The Second Coming of Ukigawa's
In this digital age, we exchange our intimate feelings, emotion and ground breaking news all in same 'fonts.' And because we feel it is too inorganic and emotionless, we decorate them with emoticon, etc. :-(
Back in your school days, I bet you had the experience of more expressively drawing each letters. With pens, you could make some characters bigger, bolder, thinner, taller, shorter, rounder all at your will. Of course, you can emulate that by changing the fonts and sizes of your digital text, but still digital text won't show the 'you-ness.' -- i.e. they are not the characters that are unique to you.
In some way, analog text has more power of expression than digital.
Let's say you have typed "do it by tomorrow!" in 48 pt Helvetica Bold and printed it; I think that sheet of paper is less demanding than your hand-drawn text.
Of course, it is also true that today, we cannot form our lives without the convenience of digital text.
So why not combine both?
That is exactly what '7notes', the latest iPhone/iPad app by MetaMoji is trying to do; best of both world.
On '7notes' you can write text and convert them in to digital text using MetaMoji's accurate character recognition technology.
But this is only half of what '7notes' does.
On '7notes', you can also write the text in ink, choose portion of the handwritten text and insert space between letters, make some letters bigger or change colors of them, etc. just like digital text.
What's even more interesting is you can mix and match the analog and digital text, and send that mixed text message via e-mail; you can also tweet them or post them on your Facebook wall.
I think '7notes' would be an important step toward the renaissance of humanity and would be a one interesting app to keep an eye on.
Unfortunately, MetaMoji is not communicating this vision or bigger objectives behind the product because they are not sure if that helps the sales of the product or because the product hasn't yet satisfied the strict level of perfection Mr. Ukigawa demands. But I believe these are the real value of '7notes' and I want them to succeed.
now a little plug:
MetaMoji Press briefing: 3pm, Sept. 8 at FCCJ, Yurakucho, Tokyo
If you are based in Tokyo or if you have a correspondent in Tokyo, please come to Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan at 3pm on September 8, 2011 (that is this coming Thursday). Mr. & Mrs. Ukigawa, the legendary IT entrepreneur in Japan and the founders of MetaMoji will be holding a press conference to talk about '7notes' and its future direction.
I call '7notes', the Second Coming of Ukigawa's.
You might ask what's the First coming. I will explain you below:
The First coming of Ukigawa's
I wonder how many people in the Europe and the U.S. will recognize Christopher Latham Sholes but without him, you might have not seen this text. I might not have had a way to type it in. Because without him there wasn't a typewriter and our familiar QWERTY keyboard.
Likewise, if it were not for Mr. Kazunori Ukigawa and Mrs. Hatsuko Ukigawa, I would not be able to write my tweets or e-mails in Japanese. Because he did implemented the Kana-Kanji conversion method on standard off-the shelves PCs back in 1982 (on CP/M), Japanese text input might have been a luxury you could only benefit on non-generic word processing machines.
As some of you may know there are more than 10,000 Kanji's and there are too few keys on QWERTY keyboard to type them.
So how does a Japanese write text? Luckily, in Japanese, we have two other sets of letters called Kana's. Just like the alphabets, Kana are phonogram (i.e. each of the letter represent the sound) while Kanji is ideogram (i.e. each of the letter represent some meaning).
Because there are only 48 Kana's (Kana is a combination of consonant and vowel), we type in the text in Kana first and then, hit the space bar to see a possible Kanji representation of the word.
You keep hitting the space bar until the correct Kanji is highlighted, then hit return to do the Kana-Kanji conversion.
This works very fast, so maybe I can type as much information as English typer in the same amount of time.
Today, almost all people are using this kana-kanji conversion to write Japanese text on PCs/Macs, etc.
But there is one big side-effect of this kana-kanji conversion.
Before the digital text era, Japanese had to write each Kanji, so they had to remember each Kanji and they knew what order the stroke had to be made and they cared about writing them beautifully.
As we got used to Kana-Kanji conversion Japanese have started to forget how to write Kanji's.
With Kana-Kanji conversion, as long as you can recognize, read and choose the correct combinations of Kanji from the suggestion pop-up, you were able to write Japanese.
It seems that it takes different skills to recognize/read Kanji and writing them.
So many people in Japan started blaming PCs for making people dumb and Mr. & Mrs. Ukigawa were also blamed as the principal offenders of the damage.
Decades have past since then, Mr. & Mrs. Ukigawa have left the company they founded and started a new venture called MetaMoji (Moji means 'letters' in Japanese).
They wanted to do something new with the text input. If possible, they wanted to do something international.
Then, the iPad came along. And as with the cased with many other iPad developers, Mr. & Mrs. Ukigawa were inspired by the device and decided to do the renaissance of humanity with the same aggressiveness they showed a few decades ago.
At age 62, Mr. Ukigawa is still very young in mind and shows the characteristic of challenging entrepreneur; he is one person, you should meet in the Japanese IT industry.