App Addiction…I Have It.

I jokingly refer to myself as an “app addict!” Lately I am so obsessed with my mobile phone applications that I’ve filled numerous screens full of apps, play with them anytime I have 5 minutes to spare and sleep next to my phone just so it can be the first thing I grab in the morning!

While there haven’t been any studies yet on the impact of mobile phone application use and health, USAToday recently ran an article practically dubbing “app addiction” a real thing. “What is app addiction doing to people’s health?, the article asked.

“Addiction” is a word that’s often tossed around in fun somewhat haphazardly, with people claiming they’re “addicted” to everything from chocolate to reality TV to shoes. But real addiction is no joking matter. An addict is someone with a psychological or physical dependence to something and are unable to put an end to their behavior despite its negative consequences.

Given this psychological component of addiction, it’s not entirely off-base to question whether becoming addicted to mobile apps is the next big thing in technology-related addictions.

Marina Picciotto, professor of psychiatry, neurobiology and pharmacology at Yale University said in an interview, “there are a few parallels we can make from other addictions, like compulsive shopping. The consequences can be bad — credit debt, time lost.” And Hilarie Cash, a psychotherapist and co-founder of reStart, a Fall City, Washington-based Internet-addiction recovery center, warned that users should keep tabs on whether apps are taking over their real lives. Ha my sister spends more time on Farmville than on her own real life.

So how do you know if it’s taking over your life? Cash says that if you spend more than 2 hours per day engaged with your digital equipment for non-work related or homework-related reasons, “then you’ve got cause for alarm.”

Wow, I am certainly an addict, I am writing this in between rounds of Zombie Highway, and if those are the guidelines for addiction then just about every American has “television addiction” given the 2 hours they sit in front of their TV.

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Is the web changing the way we think?

Last week the flurry of information pelted at us by the internet reached a new intensity.

Google Instant was launched as a new development of the popular search engine that predicts your query even as you type it; flicking through pages of results before you have finished a single word.
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It’s undoubtedly an amazing piece of technology, which takes its place among a seemingly endless succession of innovations turbo-charging the medium.

But somewhere beyond the hubbub of excitement surrounding the ever increasing number of blogs, social networks, newsfeeds and websites we flit between is a questioning voice asking: what effect is this tornado of information having on our brains?

“I became aware of changes in my own thinking a couple of years ago,” Nicholas Carr, author of new book, “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains”.
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“Like many people, I’ve spent a lot of time using the net and other digital technologies over the past ten or fifteen years, and I’ve enjoyed the many benefits those technologies provide.

“But I came to realize, some time in 2007, that I was losing my ability to pay deep attention to one thing over a long period of time. When I’d sit down to read a book, for instance, I was only able to sustain my concentration for a page or two. My mind would begin to crave stimulation and distraction — it wanted to click on links, jump from page to page, check email, do some Googling.

“The habits of mind the net encouraged had become my dominant habits of mind. That’s when I began to do the research that led to the writing of ‘The Shallows’.”

While writing the book he came across a body of academic research that backed up his hunch, and the argument at the heart of “The Shallows” is that that the changes Carr felt in his own mind are happening much more broadly throughout society.

Earlier this week Baroness Greenfield, the Oxford University researcher and former head of the UK’s Royal Institution, called on the British government and private companies to investigate the effects on our brains of computer games, the internet and social networking.

“We should acknowledge that it is bringing an unprecedented change in our lives and we have to work out whether it is for good or bad,” she told reporters.

“For me, this is almost as important as climate change. Whilst of course it doesn’t threaten the existence of the planet like climate change, I think the quality of our existence is threatened and the kind of people we might be in the future.”

Greenfield calls the effect of too much time in front of a computer as “mind change”. Carr goes further in his analysis and talks about how the way we think is shaped by the tools we use to think with.

“This was true of the map, the alphabet, the clock, and the printing press, and it’s true as well of the internet. The net encourages the mental skills associated with the rapid gathering of small bits of information from many sources, but it discourages the kind of deeply attentive thinking that leads to the building of knowledge, conceptual thinking, reflection, and contemplativeness.

“So, as with earlier intellectual technologies, the net strengthens certain cognitive functions but weakens others. And because the neural pathways in our brain adapt readily to experience, the changes occur in the actual cellular wiring of our brains.”
Some of these arguments may have a familiar ring — those old enough may recall similar fears about television; the belief that media will rot our brains is not new, but Carr argues this time it is different.

“As a multimedia system, the ‘net is different from TV and radio, and certainly from the printed page, and needs to be evaluated on its own terms,” he says.

“The reason that alterations in our habits of mind matter is because they determine the scope and richness of our intellectual lives and also affect the depth of our culture.”

So should we be worried?

“It depends on what you value about the human mind,” says Carr.

“Some people love the constant stimulation the net provides, and don’t much care about the loss of more solitary, contemplative ways of thinking. For them, it’s not a problem at all.

“Other people — and I’m one of them — believe that while it’s important to be able to skim and scan and multitask, our deepest and most valuable thinking requires a calm and attentive mind. If you exist in a perpetual state of distractedness, you’ll never tap into the deepest sources of human insight and creativity.”

With the multiplication of smartphones, netbooks, and social networking services ratcheting up the intensity of the interruptions that bombard us, Carr believes that these changes will continue to accelerate. As the internet is woven ever more deeply into our work lives, social lives, and education we need to start thinking about where all this is leading, now.

“I fear that we have been too quick to assume that computers and the ‘net are good for students,” he says.

“Certainly kids need to learn how to use the net effectively, but I think they also need to be encouraged to read printed books, to learn to pay attention, and to engage in solitary and contemplative thought. If kids are distracted all day long, in and out of school, they may never learn to think deeply. But there may be a way to have our cake and eat it when it comes to connectivity.

Ignoring the irony of using software to solve a problem created by software, there are several packages now available that lock you out of the internet and all its distractions for a specified period of time — letting you focus on work, rather than disappearing down the rabbit hole of Google and Wikipedia.

Muslims banned from attending brewery-backed Malaysia concert

The Malaysian government has barred Muslims from attending a concert by US hip-hop stars the Black Eyed Peas next month because the event is organised by the Irish brewer Guinness, an official said today.
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The ban comes amid a clampdown on alcohol consumption among Malaysia’s Muslim majority.

A woman who drank beer in public was sentenced to caning by a court last month, but the authorities – who recently curbed the sale of alcohol in a central state – have since agreed to review the punishment.

Muslims in Malaysia are governed by sharia law – which forbids the consumption of alcohol – in family and personal matters.

The Black Eyed Peas will perform at a theme park near Kuala Lumpur on 25 September as part of a worldwide series of events to mark the 250th anniversary of the Guinness brewery in Dublin.

Malaysia’s largest city is one of five places hosting Guinness concerts, and its website said the party was “only open to non-Muslims aged 18 years and above”.

Previous major pop concerts in Malaysia, including one by the Black Eyed Peas in 2007, have always been open to Muslims.

“Muslims cannot attend. Non-Muslims can go and have fun,” an official at the ministry of information, communication and culture told the Associated Press.

It was not immediately clear how the ban on Muslims would be enforced.

The official said the concert would not have been permitted under normal circumstances because government regulations forbid alcohol companies from organising events.

However, they made an exception in the hope that it would boost tourism. The official said Guinness could not use its logo in concert publicity material.

Lady Gaga at VMA…Offensive or Awesome?

Lady Gaga looked almost conservative when she accepted the “Video of the Year” award for “Bad Romance” at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night. But when she remarked “I never thought I’d be asking Cher to hold my meat purse,” we realized what her get-up (dress, hat, shoes, and purse) was actually made of.
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Earlier this month, Gaga wore a meat bikini for the cover of Vogue Hommes Japan. @GagaDaily reports the dress was made by Franc Fernandez.

Has Lady Gaga outdone herself?

Where were you on 9/11?

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I still can’t believe it happened. Do you remember where you were on that day? I was in Tuscany on Sting’s back porch preparing to hear a beautiful concert…we went from having not a care in the world to wondering what would happen to the world in a day. We were all in shock including Sting.

Now 9 years later what do you think of the world’s situation?
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KFC Set to Revive the 120 Year Old Colonel!

Our cultural connection to Colonel Sanders seems to have been lost in the deep-fryer of time.Colonel Harland Sanders, the goateed founder of KFC known for his white suits, string ties and “finger-lickin’ good” punch line, would have turned 120 years old today.
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But young adults don’t know him from beans. More than six in 10 Americans ages 18 to 25 — the chain’s key demographic — couldn’t identify him in the KFC logo, according to a survey last week by the chain.

Worse, five in 10 believe he’s a made-up icon and three in 10 haven’t a clue who he was.
That’s why KFC is taking action. Today, the world’s largest chicken chain, with 15,000 outlets in 109 countries, unleashes an online PR blitz aimed at bringing the Facebook generation eye-to-eye with the venerable colonel.

“As time has gone by, the younger generation didn’t get to see and experience him like other generations did” in ads and personal appearances, says spokeswoman Laurie Schalow. “We plan to celebrate the fact that our founder was a real person.”

KFC will be using its Facebook presence, Twitter, MySpace, the KFC website and other digital outreach to introduce them to Sanders and prod them to create and upload a piece of art that could become a painting to hang (temporarily) next to the famous Norman rockwell painting of Sanders at the company’s headquarters in Louisville.

The image confusion is in part KFC’s own doing.

In the past few decades, it ping-ponged back-and-forth from fried-chicken-maker to grilled chicken specialist. In the logo, it put the colonel in a red apron instead of his iconic white suit. And it turned its Kentucky Fried Chicken name into KFC.
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“I wonder if most kids know what the initials KFC stand for?” poses brand guru Steven Addis. “It’s just an alphabet soup now.”

But Addis likes it that KFC essentially as the Colonel might have put it, is now “fessing up”. “It’s a desperate but smart act to re-educate a generation,” he says. “It’s a clever way to embrace the problem rather than hide from it.”

On a vaguely similar but much larger scale, Domino’s late last year tossed out its pizza formula and mocked itself in ads that conceded the old pizza tasted like cardboard. Sales zoomed.

For KFC, it’s been a rough year domestically. KFC’s same-store sales fell 7% in the U.S. in the second quarter, facing a difficult comparison with the same quarter in 2009 when a new grilled chicken product was launched.

KFC has basically stopped growing in the U.S., and almost all growth is pegged to come internationally in 2010.

Now, KFC’s trying to paint a new picture — actually asking its core consumers to paint it for them.

Through Sept. 30, artists can upload their sketches of the colonel at kfc.com/portrait.
The winning artist will receive $1,100 ($100 for each of the 11 herbs and spices used for the Colonel’s Original Recipe chicken) and get to paint a new portrait of the colonel.

One last twist: The artist will be using paint into which KFC has blended the secret 11 ingredients.

Uniqlo’s U.K. Twitter Campaign

Every Time Someone Tweets About an Item, Company Drops the Price, Boosting Web Presence and Brand Recognition
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Japanese clothes retailer Uniqlo has found a novel way of encouraging U.K. shoppers give the brand a big presence on Twitter — by reducing the price of clothing pieces every time someone sends a tweet about an item.
Uniqlo’s Lucky Counter

The “Lucky Counter” promotion has been running ahead of the relaunch of Uniqlo’s U.K. e-commerce site this week, and has seen the brand’s name appear in Twitter’s trending topics list for the country.

In a web page dedicated to “Lucky Counter,” users can choose from 10 pieces they would like to see discounted on the website when it relaunches on September 9.
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Clicking on one of the pieces of clothing brings up a pre-written tweet using the hashtag #luckycounter. Users can add their own message and then send it, and watch the price fall.

The more tweets users send about a particular item, the lower the price goes. At the time of writing, one of the items — a gray, crew-neck long-sleeve T-shirt — had hit its target price of nearly 60% off, meaning it will go on sale on Thursday at $4.60 instead of $10.70.

Uniqlo worked with Hiroki Nakamura, web director of its global advertising agency, Dentsu Japan, to create the campaign. The U.K. is the first market that Uniqlo, which also has stores in the US, France and throughout Asia, has tried the approach.
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The company has relied solely on users to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, rather than paying for promotional tweets, as well as trailing the promotion heavily on its website, which was otherwise closed for business.

The tweets being sent are largely a mixture of people taking part in the promotion and those who are telling their followers about Uniqlo’s unusual social-media experiment.

Amy Howarth, head of marketing at Uniqlo in the U.K., said: “The initial aim was to maintain contact with the customer while the website was temporarily closed for its e-commerce migration.

“The campaign has been really successful and we’ve been delighted with the response to date. Customers seem to really want to engage with us, and it’s great as the campaign is so transparent and immediately dynamic, so they can see their tweets actually making a difference.”

After the new site goes live, Uniqlo will promote it with an online pinball game called “Lucky Machine,” offering a cash prize and discount codes.

Uniqlo has frequently used Twitter in its marketing campaigns. This year’s efforts have included U-tweet, which delivered users a personalized video based on tweets that they had sent to promote the UT T-shirt line; and Sportweet, which also drew on users’ tweets combined with footage of athletes to promote Uniqlo’s sportswear.