The Eclectic

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A mature expression of freedom follows the discernment between desire and need. It follows then that liberty must follow education, not the other way around.

The University of Waterloo’s New Logo

UWs new marketing logo

UW's new marketing logo

So, there’s been a lot of buzz about the proposed new logo for UW, but I haven’t written anything substantial about it because for a long time I didn’t hear anything about the university’s response to the outcry.

Recently, I came upon a Facebook video of UW’s Meg Beckel explaining all of the expensive research that went into developing UW’s change of image. The main defense of the logo change was that research showed that the university associates itself with such terms as:

  • Innovative
  • Creative
  • Courageous
  • Connected
  • Critical-thinking
  • Unconventional
  • Risk-taking
  • Collaborative

…while a survey of outsiders associated the following with UW’s current marketing logo:

  • old
  • staunchy
  • uppity
  • royal
  • imperialistic
  • academic
  • rugby/athletic
  • ancient
  • smart
  • boring
  • passive
  • proud
  • mythological
  • hard
  • formal
  • old fashioned
  • Harry Potter/British

First of all, the univerity should applaud their target audience for their innovative/creative/unconventional/risk-taking use of the word staunchy. Also, as a student, I would have replaced collaborative with relentlessly competitive in the university’s list, but the first list of adjectives otherwise does a good job of representing the university’s self-image. I am somewhat skeptical of the second list. Not that those adjectives were made up, but I’m willing to bet that they were hand-picked from a very young sample space.

Anyway, the argument is the following: “we want to be associated with the first list, but right now we’re associated with the second list”. Combining the above evidence with this argument is misleading. The second list of adjectives is based on people’s first impression of our logo, not their overall impression based on the reputation and marketing they’ve experienced from UW. It’s entirely possible that most people already associate UW with most of the adjectives in List #1. I am sure that surveying young people’s impression of most Ontario university’s largely classic and traditional marketing logos would yeild similar associations, which brings me to my next point.

While I agree that UW should strive to market itself according to how it wants to be perceived, the issue of being an exciting, innovative place should be subordinate to the issue of being a prestigious university. If I were a parent or youth considering UW, I would first want to know that it is a post-graduate institution of high repute, then I would concern myself with its goals, look, and feel. Using a marketing logo that makes UW look like an 80s night club undermines the first and more important concern.

Another argument made in the video can be summed up as follows: “it’s okay to have a flashy and tacky marketing logo because we’ll still use a classic logo for ceremonies such as graduation and certification”. As a student, I am much more concerned with the marketing logo that my university employs. The marketing logo will represent to others what type of institution I attend. The ceremonial logo will collect dust along with the accompanying text on my degree certificate.

Following the marketing/ceremonial argument, Beckel goes on to show how the new logo will be branded for faculties and institutes, which is nice, but shows nothing about the flexibility of the logo itself. In the brandings, the logo is the same, but the faculty/institute is written in a particular colour beneath. This marketing strategy can, of course, be applied to any logo, including the current coat of arms. In fact, the coat of arms is sufficiently simple to dye the logo itself a different colour for reach faculty and institute making the effect more dramatic and memorable. Many people have also complained that purple was not used for engineering; personally, as an engineering student, I don’t care, but I can appreciate that others do.

The next part of the video is perhaps the most laughable. The university practically underscores the complaint of students by putting the new logo up against the marketing logo of other universities. With the exception of the University of Windsor, all the other logos are slightly modified, still classy revisions of the ceremonial logo. UW’s? Still rockin’ the 80s night club look.

In conclusion, I would like to make it clear that this discussion is not intended as an attack on UW or its marketing team. As a student, I appreciate all the hard work that they do; I simply wanted to convey why I feel they happen to be way off-base with this particular decision. The need to convey a prestigious university as hip and exciting should be subordinate to the need to convey it as a prestigious university. I just wish UW’s marketing team had considered this hierarchy of concern in designing a new visual identity for the school.

The rumour is that the marketing plan is too far along to change the logo now, which is perhaps what I find the most disappointing. Why on earth did the university pump so much money into surveying prospective students, alumni, and other target markets for selecting a logo without consulting the students whose institutional identity will be affected? I wish I could say this is the first time UW found a way to put students last in their agenda, but unfortunately it’s not. More on that another day.

Unifying Web 2.0 Applications & Feeds: One App to Sync Them All

For the past several days I have been wrestling with various useful Web 2.0 applications in an attempt to get them to talk to each other suitably.

What I’ve found is that Google Reader and similar services will put all kinds of feeds together so that I could make one link that contains everything: my blog, my tumblog, my twitter, my facebook, etc, etc.

However, what I would like to do is–rather than trying to convince everyone in my life to use a Google Reader link when they are more comfortable with a particular application (usually Facebook or Twitter)–what I’d like to do is post information to anywhere, and it will automatically be made available everywhere. Here are some highlights of my attempts and frustrations:

  1. Tumblr will sync with Twitter (post my tweets, and tweet my tumblr posts), as well as repost my blog and my Facebook feed.
  2. The Twitter application in Facebook will post my tweets as Facebook status updates.
  3. Combining 1 and 2, I posted everything except my Facebook status to tumblr, and allowed [anything but Facebook] -> Tumblr -> Twitter -> Facebook to do the work. This still has problems though. First, Twitter turns media rich posts on Tumblr in to mini URLs, so an image or video posted to [anything but Facebook] gets to Facebook as a mini URL, while Facebook supports media-rich posts. Furthermore, posting to Facebook is still a dead end, the solution to which would be posting my Facebook updates to Tumblr, creating an endless feedback loop: Facebook -> Tumblr -> Twitter -> Facebook -> …

One solution would be a smart synchronizer that uses the API from every service that interests you to check whether a post exists at location X, and if it doesn’t, forward it there in the correct format. Provided that ONLY that synchronizer is used (so that it can keep track of post’s origins without error) that would work.

Another solution would be to have one application where all posting is done, whether it’s a quip, status update, image, video, whatever. Then this “super application” sends out the information in the correct format to everything. The problem with this solution is that the super applicaiton needs to be available for every platform that I use to post content (my phone, my laptop, my PC, a Mac, etc, etc). This solution also doesn’t really solve the problem because I can’t simply post using any interface I want, and expect everything to get updated–I have to use the super application all the time.

Is there anyone out there that has found a good solution to this problem? I’ve seen seesmic for Facebook and Twitter, but it doesn’t cover other applications. I’ve also tried flock, but for some reason it won’t play nice with my self-hosted WordPress blog.

Any help on this would be appreciated. I would hate to have to learn 1/2-dozen APIs and write my own application to do this properly.

//Mark

Quotation on Spiritual Reality and Awareness

No tongue is there that speaketh not the praises of its Lord and maketh not mention of His Name. Amongst the people, however, are those who understand and utter praises, and those who utter praises, yet understand not.

~ Baha’u’llah, Surih of the Temple

This is one of my favourite quotations articulating the objective nature of the spiritual reality of all things. That conscious praise of God is a question of how conscious we are of objective reality and not a question of how we feel about a subjective reality has far-reaching implications.

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