New media, renewed magazine
by Shawn Presley
When text messaging first appeared, I liked it—the speed, the convenience, the ease of staying in touch. The only thing that bothered me were the silly acronyms and abbreviations. I was bewildered by ROFL, BRB, TTYL, LMAO, and many other bits of screen-slang. If you don't know what those mean, get with it! Or find some clueless company in our middle-aged guy's guide to Facebook. The piece doesn't actually contain a new-media dictionary, but it should amuse you, and it's part of a larger story on social networking that I think you'll find thought-provoking.
The list of abbreviations for texting and Instant Messaging is long, but no abbreviated phrase is more useless, more annoying, or more misused than LOL. I hate it. Why? First, it took me months to figure out whether it stood for Laugh Out Loud or Lots of Laughs. (The correct definition is Laugh Out Loud.)
But the worst part of LOL is how often it's tossed around when nothing is funny. I tell someone I'm running late for work? The response: LOL!!! A friend likes my hardwood floors. When I tell her they are hard to keep clean? LOL!!!! Seriously? It's funny that dark wood shows dirt? Or has she found a pun in my use of the word "hard"? Hardwood, hard ... get it? Laugh-out-loud funny? Whatever.
I once tried a little experiment to see how long I could keep a text message conversation going by responding with random LOLs when they made no sense. I had to end the correspondence. Apparently the term is so widely accepted it's appropriate for any occasion.
The new media landscape can be puzzling, but I hope the magazine in your hands is not. It has a new look. Did you notice? My hope is that you realized something seems a little different (as opposed to jarring, disconcerting, or unfamiliar).
When I became editor of the Bulletin in 2002, we launched a new design, the first in many years. Since then, readers still write to tell us they like the "new look." Well, the new look is almost ten years old. So, last fall, our staff began to plan another redesign, with the goal of refreshing the magazine.
While the Bulletin is a different size (a half-inch wider) and contains new typefaces, the organization of the departments and their names remains the same.
I welcome your feedback, and invite letters from readers on the content and the design of the magazine. I hope Kenyon's alumni and parents will continue a lively dialogue in regard to the current trends in education and society that the magazine covers. And if you don't? LOL!!