Google, indeed, does think that we are all (at least those of us who read or write in English) stupid; and, that we are getting progressively dumber. Yes, their almighty search engine is dumbing us down by being more responsive to (and encouraging) the simplest language possible in all searches. They’ll even suggest an alternate search ["did you mean..."] if your search terms indicate that you are a poor searcher, i.e., a person with a good vocabulary who inquires about obscure things.
This is not entirely their fault. I’m certain that they are part of the cause and part of an acknowledgement of our growing stupidity, if ‘stupid’ is measured by vocabulary, spelling and constructing phrases, we are growing stupider [ahem] organically. Our texting, our adoption of media-speak, i.e., urban slang, as part of our regular terminology, our lack of practical writing experience (written a letter lately?), our educational institutions, our dependence on automation and our propensity toward minimalist communication due to the decreasing amount of leisure time are all combining to destroy our ability to express ourselves with any variety, style, sophistication or substance.
We are becoming increasingly like parrots (no insult to parrots is intended).
I have several Search Engine Optimization programs installed which gauge (with great offensiveness) the “search engine friendliness” of what I write. I lose SEO points if I write at what these programs term above a “high-school level.” They suggest that I “don’t use as many ‘big’ words or ‘long’ sentences.
No, I don’t believe that Google is truly making us stupid or calling us stupid — Google is inanimate — it is merely helping to accelerate the decline (interesting and seemingly paradoxical phrase) of our ability to use the language. Society-at-large is helping us to be stupid by rewarding and promulgating stupidity. We are, as a whole, making ourselves dumb, and accepting it without a struggle. Google is not making us dumb, per se. They are acknowledging our declining literacy and imaginations and helping to perpetuate it. Our resourcefulness as a species may well be atrophying.
I believe that we should fight back, each of us, individually. As it stands, we are encouraging them, by our non-defiant acts of dependence upon them and acceptance of what they are are implying, to mirror what they see as a trend.
Yes. You are largely a product of input and internal evaluation and contemplation.
Much of the input comes from reading on your computer, tablet or other enabled device. Your mind is a large container in terms of information storage capacity and expansion of capacity through certain exercises and other factors, but why litter any corner of it with useless clutter?
Beware. You are a product of what you read, and if you are investing mind-hours in reading garbage, you mind will indeed become a Braintenance Wasteland. Unchallenged without the proper intellectual nutrition (challenges, thought-provocation, original ideas, useful articles, memorable wisdom) your mind will atrophy — and that will ultimately impair your decisionmaking capability and personal and professional utility.
To quote a quick note I shared with my colleagues on LinkedIn earlier today (with a few editorial changes):
“We are what we read. Most of what we consume through the bulk of our skimming or reading is recycled, inconclusive, forgettable ‘top news.’ Only a bit of it actually adheres to our memory because of its originality and direct applicability to our personal and professional lives.
Most of what we consume is the literary equivalent of junk food, with components (metaphorically) which actually make us less ambitious and more indolent. Cut out the junk food reading, and pop culture trending updates and seek out original, stimulating material.
Triage your reading! Much of what we read in newsletters, daily bulletins, newspapers and the like are simply different interpretations or tellings of the same event by different writers — and the event is not thought-provoking, or message-bearing. It often has no utility and teaches no lesson. You can receive 30 newsletters per day, and a great part of their content may well be about the same topics.”
If you spend four hours per day reading, odds are that the content that you are feeding your brain might be as wicked as this admittedly simplified and anecdotal case, which does not include spent with posting or reading posts from social media or dealing with emails:
1) Two hours reading marginal, useless, event-based or sensationalized news – without commentary to focus on implications, and without some food for growth in either your useful knowledge base or in your mental skill set (skull set?….hmmm….);
2) One and one half hours reading through newsletters and journals which you receive that relate to your interests, aspirations and career, but which largely contain conventional wisdom, merely repackaged with a “trend” orientation without either insights or calls to action; and –
3) One half hour reading things that are unique, memorable, thought-provoking, challenging and highly useful in terms of directly achieving your personal goals and professional achievements. These are inspiring and create new waves of associations and neuronal pathways. These contain the powerful seeds of true change and applicability.
In the above example, our reader is only is on a diet comprised of 70% unimportant reading, and 30% of high-utility reading. That ratio is probably not atypical. Every second spent “doing a read” is a second either wasted or invested. The “ROR” (Return On Read Ratio)) must be increased for the reader’s benefit.
In order to improve those statistics dramatically, here are the steps to take:
1) Keep careful track of your time spent reading on the computer — you might consider using (downloading) The Pomodoro Technique Tool, or some similar time-budgeting “stop watch” program;
2) Do a quick read-triage skim (headline, first paragraph, then either read or discard) of any material which you might be inclined to read, or which enters your mailbox, alerts or favorite website time-wasting playpens;
3) Read those items on the “read” list by rapidly skimming each paragraph’s first sentence. Rush, as if your trousers (or skirt) were on fire. Don’t fall into an alpha or daydream-like state over celebrity fashions; just rapidly skim and then discard – your mind will remember much more about the material than the amount of which you are consciously aware;
4) With your newsletters and emails, use the same skimming approach, while keeping track of time;
5) With any special item which contains powerful, memorable, thought-provoking, change-invoking and directly useful material, read it over twice, and book mark it or other wise save it to a list for periodic review.
Utilize some science and discipline in selecting what to read during the time you’ve allotted to reading activity. And remember: for true advertorial spam, don’t be tempted to even open it and look — hit the delete button.
Yes: U.S. Exports, as determined on a percentage basis, are increasing to their pre-2008 levels, this is tantamount to saying “we are failing, but at more modest rate of plummet.”
Ex-Im Bank is telling us that USexports are on the rise relative to most recent U.S. export statistics and due to the fact that our Balance Of Trade [one of history's worst] had (and still has) most of us buying imported goods and unfeeling of this “good news” upon our way of living and our general prosperity. Please, since our domestic costs are rising at a rate far quicker than wages and disposable personal income (this gap continues to widen, watering the seeds of discontent, U.S. Dollars are still being conserved by devastated consumers to the greatest extent possible, for the necessities, and for paying off old credit card and installment debt which the banks do not see fit to restructure, forgive, or continue to issue. Statistics really can cause you just shake your head, like a dog after playing with the garden hose, wondering “Just what this mean to me and/or my small business?”
The honest answer is, “next to nothing.”
This is not un-patriotic – it is simply economic logic. Allow me to give you an example, If your test score was 50% [failing, when I was growing up] and it goes up upon a retesting to a stunning (sarcasm intended) 60%, your results have improved by 20% percent in relative terms — but you are still failing precipitously.
Here is an un-redacted, unaltered copy of U.S. Ex-Im Bank’s pride-filled report for your reading pleasure:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 24, 2013
Media Contact: Phil Cogan (202) 565-3200
Last 12 Month’s Exports Total $2.2 Trillion, 42 Percent Above 2009
WASHINGTON, DC— In August 2013 the United States exported $189.2 billion of goods and services, slightly lower than July’s exports of $189.3 billion. August’s exports are marginally lower than June’s all-time record high of $190.5 billion, according to data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Commerce Department.
Exports of goods and services over the last twelve months totaled $2.2 trillion, which is 42.2 percent above the level of exports in 2009. Over the last twelve months, exports have been growing at an annualized rate of 10.1 percent when compared to 2009.
“Our exporters continue to drive the U.S. economy and employ more American workers in high-paying, skilled export-related jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector,” said Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank). “Every month brings us closer toward achieving President Obama’s ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.”
Over the last twelve months, among the major export markets (i.e., markets with at least $6 billion in annual imports of U.S. goods), the countries with the largest annualized increase in U.S. goods purchases, when compared to 2009, occurred in Panama (28.8 percent), Russia (22.0 percent), United Arab Emirates (21.2 percent), Peru (20.9 percent), Hong Kong (20.4 percent), Chile (20.3 percent), Columbia (19.3 percent), Argentina (17.8 percent), Ecuador (17.6 percent), and South Africa (17.5 percent).
ABOUT EX-IM BANK
Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. This week Ex-Im sent the U.S. Treasury $1 billion, which represents the Bank’s earnings from fees and interest, after subtracting all operating costs and claims, in the fiscal year that ended September 30.
The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.
Ex-Im Bank approved nearly $35.8 billion in total authorizations in FY 2012 – an all-time Ex-Im record. This total includes more than $6.1 billion directly supporting small-business export sales – also an Ex-Im record. Ex-Im Bank’s total authorizations are supporting an estimated $50 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 255,000 American jobs in communities across the country. For more information, visit www.exim.gov.
Please also note that most of these big loan guaranties are being taken advantage of by affiliates of the top U.S. corporations who have the resources and expertise to do the rigorous paperwork often associated with gaining EX-IM’s approval. In my jaundiced view of the U.S. Government and all of its agencies, I would like to see Ex-Im innundated with applications submitted by small to medium-sized (SME) businesses for practical projects which would affect the U.S. economy and populace far more directly than it has been.
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For those of you U.S. citizens who are engaged in international trade or multinational joint venture activities, I wanted to be fully certain that you were fully apprised of the latest Ex-Im Bank trade-country status list, or the CLS (Country Limitation Schedule), as they prefer. Of course, bear in mind that the list, for all of you Internationalist Page Blog fans, is truly the result of combined and occasionally conflicted input from the following U.S. – influenced agencies and offices:
The CLS indicates where Ex-Im Bank is “open for cover” and where Ex-Im Bank is “off-cover”. The “open for cover” designation refers to the possibility, rather than the certainty of Ex-Im Bank support in particular cases. Where the CLS presents an X mark, Ex-Im Bank is “off-cover”, and is therefore not willing to consider approval of routine transactions. These “off-cover” determinations are due to economic and/or political risks associated with the country.
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Marriott International (Photo credit: Wikipedia), the people who taught Douglas E. Castle that Humanity comes before any business. Always.
I am a native New Yorker on a business trip to Atlanta, Georgia and as the writer of the Sending Signals Blog, the staff at this particular Marriott hotel (Century Center/Emory Area) have taught me about just how communications can make the difference between business success and failure.
As a native New Yorker, the regional differences as well as the corporate culture (a combination of staff selection and training) are so radically different from those of my hostile New York, I have been in a state of rethinking my business approach and my interpersonal social approach.
These people will receive my continued recommendations as well as my business (for either staying over, or for holding business conferences, because of the things that they have done — all of which cane be summed up in the phrase “showing kindness, concern and friendship to a stranger.”
Here is a synopsis of what you can integrate into your corporate culture in order to create customer loyalty, longevity, and perhaps some exciting business joint ventures. Your corporate culture and the way in which you deal with strangers (“make ‘em feel like royalty, show them concern and attention, and ask them ‘how are we doing?’ as well as incorporating some non-business patter about them – indicating an interest in getting to know them better, but without being intrusive”). Address each and every one of these points and will get more business, more loyalty, and maybe create a few strategic partnerships to accelerate your growth. This is an article that covers business communications, but it touches upon aspects of marketing, customer relations, messaging and negotiation [albeit subtle]:
1. Acknowledge them, show them full, dedicated face-to-face body contact and ask them about anything non-business related in order to create receptivity on their side. This is gracefully disarming;
2. Constantly ask what else you might be able to do in order to make them more comfortable (phone calls, copy machine, extra coffee, a snack, an offer to hang up a coat…); these are stunningly powerful and deeply Human – the part that subconsciously and often subliminally makes your guest, colleague or counterpart in a negotiation actually want to stay with you, to be friends with you. These courtesies are very, very effective;
3. Never, ever be indifferent, or shunt someone aside because you are busy with someone or something else — offer them something engaging to do, or show them an additional courtesy while they are waiting. It shows that no matter what you are engaged in doing, the waiting party is still a focal point of your attention;
4. Always ask, “Is there something else that we can do for you?”;
5. Always ask, “How are we doing for you?” and “What else can we do for you?”
I have come to realize that all customers, clients, visitors, colleagues and even negotiating counterparts are your guests first, and balance sheet or income statement items secondly.
All business is truly personal. Pay personal attention to your guests. Make them want to be with you. And, with credits to my mother, “Show them your best manners!” Amen, Mama.
First address the individual person; then address the beginnings of friendship — save business for last. Getting them to agree (an “assumed close”) will be amazingly simple. Your communications will invariably be the primary determinant of your professional and business success or failure. Go the extra distance. Improve someone’s day. Maybe you’ll even help build someone’s self-esteem… that is priceless.
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The U.S. Federal Government has been shut down since last Monday. While this is hardly catastrophic, it has affected U.S. foreign policy…slightly, but with the potential to cause a foreign trade and influence disaster. The White House canceled President Barack Obama’s visit to Malaysia and the Philippines – part of a greater Pacific Rim trade-opening initiative to create firmer ties with Asia, in light of Chinese trade and political dominance.
Canceled travel plans may seem insignificant, but a closer look at the purpose of the visit reveals otherwise. Top agenda items included:
Negotiating greater flexibility for the U.S. military to rotate into and operate out of Philippine bases; and
While both of these negotiations will most likely go in favor of the U.S., repeated delays could undermine the region’s sense of American reliability and cause Southeast Asian states to reconsider whether maintaining strong economic ties with China – despite its encroachments – is a better option. The end-game is to win favor and influence over Asian nations by growing and leveraging economic ties to the US through preferential trade treatment and an increased interdependency brought about through expanded trade volume.
Bottom line: the longer the United States allows the perception of incapacity to build around its foreign policy pivot, and to firmly stabilize and strengthen its own government focus and resolve, the more these countries will reconsider American reliability in shaping their own foreign policy.
A crisis of confidence by observant nations in the U.S. will not only adversely affect foreign exchange rates (reducing the international buying power of the US Dollar), but it will diminish America’s ability to how better relationships with Asian trade target nations.
On The Practical Side:
US exporters have the advantage of a relatively cheap US dollar in marketing more product, the advantage of winning longer-term projects on the foreign expectation of a dollar slide, and a wonderful chance at being ahead of the political curve in creating co-ventures with Asian countries — especially in the South Pacific and Pacific rim [visit ICS - International Connection Services or contact me through my professional site]. I am exploring some amazingly favorable opportunities for US and EU clients in Malaysia, a country too-long overlooked, and a hidden treasure.
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Well, your time and effort (SIGNAL) expended in your social media duties may benefit you to a point, especially if you are a fairly large company in need of heavy inbound traffic, branding, name recognition and the like, but the more interpersonal (usually requiring quite a bit of focused courtship and personal interconnecting) and/or high-price the ticket per transaction, the more the famous Law Of Diminishing Returns may apply. I am a big believer in social media, but I utilize it to support and reinforce my personal efforts at building high-quality relationships with a smaller circle go higher-quality, trustworthy professional colleagues.
A quick and dirty (oh, those memories) means of computing the metric of your Signal-To-Business Ratio [which should be MINIMIZED] is the value of unpaid time and money that you spend on modern, internet-based social media during, say, one month, and the amount of net revenue that you generate during the following month. If you do this calculation for several periods in succession and the number is INCREASING, it means that you need to increase your old school relationship-building and be more selective in terms of the time and type of modern mass social media that you employ.
The optimal approach to minimizing your Signal-To-Business Ratio is to do as was suggested in the preceding paragraph, but actually become more selective about your choice of social media activity. More likely than not you’ll find that three or fewer of your media groups or platforms are the ones which generate the greatest conversions, and that the rest are just of marginal or negligible benefit.
Analyze your Signal-To-Business Ratio periodically, take the results seriously, and make changes in order to fix your mix. One of the most interesting things you’ll invariably find is that only a select few social media groups truly are worth your investment of time and effort; that is, unless you are building a brand for a large and growing consumer market.
PublishShould I use Twitter for my Marketing?
http://www.thedigitalmediastrategist.com - Oct 05 2013
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Bridges are relationships between two people, either socially or in business. A single social encounter or a failed business transaction do not constitute reasons for destroying potentially valuable relationships.
The problem is that defensive presumption (after a slight, or hurt, or business failure) that one or a handful of flops constitutes a relationship in sum. That’s wrong.
Relationships are build and strengthened over time and through mutual experience and interaction. To dismiss a relationship. i.e., over a harsh judgment relating to a failure or a quarrel, not only destroys a potential for future interactions which may be successful, but it doesn’t speak well to the other person about your understanding, your patience or whether or not you can be trusted with greater and more important things.
Build bridges. Don’t burn them. Do what you can to mend broken relationships until the ratio of burnings to buildings approaches zero. I am still working on that myself.
Forward this message to someone you might have wrongly burned a bridge with — it might just start a healing process for both of you, and expand possibilities for the future. It takes courage — but do it, and grow.
Laws are conditions established by Nature (having to do with such things as physics, chemistry and physiology) and we are, all of us, subject to them; yes, we can affect certain re-engineering and refinements, but these laws are the conditions that govern our existence and to which each and every one of us is equally confined.
Rules, on the other hand (which are dignified by legislators, politicians, attorneys and overly-zealous elementary school teachers as being synonymous with “Laws“) are created and enforced by the privileged and powerful in order to maintain the comfort of their halcyon status quo and in order to control those throngs of regular citizens or subjects who are kept poorer and weaker so that they do not threaten the power elite - the power elite, ironically (in a democracy especially) is that tiny minority which truly determines the fate of the majority as it has for ages.
Citizens and subjects obey the ‘laws’ either 1) out of a socially-enforced sense that they will be better persons for doing what is commonly accepted as “right,” or 2) strictly for fear of the pain of punishment.
Some believe that obeying the ‘laws’ of Man (occasionally confused with godly commandments or edicts) will entitle them to a reward in either this life or another to follow. This “conformity of conscience” is also socially reinforced.
Every Human Being capable of questioning that which appears sacrosanct should be asking “Whom do these ‘laws’ benefit? Whom do they protect? Whom do they potentially harm?” What are they doing economically and sociologically over time? Are any parties exempted from obeying these laws?”
The answers to these questions may prove very unsettling for those of us who care about such things. Most of these laws are created to benefit the rich, privileged and powerful, and to maintain order and control among the herded masses.
Sadly, as can be seen against the backdrop of the lead-headed partisan struggle in Washington, D.C., where the middle class and working poor are being held hostage while the “indispensable” lawmakers play a game with shameless disregard, the “sheeple” are going to be made to suffer.
We, as Human Beings with free will (if left unobstructed) should start to question these rules (“laws” if you prefer) and those who create, safeguard and enforce them.
Maybe some changes should be made… That would take great courage, and would, doubtless incite draconian reprisals.
I have a recurring nightmare that our assumed democracy might just be an illusion perpetrated by some powerful propaganda. It’s like the the movie “The Truman Show,” but where Truman is thrown into a dungeon for his bold escape from his ‘freedom’ (which is really an enormous, but superficially beautiful prison, at the end.
This non-post should has been titled “My Epiphany And Conclusion: Consolidate!” It is more than a way to ease the stress of my workload – it is a philosophy that is beginning to dominate my personal and professional life because it prevents the unproductive increment of effort which leads to burnout.
I did not even originally set out to create a blog post, but I think that I am doing so inadvertently (perhaps the spirits are speaking through me as a medium — or maybe a rare; then again, perhaps I’ve imbibed sufficient spirits that they are speaking directly to you, and I’m just oblivious).
In managing in excess of 20 blogs I had found that my life was taking me somewhere, instead of vice versa. I’ve decided to take my enormous blog portfolio and consolidate a cluster of blogs into one giant one. This will be that “Mother Of All Blogs.” And the design will be downright ingenious, if you’d like my unbiased and objective [and unrepentantly redundant] opinion.
The original notice to readers was just going to be this:
Please pardon us…
This site is currently UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
The Project Manager will advise you through an Update Posting And Invitation to visit as soon as this site has been completed, but please remember that every high-quality site is always a work-in-progress. The estimated completion date is September 15th 2013, and we look forward to seeing you then!
Please look for our Formal Update Posting. Thank you for your patience.
I will leave you with these words until we next again meet:
“Don’t ever try to find a rake, hoe or any gardening implement which you’d left on your lawn without a flashlight or adequate moonlight.”