have influenced a lot in writing this blog.

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