BBC Oops – the irritating rise of websites that… cc @BBCNews

I was intrigued by the BBC OOOPS this morning!

Words and images that catch the eye

The BBC’s front page this morning has an intriguing side story (in the far right column): “OOPS, the irritating rise of websites talking to you like a friend.”  Find it?  Well, when you click on it, you get… (see below).

BBC front page oops, The Myndset Digital Marketing

Ooops, I missed again

Here is a a close up of the H3 title

BBC oops, The Myndset Digital Marketing

404

And the link goes to a 404 (“page not found”)!  And I sincerely thought it was a joke. Ooops, is right!

BBC 404, The Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

Fortunately, the tone and timbre of this 404 didn’t sound like they were trying to be my friend.  But, seriously, don’t you find it irritating when a link goes to a 404 page?  If the BBC can get such things wrong, just imagine the amateurs.  Of course, in this case, I consider it a rather funny error, so I chose to blog it.

UPDATE AT 9:03AM (28 Jan 2013)

The 404 has been now fixed.  You can now visit the real Ooops article if you are interested!    The section I liked best about this peice on the rise of unwanted and OTT familiarity (which I agree can be rather ‘grating’ at times):

“Computers were like bouncers. You were the three-sheets-to-the-wind punter swaying glassy-eyed in front of them pleading to continue. They remained impassive saying, “I don’t have to give you a reason. You’re not going into that file and that’s that.”

That’s the funny thing.  The internet is becoming deeply personal.  It is difficult to remain impassive in front of your computer these days!  And for marketers (and digital marketing in particular), brands need to know how to interface with each one of us according to our whims and mores if they want to “connect” with us.  Alternatively, you pick a style that suits your community and those that don’t like it, shove it.  Now, there’s a familiar term!

Mainstream Media Strategy – Recommendation from a reader’s perspective

As mainstream media (MSM) companies continue to scramble to find a winning model, I am inspired to write a post based on the interactive (read: moderation) strategy that the BBC has put in place on its news forums. Having taken a look around at a number of other significant news media sites around the world (NPR, ABC, CBC, MSNBC, WSJ, NY Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, TF1, France 2, The Australian…), the BBC would seem to closest to having a ‘good online model.’ 

The BBC will take an article and, for a limited time, convert the selected article into an online debate where readers have to register to participate (write and/or recommend). In essence, I assume they make the divide along the lines of articles strictly reporting versus opinion pieces. For the sake of this post, I am going to refer to a debate which is already ‘closed’ entitled: “Is US right to block Google digital library?” (Link no longer working). This is basically how the BBC’s Online Debate works. During the period of debate, the BBC allows registered readers to comment, and very explicitly identifies its full moderation policy. In the policy box (see below), they identify the number of comments sent in, the number published and the number rejected. There is also the number of comments in the moderation queue.

Fully Moderated BBC Blog
When the debate is closed, they issue the final status. For this particular debate, as marked below, there were a total of 892 comments submitted, of which 539 were published and 35 were rejected. There were some 353 comments (a little more than 1/3) that did not get published. At 539, as we can all recognize, that’s just too many comments to want to sift through. Most of them are terribly repetitive and completely without interest.
BBC Debate Closed
The final element of note from the BBC’s Debate section is the “Recommended” option where registered readers can, at the tick of a RECOMMEND box, give their positive vote. [See the BBC rules here.]

BBC Debate Article Recommend Button

Beyond the article of news you are reading, oftentimes, you can find equally pulsating thoughts and analysis in the internet community’s commentary. Too often, however, when reading most MSM sites, popular blogs and the like, there are just too many comments to wade through, amounting to a completely unreadable mass of jumbled thoughts, written in differing styles, without an attractive layout, in no particular order, and with very little interaction amongst them (for this, I tend to like the “reply to this comment” option). However, in the BBC’s case, the 539 published comments have a democratically voted triage that takes place via the number of positive recommendations. This makes great sense.

For this particular debate, there were 12 pages of comments which received at least one vote (presumably many of which were self voted). The top “recommendation” received 118 votes, the second one 59 votes and so on. 

Overall, I believe that the BBC is pioneering a new best practice… However, as you might imagine, I have a few thoughts regarding BBC’s initiative that might improve further their efforts, and could serve as a best practice recommendation for other MSM companies, perhaps as part of a greater solution for the freemium debate.

My Recommendations to media companies: My point of view below is entirely based on being a reader of the article/debate as opposed to the POV of the MSM executive. 

1./ More edge to the voting. As a reader, I am much more interested in the comments which have more rhyme and reason. The reader recommendations are certainly worthy, but are not very discriminatory. On a first level, I might prefer a 5-star rating system to add a little more ‘value’ to the reader’s feedback, or an ability to agree/disagree as, for example, the CBC do (which is sorted first to last, and most agreed). 

CBC Agree or Disagree vote

I think that there is room to add a few more dimensions to this democratic (if moderated) style of vote, taking the TED.com system that includes a host of different adjectives that describe the post. Examples of voter categories could be: Well Written, Thought Provoking, Not My POV, Funny, Informative…

2./ Optimal social bookmarking. Another easy add-on would be the social media bookmarking and tagging services. I do not understand why the BBC has not systematically ad
ded a more comprehensive list of available services (e.g. what about Twitter?). Social bookmarking can only help spread the word. And, when they do put the tags, the tags come below the comment box… Readers are more likely to tag and bookmark than add a comment I believe, so ‘go with the flow’ and put the tagging zone front and centre. Here’s a good example from mashable (who make the difference between a comment, i.e. thoughtful article, and a reaction, i.e. a 140-character twit). 

Share This Post Social Bookmarking Buttons

3./ Most Popular Follow-ons. Another functionality I would highly recommend to the BBC (and other media companies, of course) is the NY Times’ Most Popular Page. This page gives the top 10 of the most emailed, most blogged, most searched and most popular movies. The one that caught my attention most was the ‘most blogged’ list which is a very engaging way to follow the discussion. Of course, I was just missing the ‘most commented’ list.

4./ Stronger Editorial Direction on Commentary. But, more importantly, to the extent that the BBC is spending so much time and resources on the moderation (only culling 1/3 of the comments), I would be inclined to have a third box, possibly reserved for paying subscribers for those media companies looking to make money [Mr Murdoch], which would involve the choice. with editorial license, of best comments. These comments would be sorted in some way to provide readers with guided orientations and some overall statistics on the vast array of comments. As far as editorial voice is concerned, one interesting option would be to collaborate with value-sharing external organisations (e.g. an NGO, some reputed think tank, an academic institution, etc.). Statistics could include, for example, the number of comments strongly in favour, strongly against… There could be Featured Authors whose comments are judged by the editor to be worth more than others — comments that may not be commonly judged as popular, for example, because they were written late (ie not enough time to accumulate recommendations) or were too erudite to warrant internet reading. I would even go so far as to recognize the value of most appreciated commenters (providing some heralded recognition, if not in-kind remuneration?). 

5./ Interest Groups & Chat Rooms. Another idea would be enable interest groups to be formed on the site which, like Amazon, would allow “readers like you also read this” type of functionality.

There is real value embedded in the comments section, even more so when/if the subject is about a company or a brand (i.e. for the marketers). The trick of course is to keep on encouraging commenting, all the while not publishing everything or, as the BBC would defend, keeping a neutrality in the filtration system. As MSM continue to scramble to find the right economic model, my belief is that there needs to be a closer fit with the experience of the reader. By getting closer to what the reader really wants (time savings, consistent content, aligned values, advice & education, and even entertainment ), the MSM players will find ways to give value to the reader who, in turn, will be more willing to pay for the service. How that payment is provided is as yet WIP — providing a personal address, opting in for advertisement, etc. — and a subject for another post.

I cannot practice exactly what I preach on this site (limited functionality of blogger), but I certainly would be happy to have your comments and thoughts (as usual, moderated only per the Minter Dialogue blog policy as stated at the bottom of the page).

Usain Bolt clocks 9.58 World Record in 100 meters

Usain Bolt World Record 9.58 Berlin World Championships

At 9:35pm last night (August 16), Usain Bolt (Jamaica), clocked in at 9.58, dashed Tyson Gay’s (USA) fine effort (9.71) and, along the way, dashed to a sparkling 100 metre World Record at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. It was a marvellous race, with all the hype and high expectations more than matched by the performance. For all the bravado that Bolt demonstrated before the race, he was able to execute flawlessly, almost incredible (as in not credible). Amazingly, whenever he runs, you always feel he can do more. You can’t help but think that his wandering eyes and seemingly cocky headturns at the end of the race (to ensure he’s on top) would possibly add a couple more milliseconds! Tyson Gay etched his name in the stone as the man who is always a step behind. His excellent 9.71 time was just 0.02 behind Bolt’s Olympic World Record performance.

In a pre-race buildup on French Television, there was a small documentary on Usain Bolt, indicating that he may be ready to overtake Bob Marley as the spiritual figurehead of Jamaica. Bolt is portrayed as a down-to-earth, happy-go-lucky man. On the cusp of his 23rd birthday (he’s a fellow Leo with an August 21 birthday), he has certainly gone down some uncharted paths compared with Marley’s charts. Holding the 200 metre and 4×100 world records as well, he is taking the human race to a new level and, along the way, providing good brand love for his country.

Here’s the video courtesy of YouTube / BBC. Enjoy (it’s a 10 minute video).

Love to laugh – Why we should all be doing more of it!

I love to laugh!

Don’t we all? Trouble is, as we grow older, the opportunities to belly ache, hoot and laugh out loud seem to diminish. It is said that kids on average will laugh 80 – 100 times in a day. Little children can laugh up to 400 times in a day. From Sixwise, in an article that discusses how to reduce stress (always necessary), there is a section on the benefits of laughing.

“By the time we reach adulthood, we laugh only 5-6 times per day. You only need to watch children to appreciate the relationship between humor and enjoying life. Children will laugh at anything! If you ask them, ‘what’s so funny,’ they may say something like, ‘he looked at me!’ says Barbara Bartlein, R.N., M.S.W., a motivational speaker and consultant.” [BTW I also particularly like tip #15: To drive courteously. Isn’t there enough stress without having obnxious, selfish and dangerous drivers on the road?]

Calvin & Hobbes LaughterThere are apparently many purported health benefits to laughing, including helping to heal cancer & depression. From Nurses Together, laughter apparently also “lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, improves lung capacity, massages internal organs, increases memory and alertness, reduces pain, improves digestion, and lowers the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenalin.” And, here is a recent study (April 17 2009) as reported by Health on the Net (HON), saying that laughter increases good cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart attacks for diabetics. Bascially, laughter would seem to be the panacea for many ailments; maybe we should all be prescribed tickets to see hilarious theatre?

One of the downfalls of smiling and laughter is the creasing of the face (evidently not appreciated if you have had plastic surgery, for example). The wrinkles that mark time on our faces also carry the history of how much we may have spent laughing and smiling as opposed to frowning and smirking. I would be easily led to believe that those who know how to laugh liberally tend to have a more positive outlook on life. On another level, for those whose humour involves self-derision, there is an equally appreciable sense of humility. Different from comedians who have the knack of helping us laugh, I am just more likely to gravitate toward those who are given to laugh, without shame. BTW, did you ever stop to consider if having a sense of humour refers more to the ability to make people laugh or the ability to laugh oneself? In effect, a sense of humour is about both per dictionary.com: “The trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous…” In either case, it is a wonder you never see “own a sense of humour” on the CV.

So, in an effort to increase those smile wrinkles, to bring a smile to your face, and even encourage you to laugh, not just now as you watch, but every hour of ever day, here below is a five point bulletin designed to set your course straight and wiggly.

First, the classic from Mary Poppins, written By the Sherman Brothers (1964).

2/ Ok, Mary Poppins doesn’t make you laugh necessarily, but it sets the stage for a good smile. Now to do some laughing. Here is 1″40 of sheer enjoyment.

A good followup act is here with this little kid that has a funny, deep laugh. Just being around carefree babies is enough to bring smiles to all in proximity (although the parent may at times gain immunity!)

3/ Try this laughter yoga video, hosted by John Cleese. You can find out if and where Laughter Yoga clubs are near you at LaughterYoga.org. We had one dinner party where we began the dinner by all laughing for 10 minutes. Made for a super energy for the rest of the meal.

4/ I invite you to pop over to watch a short video podcast from ABC, broadcasting a report by the BBC, about the contagiousness of laughter. Watching a few babies giggling is bound to break out a smile. Visit here.

5/ And, fifth, I am glad to report that there is an official Global Belly Laughter day which happens to be my son’s birthday: January 24th. May every day be January 24th.

To close out this post on laughter, here is a wonderful Laughing and Smiling Oath:

The Laughing Oath
I do solemnly swear from this day forward
To grease my giggling gears each day
And to wear a grin on my face for no reason at all!
I promise to tap my funny bone often,
With children, family, friends, colleagues and clients,
And to laugh at least fifteen times per day.
I believe that frequent belly laughter
Cures terminal tightness, cerebral stiffness,
And hardening of the attitudes,
And that HA HA often leads to AHA!
Therefore, I vow, from this day forth,
To brighten the day of everyone I meet,
And to laugh long and prosper.
from:
The Laughing Classroom
by Diana Loomans and Karen Kolberg

Have a GREAT and LAUGH-FILLED day!

Roland Garros 2009 — Recycling of tennis balls

Tennis BallThis year, Roland Garros and the French Federation of Tennis (FFT) have launched a programme (“Operation Balle Jaune“) to recycle the used tennis balls as part of a Sustainable Development program.  There are 14 million balls sold every year in France and, according to a 2007 survey by Science & Vie, tennis is the fifth most polluting sport.  I was unable to find that survey, but I would love to know the top 4.

In any event, the idea is to collect the used tennis balls, grind them up and create a sort of spongy material….  With 59 grams of felt and rubber per ball, it takes 40,000 balls to create a 100m2 rubberised flooring (similar to the surface of a tartan track), very useful for handicap sports among others.

On top of the 14 million balls sold in France annually, there are also some 3-4 million cans (or tube containers) in France alone.  If I were to make a rough calculation (based on the number of balls per pop) for Europe, Australia/NZ and North America where the bulk of the world’s tennis takes place, that would mean that there are around 300 million tennis balls inserted into our western world; noting that 90% of the balls are produced in Asia (not the heart of tennis land).  In terms of weight, those 300 million balls represent around 20 million tonnes of longlasting rubber and felt in our landfills (including the tubes). 

In the USA, there is a company called Rebounces, founded by Bill Dirst, which has figured out how to “recharge” an used tennis ball.  Rebounces got a good plug in Oprah in the June 2009 issue.  According to Wikipedia, since 2001, “[the 36,000 tennis] Balls from The Championships, Wimbledon are now recycled to provide field homes for the nationally threatened harvest mouse.”  You can read about the original news story here on the BBC.

Meanwhile, doing a little research on the web, I have found a few other fun ways to use the used tennis balls, beyond the feet of chairs, etc.  Herewith a selection for your pleasure and inspiration.

A wrist watch.
Recycled tennis ball watch
A tennis ball chair
Recycled tennis ball chair
A tennis ball bench (a forty-love seat?)
 Recycled tennis ball bench decoration

In any event, I think it is a good initiative that the French Federation of Tennis has taken on.  May the balls bounce on a little longer!

State of the Spam Business: Spam Pollution

State of the Spam Business

How many legitimate (non junk or spam) emails do you receive in your inbox?

Stop Spam Sign

It may come as a surprise to you that only 3% of the world’s supply of emails are legitimate, at least that’s what a recent Microsoft survey says. On a personal level, I know that I have a spam-to-legit ratio that is more like 1:6, aided by (a) the never ending screening and hunting down of phoney addresses and cyber pirates by the various governing bodies; (b) the individual mail filters (I use hotmail mostly) which appear to direct with about 80% accuracy true junk into the junk folder; and (c) my attempting not to leave my email address in public spaces that are too easy for email bots to trawl and discover. In any event, in a recent BBC article regarding a recent Microsoft security report, “[m]ore than 97% of all e-mails sent over the net are unwanted… The e-mails are dominated by spam adverts for drugs [nearly 50%], and general product pitches and often have malicious attachments.” Other industry reports have the volume of junk mail somewhere between 75% and 90%, so this latest number takes the morass of spam to even higher levels.

A second source for spam information is the monthly Symantec State of Spam report (PDF – April 2009). According to the Symantec report, in March, the spam coming from the US accounted for 28% of the world’s supply (up from 25% in February and 23% in January). Coming in second, Brazil accounts for 9%, while India at 3rd fell back to 4%. South Korea leads the Far Eastern countries at 4%, ahead of Turkey, Russia and China (all 3%). Below is the chart courtesy of Symantec. Latin America is responsible for a quite surprising 15% of the total. As far as I was concerned, it seems that half of my spam relates to winning the jackpot and inheriting some African fortune, so I was surprised not find Nigeria up in there in the top 10.

Top Countries sending Spam

“The [Microsoft] report found that the global ratio of infected machines was 8.6 for every 1,000 uninfected machines.” I would suspect that Mac gets a less than market share representation…fortunately for us Mac users.

The only good news, if you read on in the BBC report, is that malicious software (aka malware) must increasingly be adapted country to country (see world map of malware levels), which diminishes the odds of an Armageddon style worldwide malware. The article states, “[a]s the malware ecosystem becomes more reliant on social engineering, threats worldwide have become more dependent on language and cultural factors,” [the Microsoft study] reported. In China, several malicious web browser modifiers are common, while in Brazil, malware that targets users of online banks is more widespread.”

In terms of where the malicious software is most prevalent, “the [Microsoft] report, which looked at online activity during the second half of 2008, also pinpoints…[that] Russia and Brazil top the global chart of infections, followed by Turkey and Serbia and Montenegro.”

On another level, from a report out in March 2009, I read about how much spam is said to pollute our world… A Carbon Footprint study from McAfee says that spam generates greenhouse gas (GHG — aka Carbon Dioxide or CO2) equivalent to 3.1 million passenger cars. This report says that “the energy [33 billion KWh] consumed in transmitting and deleting spam is equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million U.S. homes.” I love the notion of the life cycle of spam! If you want to download the McAfee PDF report, do so here. Another feature in the McAfee report is the estimated loss in productivity caused by spam: “If you have 1,000 workers earning $30 per hour, your company will suffer $182,500 per year in lost productivity.” It is very crafty to propose an ROI on their anti-spam software.

In any event, as I indicated in a prior post TV5 from Québec, Canada, there are also the unwanted communications from companies where you can no longer unsubscribe to their newsletters, as is the case with TV5. Another one on my can’t-get-rid-of-them list is www.seek-blog.com.  No way to unsubscribe.  I suspect such mail should be considered spam along with the other 97%! On the other end of the scale, kudos to Nick @ NickOnWine for sending out regular subscriber updates.

Like mosquitoes, I can think of absolutely nothing beneficial from spam. After the ERACE ‘EM Campaign (the Eternal Radical and Complete Extermination of Every Mosquito), comes the EAT SPAM Campaign, Eradicate All Toxic Spam. Sign up here!

Velib in Paris – Wheels are coming off…

The wheels are coming off the track for the Vélib bicycle programme in Paris, a subject I have been following since its inception. According to this BBC write-up (taken in turn from Le Parisien), the Parisians seem to have taken a little too much liberty with the vélo liberté…
Velib Bicycle in Paris
It seems that, after 18 months, the verdict is that the Vélib system in Paris simply does not function. The city of Paris has had to indemnify JCDecaux for the damage and disappearance of so many bicycles. In fact, 19,600 out of 20,000 bicycles have had to be replaced or repaired, with nearly 8,000 of them having disappeared (into Eastern Europe and Africa). The replacement value of each bike is 400 euros, not cheap, eh? And, then there is the Vélib Extrême / Freeride trend which has popped up on YouTube.

What a poor statement. The youtube site dislaims: “none of the vélibs in this film were mistreated…” Appropriately, the accompanying music is Highway to Hell. Why has the criminal underworld descended on Paris? How many Parisians are responsible themselves? How is it that the similar programmes work so much better in other cities? And, importantly, for cities wanting to replicate the Parisian system (London, San Francisco…), how can such base vandalism be avoided?

SMS & Healthy Loving Relationships

After getting drummed into our heads that using mobile phones may be carcinogenic, I am increasingly encouraged by recent studies saying that using the text (SMS) function is good for you! For its immediacy, the acceptance of shorthand (and errors) as well as the language of emoticons, SMS and Instant Messaging (IM) communication is a very real way of communicating.  Technology and the human touch is a topic I have addressed previously in a blog post.

So, if you text a lot AND you use the word “I” when you IM or text your soulmate, chances are that you are experiencing a healthy relationship, so says this latest study in US News. With a little imagination, the study would seem to reinforce the notion that you need to love yourself in order to be able to love someone else properly.

And, an article I found on the BBC says that, with the help of SMS / text reminders, a group of people suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder*) in the UK will be reminded daily to sit in front of their light box to give a little light to their gloomy conditions in the midst of the dark, short days of winter.

Finally, knowing the number of emoticons that are included in the TXT messages, it is no surprise that there is an emotional impact from the messages emanating from our handy mobiles. On another note, I have also heard more and more about the abuse of SMS between teenagers and the notion of sextext (as yet an unofficial term according to Urban Dictionary). Something to watch out for. Meanwhile, below is a table of TXT speak in case you need a refresher, but an easier resource is here at, what claims to be, the Largest List of Text Message Abbreviations. But, whatever you do, don’t forget to use the “I” when addressing your loved one.

*SAD affects around 2% of UK citizens and between 1.5-9% of US citizens depending on the state in which they live. According to the wikipedia entry, 20% of the Irish (2007 study) were said to suffer from SAD and 10% of the Dutch.

Typing Skills & Games – Credit to Lester Thurow

Typing not Stereotyping – A True Way to Advance…

Monkey Typing on KeyboardI have often wondered how my life might have been different had I not learned to type quickly and accurately. I will never forget a lecture I attended by Lester Thurow, former professor of Economics and Dean at MIT, back while I was at Yale (around 1986). He said that typing was far from an insignificant skill to possess as an executive. For many “older” executives–especially those who were not born into the need to type their school papers–typing is not a noble skill. There are still many executives who consider it below themselves to know how to type (much less how to use the computer, Outlook and internet…); those who think that typing themselves is a loss of time.

Typing HandsAu contraire, I find that typing fast and accurately is a tremendous skill and competitive advantage. Just to answer once more the question “how do I find the time to blog so much?” I say, first, that I make the time (part of my philosophy on time). But, right after that, I say that it is thanks to the fact that I can type up to 70 words per minute without (too many) mistakes. When combined with having the word retrieval (from the brain) stoked by some good coffee beans, the posts come fast and furiously for me.

Typing Hands - Finger chart for the KeyboardOn the professional front, this means that typing up memos, meeting recaps or e-mails is substantially less of a chore. That said, there are no shortcuts for rereading and proofing your written word. Of course, reading emails is another kettle of fish and knowing who to put in copy, etc., in your replies (managing the politics…) is a little more cumbersome. Nonetheless, typing faster is a competitive advantage anyway you cut it. It even helps me finger out my messages on my Blackberry. But my typing skills did not come “out of thin air.” I had to apply myself to learn how to type — and I did so consciously early on, without access to any of the fun ways to learn that now exist.

Facebook LogoAmong the fun typing games out there (and there are many), I enjoyed this one from Jon Miles, called Fingerjig. Of course, you can also play Fingerjig on Facebook and find out if you’re a better typist than your friends. It doesn’t test you for upper case, etc., but it is a reasonably fun and engaging way to see where you stand — and see if you need to improve!

So, if you are a student at school, the need to learn to type is pretty much obvious. A done deal. One of the areas I have been working on is finding ways to encourage our children to type quickly — and online games are clearly a great answer. Below are a few solutions that I found (even if some reside on a platform that has other painfully silly games) for kids and adults.

A good reference point is at “Only Typing Games” which has a nice little selection of online games that encourage typing skills.

-For the beginners…and of a younger age: Typing Monster from PrimaryGames and Dance Mat Typing from the BBC.
Qwerty Warrior Game-For the “older” kids, where one can challenge oneself to whichever level one has in typing, Crazy Keys or QWERTY Warriors & QWERTY Warriors 2 (the latter of which play on the aggressive killer instinct) from Crazy Monkey Games
-And, still for kids, there’s Alpha-Attack (from Miniclips)
-Then, for the less game inclined typer, a few “serious” sites courtesy of Touch Typing post from a prolific, if currently dormant, JEETBLOG. You can test your speed, or do some online tutoring here: TypeFaster or Keybr.

If you want to try your hand at your own typing speed, try this. It takes just one MINUTE!

70 wordsTypingtest

In any event, I promote typing skills, am proud of my own ability to type fast and believe that typing faster can materially contribute to the business world’s increased productivity. Typing should not be stereotypically left for assistants and secretaries!
What do you think?

Global Gender Gap 2008 Report – Who’s on Top?

The World Economic Forum have just released the results of the Global Gender Gap Report 2008.

Yin & YangThere are a few suprising facets to this WEF report, now in its third year, authored by Ricardo Hausmann, Director, Centre for International Development, Harvard University, Laura Tyson, Professor at University of California, Berkeley, and Saadia Zahidi from the WEF.  First, what strikes me is the tremendous dynamism in the results — from one year to another a country can change by more than 30 places (as France did jumping from 51st to 15th).  Secondly, the list of sponsoring companies for the research includes a number of banks, consultancies and a car company hardly known for women’s equality as well as the employment services company MANPOWER.

Gender Gap
Those quibbles aside, the research shows that there is a “…a strong correlation between competitiveness and the gender gap scores.”  And the report indicates once again the strength of the equality movement in Scandinavia, with Norway coming out on top this year ahead of its neighbouring Scandinavian countries.   Here is the list of the top 10 for 2008.  Noteworthy for being absent from the top 10 (I should say again) are the United Kingdom (13th) and the United States (27th, behind Cuba) which scores highest in “economic participation and opportunity.”  And, fairly astonishing for being in the top 10 are the Philippines and Latvia.  The report voluntarily overweights the importance of having female leadership — as a way of providing visible role models (which clearly boosted the Philippines).  How much credit for France’s rise goes to Ségolène Royal (and Carla Bruni)?.  A

Global Gender Gap Index

Rank 2008
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Country

Norway
Finland
Sweden
Iceland
N. Zealand
Philippines
Denmark
Ireland
Netherlands
Latvia

Score*

0.824
0.820
0.814
0.800
0.786
0.757
0.754
0.752
0.740
0.740

Rank 2007
2
3
1
4
5
6
8
9
12
13
*0 to 1 scale: 0=inequality, 1=equality

The report establishes the following “top line” numbers, indicating that on balance things are tending to get better, although there were nearly twice as many countries where the gap was widening in 2008 versus 2007 as opposed to the prior year.  The big conclusions of the report are that the world has again shown progress in closing the gaps in economic, political and education; however, it has actually lost ground on the health gaps.

Gender Gap 2008 Report

The criteria for selection are worth citing:
Male & Female Signs“The Report examines four critical areas of inequality between men and women:
1. Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
2. Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education
3. Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures
4. Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio”

Meanwhile, tailing off the bottom of the list are a host of countries without need for comment: Saudi Arabia, Chad and YemenIndia (113rd) landed basically on par with Iran (116th).  Japan wallowing in at 98th is a blemish…especially when you find higher up Mongolia (40th), Kyrgyz Republic (41st) and Russia (42nd).  Italy lies at 68th, not exactly brilliant.  Meanwhile, I thought Turkey (123rd) might have ranked higher.

Here is the writeup from the BBC and from TIME (with a good and lively analysis).  If nothing else, the research and report allow for some debate and exposure to this very important issue.