The Nipmuc Language is not dead

As has been referenced on this blog previously, I am an avid listener and unabashed promoter of the NPR program All Things Considered. It has “opened my eyes” more than once, and now again. The very title of the program says it all. Communicators, and those who strive to be communicators,  need to be open to learn and explore because expanding  horizons and awareness broadens our understanding of the world at large and this provides the kind of perspective that facilitates the communicator’s role as a transmitter of knowledge, information, and ideas, and All Things Considered  exposes the listener to many “things” we would never “consider” at “all”. But I digress.

So, If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? This is a philosophical query, and it applies aptly to the question of the demise of a language, in this case a Native American language spoken by the Nipmuc people , the subject of the All Things Considered segment I found so engaging.

Today, fewer than 10 people speak it. David White, a member of the tribe, swore to a dying elder that he would teach Nipmuc to ensure it was perpetuated. He has been steadfast in his commitment. There are many lessons to be learned from “White’s last stand” which impact matters that matter from a communications standpoint, but for the purpose of this post, I simply want to emphasize the core concept exemplified by his efforts, which is that language, any language, is precious and needs to be treated with the utmost respect, and saved for posterity if at all possible. Afterall, a culture is kept alive through its use of language.

NPR has aired David White’s story in conjunction with the PBS television series We Shall Remain which premiers today. This five part series asserts that Native American history must be seen as an essential part of American history.

For the full transcript of the NPR segment and more information about the PBS series We Shall Remain go to: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103028551

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/04/13/the-nipmuc-language-is-not-dead/

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Quick Takes: social network fatigue

(Introducing the new feature “Quick Takes” on this blog; very brief posts on very timely topics with more detailed discussion to follow as warranted.)

A recent survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that while 45% of the U.S. population across all age categories are positive regarding using computer and mobile devices for social networking, fully 48% are essentially “not so inclined”, feel tech devices are overwhelming to them, and often steer clear of internet use.

The bottom line: there may be a point of no return – in terms of “return on investment” so to speak in regard to the networking phenomenon. Twitter “tweets” and Facebook “status updates” may not constitute the “quality” interactions we really crave.  Some studies in the field of psychology and social psychology indicate that a real rather than virtual conversation with an “actual” friend is much more fulfilling than the 140 character maximum communication of a  “tweet”.

Read more related to social networking at:  http://www.pewinternet.org/

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/04/10/quick-takes-social-network-fatigue/

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A 21st Century Library rivals a Starbucks

I visited a local library recently. It had been just re-opened after a major renovation that took seemingly ages to complete much to the consternation of the residents who felt inconvenienced by this disruption of a tax payer funded public service. Well,  it must have taken ages alright, because I felt like Rip Van Winkle when I stepped inside. What greeted me was a library of the new millennium.  A brief description of my surroundings on this occasion will suffice to make my point. Wireless throughout, person after person, seated at tables or very comfortable overstuffed chairs,  were clicking away at their various laptops, happy as can be.  Then, looking like a command center at NASA, I saw the rows of monitors, all in use, provided for those who came empty handed. There was the obligatory Youth and Children’s section, very inviting indeed, but in addition,  a whole separate room was designated “The Teen Room” with a life-size cut out of Captain Jack Sparrow of “Pirates of the Caribbean” fame, guarding the entryway – and then I spied “The Lounge” which sported a refreshments counter – coffee anyone. The shelves were filled with audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, and yes, books.

This post is all about creating environment, this can be done in real spaces and in virtual spaces – think of a blog as a virtual space, for example. Environment, which is a cousin to climate can be thought of in this way: “constructed surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging from the large-scale civic surroundings to the personal places.” (from Wikipedia)

Now with any endeavor, you want to strive to “construct” an environment appropriate to the activity, to encourage involvement. You want to generate the “I think I’ll hang out here awhile” feeling. Each application has its optimal set of environmental elements which need to be defined and applied . These are not just trappings, they are integral to the total experience of the moment, and upon their effectiveness often rests the viewer/listener/participant decision to stay or go.

Of the many consulting projects I have engaged in over the years, I sometimes have been involved in working with restaurant franchising enterprises from concept to prospectus, and this type of venture requires the “packaging”  (see previous relevant post re. “packaging” ) of a complete  “environment” which can be duplicated for each unit to be built. I always enlisted the assistance of a particular specialist in restaurant interior design who in my opinion was one of the best. Everything was tied into a theme. Everything worked to create a certain ambience that was unique to that venue; the totality of these environmental elements quite literally became the “signature” of that franchise. Even the acoustical properties of the space were taken into account. Turns out “building in” the sound of happy chatter – the more the better – has a positive impact on diners.

Back to the library. There are many lessons to be learned from my visit to the library. Go visit one, one that you are sure is “state of the art”; observe the library patrons around you,  and see for yourself. In the meantime I recommend a visit to the DaVinci Institute web site. The Institute is a non-profit futurist think tank based in Colorado. The web site features an excellent “discussion” of the future of libraries, delving into ten key trends that portend the library of the future – a number of the trends cited have  broader implications for communications in general as well.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/04/07/a-21st-century-library-rivals-a-starbucks/

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“The Journal of Irreproducible Results”

This is for real. No kidding. The Journal of Irreproducible Results has been around for a long time and is in its 48th year of publication. I always smile when I recall articles from it that I have read in the past. Virologist Alexander Kohn and physicist Harry J. Lipkin founded the journal in 1955 in Ness Ziona, Israel. The journal is dedicated to providing humor with a scientific bent. The Wikipedia entry characterizes the journal’s content as a “unique mix of jokes, satire of scientific practice, science cartoons, and discussion of funny but real research.”  JIR characterizes itself in this way: “JIR targets hypocrisy, arrogance, and ostentatious sesquipedalian circumlocution. We’re a friendly escape from the harsh and the hassle. JIR makes you feel good .” 🙂

If you want to feel good, go to:  http://www.jir.com/home.html

Happy April Fools’ (also known as All Fools’) Day!

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/04/01/the-journal-of-irreproducible-results/

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