Thursday, June 19, 2008

Article Published - New technology - friend or foe?

My monthly Simplicity article on Training is published today – comments on the Training Zone Site welcomed!


Marilyn Jess said...

Hi Trevor,

While I agree that the rules need adaptation, some things don't change. First, talk is the oldest and preferred form of communication, and second, anything used too much that throws life out of balance can be addictive.

I personally shun many forms of technology that will enslave me--strong word I know. I think tech works for me, not vice versa. No-- blackberry, IPhone, pager, publishing my cell phone number, or even leaving the cell phone on. Yes--internet, instant message, LinkedIn, blog, podcasts; plain vanilla cell phone, without a camera built in.

Curious how the editor of the Training Zone would feel if you used the English variants (when folk text message today)that pass for English. My guess, NOT--it has to be written in standard English.

Unlike the survey you cited, my community college students failed the communication test, as none could write error free standard English. This speaks more to our school system than to technology.

Wonder how others feel?

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Marilyn – I struggle with lots of the new technology. I love email, Blogging and the web. I love Skype.

Everything else passes me by really. I don’t have an iPod and I have a very basic mobile phone. IT must always be the slave and not the master. I agree with you that word of mouth is still the most effective communncation tool we have. You are an expert in that area as a renowned speaker so I'm not going to dare disagree with you :-)

Marilyn Jess said...


It's not so much that I'm an expert speaker--rather, I see the fallout when communication is misused, as it so often is. The master/slave relationship can easily tip in the wrong direction.

My view is that all things need to be in a balance that works for you. We are smart, intuitive beings who do better when we trust our intuition.

If my response seemed harsh at first, it's probably because I tend to focus so much on speaking! Time for me to lighten up and have a pint, as you might say.....



Trevor Gay said...

Hi Marilyn – I don’t think you need to lighten up at all and I certainly don’t think your response was in the least bit harsh. I agree with you completely about the balance of technology versus person being correct.

George Bernard Shaw famously said ‘The problem with communncation is the illusion that is has been accomplished.’

I get really frustrated by those folks in business and management positions who think that producing a smart PowerPoint presentation automatically means their presentation will be good.

The person speaking always makes (or not) the presentation memorable.

I think we think alike about this and you should have a pint anyway!

Thanks, as always, for your excellent comments Mariyn - enjoy your weekend!

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Trevor, coincidentally I just led a "soft skills" workshop for accountants in Washington, DC, which included the dangers of over-reliance on email for "difficult conversations" that are best handled face to face.

Regarding proper English usage, I come from a family of teachers where misspellings and malapropisms subject one to shame and scorn (to this day!), so one's upbringing has a part to play in all of this. And speaking of my family, which is distributed all over the US, I doubt we'd be in such regular communication without email.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi John and thanks for your comments. Soft skills for accountants – that sounds like a great workshop – did you emerge without bloodshed- might have been easier for you to run a workshop for Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein and George Bush on teambuilding :- )

I love email and I have ‘met’ so many great folks virtually through the technology. I always say nowadays that I have more friends that I’ve never met than those I’ve met! – You of course are one such person John!

I am with Marilyn completely about over reliance on technology- that is bad thing in my opinion. It is all about balance and remembering that the technology is the slave not the master.

J.KANNAN said...

My dear Trevor,
I take the privilege of posting a pretty long comment on your article, as I have to justify whatever I mean to convey.

According to me,New Technology at times friend and all other times foe. Friend for very few and foe for very many, as they have made it a mania coupled with obsession. Yes and of course in certain areas of technologies many are too dependent and in the absence of these technologies not being handy, due to various inevitable factors leading to its failure /mal- function, these many are handicapped and they just can’t work or perform, that’s the reason, I have indicated many are too dependent on new technologies

You are absolutely right in your contention that teenagers of today, by and large have come down in their standards and dropped terribly in the use of English language rightly comparing to our school days. As a matter of fact after 2005, the use and application of English language in the right way by the teenagers has further declined like an avalanche and looks like a mockery to those who are are good and competent enough in using English right way with grace.

According to, me it is not the text messaging that ruined the ability of right way of using English. It’s just because of their inability on account of lack of concentration and dedication, in simple words these teenagers “take things for granted” for no reasons. One thing is crystal clear anything being done without concentration and dedication will not end up in desired effect and fruitful results.

I am adding the recent findings (Dated 09 Aug 08) of Sillicon India News from London on the subject “ English language” and hope you will find the facts contained therein authentic and interesting.

Indians must be proud as academics say that the students from India who are studying in British universities possess high potential in using English language perfectly. While many British students usually come up with wrong usage of spelling, punctuation and grammar, Indian students are often showing high standards in the basic English grammar and other usages.

An Indian-origin university lecturer said that British students even in their second year of degree course, use atrocious English in their assignments. He said that he often found it challenging to figure out what students wanted to express in English. "International students, in contrast, had better English language skill," he added.
According to the academics, most common mistakes are in spelling, student often use 'their' when they mean 'there', 'who's' for 'whose', 'truely' for 'truly', 'occured' for 'occurred' and 'speach' for 'speech'.
Ken Smith, a senior lecturer in criminology at Bucks New University, said that many students failed to apply basic rules, such as 'i' before 'e', except after 'c'. The words 'weird', 'seize', 'leisure' and 'neighbor' are regularly misspelt by students. "Mistakes are now so common that academics should simply accept them as 'variants,"' he told.

Bernard Lamb, a Reader in genetics at Imperial College London told that many British students appear to have been through school without mastering basic rules of grammar and punctuation, or having their errors corrected.

As students find it difficult to use English properly, some universities have extended the course by a year to give extra tuition to weaker students.

"All the data suggests that there are more and more students at university level whose spelling is not up to scratch. Universities are even finding they have masters-level students who cannot spell," told Jack Bovill, Chairman of The Spelling Society.

Now coming to mobile phones, you ask, is it possible to walk more than 20 yards in any main street without seeing some one talking on a mobile phone? You are indeed lucky in this aspect- In my place (Chennai, India) you can’t find a person without talking on a mobile phone at less than 20 feet- Its true my dear Trevor. And to add malady and agony, these people even hold mobile in one hand and ride bicycles and motor cycles and ride through on roads/streets as if they are training themselves to join some circus companies.

All said and done I do not for see any changes in the present scenario for good on the contrary it is most likely to change towards opposite unless corrected with adequate advise and guidance from home front of the teenagers and strict and stringent enforcement of rule and regulations governing the use of mobile phones by people in general and teen agers in particular (using this device in acrobatic manner).

We had our education during pre-tech days and our language was apt and right with extremely good command over English language from all three angles making it appropriate and relishing to listeners and readers. With technological development of today, no student needs to learn grammar and spelling as computer take care of it. Even they need not know how to write a letter, be it formal, informal, official or commercial as everything is now available on compact Disc to buy and can be put to use with the aid of computer. If this way technology develops, ‘am afraid days are not far off robots will sit for examination on behalf of students themselves writing the examinations!!!!!!!!

If only young generation/teen agers less depends on new technologies, they can perform far better and become better and effective communicators, as effective communication is of utmost important be it in personal/professional/business life.

There is time for everything and that applies to the use of technologies too, and not too much at students/teenagers level. Learn and master the required level of technologies at appropriate time and put it to use at appropriate levels, and ‘am not propagating to dispel with the use of technology.


Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for your terrific comments JK.

I’ve often said that people who are not originally from England and who come and live here or visit on holiday often speak better English technically than many British born people. I am impressed with this and slightly embarrassed that many of us Brits are too lazy to learn other languages therefore relying perhaps too much on English as our native tongue.

I love new technology, when it works well, and I do not want to stand in its way – I think we have to get ‘on board’ the technology bus that travels very quickly these days. We are living through unprecedented times where technology is moving faster than we can keep up with.

Interesting times indeed …