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Friday, October 23, 2009

This month in history: A new age of communication

You might not know that many Goff & Howard team members are avid history aficionados. We revel in the little-known quirks of our world’s past and live each day to make obscure references that only the best and brightest of our fellow history buffs will understand. To share our love of history, GH Spin has graciously given us the space to share the idiosyncrasies of our favorite hobby.

In October 1860 – nearly 150 years ago – the United States finished construction on the first transcontinental telegraph line. Although telegraphic communication had been improving communication between East Coast cities for several years, this telegraph line, which connected Los Angeles and New York, reduced the feelings of isolation that many West Coast citizens were experiencing. The telegraph ushered in a new age of communication and connected a nation that was separated by a vast, largely unsettled midsection.

As we look back on this impressive feat that spanned more than 2,000 miles, we can’t help but think about how the first transcontinental telegraph line spawned a frantic evolution of communication technology. As people got used to a new style of communication that was significantly quicker than the Pony Express, the telegraph gave way to the telephone, and people were able to connect with each other even faster.

And now, in the 21st century, the world could not function without the lightning quick speed of the Internet and its communication glories, such as e-mail, online social networking, and – of course – blogs. The evolution of communication technology has become survival of the fastest, and so, the question now becomes, what will be the next frontier of communication?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Patty Dunn appointed to MOCA board

The Goff & Howard team has always made community and civic involvement a priority, contributing to boards and causes that make the metro area a place we’re proud to live and work. Our latest board appointment is Patty Dunn, who will serve on the board of directors for the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA).

An ovarian cancer survivor, Patty has been active in MOCA for years. Goff & Howard has also gotten involved, donating silent auction prizes for special events and making pledges in honor of Patty’s participation in MOCA’s annual 5K run. One of our employees even sold homemade apple pies this year in support of the cause.

Part of MOCA’s mission is to raise awareness of ovarian cancer to help boost early detection and raise money for research. With Patty’s help, the organization hopes to increase ovarian cancer awareness.

Congratulations, Patty.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spelling online: even Homer nods off

Our senior writer, Tricia Nissen, previously blogged on a humorous and rare spelling lapse at the White House. As a communications company, Goff & Howard knows that small errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation occasionally can happen, but we have a zero-tolerance policy, because mistakes, if not caught, slowly but surely erode the communicator’s credibility.

The conservative standards adhered to by communications professionals (e.g., mainstream media journalists, PR types like us, and political flacks) don’t apply very well in the real world of Web 2.0. For example, in reading online comments to blogs and news stories, I am often struck by the rampant, casual spelling errors made – and not corrected. (But, hey, we’re talking about an all-too-causal medium where the spectrum of contributions runs from thoughtful, closely reasoned contributions to ad hominem attacks devoid of originality, taste or civility.)

We the readers of a posted comment can often “fill in the blanks” from context . . . some of the time. Someone may write “no” meaning “now” without hitting the third keystroke, or it might mean “know” because their synapses were shorting out. We might figure out the meaning, but we’re usually left wondering slightly about the poster himself/herself. (“Is he or she an idiot, just sloppy, or functioning on only two hours of sleep over the past three days?”)

Of course, that ubiquitous crutch – spell-check – isn’t quite so readily available when leaving online comments. And if someone is in a hurry to post or shaking in rage to respond, taking a few moments to ensure his or her thoughts are expressed in standard English, error-free, isn’t a priority.

So as a service to you, dear reader, who may be inclined to post a comment online sometime, please be forewarned on “Eight Spelling Mistakes Even Smart People Make.”

Just remember the Roman poet Horace’s judgment on trivial mistakes made by even the greatest of ancient poets: “I still get annoyed whenever the great Homer nods off” (Ars poetica 358-9).