PhD in analyzing text messages. Seriously.

My previous post here about Rev. Neil Elliot‘s PhD in snowboarding confirmed what I’ve long suspected about graduate degrees: all the good thesis topics have been taken.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Dude picked up his snowboarding doctorate from a  U.K. university: Kingston University in London. This is a fairly new school (granted its Higher Education Corporation status in 1993) but I did learn from its website that the campus is a handy 25-minute train ride from central London, which says something, I guess.

The U.K., alas, has a disturbingly murky reputation as a mecca for weird and wacky higher education goals.  Continue reading

Texting at funerals

Dr. Sherry Turkle is worried.  The MIT prof (and author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other) told an interviewer from The Verge recently that one of her main concerns is how to get families to talk to each other at the dinner table – instead of texting. What also concerns her is that young people may think of communication as being a Like button.

“People are texting at funerals! (Only during the boring bits, they protest).  But things worth doing (like grassroots political campaigning) often require boring bits. For good stuff to happen, people need to talk to each other.”  Continue reading

Texting shortcuts for Boomers

I’m so old that my grown children had to actually explain texting to me when I got my new cellphone. As a longtime writer, my keyboard speed is impressive, but as a texter, I’m dismally slow with my thumbs.  For any of you Boomers who share this challenge, here are a few shortcuts to help boost your texting speed:     Continue reading

Why you should put that damned phone away

In the wise words of comedian Amy Poehler as she addressed young graduating Harvard University students last May:

“The answer to a lot of your life questions is often in someone else’s face.  Try putting your iPhones down every once in a while and look at people’s faces.”

I have a cellphone. Of course I do.  But at the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy  – oops, too late! – the great technological divide between how my demographic uses our mobile devices and how people of my children’s generation do has me feeling cranky these days. Continue reading

News flash: smartphone users obsessively check their devices

In a study that could be described as confirming the bleedin’ obvious, Finnish researchers have found that many smartphone users obsessively check their devices for e-mails, social media and news. Really? Seriously? I could have texted that conclusion over to Finland long ago and saved them a lot of time and tax dollars.

Who hasn’t endured the supremely rude experience of chatting happily with a friend whose phone chimes suddenly to life, requiring said friend to instantly interrupt the conversation in mid-sentence because she has to check out the latest cute kitty YouTube video – while you stand there waiting like an idiot with your finger up your nose? Who hasn’t sat, dismayed and annoyed, at the dining room table watching a young relative madly texting from his lap during a family dinner? Who hasn’t been distracted by glowing phone screens popping up in a darkened movie theatre while users check Facebook throughout the film? Can these people not turn their phones off even for two short hours?

Obsessive? I’d say so. Continue reading