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.

Plain text only? Lame

According to my research, emails must be in plain text to work with
Wordpress post-by-email. Lame.

//Mark

One last test email

Preparing for Trip to across the U. S. of A.

More Trip Preparation

This is my second test post to my blog by various methods (for use while I trek across the United States).

This post should include an image of me in my room back at Lester.

Me in my room back at Lester

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.

Domain Migration

As you may have already observed, I recently migrated my old domain, white-raven.net to markdittmer.org. My domain was expiring soon, I have moved to a different host, and I almost never use my old White Raven alias for anything anymore. I guess as I get older I feel less of a need to hide behind a cryptic name on the Internet.

At any rate, update your links and what not because I only have about a month and a half left before white-raven.net expires and is no more. For now, there is a HTTP redirect to markdittmer.org locations.

//Mark

Durban Review Conference 2009

So, the Durban Review Conference II commenced today. According to the Telegraph, Canada was among the USA, Israel, Italy, and Australia in boycotting the conference. When I first read about this, I found it a little confusing since the conference purports to be focused on anti-racism. However, the first conference was apparently rife with anti-semetism and was so offensive that the United States walked out on the conference half way through.

Here’s what Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier, in announcing Canada’s choice to boycott the event:

Unfortunately, [the 2001 Durban] conference degenerated into open and divisive expressions of intolerance and antisemitism that undermined the principles of the United Nations and the very goals the conference sought to achieve…I had hoped that the preparatory process for the 2009 Durban Review Conference would remedy the mistakes of the past. We have concluded that, despite our efforts, it will not.

In addition to producing irrefutable evidence of the event’s hypocrisy by citing its agenda, the Telegraph’s article also alluded to the UK’s disappointing choice not to boycott the event alongside its Western allies. An interesting move.

Also contrasting the Western boycotts is the list of NGOs in support of the event in 2001 available here, and the reported list of major NGO attendees which includes Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UNICEF.

I don’t pretend to be well-informed enough to reserve judgement on the Canadian, English, or NGO decisions made here, but it certainly seems like, once again, the world’s leaders need to learn how to get along. If repeating the mistakes of Durban I is not the answer, then another conference on a more balanced set of issues and perspectives should be held by the UN in cooperation with its member nations. From the sounds of it, Canada made the right move to back out, but non-cooperation isn’t enough; problems don’t get solved by pointing at the solutions that aren’t working. I am interested to see what gets published on the Iranian Prime Minister’s opening speech today.

I’ll write more on this later I’m sure…

//Mark

Macleans latest messages about teens

So, I sat down to write a post focused about a recent Macleans cover story on non-rebellious teens, but before I dive into that, I’d like to point out that it seems Macleans can’t make up their mind on the subject. Googling “macleans teens” brought up this article, a dilute version of the larger article in question that focuses on Christianity vs. Atheism + Islam trends, this post, announcing the larger article in question, and a very different article suggesting that teen pregnancy is now cool. On one hand, there’s something to be said about reporting from different sides of the fence to reduce bias, but on the other hand, there seems to be a lack of coherence.

In any case, the print article I originally alluded to says some things about teens today that apparently many experts find surprising. The gist of the article is that teens today are drinking less, smoking less, having less sex, valuing their families more, and, as an aside, there are fewer Christians, more Athiests, more Muslims, and more (as the statistical world insists on calling it) “other religion”-ists.

Reginald Bibby, the leadership of the survey squad that has been questioning teens for over two decades now, makes an important point that youth today, while experiencing greater freedom than preceding generation, have been through many of the hardships that come from abuse of that freedom such as fragmented family life, divorce, etc. Bibby suggests that the bad habits of their parents has increased teens’ resolve to correct the collective mistakes of a society that was, in its previous generation, tinkering with new freedoms for the first time.

I think that Bibby’s point sheds light on a greater ideological error in prevalent thought. Freedom does not inherently corrupt, and furthermore, it is a part of humanity’s coming of age to collectively come to appreciate that liberty and happiness emerges from the mature and responsible exercising of freedom, not the flagrant abuse of it.

It’s refreshing to see that systematic studies are exposing youths’ capacity to accelerate the process of a morally advancing civilization.

Hello world!

Welcome to The Eclectic v2, an early sign that I have finally broken down and invested in hosting that I don’t manually manage myself. My old server is on the verge of kicking the bucket and I can’t afford to replace it right now. To compound the issue, if something serious went wrong with the server’s operation, I definitely don’t have time to fix it right away, and as some of you may know, I was hosting others’ sites as well.

For the time being, I have decided not to move old posts from my previous blog to this one. If you would like to see the old posts again, please feel free to contact me.

//Mark

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