Friday, 20 November 2015

Registering changes in language and technology

The December issue of Business Information Review should be available to download in a couple of weeks, and hard copies will be posted shortly after. One of the highlights of the journal is Martin White’s Perspectives column, which in the December issue explores the theme of Language, communities and virtual working. This raises a question about how technology changes language, and how that affects business processes and our working lives.

One of the most prolific commentators on technological changes to language is David Crystal. Over a long and distinguished career as a linguist, Crystal has written number of accessibly books about the changes to language that technology brings about. These include Language and the Internet (2001) and Txting: The gr8 Deb8 (2008).  Through these works, Crystal attempt to counter widespread anxieties about the damage to language done by the internet, video games, and mobile phones  typified by Robert Winson’s book Bad Ideas? (2010).  You can get a sense of Crystal’s arguments from this video:

Technology may not be destroying language, but it does change language, and this does have profound consequences for the ways in which we communicate in a business context. Over the past twenty years for example we have seen a massive diversification of contexts within which writing is used – emails, SMS, Twitters, virtual worlds, online gaming, blogs, wikis, and so on – the list is almost endless. Each of these brings with it a series of social conventions about the appropriate form language to use – the appropriate linguistic register. We have also seen writing used in many contexts that would previously have been reserved for the spoken word. How many of the emails we receive every day would have been sorted with a phone call twenty years ago? How much ambiguity arises out of the fact that writing now dominates business and professional communication, and writing lacks the linguistic clues carries by gesture, expression, and tone of voice of the written word?

One of the key skills that employers often state new career entrants lack is writing and communications skills. However, my experience as an educator has been that it is not skills in using language effectively that many young people lack, but skills in understanding and adopting the appropriate linguistic register.  And this is understandable perhaps not only because the conventions of communications have shifted to a more informal register over time, but also because those conventions are more fluid as a consequence of the diversification of communications channels. Everyone knows how to open and sign-off a business letter, but practices in opening and signing-off business emails vary wildly. There is little doubt that business communication has become more informal over time, but that dividing line between the appropriate use of more formal and more informal registers has in many contexts become quite difficult to discern. As channels of communication continue to grow more diverse the conventions will almost certainly become less fixed, and the difficulties of adopting the appropriate register will undoubtedly grow.

Luke Tredinnick

Friday, 6 November 2015

New editorial board members for Business Information Review

We’re very pleased to announce that Lynn Strand and Denise Carter have joined the editorial board of Business Information Review. Both Lynn and Denise strengthen the international dimensions of the editorial board, and we’re tremendously pleased to have them involved. 

Lynn Strand is the Principal of Outside Knowledge in Minneapolis. This market intelligence practice serves clients in the technology, finance, healthcare and consumer goods industries. Lynn provides both in depth research services as well as analysis and insights to her clients. Lynn was previously with FICO, a predictive analytics company and Iconoculture, a consumer behavior insights firm. 

Lynn has been published in several information journals and was featured in SLA's Information Outlook magazine and AIIPS’s Connections newsletter. She is currently the SLA Competitive Intelligence Division's Chair-elect and was the SLA CID 2014 Annual Conference Planner. She also received the Division's Outstanding New Leader Award for 2014. Additionally, Lynn is a contributor and guest editor for FreePint. Additionally, she has served SLA as a Division Chair, as a member of the 2012 Conference Advisory Committee. Lynn holds a BA in Anthropology and a Masters of Library and Information Science and executive education in Marketing. You can follow her on Twitter as @KnowledgeMama

Denise Carter is an experienced and creative information professional. She holds a Masters degree in Information Management; is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (MCILIP); and a certified Competitive Intelligence Professional (CIP-1).  Enthusiastic for the power great knowledge and information systems can bring to a process, team or organisation, Denise has proven experience in creating and developing knowledge systems to support organizational goals and objectives.

Before setting up DCision Consult in January 2013, Denise worked for 5 years in the Global Business Intelligence department of Merck Serono, a global bio-pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland. She built and led a team: Knowledge Analytics, delivering high-quality competitive landscapes, epidemiology, and other relevant data sets, that supported commercial activities. Prior to that Denise designed and implemented a new global information unit for Serono, creating new services and resources.  She was awarded a Chief Executive Officer Award for customer service in 2006.  Denise began her career at ICI Chemicals & Polymers in the UK as a Librarian, bringing a service back in-house to support 1000 research chemists. Denise has published on different knowledge & information topics and is a speaker at international conferences. 

Both Lynn and Denise bring outstanding professional expertise to our editorial board and we’re looking forward to working with them over the coming months and years. They join our other board members who collectively have an unrivaled breadth and depth of commercial information and knowledge management practice, providing a pool of expertise on which the journal draws liberally. Our full editorial board can be found here: 

The first editorial board under our editorship was held in London earlier this week with members of the editorial board joining in person and via video conferencing. It was great to get some open discussions and feedback on progress so far. There were very interesting discussions around the future scope and focus on the journal which hopefully will begin to appear next year.  Updates via this blog, @BIRJournal, and our LinkedIn group.