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Let them do the thing everyone else tells them not to

Walkonthegrass

This sign at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Syndey, Australia took me by surprise. So many signs tell us what we can't do, and it's delightful to see the opposite. We need more of this. And I love the, "Entry is free -- but if you would like to help preserve this wonderful place..." How can you refuse?

So, yes, I'm back. The Linux conference was wonderful (the Jeff and Pia Waugh are awesome), and soon I'll have a lot more to say about some of what I learned there. Sydney is a fantastic city, and I've now moved Australia up to the number two place I'd love to live, just under New Zealand. But I got very, very, very sick while I was there (no fault of the country ; ) although I managed to find doctors who had no trouble giving me drugs I'd need an act of congress to get here. Fortunately, I got to take the time to recover there, in a very peaceful resort up the coast from Sydney, until I was strong enough to travel back home yesterday.

Sorry about the off-lineness, I haven't seen email in almost two weeks. But I'd like to publicly thank my co-hort Dan for stepping in here, and for y'all for sticking around. We're just about to put up some changes and fixes to the blog, too, so stay tuned.

I missed you guys. That's something I couldn't have predicted two years ago when I started this blog. but I really did.

Posted by Kathy on January 30, 2007 | Permalink

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Let them do the thing everyone else tells them not to:

» Posting what you can do and what will kill you from Technovangelist
Kathy Sierra has a recent post about how nice it is to see a sign that tells you to do what most signs [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2007 10:11:58 AM

» http://programmerjoe.com/2007/01/31/16/ from Joe Ludwig's Blog
Kathy Sierra posted a short entry titled Let them do the thing everyone else tells them not to. Heres the relevant bit: This sign at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Syndey, Australia took me by surprise. So many signs tell us what we... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 31, 2007 11:27:24 PM

» nu calcati peiarba! from bogdanlebu
peste tot ti se spune ce nu ai voie sa faci ce sa nu faci nu si la gradina botanica din sydney: please walk on the grass, smell the roses, hug the trees, talk to the birds and picnic on the lawns !!! oare vor avea mai multi ... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 8, 2007 6:09:30 AM

Comments

Wow! Unbelievable!

Yes we should have more of them.

I really should make more of them. :-)

Posted by: Hendy Irawan | Jan 30, 2007 5:52:01 AM

Welcome back! Bummer about the illness. THEN, you get to come home to cold temps. Life is definitely random.

Posted by: John Windsor | Jan 30, 2007 6:51:19 AM

We missed you too, Kathy!

Can't speak for anyone else, but signs that make me smile inevitably remind me that a human was behind them. (vs. a humor-deprived Orwellian committee..)

In that brief instant, I connect with the author, share a smile, feel a little bit of warmth, eyes crinkle. The world is a little less cold, a little more human.

(Best wishes for digging out from under the email avalanche...)

Posted by: aaron | Jan 30, 2007 8:58:35 AM

Those signs in the botanical gardens were one of the most memorable parts of Sydney, and they make it into every story I tell of my visits to the downtown area. It's such a contrast to so many parks.

The fountains in Sydney are just as cool: They're built to be easy to walk into, for the most part, and you'll often find lots of kids playing in them. Can you imagine kids playing in the average downtown fountain in the US?

Not that Sydney is without its weird signs, mind you, like this one from the UNSW, where the conference was: http://flickr.com/photos/lkanies/366261249/in/set-72157594483343967/

Great talk, btw, Kathy. I saw your talk at OSCON, and it was just as inspiring this time.

Posted by: Luke Kanies | Jan 30, 2007 9:11:02 AM

i absolutely love the sign. i would have loved to talk to the guy/girl behind it. more from their website:

Please walk on the grass! We also invite you to smell the roses, hug the trees, talk to the birds and picnic on the lawns.
These beautiful Gardens are for everyone to enjoy!

Posted by: heri | Jan 30, 2007 9:52:28 AM

Parks all over Toronto, Ontario, have "Please Walk on the Grass" signs. One of the parks, Tommy Thompson Park on the Leslie Spit, is named after the guy who started that practice.

Posted by: James | Jan 30, 2007 9:55:29 AM

God, I miss those signs sometimes... And wandering around there, particularly. (But avoid the cockatoos, the buggers will cheerfully bite off a finger.) :)

Posted by: Melle | Jan 30, 2007 10:11:34 AM

I remember seeing that one when I was there in 2005.

There's also this one from my Candian trip to Victora, BC last year.

http://www.cunningham.me.uk/wordpress/?p=157

Andy

Posted by: Andy Cunningham | Jan 30, 2007 2:20:52 PM

That's a variation of a common behaviour. Persons seem to prefer criticizing to praising.
Persons are more comfortable to tell you what they do NOT like rather than focusing or letting you now what they like.

So also signs normally stress the donts. It is assumed all the rest is allowed, but then there is plenty of that rest that goes undetected.

People prefer saying what they do not like, because if they say what they like, they feel vulnerable. You can't be manipulated by what you don't like as easily as by what you like.

It seems it's still easier to beat a guy than telling a woman you love her. I'm not advoctaing the behaviour, obviously: I am thinking about why it seems being so. A no seems easier than a yes.

Posted by: Alberto | Jan 30, 2007 3:34:24 PM

>> Not that Sydney is without its weird signs, mind you, like this one from the UNSW, where the conference was: http://flickr.com/photos/lkanies/366261249/in/set-72157594483343967/

Why is that weird?

Posted by: Matthew | Jan 30, 2007 4:13:17 PM

Glad you enjoyed yourself there Kathy. I miss Sydney, especially the warm beaches and long summer.

Sorry to hear you got sick. If you want to be shocked, try and compare how much those Australian drugs would have cost if you had been able to get them in USA without health insurance.

Posted by: Andrew | Jan 30, 2007 4:30:45 PM

Sorry about the 'getting sick' part. Funny thing is that I was in Sydney back in Dec 2001 and also got very ill (I think from drinking milk that was possibly not pasteurized), to the point that I had to call the hotel doctor after a day and a half of misery in my hotel room.

Posted by: Justin | Jan 30, 2007 4:35:20 PM

Regarding the "No Ball Games" sign referenced in the comments. You have to keep in mind that there is an emergent behaviour in Australian males (of all ages) that will reveal itself in any reasonably-sized open grassed area, called "kick to kick".

At some point, somebody will show up with an Australian Rules football, and start kicking it to a mate. In short order, there will be two packs of people, twenty or so metres apart. The ball will be drop-kicked from one group to the other. At each end the participants will compete to take the most spectacular "mark", and the winner gets the right to kick it back to the other pack.

It's a lot of fun to be a part of, but kicking an oval ball with pinpoint accuracy is a rare skill, and footballs flying in from nowhere aren't condusive to a pleasant lunch on the lawn in the quad. (At the very least, keep alert for loud cries of "HEADS!")

Posted by: Charles Miller | Jan 30, 2007 7:02:37 PM

Welcome back!!! Get better.

That sign is lovely. Definitely need more of them around here.

Posted by: Deepak | Jan 30, 2007 11:40:29 PM

The "Please walk on the grass" sign reminded me of an excellent "My Turn" Newsweek article I read years ago by Donna Cunningham who owns a 1952 Jaguar XK 120 roadster. The car is exhibited often at classic car shows. Other car owners typically have signs on their cars like DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT TOUCHING THIS CAR.

Donna's car has a rather different sign: "It's OK to touch this car."

Article title:
A Sign of Civility in an Uncivilized World

Byline:
By sharing our classic car with other people, we've discovered how courteous and restrained they can be.

Date: February 14, 2000, Newsweek, U.S. EDITION
By Donna Cunningham

If you liked the above photo you will definitely like this article.

Here is a link to read this great article for free :-) http://www.myclassiccar.com/CoolCars/closeups/jaguar/civility/index.shtml

Hope you enjoy it. :-)

Posted by: T.G. | Jan 31, 2007 11:05:32 AM

Welcome back, Kathy -- glad you're on the mend.

Thanks for posting the photo of the great sign. I love to see things like this in any setting, because it's clear the person who thought up the sign meant to induce a smile from the people who see it. It has to be the same motive that drives, say, Stephen King to make a really scary part of a book: he *knows* his readers want to be scared, and he wants to deliver it. Steven Spielberg works hard to achieve the same things with his movies. And, just to complete a "Steve" triumvirate off the top of my head, we know that Steve Jobs has Apple's designers make things purposefully to elicit "Wow"s and low whistles from the assembled throngs.

Would that more people took this approach, for *anything* that other humans are going to interact with: "What's going to make the audience smile [jump, whistle, cry, etc.]?"

Posted by: Tim Walker | Feb 1, 2007 5:29:47 AM

gee! you get alot of comments! Makes my think that maybe mine won't get seen or answered. I think there's a headrush post in that... maybe you already have... how to manage the demotivating aspect new users experience when joining in with too many other users...

anyway... all I wanted to say is - when are you coming back to NZ to visit us (me)? There is a nice botanical gardens here in Dunedin, but the signs aren't as funky.

Here's some pictures to motivate your return

Posted by: Leigh Blackall | Feb 2, 2007 2:06:05 PM

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Posted by Chinatronic.com

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Posted by: Bell | Jun 3, 2007 6:25:26 PM

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