Category Archives: humor

“Disrupted” Should Shake You, Wake You

For years, as a PR professional, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get to high school and college students. I imagined them surrounded by a bubble I couldn’t pierce.
Stefan Pollack explains this generation’s communications world in Disrupted. It’s clear, direct and commendably presents his findings without offering “easy”  answers.
The iGen generation, as he labels it, has created the biggest shakeup in communications in generations. The iGens are those born after 1994 who have never known a world without computers,  parents without mobile devices, and who want their information now and know how to get it instantly.
If it takes more than an instant, it’s too long.
They don’t need to memorize old facts because they curate.
Pollack credits Apple for changing the way we communicate through the introduction of the iPod, which revolutionized the way we buy music and ushered the downfall of record stores, iPhone, and the iPad which signaled the downfall of desktops and laptops. He doesn’t give enough credit to the almost simultaneous appearance of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix, which share in the apocalyptic shift in the way we buy, read, listen, communicate and overthrow countries.
This is a minor complaint. Pollack is right. The revolution has happened.
iGen was born into the technology and with unwitting naturalness changed all the rules overnight.
Radio ruled for decades, dictating music we should listen to, infested by commercials. TV fed us nightly shows interrupted by commercials. Newspapers and magazines created cover and inside stories dotted by ads. The book industry told us what we should read. Period.
All are now in death gasps.
The traditional media, gatekeepers of news and scripting what’s important, are gone. iGens, now their own gatekeepers, allow in what’s relevant to them. If they accept it, they share it with their friends, the “infinite touch points.”
If they find you relevant and approve, you may succeed.

If they find you irrelevant, or worse, dishonest, they can injure or even destroy you by simply and instantly spreading the word.
Blasting ads at this generation is a waste of time and money. Relevance and interactivity is the only way to communicate.
And they want humor.
Over the past couple months I’ve found myself recommending Disrupted to members of various boards that I’m on, to my university president, to colleagues. All of us in the marketing world know traditional media is dead to those under 50. Disrupted presents its findings and explains how iGen is  communicating and if you don’t get on board – not just with the social media but understanding the way they’re  thinking, seeing the world and acting in it – you are a historical footnote.
At lunch recently, I ran these ideas past a 17-year-old female songwriter who’s going to college to major in philosophy. She nodded in agreement and added: “I Google things I’m interested in so I’ll get Google and Facebook ads about them.”
Read that sentence until it sinks in. They don’t complain about advertising. They invite brands that interest them.
And Brand, once you’re in, you’d better be real, relevant, transparent, have a sense of humor and a social conscience.
Disrupted passed the iGen test.  It’s the Bible for today’s marketing.


Old Geeks, What Happened to K?

I pulled out my Associated Press Stylebook recently to look up a rule and noticed for the first time the section “A Guide to Computer Terms.”  I glanced at some of them in astonishment, then checked the copyright.


In that 22 years, the universe changed.  I roamed through a few terms as defined by the Associated Press and ways reporters should use the terms.  The following is exactly the way AP Stylebook presents them.

CPU Abbreviation for central processing unit. Do not use.  See central processing unit.  For full-size computers, central processing unit is often synonymous with mainframe.

cursor (n.) A flashing square, underline or similar display on the screen indicating that point at which the next character typed will disappear.

data bank (n. and adj.)  A storage system for large amounts of information.

debug (v)  Jargon for removing problems from the system.  Avoid.

disk  Not disc.  Means hard disk, fixed disk or magnetic disk for storage device.  Not an abbreviation for diskette.

diskette.  A generic terms that means floppy diskette.  Not synonymous with disk. 

first generation, second generation, third generation  The first generation computers used electron tubes like the old radio tubes, the second moved to transistors and the third went to semiconductor chips.

gigo Acronym for garbage in, garbage out.  Jargon.  Do not use.  It means that if flawed data is put into a computer, flawed data will be produced by the computer.

global search  (n. an adj.) A Search that covers all data stored in a computer.

input (n)  Do not use as a verb.

k Abbreviation for kilobyte.  It means 1,024 bytes.  Similarly, 64k means 64 times 1024 bytes or  65,536 bytes, not 64,000.  Leave no space between K and the preceding number, as in 128K of storage.  The abbreviation K should not be used to mean 1,000 as in $25k.

Part 2 will appear later after I find my floppy.

RAM test.  How many of you remember any or all of these terms?

The Freezer and the Shark

 No advice or opinions today. Just sharing a couple stories I think you’ll enjoy.
My friend Scott is the library director at a public university. We were having coffee one day when he said, “I’ve have a freezer down in the basement, finally.”
“Why do you need a freezer?” I asked.
He explained that the best way to remove mold from books is to freeze them and then gently brush the mold off with a toothbrush. “It took a long time to get it. I put in a requisition for it and the director of buildings and grounds said they can only approve freezers and refrigerators for residence life units, not a library.
“I explained the mold removal process,” Scott said. “And that it was important to save books. The director said it was against policy.”
Scott sipped his coffee thoughtfully. “I tried again a year later. Same answer.”
A few months later the official retired. Scott waited until a new director was named. “Then I sent in a request for a ‘book restoration unit,’’ he said. “I explained that it incapacitated mold, allowing for its efficient removal.”
He quietly swirled the coffee and shrugged. “It went right through. I went downtown, bought a freezer and it’s in the basement. If you need to freeze anything I have extra space.”

My wife and son and I were having dinner in a local restaurant recently when he stopped what he was saying to stare at a locally produced commercial starring the owner and a local sports mascot. Nathan is a cameraman for WHAM in Rochester, NY
“There’s two things I hate,” he said. “Locally made commercials and mascots.”
All three of us are in the media business and know that locally made commercials are the bottom feeder jokes of the ad world. “Why do you hate mascots?” My wife asked.
He shook his head. “Because anytime they see a TV camera they get in the way and start dancing around and doing stupid mascot things,” Nathan said. “I’ve had to stop interviews a few times and go over and give them Hell, and you really feel like an asshole chewing out a mascot in front of other people, especially kids.”
He gave an example. “I was at a festival interviewing a woman about her cancer organization and this shark – I forget which team he represented – appears and starts dancing around behind her.” Nathan’s a laid back guy, but was getting mad just relating the story. “So I give him the thumbs up sign, like, ‘okay, you’re cute, now get out of the way.’
“I start the interview again and this idiot starts dancing around and waving his fins, so I turn the camera off and go over and said, ‘Okay, knock it off. I’m trying to do an interview about a cancer organization’ and, you know, he kind of lowers his head and slinks off, real hurt and sad. I was so mad I didn’t even feel bad. I mean a dancing shark doesn’t belong in a cancer interview.”
He played with a French fry as he calmed down. “It’s no fun telling off a mascot,” he said. “But sometimes they just don’t have any common sense.”

Ban the Vagina?

Note: This is a bit off topic but I couldn’t help it.
I wonder if the folks in the Michigan State House are toying with the idea of replacing the word “vagina” with something less offensive?
Rep. Lisa Brown, created the opening  when she made a speech against an abortion bill recently. She thanked the House members for being interested in her vagina.

“What she said…was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women,” Rep. Mike Callton said. Rep. Brown was barred from speaking anymore.
I imagined this group of Republican legislators meeting after the traumatic Brown incident.
“I can’t believe she really said that word,” one said, wiping sweat from his forehead. “It’s so dirty.
“She claimed it’s the anatomically accepted term for, you know, that part,” an attorney said helpfully.
“That’s bull,” the first one said. “It’s a left wing ploy to give women a false sense of empowerment. Just like those Mid-East women who don’t want to wear their scarves anymore.”
“What do you propose?” A third legislator asked.
The first man, obviously the alpha of the pack said, “We go to the source,” and pulled the Bible out of his briefcase.
“The Old Testament,” the third man said.
“Of course, the alpha answered. He leafed through the pages, then stopped with an air of satisfied finality. “Yes. There it is. According to the Bible the accepted term for, uh, that part of a woman is ‘loins.’”
The other men nodded, except for an older man who had read the book many times, who pointed out: “Loins is the terms for men’s, uh, parts, too.”
The alpha man was undaunted. “Then we’ll distinguish the men’s loins from the women’s.” The others looked at him, not understanding. “We will propose a bill – and pass it – that says the woman’s, um, parts between her legs are ‘loins’. The man’s private parts will be referred to as ‘Sir-loins’.”
Another man, whose background was law, nodded. “Yes, perfect. So if in the future we have to engage in discourse about, um, sex – he looked around apologetically –“And a man reaching his ultimate pleasure, we can refer to it as an ‘explosion of the Sir-loin tip’.”
“What about a woman’s, um, ultimate pleasure?” Someone asked, knowing that all bases have to be covered in legal arguments.
“According to North Carolina Representative Henry Aldrige, ‘juices flow’ and that’s about all that happens in a woman,” someone answered. “Henry’s got us covered.” The others nodded. The female juices theory was acceptable. Most of the men knew that women don’t enjoy sex anyway, and the few who do are sluts.
The men ended the meeting feeling sure that, aside from sluts and whores, women would applaud the replacement of the offensive “V word” with the long accepted “loins” and the world will be a more upright and moral place for all.

Kill These Words & Phrases Part 3

“Put a unique spin on this, throw it out there so it can grow legs, get some traction and go viral.  I want a footprint!”

I woke in a cold sweat.

Words and phrases that should be killed are sprouting faster than zombies in a George A.Romero film.   They’re more persistent than sallow vampires in the twilight.  I can’t stop thinking about them though some say I’m anal (props to Freud for that evergreen).  Others have likened our kind to being word police, but I consider us mavericks.  No, wait.  The paunchy maverick slid back to the Senate  and unleashed The Rogue.

Yikes!  I step back from that since the first definition of “rogue” in is “a dishonest, knavish person; a scoundrel.”  Hmm.  Well, I guess it’s safe to call yourself a rogue if you know your audience never uses a dictionary.

Actually, I’m just a guy who loves the language, respects the creative use of it and dislikes lazy use of language, especially among “educated” professionals.  I’m just giving you a heads-up that.

Really, I’m being totally transparent.

The phrase making the sales rep rounds is “reaching out.”  Several, from different parts of the country have used that on me, always beginning, “Dennis, I’d like to reach out and see how our company can help you.”

Well, friend, it’s like this:  if I’m drowning, I really want you to reach out and help me.  However, if your goal is to fill inventory, get the manager off your back and boost your commission, a simple media kit will do.  If it looks like your station is a good fit, I’ll reach out to you.

And then you know what we’ll do?  We’ll have a conversation!

Actually I’ve heard this in higher ed more than in the media.  It usually begins with a problem (masked as “a challenge”) between two people or parties who disagree (have “different goals”) and the path to a solution is to have one of these conversations.  Conversation implies civility which means you can’t raise your voice or even let your face get red from rising blood pressure.

“Conversations” are bland, mishmashes of buzzwords that suffocate our ancient instincts to reach out and kill the opponent.

Hey,  I’m just sayin’. . . .


( I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers.  I’m thinking of setting up a separate page with all three posts and everyone’s contributions.  So please send me the words and phrases that drive you nuts.)

Note:  Thanks to the guys over at Target x  who picked up on our shared love of language and continued the, umm, conversation.

More Words & Phrases I’d Like to See Dead

Back in January I did a post on Words and Phrases That Should be Buried.

I’m on Rant 2.

“Literally” is still the most overused word.  It is the Ramen of our vocabulary.

Here are more additions:

Wrap my head around it. I never got this phrase.  It conjurs up something you’d see  watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  I think this image came from an aging hippie suffering one too many acid trips.

Getting eyeballs is  overused in the worlds of advertising, marketing and the Web. It’s a disgusting image, conjuring up pictures of those bloody eyeballs you see on low budget horror films and Garbage Pail Kids trading cards.  “Getting eyeballs” still doesn’t address getting the mind behind the eyeballs to concentrate on the message.

Silos. I’ve just starting hearing this in office conversation and I’ve seen it a few times in writing.  It’s one of those words that creates an appropriate image.  (See yourself as dried corn nestled in your own comfortable silo not wanting to communicate with the corn in the other silos).  The image was used as early as 1989 in the context of “vertical silo syndrome.”   Now I hear it on campus as in “departments are silos,” not caring about other departments.  It’s going to wear itself out fast because it’s an easy concept for lazy speakers.

Butts in seats.  Kind of like “getting eyeballs.”  Butts in seats, of course, is filling seats with people.   So why can’t we say we want to “fill seats?”  We’ve broken humans into butts and eyeballs.  Not a pretty picture.

I don’t know wherecreepy edged into the national daily dialogue but it spread like The Blob in a microwave.    It probably evolved from “it creeps me out.”  I suppose it’s popular because it’s fun to say and is easily inserted into any kind of description of something somewhat distasteful.  I think it’s adolescent and no one over the age of 18 should be using it.

Unfortunately they do use it.  I heard a middle-aged secretary today relating a story of a couple accidents in which two friends in different parts of the country died about the same time.  “That’s creepy,” she told the other secretary.  “Don’t you think that’s creepy?  I just think that’s really creepy.”

I crept out, wrapping my head around a silo of sanity, keeping my eyeballs straight ahead and my butt far away from any nearby seats.


Please send in your candidates for instant death.

Words & Phrases That Should Be Buried

Words become buzzwords and phrases become catch phrases for several reasons.  Some are catchy and fun to say.  Many provide verbal shortcuts.  Some of the most uncreative administrators and executives I know litter their conversations with buzzwords and catch phrases to the point where conversations become meaningless.
Here are some words that should be placed in front of a verbal firing squad and trigger an end to their vapid existences.
Vetted.  Maybe I don’t like this word because it gained popularity during the Bush administration. Let the veterans and veterinarians hold onto it and keep Vet out of job searches and politics. In fact check out the origin of “vet.” It will make you whinny
Literally. People literally use this word too much. I see and  hear it several times a day on everything from blogs to interviews on NPR.  “Literally” is the new “ironically” which was used correctly maybe 2% of the time.  Really.

Ironically. Actually, I think this word has been quietly tossed into the sea of washed out words and there was no irony in the act.
Best practices. I hate this phrase. It’s used so much that it’s lost its meaning. One of the shallowest, most ineffective  executives I’ve known loved to use the phrase to cover his own ineptness.  “Let’s check out best practices.”  What the phrase means is that we’ll check what others are doing and adopt something, sometimes without even adapting it. Living by following others’  best practices  means you’re not using your own creativity.  You are, simply, stealing.
Takeaway. The verdict still out on this one. It’s short and descriptive, but is in danger of being overused to the point losing its substance. See “best practices.”

Outside the box. People who use this phrase are usually still in the box and will remain remain there.   They should be sealed in and delivered to the Museum of Terminally Boxed-in People.  Here’s the history.

Granular. I was at a conference last during which a really boring presenter used this phrase at least 20 times, partly, I think, to show how hip she was.  I fully expected her to step away from the podium and start singing “Granular, granular, let’s get granular”  to the tune of Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical.”

Finally, there is a word I know I’m going to come to dislike even though I believe in the concept.  It was refreshing to hear it used by Barack Obama.  It helped get him elected.  But in these rough times we’re all being asked to do things differently and the word we’re going to hear in all these discussions is change.  Most of the time it will be used in the same mindless manner as the other words I’ve cited.
Anyone else have a word or phrase they’d like to see dismembered letter-by-letter?