March 3rd, 2014
According to studies by Pew and UCLA, Mack’s daughter, as a teen, has an average of 300 Facebook friends, 79 Twitter followers and sends more 3,000 text messages a month.
And all that social media activity is changing the way many teens regard privacy and friendship. While many teens are taking steps to protect their identity online others have a limited understanding of privacy policies, geo-location services and the perils of sharing contact information.
Today’s teens also rely on social media to make and connect with friends, often getting social support through their growing social media networks.
Gone are the hours of after school telephone calls and weekend slumber parties of the past.
As the UCLA study observed about social media using teens: “The whole idea behind intimacy is self-disclosure. Now they’re doing self-disclosure to an audience of hundreds”.
February 24th, 2014
Mack recently met with a textbook publisher’s representative. It didn’t go well. Mack explained that students no longer need to purchase outdated, overpriced textbooks. Instead they find digital alternatives to shelling out for printed textbooks.
A few days earlier the Alliance for Audited Media reported that, in the third quarter of 2013, single copy sales of Canadian consumer magazines have dropped by nearly 13%.
Poor textbook and magazine sales are not news to the SFU bookstore. This week the bookstore revealed its sales have dropped about 9% annually for the past two years. Worse still, it projects further declines for the years to come.
Turns out students, when given digital choices, choose not to purchase printed textbooks and magazines.
February 17th, 2014
Academic research often offers surprising results.
For example research by the SFU PR program revealed that, despite increased social media responsibilities job satisfaction among 84 per cent of the Vancouver PR professionals surveyed had either increased or remained the same.
Other academic research reveals the obvious. Some examples for the National Post’s annual list of pointless research are good for a laugh:
• The University of Liverpool concludes that the biggest sources of anxiety and depression are traumatic life events
• A study by the University of Maryland determines that many underage youths use false ID to buy alcohol
• A University of Japan investigation reveals that cats ignore their owners
• Academic research published in Public Library of Science concludes toddlers know the rules of sharing but don’t follow them
February 11th, 2014
According to Inside Higher Ed the International Studies Association (ISA), the body representing political science professors, has proposed a policy that would forbid editors of its scholarly journal from personal blogging.
That’s right, no blogging.
The association will vote on the proposed policy in late March.
Reaction has been swift. One Carleton University prof calls the proposal “really strange” in 2014.
A Tufts University political science prof predicts rejection of the policy, calling the idea “at best draconian, and at worst, an infringement of academic freedom”.
Academia trying to prevent personal blogging in the digital age reminds Mack of the futility of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.
It ignores reality and counters a growing movement to rethink how scholars engage the public.
February 3rd, 2014
Mack learned a new phrase today – tech creep. It’s the unstoppable intrusion of expensive new technology into everyday life. From internet-linked fridges to “smart” big screen TVs we’re under constant pressure to acquire the latest, costliest “have-to-have” technology.
Parents of elementary school-aged children and car owners everywhere are about to learn, first-hand, just how expensive tech creep can be.
• A recent survey of 5,400 kids in Canada reveals 25% of grade 4 and 40% of grade 6 students own a smartphone.
• Car manufacturers are close to replacing windshield wipers with jet fighter style ultrasonic devices which will keep windshields dry and clean.
Replace a $50 car part with technology costing $2,500. That’s tech creep.
January 24th, 2014
No more teachers, no more books…as the online world continues to reshape our world universities seem next in line for massive changes.
Mack notes three digital education trends:
• Online courses and programs are increasingly popular – possibly someday leaving lecture halls and computer labs empty and irrelevant.
• The growing trend of institutions, or, in the case of BC, entire governments, offering free and low-cost textbooks has cut into already slumping on campus bookstore sales.
• Online learning hubs such as one introduced in Ontario, offers access to online courses which are fully transferable between provincial universities and colleges, potentially greatly reducing the need for faculty across provincial systems.
Needless to say not everyone who builds universities, runs university bookstores or is on faculty are thrilled by, or convinced of, these digital innovations.
When the Ontario government recently announced its $42 million Centre of Excellence for Online Learning to deliver online courses the body representing Ontario faculty associations criticized the move, saying the government should have included faculty input in planning the initiative.
January 17th, 2014
Mack’s last blog featured Coca-Cola’s decision to dump the news release in favour of its brand journalism digital news magazine.
While the Canadian government is also ditching the traditional news release, it’s not quite ready to do away with news releases altogether. This month the government will shift to issuing social media (SoMo) style releases, which are better suited to the digital age, according to a government spokesperson.
The new style So-Mo releases will feature two or three introductory paragraphs followed by bulleted “quick facts”, quotes and links to other information and graphics. Key messages and facts from the releases will also be used as posts on government Twitter and Facebook accounts.
According to the government spokesperson the news release is evolving, not disappearing. A fact, no doubt, that is a relief to political journalists everywhere.
January 10th, 2014
Mack, as a kid, had a daily newspaper route. Think about this for a moment. News would stop, get printed on pages of paper that were folded, bundled, dropped off in a neighbourhood and then delivered the next day by a kid on a bicycle.
Weird – yesterdays’ news tomorrow.
Nowadays, thanks to social media and mobile devices, news is both unrelenting and every-changing. This means organizations, governments, non-profits, political parties and corporations don’t need the news media to reach the public.
The mobility and multitude of digital information has relegated the media to mostly regurgitating press releases. Even that role may soon disappear.
Coca-Cola recently launched a web-based digital news magazine which features “brand journalism” (journalistic-style stores about an organization, its activities, products and services). Media coverage based on the brand journalism – including one about a shareable double can of Coke that was featured in Mashable, The Daily Mail, Adweek and The Huff Post – has boomed.
Which begs the question – do we still need the press release?
Coca-Cola doesn’t think so. According to a Ragan.com the multinational plans to ditch them altogether.
December 13th, 2013
A Visit from St. Nicholas was written one snowy day in 1823 by professor Clement Clarke Moore. The poem is largely responsible for most of the features and attributes of the modern day Santa Claus.
Moore’s poem begins: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
Douglas Engelbart, a technology inventor who died at 88 this year knew a few things about the mouse.
He invented the computer mouse and first demonstrated it in 1968.
By the late 1980s the mouse had become the standard way to control a desktop computer.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight. “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
Mack will return in January 2014.
December 6th, 2013
Mack hates ties. They are expensive, uncomfortable, attract soup spills and represent a musty, long ago era. When Mack worked in PR, he added a “tie surcharge” to his invoice if clients insisted he wear one on the job.
So you can imagine his delight at a recent Guardian story about how the British civil service, led by the often-tieless Prime Minister, may stop wearing ties. Seems the national neckwear of jolly old is going the way of the dinner jacket top hat and cravat.
Perhaps it’s the digital era that’s sweeping old conventions – from buying daily newspapers and renting DVDs to wearing ties – aside. Mack, for one, welcomes the tieless age.