Monthly Archives: November 2010

Would a Smartphone Make Me Smarter?

That’s the question I asked myself this week. And looking around, everyone has an opinion about it—although most sources I found said it all depended on how a smartphone is used. Duh.

But then I thought about how much I depend on a calculator to do my math for me or my cell phone to remember phone numbers and I wondered . . . If I had a smartphone, would I stop retaining information because it was so easy to look things up? Does that make me dumber?

There’s also the problem of how much a smartphone can distract parents, for example, from what their kids are doing—which makes them look stupid, even if they’re not. And there’s an increasing problem with how technology is preventing kids from learning. I found this New York Times report on the conflict that often arises between teens learning from technology vs. being distracted by it:

VIDEO: Fast Times at Woodside High

Voice: What Do I Do?

So for my blog this week I really wanted to investigate voice and what kind of voice specific types of blogs use. I was interested in this primarily because I don’t feel I’ve found a voice yet for my own blog. I mean, how do you explore emerging media as a relative newbie without getting academic or even stuffy?

But there must be a way to share what I learn without getting too technical . . .

I found a couple blogs that address emerging media, the first focusing on “Emerging Media Audiences & Tech Devices.” Looking at it I wonder what the author, Kim Garretson, gets in return for the companies she features on her home page and why it appears that she hasn’t updated the blog since 2009? More importantly, what is her voice? It seems to be talking like you would when giving a presentation to people you know well and who don’t make you feel threatened. If I remember right, I found this blog when I did a Google search for “new media.”

Another blog I found focused on social media, Social Media Examiner, which claims to be “Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle.” This one was recommended to me by a post on West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications site on LinkedIn. It also has posts about commercial products, such as BlogWorld and an interview with Mark Burnett about the new TLC show Sarah Palin’s Alaska—well, actually, the interview begins with a focus on social media as the new water-cooler conversation. Anyway, the voice is informative, probably closer to the journalistic style you often see on blogs that represent a news forum of some sort. Like BBC’s blog The Editors, only the Social Media Examiner isn’t quite as sophisticated as the BBC blog.

American Express has an Open Forum site that includes a variety of articles on different things and I found an article by Erica Swallow about corporate blogs. She lists 15 blogs with a variety of things to learn from, including design, content, and feedback. Among the blogs included was one by Dell, which featured a landing page with a variety of blog topics to follow. When it came to voice, I found the blogs I read here to be rather technical in scope, although I guess that’s what you would expect. Fortunately, the blog on an Android 2.2 upgrade was accompanied by a lot of screen shots and graphics to help you through the step-by-step upgrade process.

Then there was Disney’s blog that features various entries that take you behind the scenes at the Disney resorts. But I think the voice is more informative than personal. The entry about the new menu at Steakhouse 55 was full of details that I would only appreciate if I had watched more Food Network programs.

Starr Hall’s article “The Dos and Don’ts of Blogging” talks about the importance of engaging over reaching and I think The Counterintuitive CEO blog does this admirably. Pay particular attention to the comments on his blog about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The comments posted elicit just as much response as the blog entry that started it all. Forrester CEO George Colony begins with the statement: “Quickly: Mark Zuckerberg’s skills as a CEO are overrated.” and it goes from there. Really good stuff.

So what did I learn about a blog’s voice? Mostly that it depends on who you write for. If it’s a corporation, it depends on the topic and who you are in the organization—although I should note that the Forrester CEO seems to write with a lot more freedom than the Marriott CEO.

But going back to Starr Hall’s article, “DO write with personality” with the caveat “Authenticity is key.”