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August 25, 2005

Uniform Success

Seth Godin’s post about uniforms in the workplace is intriguing. Logos has always been a casual-dress company, and while we have a dress code it is pretty basic and hasn’t needed to be referenced in a long time. But is casual dress a good idea? Is it more productive or less? I am still undecided, though as time goes on my personal dress code gets stricter:

First shorts and t-shirts. Then no shirts without collars. Later, no pull-over shirts. Then no shorts. And finally, when we moved into our fancy-looking new offices, no jeans. It’s all slacks and dress shirts now.

But uniforms? I’m not sure.

On the other hand, Steve Jobs wears one. And Jeff Bezos. And Larry Ellison. Maybe it is the billionaires’ secret.

Posted by Bob Pritchett at 4:27 PM | TrackBack

August 5, 2005

Google, Google, on the wall...what is proper, after all?

Chris Sells writes today about arguing over word choice and other issues with the coauthor of his new book. I found his examples entertaining because I just recently finished the final round of edits on my own book, and it is all so familiar. (My editor went a few rounds with me on “characterize” - my choice - versus “designate.” I lost.)

Chris gives an example of using Google to support his argument in a discussion over “breathing space” versus “breathing room.” I did lots of Google searches, too. For the most part I wanted to ensure that stories and facts I was including from memory were accurate, but I also used it make sure that what I thought of as common idioms or catchphrases really were common, and not just regional (or familial or even personal) idiosyncrasies. I just wish I had known about Googlefight, which would have made things faster.

Thinking about this reminded me of an article I had read about using Google as a tool for checking spelling, grammar, and style. And, of course, Google helped me find it:

Olsen, Kai A., Williams, James G. (2003). Spelling and grammar checking using the Web as a text repository. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 55(11), 1020-1023.

Olsen and Williams use Google to show that “stayed in a hotel” is twice as common a usage as “stayed at a hotel”, and they discuss the possible implications of implementing software tools using their methodology. (More confidence for non-native speakers and writers; more conformism in writing.)

Is this harnessing the wisdom of crowds? Is it giving license to poor spelling and grammar, because “everyone does it?”* Does it herald the death of style? Or all of the above?

* Or should I say “everbody does it?” Everyone edges out everybody 74,900 to 66,600.

Posted by Bob Pritchett at 10:24 AM | TrackBack

August 1, 2005

Broken Windows

An Entrepreneur's Life is hosting The Carnival of the Capitalists, where I found a link to the thought-provoking How Broken Windows Can Kill a Business. I was already familiar with the idea that one broken window, left un-repaired, leads to spiraling vandalism and crime. I hadn't thought about it in terms of business and customer service, though. Or even neatness: once in a while my desk gets completely cleared off and I resolve to not let papers stack-up between the mouse and the phone. And then I place one important paper that I am going to address "real soon now" there, and... boom!, it's a big pile of who-knows-what.

Posted by Bob Pritchett at 9:57 AM | TrackBack