All posts by Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers is a London-based journalist. Follow him Twitter: @psawers

WTF? Social networking is good for language?

Text speakAnyone who’s ever run a digital advertising campaign will know all too well how tricky it is to keep texts trimmed.

With LinkedIn ads, users are restricted to 25 character headlines and 75 characters for the main body. Meanwhile, Google Ads give users a mere 70 characters to play within the text’s main body.

Reformulating an ad to fit within the pre-determined character limits can be frustrating at times, but it’s entirely necessary.

Keeping messages short, whilst still conveying the key information is an art in e-commerce. And the broader issue of how people shorten messages to friends by text, instant messaging, tweets and other social networking platforms raises the question: What impact does social media have on language?

And are textual truncations a manifestation of the net generation’s much-maligned attention span?

Read more on this in my feature piece over at The Next Web: WTF? Social Networking is good for Language?

Headlines that don’t deliver are really annoying

I recently wrote about the importance of effective headlines when writing a story. Well, another one at the BBC caught my attention yesterday: “Has Belfast film-maker found time travel evidence?” Evidence of time travel?

Who could possibly resist clicking on a headline like that? Of course, the only problem with a headline like that is that the story contained within really has to deliver in a big way.

Continue reading

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising…a quality find!

museumofbrandsSidling along a residential mews in Notting Hill, I was convinced my phone’s GPS was playing games with me – surely there was no museum here? But my suspicion turned to pleasant surprise as I glimpsed a glass facade at the end of the road that was most certainly a building for public perusal.

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising had been on my radar for some months after reading about it in my ‘1000 things to do in London’ Time Out guide. And finally I was here…not really knowing what to expect.

The museum more than lived up to its name. In fact, the museum definitely did what it said on the tin (thanks, Ron Seal).

Continue reading

Debrand: One man’s phone unlocking & debranding emporium

When Ben Lam left Hong Kong for the UK in 2001 to pursue a career in Civil Engineering, little did he know that nine years later he’d be capitalising on, what is in many eyes, one of the mobile industry’s biggest annoyances.

Rather than following his planned career path into construction and the built environment, Lam’s interest in mobile phones and his desire to build his own business led him down a much different route, namely ‘phone debranding.

Continue reading

The origin of the word ‘spam’

20140104_004141

Spam is the scourge of the digital age. Naturally I don’t mean the processed meat that comes served in a tin (though that is pretty distasteful too), but the deluge of unsolicited email that I and millions of others receive on a daily basis.

But why ‘spam’? I mean, why has a word that’s best associated with a poor-quality meat product been so widely embraced as the universal word for unwanted electronic communications?

Continue reading