Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Middle Earth, Victorian times, and more recent developments

In the past I’ve written on text messaging and, separately, on the tyranny of happiness. More recently, I’ve run across other articles about both and wanted to share them with you.

Text Messaging

The Economist had two good articles on text messaging. The first describes how text messaging is, in the opinions of some, decimating the French language. The second is a rebuttal by a reader who has done research on text messaging, arguing that “Rebuses such as C for “see” and U for “you” were common in Victorian times.”

Anything interesting can be boring if your work hard enough. Here’s a research study on adolescent text messaging, otherwise known as “socially interactive technologies” or “SITs.” The research concluded that “adolescents in the study were not creating more ties using SITs, nor were they necessarily creating weaker SIT-based ties; that there was little overlap between SIT-facilitated and offline social networks; and that socially-isolated adolescents were less likely than other adolescents to use SITs.”

Here’s another article about a text-messaging researcher. One paragraph reads:

The findings have been counterintuitive. “Contrary to existing perceptions, there’s a developing logic to texting,” Shuter says. Young people will use texting for short, quick messages — such as “Where r u?” — instead of more personal conversations.

This trend is encouraging to me because, in my text messaging post, I advocated for informational, not conversational, text messaging as being the healthiest use of this technology for relationships.

Finally, much like the lolcat Bible (warning: explicit content), there is now an SMS Bible (i.e., a text-messaging Bible). The Bible’s famous opening line, sounds more like a bad rap album title: “In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth.” (more here.)

One concern for me about this arises from the previous text-messaging research. If it’s primarily used for informational purposes, will the SMS Bible simply be recieved as a transmission of information? Of course, the Bible has always been in danger of being received as such.


There are plenty of books out there trying to make you happy. Heck, we publish some of them. But there are a few that are expressly interested in studying happiness. Perhaps, for you, this is more evidence that anything interesting can be boring if you try hard enough. Another book in this vein is The Middle Way: Finding Happiness in a World of Extremes by Lou Marinoff.

More research on happiness shows that Denmark is the McDonald’s of the world’s countries. That makes Zimbabwe similar to eating dog food. The US, meanwhile, is just behind Middle Earth, making it akin to a bean patch.

But, you wouldn’t necessarily know it. While US exports pale in comparison to our imports, we’re still exporting a lot of cash in the way charitable contributions: $306 bn in 2007, up 1% over 2006 (adj. for inflation). That makes me happy.

No comments: