Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Generation TeXt and the Death of the Question

4COL - For crying out loud - from Text Messaging and Online Chat Abbreviations

Generation TeXters, Queens, NY
Little did I know way back last century when she was a little girl, that my daughter was ahead of her time. "Dear Grandma," she wrote to my mother, "I will "C U 2morrow."

Will this abbreviated cyber-texting talk become the new written vernacular? I expect so - at least it will influence it.

What concerns me however, is not so much the accelerated spelling "reform", but the reliance on the internet that is pervading nearly all areas of our lives. Face-to-facing will become so much Face Talk.

Look at the three guys above left. They were obviously friends but communicated through their cell phones. There were obviously six virtual people sitting on that bench. Perhaps even more.

I am well aware of the advantages of having the internet, but sometimes I spare of getting sawy from it.

The crunch came when I asked (via text of course) a good friend, what "split heating" meant. Beep beep, almost before I'd hit the send icon his answer came back, "Google it." Hmmmm I see.

Questions are so twenty seconds ago!

Questions in verbal form to another human being that is.
Even in Queens, NY, There's No Escaping the Internet Highway!
Today I asked a young woman the way to "Pie Face" - a new Australian joint somewhere on 53rd Street. I wasn't sure whether to walk east or west. She was responsive but didn't speak - well not to me that is. She simply asked Siri on her iPhone, and then showed me the map.

For a moment I was in a quandry. How could I answer with a smiley face? Surely that was the least I could do. But by the time I had worked it out, that we were two human beings and not simply two iPhones, she'd disappeared.

I would have asked Siri myself, but it doesn't understand my Australian accent. I once tried setting it to speak Australian, but was put off by the fact that the Apple creators have decided to model the Australian accent on our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. I just don't speak Bogan. To top it off, if you DO speak Bogan - Apple for Australian - then Siri explains (in Bogan) that she only knows places in America.

"I'm in bloody America!" I feel like screaming.

I never did get to Pie Face. Instead I just checked out their website, after all, why actually GO there?

The Pie Face site proclaims proudly that Pie Face originated in Sydney. That explains a lot. I won't bother giving you the URL as it is really Sydney, really annoying, and advertises coffees with names like "Kiss My Arse" and "Start My Heart". It seems to have a lot of stuff about pies - real pies, not chicken pot pie or apple pies à la Americaine - but I can't stand websites that make noises on loading, although I must admit I've never come across one quite so gross as Pie Face's, which screams out burp noises every few seconds.

I couldn't hang around long enough to find the stop-noise button, but I WAS there long enough to hear a non-burp noise that sounded like someone wiping their nose on their coat sleeve. So it's bye bye Australian

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Eating Acronyms

how was last night's
performance babe?
was it better than
the night before?
are the old credentials
any good any good any good any more
or is the act beginning to bore you? - from Dory Previn's, "Don't Put Him Down"

If I hear another person say, "Do you LIKE reading on your Kindle?" I'll scream.

I get it all the time. And now that there are so many of us with Kindles or other e-readers on New York's public transport, it has become a daily chant. If they aren't saying it to me, chances are they are interrupting another reader with their banal, "I-just-love-the-feel-of-books" rubbish.

What annoys me is their holier-than-thou smugness. Implicit in their tone is their misplaced belief that they are REAL readers, that THEY are somehow superior than the Kindle/Nook people who they so rudely inerrupt. Talk about Luddites! I've given up answering them.

Maybe I should, hey yes that's what I'll do. Next time I see someone reading a dead-tree book I'll interrupt them and say, "How do you like reading on paper? Me, I can't imagine etc etc." But of course it is never the paperback readers who interrupt us e-book people. Now I think of it, it is invariably the non-readers.

The people who crow proudly about how much they love paper books have nary a book in sight. Not any sort of printed media. No New York Times. No Murdoch tabloid. Not even a K-Mart pamphlet.

Truth is, they are not readers at all.

Talking about annoying people; I just have to mention a fellow Aussie, a Mr David Thorne. He has a blog which I once found amusing. But like the paperback, it has had its day.

Blurry Man Chatting Up Red-headed Girl at Union Square
He wrote some genuinely funny stuff, mostly in the form of email correspondence between him and people he doesn't like. I remember one particular funny post where he tried to pay of a water bill or something with a graphic of a spider. The back-and-forth emails between Thorpe and some bureaucrat who was just doing her job was amusing.

His latest party trick was to use the Penguin paperback icon on his new book of emails. "Penguin" bit. I am sure Mr Thorne was delighted and in his cutesey impish I-am-an-aussie-and-I-don't-care-about-you-yanks, he re-worked the drawing of a penguin on his book cover so it held a bunch of flowers and then claimed it was a cat. This nonsense elicited more emails from "Penguin" to which Thorne happily replied.

In the heady days before FaceBook, when people conduced serious discussions on "newsgroups", such behavior was called "trolling". Maybe that's where Mr Thorne learned his trade ...

Like a little kid, who once he gets a laugh or two, continues to perform the same trick to the adoring eyes of his parents, Mr Thorpe seems to think he can keep his act going by writing insulting emails, or provocatively violating copyrights and then answering back with what I suspect he perceives as delightful Aussie irreverence. Unfortunately for Mr Thorne, it's all getting to be the same old same old.

What can one say?

I can't say it better than Ms Previn, a much under-rated lyricist, who had the nouse NOT to repeat ad infinitum, some old party trick that no one was listening to.

"he can sing!
he can dance!
he can juggle!
he a regular one-man band
his costume's a little tattered
his label says
made in japan"

Stay tuned ....