My not-so-friendly library, boring teachers, and other marketing interactions

[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]


My city's public library is a wonderful place. It hosts a variety of

well-attended events, has a phenomenal children's section, and serves as a real

hub for the community. But its formal communications stink.

The very first time that you have an overdue book, the initial notice that

you receive says that failure to pay your fines may result in being turned over

to a collection agency. Ouch. When you request a book,

the notification that the book is in says that failure to pick up the book

promptly will result in a $0.50 fine. Huh? If you

write a letter to the public library's director highlighting the somewhat

draconian tone of its communications, you receive a letter justifying the

library's terseness (trust me on this one). So despite all of the great things

that the public library does, you're still left with a bitter taste in your

mouth.

Seth

Godin reminds us

that every interaction with a customer / client / patron /

stakeholder / visitor is a marketing interaction. It's

an opportunity for us to build or erode our brand, a chance to increase or

decrease the trust and goodwill of the people with whom we are interacting.

What's this mean for schools? Well, it means that every time a parent walks

away unhappy from an encounter at school, that's a marketing interaction. Every

time a teacher has yet another boring lesson, that's a marketing interaction.

Every time a school board member puts her personal agenda ahead of what's best

for students, that's a marketing interaction. Every time a member of the

community walks through an uninviting building, that's a marketing interaction.

And every time an administrator squanders an opportunity to be a leader rather

than a manager, that's a marketing interaction.

Schools do a host of wonderful things. But they also engage in a number of

individual and organizational behaviors that chip away at the trust and goodwill

of their internal and external communities. We can bemoan the lack of student

engagement / parent support / community involvement / referendum votes all we

want, but our actions probably led to the problem(s) in the first place. Putting

forth a glossy spin on the surface (We're the best! Support us!) does

no good if we're not willing to look at our underlying practices as the

marketing interactions that they are.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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