Thursday, September 9, 2010

App x 250,000 = Too Much

Call me old-fashioned, but I'm still turning to my laptop if I want to get information from Wikipedia, look up a word on, or shop on eBay.

I have recently deleted my Wikipedia,, and eBay apps from my Blackberry. Yes, it may have to do with the memory getting low, etc., but I am determined to erase pointless apps from my life.

Are you?

On August 28, published a strictly informational article on the App store reaching 250,000 apps after being open for a little over two years. As always with the online space, I wonder "is it too much?" How much "stuff" to we truly need to do with our phones?

It reminds me of college friends who have announced, "My phone only makes calls and texts and that is all I need it to do" then being forced into buying a data plan when they need a new phone. They just don't want it. And I understand.

If an app on my phone is going to hinder my ability to make calls, send texts, and/or receive email, then I don't need it. I truly don't. I am limiting my app craze to my email service, a GPS, the weather, and an RSS feed app (along with Facebook and Twitter of course).

And I really think those are enough.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Bookmark Realm

Who knew bookmarks would become business tools?

As a writer, I have always recognized the need for unique and interesting content. In the newspaper industry, it is a daily task of brainstorming to find that human interest story or procure a great op-ed. With the internet, it is gain interest--gain followers, and it is instant. Instead of optimizing a published paper for a specific region or niche, it is SEO. It is the digital space.

There is something to be very excited about here.

And I am excited. I bookmark everything I find interesting online. I am personally guilty of accumulating a gazillion bookmarks online (always have been) and spending copious amounts of time organizing my bookmark folders. I am behind when it comes to bookmarks. I signed up for Digg in January and have yet to use it.

I read a recent blog entry by "Conversation Agent" Valerie Maltoni ( called "How to Use Delicious for Content Ideas". Now, I don't personally need content ideas, simply because I am interested in a huge range of topics/tags. However, this post is directed toward businesses who want to be in the digital spaces, but find it difficult to consistently post intriguing content geared toward a specific subject.

Tagging is the crucial part of how Delicious and Digg work. Tagging is also how SEO works. There are so many Web 2.0 applications out there--some worth signing up for, some not--but, think of all the content out there as well. Utilizing Delicious or Digg or bookmarking technologies is a brilliant idea when you are in charge of a company's social space (ie in charge of raking through the muck to find status-worthy articles, etc.).

Through bookmarking, you can also begin to understand SEO at a basic level. Some have called bookmarking sites the new search engines. At you can see how writing unique content and utilizing tags and keywords can translate into popularity and exposure, or "Optimization" for your content.

For PR professionals, it is a way to1) track what is said about your company 2) research news outlets and 3) find new venues for news.

Finally, the incredible community aspect of the Web is that I took what one person blogged about and commented on it extensively in this space. In return, I give her a link and exposure. Why? Because her blog made me think. It was interesting. And now it will rise in the ranks of search engines and bookmarks.

I have admittedly been behind on the bookmarking 2.0 tools. Personally, I find it difficult to sign up and continue to use zillions of utilities. But, c'mon, browser bookmark folders are just too overwhelming.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Methods of Communicating: The Sender and Receiver

"Communication is...appropriate or inappropriate, never good or bad. Communication is always based on the realities of the sender and receiver. The closer the shared realities, the more likely the shared symbols will be congruent and thus more compatible." --P.S. Perkins, "The Art and Science of Communication"
I came across this quote while reading through the mentioned book for work, and it struck me as very important. On a side note, the book is a good resource. It brings up a lot of points that most people don't realize when involved in communications.

The book was written in 2008, so I had to wonder what Perkins would say about the current online environment in regard to effective communication, especially in the workplace. After searching online to get her viewpoint, I found this very interesting flow chart from someone who referenced the book. Dan Zambonini, a partner at Contentini, designed and posted a flow chart to his blog "The Januarist".

This chart helps you determine whether to use in-person communication or online in the business world. This issue has been raised by my fellow classmates in the past. "Is it appropriate to e-mail a follow-up instead of a phone call?" etc. Honestly, I'm not sure if the professors even knew the correct answers. The main issue for students and recent graduates when it comes to communication appropriateness is the process of getting a job.

It's a sensitive thing, communication. As a professional, it can be a "make or break" issue. Thinking back on Perkins' quote, the answers may become clear. The main aspect to consider is your receiver's "realities". Are they technologically involved to the point where it would be inappropriate to call an office phone, assuming they get their email on their PDA? Or is it inappropriate because they are the owner of a business and have little time to take dozens of calls? Truly, the flow chart is a great help in this matter. The first question it asks is, "Quick response needed? (Urgent)".

The quickest response possible is to ask someone in person. Then, you think of distance issues. So, second, is to call them (probably on their cell phone as it is usually with the person). Third is to text. Fourth is to email. (IM comes in here, too, but IM is being used less and less these days). This is how communication tends to go, that is, when you are in business with someone or have a relationship with them.

So, when trying to get a job or follow-up after an interview, it is a delicate matter and should almost always be dealt with by email. Letters are very classy and personal, but decisions are made quickly today, and a follow-up letter may be read a week after a decision is made. Phone calls are, in my opinion, viewed as "bothersome" today. People are very busy. Emailing gives them a "notification" per se, but gives them time to answer. It is the perfect communication tool, and has been for years. Now that everyone can get emails on mobile devices, it is possible for email to be immediate as well.

When thinking about the appropriateness of your communication, to "paraphrase" Perkins, put yourself in your receiver's shoes. You may want an immediate response in your shoes, but what does their day look like? Do they share that reality or sentiment? A phone call in the middle of it may be a frustration and ruin your chances.

Then, Perkins mentions congruency and compatibility. If you are a business owner writing to another business owner, the compatibility is already in place. However, much of a college graduate's communication is usually incongruent and learning to handle it professionally is a useful skill.

We always emphasize writing and communicating for your appropriate audience. So, we word things certain ways and speak in a certain manner, but do we use the correct method? This quote and Zambonini's flow chart made me think about the appropriateness of communicating with others as well as the method to use.

(P.C. Perkins is the founder and CEO of the Human Communication Institute, LLC.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

e-Reading to save paper

Everytime I visit, the newest and best Kindle model is always advertised. The Kindle is something I would never buy as a student. To me, books and newspapers are easier while read in my hand rather than from a screen. When I want to read, I aim to get away from my computer screen for a little while.

However, it is very possible that this screen technology may save newspapers and magazines, and, ultimately, trees.

Magazines and newspapers create tons of paper waste. A new technology, which takes the Kindle idea and literally expands it to the size of a newspaper could be the answer. First of all, it saves the newspapers and magazines a lot of money in printing costs while still allowing them to charge subscriptions and advertising.

The technology is a little behind in this area. The New York Times ran an article in May '09 discussing the current problems with a large-screened Kindle type of gadget. It has been researched and proven that if the NYT could buy every one of their current subscribers a Kindle, stop printing, and continue to charge subscriptions, they would save thousands of dollars a year. This is an incredible idea.

As with everything new, the social adaptations to this new media would be extensive because of the traditional nature of flipping through a magazine or unfolding a paper and reading through it. But, the fact is that this technology may improve society in the form of saving paper, costs, and in turn the environment.

Read the New York Times article about big screen e-Readers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The issue: texting while driving

I would like to make some personal comments concerning the current issue in Pennsylvania of texting while driving.

I have a new phone--a Blackberry Curve 8900. This phone is definitely a hazard while driving. I know this first hand, I'll admit. My "old" phone was a Pantech duo. It may be "old", but this phone was much more safe to drive with. It is becoming well-known that the QWERTY keyboard features of current phones are to blame. QWERTY keyboards resemble computer keyboards, and have most definitely revolutionized the cell phone. T9 was, no doubt, brilliant, but QWERTY is much more functional for most.

I enjoyed my Pantech duo, however, due to the fact that it was a "duo" keyboard. I could flip it up for the numbers and T9 or over for a QWERTY. Truthfully, I never used the QWERTY feature. I love the fact that I could text T9 without looking. Herein is the issue. I could text while driving. Yes, I had to use one hand, that is given. But, I did not have to look down and that is the issue, literally, at hand.

A young woman at Lebanon Valley College lost her life this past August due to the fact that a driver looked down. She was not texting; she was reaching for her iPod. But, the issue is taking your eyes off of the road. We have known this for a long time. The people who look in their mirrors to put on makeup, fix their hair; people who eat, look at others in the car, etc. That is the issue and hasn't changed since the invention of the car. In order to operate the machine in a safe way, you cannot take your eyes from the road.

I enjoy my Blackberry. But, I realize that it is a real hazard. I loved to text while driving with my old phone. It's a great way to communicate, it's easy, and it was safer with my old phone. I certainly miss being able to text quickly while driving, and I will miss it even more if a law is passed. But, I realize as everyone should, that it is a real hazard with cell phones the way they are these days.

Touch screens and QWERTY keyboards are the new thing. Along with these "easier" ways to text, come hazards as well. As mentioned in an earlier post, with technological advances come risks. Change will always be scary at first. We must adapt to it, even if it means refraining from using it while operating a vehicle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good things for Google

The Google conglomerate is beginning to resemble the Virgin brand as they take on another technological sector.

The free search engine that was recommended to me at age 12 or 13 is taking over the world of technology, and just because it's still free, doesn't mean Google stock is worthless. It is, in fact, rising due to a recent deal with the start-up mobile ad company, AdMob.

AdMob was created in 2006 and claims to reach "52% of mobile internet users in the U.S." currently ( Mobile advertising is quickly growing as cell phone users are turning to their palm instead of their lap.

Good for Google, but it's not what makes Google an unstoppable giant in the industry. Like Virgin with its record company, airliners, and mobile line, Google has broken into the cell phone market with the Android or "Droid" and other mobile phones using Google-based software. The Android is in direct competition with Apple and Blackberry on this one. But, the giant is large competition in other areas, such as GPS Garmin and TomTom devices. The weapon at the moment is the mobile industry. Google's phones have free GPS capabilities.

Like all things Google, it is free for users, but will be driven by advertisements in the future. Google has a leg in the door on mobile advertising with AdMob. What a coincidence.

Google won't lose momentum as long as people appreciate the software, which comes for free. I have studied their business model in many classes. It has yet to fail.

Read the announcement about AdMob in this article from

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It all began with the light bulb...

Last Thursday, Ernest Freeburg, PhD. from the University of Tennessee visited LVC to speak as part of the College's Colloquium series, "Wired". He is author of the book "Incandescent America: Cultural History of the Lightbulb", which discusses the importance of invention starting with Edison's light bulb.

Freeburg's discussion was very interesting and relevant to my blog in that it deals with the cultural adaptations that technological inventions bring about. Freeburg is a historian who realizes that invention and the power of technology in the past few hundred years is very central to our civilization and our social history.

He said that in today's world, invention in technology is ongoing and constantly changing. The first important defining invention in history was the telegraph in the 1940's. This began our "wired world".

1940 was only 70 years ago now, and we all know that technology has taken us very far beyond a telegraph message. The rate at which inventions in technology are occurring is astounding and sometimes overlooked. Therefore, the real effects on society and our culture cannot be fully known sometimes until much later on.

The effects of invention on society was riveting to hear about. Freeburg said, "We made the light bulb, but it also made us", and to think about all the things the lightbulb allowed us to do as a society is extraordinary. It completely changed a way of life, starting with the simple fact that people could stay up later and do things in the light, which began to change sleep patterns, etc. Freeburg said people's sleeping patterns changed, so that eventually we began less to lose touch with our dreams and nature (ie the stars and moonlight patterns), and the world around us.

Edison, of course, said that the lightbulb improved societal aspects such as literacy rate, since people read more, and that it encouraged economic activity. His invention, as many have, also invited excitement, fear, and anxiety in the public. At one point, the lampshade was invented in order to save people's eyes from the dangers of the light.

Freeburg stated that inventions are only a link in a chain of many more to come. But, they always come at a price. The environment took a hit from the electricity, and socially people had to adapt. But, also, with every new invention an old one must be sacrificed.

The most important comment Freeburg made was that we shape every invention socially. There are creative minds out there, but only the public can make their ideas successful.