The science bit – Weird marketing related stuff

Here’s a bunch of great stories with a marketing and communications slant.  

Cool marketing-related stories

Does the internet make us stupid?

We get the same old debate every time a new medium comes along. Telly encountered the same kind of scaremongering when it first went mainstream. And the mobile phone / brain cancer jury is still half in and half out.

Thankfully new research proves the internet doesn’t affect our intellect. It shows that young people aren’t addicted to social networks. And it indicates social networking is not in itself a source of risk to kids. Nominet Trust research concludes there’s “no neurological evidence that the internet is more effective at ‘rewiring’ our brains than other environmental influences”. In fact using computers can help slow down cognitive decline.

Computers that work the same way as your brain

The stuff that lets us record on DVDs has another astonishing property. It closely mimics the junctions between brain cells and the brain cells themselves. So what? So it could be used to develop brain-like computers that only need a tiny amount of energy to run… which could learn, evolve and adapt without any external programming. Blimey.

What makes someone re-tweet a tweet?

Someone has apparently surveyed 2,000 British families to identify the typical family. 2,000 doesn’t seem like enough in a country with a population of tens of millions. So it’s good to see proper scientists using statistically valid and satisfyingly vast amounts of data  to identify why tweets get re-tweeted.

Nasir Naveed and colleagues at Koblenz-Landau university analysed a huge dataset of 6 million tweets, by 4.5 million tweeters, to discover how a message’s content affects the likelihood of it being passed on. As it turns out, Tweets including these things seem to hit the sweet spot:

  1. usernames
  2. hash tags (usually denoting topics)
  3. question marks
  4. positive words
  5. specific subjects – social networking, public holidays and the economy
  6. urls

A serious re-branding job for the planet’s most threatened ecosystems

Nobody gave a stuff about it when it was called ‘the jungle’. But the Amazon Rainforest is one of the world’s few ecological success stories. Everyone knows about it, most of us care about it and great efforts are being made to preserve it. So much so that it isn’t anywhere near as threatened these days as it once was.

What’s next on the conservation agenda? Threatened ecosystems aren’t always particularly appealing. Take the Paraguyan ‘Chaco’, an inhospitable, thorny place whose climate is amongst the planet’s most unpleasant. But it’s probably just as vital – if not more – than the Amazon Rainforest. And it’s disappearing much faster.

Time for a re-brand? New Scientist suggests re-naming the Chaco ‘The Garden of Eden’. Which, while dubious, might just do the trick.