For more than a year now, I’ve been shopping around for a hairdresser who could provide the ideal haircut. The first two attempts were incomplete, poor likenesses of the beauty I had in mind. I had a clear vision of the intended result, but I lacked the vocabulary to communicate that vision to professionals who could implement the solution. I had fallen victim to one of the classic blunders! (No, it’s not never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.) I knew it when I saw it but I couldn’t articulate it. So frustrating!
So I turned to the internet for solace. I perused numerous galleries of smiling women with hair of various lengths, shapes, and hues. In order to find the images I needed for my initial point-and-grunt interface – a printout of images pasted into a document for my first two appointments – I had to first identify the search terms that would produce optimal matches. I quickly cycled through searches from the generic “short haircuts” to the slightly more specific “bob hairstyles,” feeding my learning back into my process. As I progressed toward an exemplar of the captivating coiffure, I began to build a jargon file – and a Pinterest board.
Natural language is ambiguous and context dependent, so any requirements described in natural language are rarely complete. … This is especially problematic when something seems obvious but we need domain expertise or knowledge of a particular jargon to understand it fully. – Gojko Adzic
- short haircuts
- cropped hair
- bob hairstyles
- asymmetrical bob
- graduated bob
- stacked bob
- angled bob
- long bob
- layered bob
- inverted bob
- severely angled stacked bob
I don’t know whether those terms produce crystal clear images in your head, but I could see that these terms had a wide range of interpretations even among fashionistas.
I have heard it said that social media is a time suck, with Pinterest often held up as the mother of time sucks. However, I disagree. For my purposes, Pinterest was a fabulous tool for collecting all these visual bookmarks in one place, building a virtual gallery of hairstyle models as a communication tool.
When I booked my appointment online, I had included only a link to the first image I had found that was a rough approximation, leading her to ask upon my arrival whether I was the one who had sent her the Rihanna photo. (Of course not! That was Nicki Minaj!) That early draft of my request submitted in advance had given her time to mull over the idea.
I am pleased to say the result was exactly what I had hoped for and I will be visiting the Madam LV Salon again. Ultimately, being able to show this gallery to my hair craftswoman convinced her that my request was not a lark, that I had done my homework, and that my Pinterest board was in fact a specification by example.