Think like an Egyptian

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic the past few weeks. The trigger may have been getting lost in the Flats. I never thought I'd have to pull aside and use Google Maps to get out of the maze; pretty embarrassing for 30+ years of being a Clevelander to be lost in the Flats!

That night, memories of how we spent our weekends while in college, circa late '80s, flooded back. Memories of dancing away to tunes like "Walk Like An Egyptian" by The Bangles at Club Coconuts on the West Bank. Guys dressed like Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson's character) of the era-defining iconic TV series "Miami Vice'' where pastel-colored baggy clothes and wearing shoes-sans-socks were their fashion trend "influences."

These days the "influencers" are on social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube in the digital world. These influencers, aided by "the algorithm" (I'll demystify "the algorithm" in a future column), have a huge captive audience in the post-Baby Boomer generations (Millennials, Generation Z, and Generation Alpha), aka Digital Natives, who may not even possess a big screen TV. Instead, they use the tiny screen of a smartphone. One thing is still the same, Miami Vice or social media influencers, we still "see and hear" them.

Did I mention "tiny screens" of a smartphone? If you are/were a computer user (Windows or Mac), the first thing you may notice AWOL on a smartphone is the standard menu bar that is present in most computer applications – with clickable words like File, Edit, View, Format, Help – lining the top part of the application's window. 

This is where I say "think like an Egyptian" to find your way around the apps on an Android-based smartphone/tablet or on an Apple iPhone/iPad. Due to the aforementioned anemic screen real estate, they use "icons" instead. Just like Egyptians used hieroglyphics, tapping on the "trash can" icon will "delete" the selected item while a "✔" icon means "OK." The list of icons used are vast and can have variations thus the need to think like an Egyptian to decipher the meaning.

Among the possible icons you will encounter, one in particular that you want to be cognizant of can manifest itself as three horizontal dots, three vertical dots, or three horizontal lines (I call the latter a "triple burger" icon). In the English syntax or writing style, three dots at the end of the sentence usually implies "to be continued" or "more to come." So when you tap these 3-in-a-row dots/lines, it brings up a sub-menu of actions you can take. Again, the list on this submenu couldn't have been placed without taking up too much of the screen real estate thus explicitly tapping the icon brings up the list of actions you can choose from. Also this is one example of an icon that has been adopted even by computer applications. This icon has become a standard across many of your devices.

Think like an Egyptian to demystify what action an icon may represent!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation. Please visit EmpowerSeniors.Org for more information!

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Volume 15, Issue 6, Posted 9:21 AM, 04.04.2023