Posted by: Nancy | February 27, 2010

Two updates: technology & people

About six months ago, I wondered how long it would take before augmented reality meshed with personal information — look at a person through your phone’s viewfinder and immediately “know” him from his Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, whatever account. (See “Magic” from September 2009.)

It’s happened. (Actually, it had already been described in a YouTube video from about a year ago, once again demonstrating that there are no new ideas — everything already exists on the internet. Sigh.)

The MIT Technology Review story explains how this new application combines facial recognition, database lookup and cloud computing, with augmented reality.

It’s a little creepy and raises potential issues about invasion of privacy and misuse (police, CIA, insurance companies?). The Recognizr, described in the article, takes the issue seriously and offers its service as an opt-in only, which means it can only recognize you if you’ve agreed to be recogized.

This one is going to be interesting to watch. How long before this technology shows up in a spy thriller movie? My bet — less than a year.

* * *

At the beginning of the year, I told the story of my sister’s travels from Kansas City to Columbus and the extraordinary care she received from Southwest Airlines. (“Travel Vignette on Caring“)

There’s a little bit of followup, unremarkable except that it proves, once again, that there are real people at Southwest Airlines, and they are willing to act like real people. I’m impressed, again.

After I wrote the story, my brother took the step of alerting Southwest to the post.  He got a response:

Dear John,

Thank you for your e-mail. I was thrilled to learn about your sister’s experience when she traveled with us to Columbus on January 2. We truly appreciate your family’s kind words of our airline, and we hope to welcome you all onboard a Southwest flight very soon!


Lindsay, Southwest Airlines

The reminder I takeaway from this is about the power of human interaction.

Just being willing to be human — to listen, to respond, especially in a meaningful way with empathy, gratitude, care — shouldn’t be an extraordinary occurrence.

But we’ve become so accustomed to being treated as just a wallet, a sale, that when we’re treated with respect it becomes an outstanding event.

So, kudos to Southwest Airlines. Again, I’m impressed and inspired by the people there. Thanks for modeling the way it can be.


  1. You are blessed to have such a nice family. An your brother must be a wonderful person!

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