The poetry of Googled search terms

If your Google search history could talk, would it recite a poem? asked the Toronto Star Nov. 17.

The people behind a controversial movement known as “flarf” believe phrases found on the Internet and strung together into poetry provide a critical social commentary. Others think it’s worthless drivel.

Andy Weaver, an English professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, said some people don’t get the point and others think it’s a cheap joke, but he thinks it has some interesting things to show us. “Since flarf uses the Internet to gather its material, flarf basically holds up our words to ourselves,” Weaver says. “If people find flarf shallow or offensive, I think flarfists would be quick to point out that they are only reflecting our society back to itself by focusing in on what we print on the Internet.”

Canada’s management dividend

While Canada is certainly suffering from the economic downturn, the Canadian economy as a whole is still faring well and it may be, in part, due to the way Canadians manage their businesses, wrote the National Post Nov. 17.

To that point, York University’s Schulich School of Business recently launched the first MBA program in India by a leading international business school from outside India.

However blurry boundaries may be, the Canadian brand is still valuable, as reflected in the success of Canadian executives in multinational corporations. The flexibility and diversity that are associated with Canadian culture are particularly important when working in other countries.

“Canadians of managerial potential are generally more exposed to the world than Americans, and therefore less scared of it. We’re more accepting of job opportunities elsewhere when they come up,” says Alan Middleton, director of executive programs at York’s Schulich Executive Education Centre, and a professor of marketing in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “Relative to Europeans, our advantage is our facility in English, which is essential to most opportunities.”

  • Middleton also spoke about marketing to various ethnic communities, on BNN-TV Nov. 16.

Green message in a bottle

Coca-Cola Co. normally markets what’s in the bottle. Now the company is marketing the bottle itself, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 17. To replace traditional petroleum-based plastic bottles, Coca-Cola has come up with the “PlantBottle”, a plastic bottle in which 30 per cent of the material comes from sugar cane and molasses.

It might be good for the planet but it’s not exactly the stuff of electric marketing. The innovation left Coca-Cola wondering how to use the Vancouver 2010 Olympics to shine a light on packaging it wants to eventually use around the world.

Still, tangible capitalist success – selling more Coke – is far from assured, said Alan Middleton, a marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University. Companies like Coca-Cola and rival PepsiCo Inc. have been working to improve their bottles – but so far haven’t used the improvements for marketing fodder. “Usually what happens with scientific advances in packaged goods product, companies don’t market the advance – because it usually puts people to sleep,” Middleton said.

Tasty idea to keep kids off the streets

With lentil goo on his Magic Marker-stained fingers, Khadar Gaal says he likes the after-school program at Rockcliffe Middle School just as much as the dal he made there, wrote the Toronto Star Nov. 17.

The Toronto Community Foundation, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, started Beyond 3:30 in October. It’s a pilot project that keeps inner-city schools open until 8pm. It is touted as more than a homework club – and a visit to Rockcliffe Middle School shows as much – it is chess, yoga and homemade pizza crust.

A site supervisor, along with York University and high-school students, help with homework, while special instructors come in for music, yoga and other activities.

York student makes high-school valedictorian speech

The closing highlight was Alexa Carswell’s valedictory speech and a response by teacher Brent Robillard, wrote the Brockville Recorder & Times Nov. 17 in a story about a commencement ceremony at Thousand Islands Secondary School.

Now taking French studies at York University, Carswell hopes to become a teacher and, given that career path, figures she can’t afford to be nervous in front of a crowd.

On air

  • Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the latest launch of the space shuttle, on CTV News Nov. 16.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about General Motors’ financial situation, on CTV News Nov. 16.