Acronyms Teen Chat Decoder - Reviews and free downloads at Download.com

I don't recommend that you download this, nor do I recommend that you don't. I just thought it was interesting that such software existed.
Acronyms Teen Chat Decoder - Reviews and free downloads at Download.com

Free E-Books

I thought the comments on the free e-books might be of interest to some.
eLink-In Focus-Issue 89


Text Messaging and Culture

In an article on text messaging Charles McGrath (NYTimes, 1/22/06) points to some interesting cultural differences in politeness. Among the Chinese, says McGrath, it’s impolite to leave a person a voice mail. Further, one can lose face when he or she makes a call and it’s answered not by the CEO you meant to address but by a subordinate. But, with text messaging these uncomfortable situations can be avoided and everyone’s face and dignity can be maintained.
Another interesting difference is that in Mandarin, for example, the names for numbers sound much like many words and so you can select 520 to say “I love you.” [BTW, Mandarin is the world’s largest language with 873 million speakers—for comparison: Spanish is second with 322 million, English third with 309 million, Hindi fourth with 180 million, and Portuguese fifth with 177 million—according to the World Almanac and Book of Facts 2006.]
Not surprisingly, more text messages were send in China than anywhere else. For the July-September, 2005 period, 76.4 billion text messages were sent in China compared with 19.4 billion for the United States. Adjusting for population differences this means that in China each person sent 58 messages whereas in the United States each person sent 65 messages.
Here’s what McGrath says about the attraction of text-messaging: it’s a kind of avoidance mechanism that preserves the feeling of communication—the immediacy—without, for the most part, the burden of actual intimacy or substance.”
--A most interesting article.



I’m currently revising Messages and Essentials of Human Communication (along with the Interviewing pamphlet). If anyone—instructor or student—has any comments about these books--what you liked, didn’t like, would like, etc.—I’d much appreciate hearing from you.



Here's a most interesting study summary of empathy and gender differences, offering proof of a very different kind.
When Bad People Are Punished, Men Smile (but Women Don't) - New York Times

Skills of College Students

Here is a frightening study showing the low levels of skills of college students. And it's interesting that so many of these skills are covered routinely in most of our basic courses whether they be skills courses or theory courses.
ABC News: Study: Most College Students Lack Skills

Study Finds That Marriage Builds Wealth -- Newsday.com

Here's another reason to add in favor of relationships:
Study Finds That Marriage Builds Wealth -- Newsday.com



According to the Bank of America survey—cited in
EducationLife—of about 600 NYC college students:
26% have jeans costing more than $100 (seems pretty high for college students who can easily buy jeans for $10 in many discount stores in NYC; clothing is cheap in New York, it’s apartments that are expensive)
59% expect to earn more than their parents (seems pretty low considering many of these are probably first generation college students). I think it would be interesting to discuss the students’ economic goals and expectations, why they have the expectations they do, and especially what role communication is going to play in allowing them to realize these goals and expectations.

Artifactual Communication: Color

According to EducationLife, citing design professionals: bad choices for study areas are blue (too calming) and red (too stimulating). Beige or white or some other neutral shade seems to be the preferred choice; it allows students to focus on work rather than the color of the walls. It would be interesting to see if students could recall the colors of their college library and perhaps a variety of other spaces at home, at work, or on campus.

TV and the Academy

A brief report, also in EducationLife, on academics studying popular culture cites some PhD topics. Four of the 11 mentioned are in communication, btw; others were in anthropology, history, education, cultural studies, and sociology). Those mentioned in communication:
Lynn Schofield Clark, U of Colorado, Boulder—analyzed religious symbols and adolescents and the “interpretative strategies that teens brought to such popular television programs as ‘Touched by an Angel’”
Richard Crew, Misericordia College, “Audience reception study of the “Survivor” series”
Stephanie Kelley-Romano, Bates College, “Myth of communication: Rhetorical analysis of the narrative of alien abductees”
Andrew Wood, San Jose State, “Reading culture, engendering girls: The politics of the everyday in the production of girls’ manga [Japanese comics]”

Dress Codes

In EducationLife there’s an interesting item on clothing as communication—depending on the area of country, there are different dress codes. For example, in Boston the vintage look is in; clothes have to look like they were bought at a thrift store. At the U of Miami men wear fitted tops and faded jeans while women dress up, “very skimpy, very clubby.” In the Midwest—at Northwestern, for example—pragmatism wins out; clothes that keep you warm are in. And in LA—at USC, for example, men wear “denims by DSquared and sneakers by Paul Smith” while women wear Prada and Marc Jacobs. After reading this, I wanted to run into class and discuss the dress codes my students followed and how important they thought they were to ultimate success and enjoyment of college.

Public Speaking as Edutainment?

The New York Times “EducationLife” section from January 8th had some interesting articles related to communication. Here are a few random items from an article titled, “It’s How You Say It: There’s public speaking. Then again, there’s ‘edutainment.’’
(1) In NYC there are public speaking courses offered by NYU, Columbia, and the New School that run from 6-10 weeks and cost from $600 to $3000. Instructors note that most students who take the courses do so to advance their careers.
(2) The Learning Annex’s 3-day courses on how to be a Learning Annex speaker, “spends more time [than in the one day seminars] covering the finer points of public speaking. . . .” These seminars and courses, btw, developed as a result of the publicity surrounding Donald Trump’s $1.5 million fee for a speech at the LA.
(3) These courses start with a $19.95 workshop in which you learn about a full day seminar for $395 and in which you then learn about a 3-day seminar for $2995. Interestingly enough, the LA portrays these classes as the start of a career change to a professional speaker.
(4) Of the 845 professional speakers who responded to a survey, 539 reported making less than $100,000 from their speaking activities in 2004. Almost 25% earned less than $25,000.


In the January-February 2006 AARP magazine there’s an insightful article on touch (pp. 46ff) by Susan c. Roberts. Among Roberts’ observations:
(1) We live in a “tactophobic” culture, one of low-touching. While men in other cultures frequently greet each other with full body hugs and walk arm in arm, male-male touching is only allowed in the United States on the football field.
(2) The skin is our largest sense organ and we virtually ignore it.
(3) One medical sociologist quoted said: “When we talk about touch, we’re talking about stress reduction.”
(4) Among the suggestions—in addition to getting professional massages—for increasing touch and its many benefits: trade back rubs with a friend, massage yourself, pet a dog or a hamster, link arms with friends, dance, get a hobby that involves the sense of touch like gardening or cooking.
It’s interesting that in our textbooks and in most introductory classes—and even in our nonverbal classes (at least as I taught NVC)—we rarely make recommendations on how to best derive the benefits from touch or other nonverbal channels.


Study Card

I just received a copy of the Study Card for Introduction to Speech Communication from Allyn & Bacon--most interesting. Instructors might want to check with their sales reps and get a copy. I believe more are coming--one in public speaking and perhaps one in interpersonal. It's a great summary of the basic concepts of speech communication in a great presentation--8 laminated pages.


Check out this information on the growth of blogs--incredible.
Tech Stats from BusinessWeek Online

Pew Internet & American Life Project

This is one of the most valuable sites I've come across for up-to-date statistics and analyses of Internet usage. There's something here for everyone.
Pew Internet & American Life Project