Dessert First, and Other Distracting Ideas.

Key_Lime_PieLike just about anybody, we at Well Done Marketing sometimes like to have our dessert at the start of the meal. So rather than save it for the end, let’s start with the fun, apropos-of-nothing story that (be honest) may be the one thing you will still be talking about a few days after reading this.

The new iOS is out for Apple mobile devices, and with it, an improved “keyboard” feature called QuickType that suggests not only the word you’re currently typing but the next one as well. But what happens if the user lets Apple make all the decisions? Josh Lowensohn put the feature to the test hilariously last week for The Verge. Or, as your iPhone might put it: “Tangerine to the gym today and I’m just going to be the best.”

5347619040_055de0c008_zThat was fun. What’ll we do next? If you’re The Verge, you’re probably hoping that we’ll stick around on your site and check out a few more articles, because the chances of getting us there via unpaid social media are slipping. Jordan Kretchmer, for AdWeek, goes so far as to call it “The Urban Legend of Free Social Marketing,” arguing that monetization, fragmentation, and sheer popularity are making the audience increasingly hard to reach on any platform, unless you’re willing to pay. And once you’re paying for it, you’d better make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

One outlet betting that it can keep its audience reading, and coming back, is The Economist, which is touting a new quality measure to lure advertisers to the news site. They are guaranteeing, for example, that an ad that spends three weeks on The Economist’s apps will receive 100 hours of reader attention. A new set of audience measures will purportedly be in place to back that up.

Stamp_US_1977_2c_AmericanaTo delve a little further into issues of audience engagement (or its opposite) we turn to the field of classroom education, first at the college level. PBS EducationShift featured a piece last week by Clay Shirky, who teaches Journalism and Interactive Communications at NYU, on why he has banned laptops, tablets, and phones from his classrooms. Among other reasons, Shirky cites a study published in the journal Computers and Education last year, which found that laptop multitasking hinders not only the learning of users, but also of nearby peers, a phenomenon Shirky compares to the effects of second-hand smoke.

Whereas it’s hard to find anyone with a kind word to say about tobacco, we can provide some balance regarding digital media. Social media is, apparently, causing more students than ever to support the First Amendment. The article also features some insight from Carmel High School’s Jim Streisel, who is Dow Jones Newspaper Fund’s Journalism Teacher of the Year. Nice going, Jim!

UnderwoodKeyboardIn other education (and marketing) news, IPFW recently announced a promotion aimed at non-traditional students in the state, offering a half-price college education to adults with some college experience but no degree. The deal not only addresses the widening skill gap in the state’s workforce, but could also be a way to help Hoosiers who are saddled with student loan debt, but haven’t got the credentials that might help them to make their payments.

If you’re giving school a second chance, by all means explore, go out on all the limbs you have time for, but make sure you’re getting some skills that will count. If nothing else, work at becoming a better writer. You’ll become a better thinker in the process. And great thinking will always count for something.

Pie photo by Ralph Daily (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AKey_Lime_Pie.jpg) via Wikimedia Commons.

Mouse photo by Jeremy Jenum (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenumfamily/5347619040/in/set-72157625803141420) via Flickr Creative Commons.