Monday, October 3, 2011

Foxy Ladies Read Uncanny Valley OR Swimming Googles

Here's the proof! I took this gorgeous magazine to a party and people who have probably never touched a literary magazine paged through without prodding. It is a big, bright thing that feels good to hold. I am only addressing its physicality so much because it is so enjoyable and because I have already read the writing inside and know that it is like molten chocolate socked away inside a puffy cake.

I asked Sarah to review the issue for this space. I had reviews on my mind because tonight, after Sarah looked up a number for a Target outside the city, I noticed this review, left by a Google user:

Swimming Goggles I placed a phone call and I accidentally said swimming googles instead of swimming goggles. The phone receptionist did not laugh at me, so I was not embarrassed. Great service
This is a pretty awesome review. (You can read it in context here, where you can wonder where the photo at the top of the page came from.) It's also ridiculous, of course. As someone who used to answer a lot of calls from customers, and who had to efficiently extract information despite mechanical or verbal obfuscation, I will guess that whoever answered the phone either did not care about the swimming googles or cared a great deal, after the fact, while passing the story around the space behind the customer service guest.

Person 1: "Swimming googles!"

Person 2: (disinterested) "They were probably just looking at Google when they said it."

Person 1: (laughing, manic, holding curled fists to eyes, looking through) "Lemme just...lemme just put on my swimming googles."

But at least this review reviewed the subject it should have reviewed. Far more annoying are reviews that review something peripheral to the subject. I'm thinking here primarily of Amazon reviews. Last week I hit Amazon because I wanted to see how Neal Stephenson's latest novel was holding up, and I wanted to see how it was holding up as measured by little stars. The stars were not as full as I expected and hoped, but it turned out this was because somebody had Kindle problems, and a few people thought the prices for the hardback and Kindle editions were too high. Well, okay. These reviews address a product, and a product that is for sale, but they address it as if it is a mail order lawn mower blade. They are reviewing an entire service, I mean, in a place where many readers skim review scores as if they point to content.

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