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Questions not to ask me

I got the following email:

Dear Professor,

My name is … and I’m a junior in high school doing a journalism program … for the summer.

I’m working on a trend story about the use of text messages in political campaigns, and I have a few questions for you that would greatly help my paper. I’m looking to include direct quotes, with your permission.

1) Do you think texts are an effective campaign technique?
2) Does the use of text messages enhance the freshness of a candidate? Does it really make the candidate appeal more to a younger audience? And if so, does it do this at the expense of the popularity among the older crowd?
3) Do you see texting as a campaign technique that will continue to be prevalent in future elections?
. . .
[rest deleted; it’s more of the same]

I was the wrong person to ask, since I don’t actually know exactly what a text message is! It’s something that gets sent on a cell phone, I think. And I know there are these blackberries, but they do email, that’s different, right?

11 Comments

  1. Jason says:

    I got the exact same email message! I ignored it.

  2. John says:

    Well, kudos to the kid for trying. ^_^

    Do you recall how, on a telephone keypad, each number is associated with a series of letters? Well, a text message is pure text, and the text is written by pressing the numbers associated with the letters one desires. I've no idea if the mechanics of choosing a particular letter for a given number is uniform across phones.

    One sends the text message, and it is stored for the recipient to read at her convenience.

    I've heard that in Asia, texting can be a huge political force; in the States, we're behind the times viz. phone technology & use.

  3. Thom says:

    Texting is very big in the UK among school children and students. One reason for this – and probably the main difference for its popularity in some countries and not others – is the original pricing structures which meant that texting was cheaper than phone calls. A second reason is that a skilled user can text in class without being noticed by teachers (or indeed in a dark, noisy nightclub where phone calls are impractical).

  4. Another John says:

    I've heard this too … the U.S. is "behind the times" in the use of cell phone technology compared with Japan, because we don't send enough text messages.

    Mostly I've heard it from companies that sell text messaging plans.

    Would one of the presidential candidates PLEASE start talking about the U.S. text messaging gap??

  5. Ambitwistor says:

    Text message? Is that like one of those new wireless telegrams?

  6. timThompson says:

    While I won't argue that the US isn't behind in terms of telephone networks, etc., I always thought the popularity of text messaging elsewhere had more to do with how expensive voice service is relative to the cost of texts. Since minutes are cheap in the US compared to the rest of the world, texts only get used when it would be inconvenient to speak out loud, or when the texter doesn't need an immediate answer.

  7. Emily says:

    There are those of us who prefer text messages. I would rather have what amounts to a slow IM conversation than talk on the phone most of the time.

    I hate talking on my mobile phone in public. A lot. I never want to be that person on the Metro yelling, "Yeah! I'm on the METRO. YEAH. I'll be home SOON. SEE YOU THEN!"

  8. GG says:

    The US is behind both Europe and Asia in text messaging. It is the most non intrusive way of communicating. In most countries a text or SMS is cheaper than a call unlike here.
    gg

  9. kwesh says:

    maybe it's a cultural thing,
    phone calls are somewhat more intrusive than text messaging.

  10. KS says:

    In Asian countries, Text Messaging or SMS is about one third to one fourth the International call per minute. Some phone companies offer it through internet where you can log in and write SMS through Keyboard which is obviously very very practical compared to the keypad on the mobile phone. Plus, it documents your conversation or messages to your loved ones or significant others. Besides the main advantage of being cheaper than the phone call, you are sure that your message was delivered and read as there is a cofirmation service as well. Now we are enjoying another advanced version of SMS which is called MMS. You can send or receive clips or photographs through your SMS service with a little higher price but of course less cheaper than a phone call. Hospitals are using SMS to remind patients about their appointments and phone companies are offerring bulk SMS services for their commercial clients to advertise their products – a new advertisement medium. Those living in the Europe or Asian countries really miss this service in the USA. There is also something called SMS Chat and a lot more to come…..

  11. Another John says:

    "The US is behind both Europe and Asia in text messaging."

    The U.S. is also lagging way behind on use of tamagotchi. How can we get our children to play with these gadgets at the same rate as Japanese children? I shudder to think of the consequences if we don't.

    Again, WHEN are the presidential candidates going to address these vital issues? NOBODY is taking this seriously!