Twitter: we didn’t know what it was, or what it could become

Thursday, 27 March, 2014

Well I’ll be… Twitter is eight years old. And to think that some of us, back then, didn’t think it’d still be around today. Anyway, relive those early days by looking up your first tweet.

Mine, while by no means original, was at least to the point.

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Sometimes the best way to be understood is to use a loan-word

Friday, 14 March, 2014

The English language is full of loan-words, words that have been taken, borrowed that is, from another language, and incorporated – as is, sans translation – into the vernacular. Still, between our own words, and those of other languages, there are still instances, I’m sure, where we can’t quite find the right term to apply to a particular situation.

With words such as “tartle” being a Scottish phrase for situations where one has momentarily forgotten the name a person they are introducing to someone else, or “jayus”, an Indonesian word that describes a joke so bad it is actually funny, this list of words that we should use more often, may then be what you need.

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The beauty of a language is in the ears of the heholder

Thursday, 13 March, 2014

While French is always a language I enjoy listening to – it may then explain my penchant for French made films – I wouldn’t go so far to describe other languages, that I don’t speak, as harsh, or even obnoxious. It seems though some people take exception to certain languages simply because they don’t like the way they sound

Languages have been described as sounding “decent,” “terrible,” “whiny,” “obnoxious,” and even “like a headache.” They are praised as “efficient,” “advanced” and “modern,” or “sweet” and “poetic,” or accused of having “too much vowels” or just sounding “strange” – whatever that means. One critic even condemned a language as “annoying,” which sounds like a forthright statement, if a bit judgmental.

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How long is a piece of string? How about, what’s the weight of rain?

Tuesday, 18 February, 2014

Here’s a good question to ask of yourself if preparing visualisations, presentations, and even infographics, to assist in articulating the point you’re trying to make… what is the weight of rain?

But I might point out something like this, a small change that jumped out at me. This image is from late November, during Thanksgiving week. And this is the same image, 24 hours later. I’ll show that again. Notice how every living thing – every green thing – is pressed down a few inches? That’s the weight of rain.

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How to work with your hands to look like an intellectual

Thursday, 30 January, 2014

I don’t know when you might ever want, or need, to convey the impression that you are an intellectual, through, in this case, a series of pretty simple hand gestures, but you never know when it might come in handy.

If you happen to be an intellectual though, then you can, of course, disregard this post.

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Let’s talk about not talking so much small talk

Tuesday, 21 January, 2014

Small talk can open all sorts of doors, and that’s no bad thing. But at what point should we consider taking this often inconsequential chatter to the next level, so to speak? It could be that an over reliance on small talk stifles the ability to partake of far more engaging conversation:

I’m worried that small talk keeps seducing bigger talk into its cozy corner, too slowly for us to object outright. Small talk is leaking into our practical interactions, blurring the bottom line. In an effort to seem personable and socially “with it,” our business transactions transform into these huge, mushy orbs that we have to dig through to gather the message. These interactions might be clouding our happiness.

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The night club owner who devised his own body language

Monday, 13 January, 2014

Sherman Billingsley at the Stork Club, photo via LIFE

Sherman Billingsley, owner of erstwhile New York City nightclub, the Stork Club, which was apparently the place to be seen during its mid-twentieth century heyday, used a series of hand signals to discreetly communicate with his staff.

He might have been conveying messages that ranged from “bring these people another round”, to “get these people out of here”, to “the music’s too loud”, as above.

Might someone in Billingsley’s position be able to operate just as subtly via, say, text messaging, today? No, I’m not so sure about that.

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The key to happiness is being hard to reach on the phone, or is it?

Wednesday, 18 December, 2013

Some University of Michigan research, drawn from various consumer surveys that they conduct, appears to gauge an individuals level of happiness based on how easy, or difficult, they are to contact for said surveys.

Notably, easy-to-reach women are happier than easy-to-reach men, but hard-to-reach men are happier than hard-to-reach women, and conclusions of a survey could reverse with more attempted calls.

Ok, that’s it. I’m setting my phone to divert all calls straight to voicemail.

Via Marginal Revolution.

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The invention of telling the truth

Tuesday, 17 December, 2013

Scott Britton has resolved to cease lying. All together. Considering though that many of us lie, for instance, when we say we’re ok in response to the seemingly casual question, “are you ok” – when we’re patently not feeling so great – or tell other so-called “baby lies”, completely eliminating the use of falsehoods is far from straightforward.

In fact it seems we need to tell small fibs to preserve the sanity of both ourselves, and those around us. Still, more power to those willing to try being straightforward and upfront.

I’ll be the first to admit that I may have slipped up here and there, but I can only recall a few instances where I specifically remember saying something that wasn’t the truth. Usually this was out of unconscious habit more than anything else. In the process of being totally honest in every interaction, I definitely turned some people off…

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BBS Google, a blast from a past we never had

Wednesday, 20 November, 2013

Before the internet era, during the 1980s, and thereabouts, people would use a bulletin board system, or BBS, to communicate with others, usually within a closed network, by way of their computers.

Set up required a personal computer, that were a little harder to come by then than today, a modem, also not exactly something you’d find at the corner store, a telephone line, and a whole heap of cables to plug everything together. Or at least that is my recollection of the one and only BBS I ever saw, as it was configured, at a neighbour’s house.

All of that so a group of friends, likely living only a few minutes drive away from each other, could then discuss where to go out later that evening.

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step though, and if it were not, at least in part, due to the perseverance and enthusiasm of early BBS users, the internet as we know it may not have eventuated, as big a call as that may seem.

So the question. If the internet as we know it now was still essentially a BBS, what might using it be like? Google BBS Terminal, complete with the sounds of dial-up modems, will probably give you a reasonable indication.

Even though Google on BBS doesn’t seem half bad, never again shall I complain when the wireless internet connection on my laptop, or smartphone, drops out momentarily (though I probably will).

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