Archive for January 2011

Worse Than Cleaning a Toilet?

January 29, 2011

The daily e-mail deluge is so unrelenting that sometimes all a person can do is laugh.

Our overflowing inboxes create a daily challenge to keep up — respond to this, skip that, save that one.

In fact, a recent survey by Yahoo! found that nearly one-third of people would rather clean their toilets than clean out their inboxes. Don’t count me among that number. Toilet-cleaning still sounds worse to me. But admittedly, a clogged inbox certainly consumes more time on a daily basis and, as a result, causes us to be less productive.

In 2010, the number of e-mails sent globally topped 100 trillion, according to tech website Royal Pingdom. That translates into 294 billion messages sent each day, up 19 percent from one year before.

Right now, the average corporate employee spends 25 percent of the workday on e-mail-related tasks, according to tech research firm The Radicati Group, compared to 14 percent on face-to-face meetings and 9 percent on the phone. Increasingly, we are captives to electronic communications.

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Predicting the Future

January 28, 2011

Some futuristic predictions are jaw-dropping: Avatars will do our shopping. Cars will call repair centers, get instructions and repair themselves. Even the trees will whisper in networks of information.

Enjoy this fresh and insightful video produced by Professor Janna Anderson for the 2011 Danish Top Executive Summit. Anderson directs the Imagining the Internet Center in the School of Communications at Elon University.

As Anderson points out, both human connections and databases on the internet are creating a shared global intellect, creating a future of four P’s: personal, portable, pervasive and precarious.

Word of the Year: App

January 22, 2011

The American Dialect Society has named “app” the word of the year for 2010.

“App has been around for ages, but with millions of dollars of marketing muscle behind the slogan ‘There’s an app for that,’ plus the arrival of ‘app stores’ for a wide spectrum of operating systems for phones and computers, app really exploded in the last 12 months,” explained Ben Zimmer of the American Dialect Society.

App is certainly a word heard a lot in the hallways and classrooms of Elon’s School of Communications, where all faculty and staff have an iPad. We keep up with the world of apps because apps are fundamentally changing the way many people access information and entertainment.

As reported by intomobile.com (creator of the graphic above), Apple is trying to trademark the term “App Store,” while Microsoft contends it is a generic term, or soon will be. On this issue, I agree with Microsoft. And that’s from someone who has an iPhone, an iPod, an iPad and a Mac laptop.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles… and Huck Finn

January 10, 2011

I laugh every time I even think about the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” What a hilarious scene when Steve Martin and John Candy have to share a motel room, or when Candy unsuccessfully tries to take off his jacket while driving.

With family visiting from afar several years ago, I rented the movie and we settled down for a delightful evening of comedy and popcorn.

Soon, I heard Steve Martin utter the F word and was surprised that I hadn’t remembered. Then he issued a string of F this and F that. I was sitting next to my 80-year-old mother-in-law and lamely said, “Well, I sure don’t remember the movie having this language.”

And that’s when I realized I had never seen the movie theatre version. Instead, I had come to love the movie on TV and during long-distance flights. I loved the edited version.

I thought of my movie conundrum this week amid the controversy over the editing of the N word in Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” For a new edition of the book (which is in the public domain), an Auburn University professor has edited out the N word, which appears 219 times.

Many schools stopped teaching the book because of the offensive language, causing the professor to say, “It is a shame that a single word can form such an impediment to students enjoying the greatness of the narratives and the sharpness of their social critique.”

The publisher noted that other editions faithfully replicate Twain’s text, and this is simply an option for those uncomfortable with requiring students to read a text that could be so hurtful.

While some critics act as if this is a travesty, it’s not the end of the world to have a version that may well provide Huck Finn a longer shelf life as a literary work taught in schools.

Now if I could just get a copy of the “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” version that I love.