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On Earth Day, Starbucks decided to give away free coffees to anyone who brought in a travel mug.

A great promotion that works with its “green” image, and of course the whole Earth Day thing, right? Well yeah, but starbucksthere’s just one issue: I’m pretty sure most people didn’t know about it.

I’m not the biggest fan of Starbucks coffee. I prefer Tim Hortons, and that’s not going to change, but I a) enjoy anything that’s free, and b) really liked the idea of not using a paper cup, therefore helping the environment. I grabbed my Maple Leafs travel mug from the cupboard and threw it in my bag before heading to work.

While I was on the 504 streetcar coasting along King Street, I kept on the lookout for people with travel mugs and long lineups.

I saw none of that.

I became a little worried. Did twitter fail me? Were these just rumours and I’d been ‘had’? Feeling a little skeptical, I got off the streetcar and went in to get my coffee, free or not.

When I went in, I didn’t see a single promotional sign, and same as before, people didn’t have their travel mugs. I got in line and pulled my mug out. I gave my order and mug, but I also got a Toonie out to pay for it, just in case. When I finally got up to pay, the cashier rung it up but then said it’s on the house, to my relief.

coffeeSo it turns out the coffee was free, and I enjoyed it to the last drop.

From a communications perspective, Starbucks could’ve promoted this initiative a little more and actually done something beneficial for the environment, but did it really want to?

I saw a few ads in the online world, and I heard about it randomly on twitter (if you heard about it elsewhere let me know). This is fine, and I’m sure  a lot of people took advantage of it, but I really wish it had done  something simple: promote the giveaway in shops the day before and day of. My theory is they didn’t want to because, as you can expect, a lot more people would be coming in looking for free java, therefore costing them a lot of coin.

Do you think Starbucks did a good job promoting the giveaway?

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Are you religious? Have you ever thought of doing your worshipping on your iPod, or in virtual reality?Religion to go

I’m not a very religious person, but I’m fascinated by the subject and always looking to learn more. While going through my Google reader last night I found an interesting topic that I hadn’t really thought of before: Religion and the Internet (specifically social media).

Spark on CBC Radio, hosted by Nora Young, was the show that piqued my interest. Specifically, it was the full interview with Rachel Wagner, an assistant professor of philosophy and religion from Ithaca College in New York.

They talked about how people in this digital age are looking to, let’s say, non-traditional methods for their worshipping. Here are a few examples they touched on during the interview:

  • A website that, for a fee, prays for you if you can’t manage to spare the time: Does it take away from the personal experience of religion and turn it into an automated task?
  • Having real cathedrals, like the one in Notre Dame in a virtual reality program like Second Life: Should people follow the same strict rules that apply “in real life” when in these religious places?
  • A downloadable version of the Qur’an for your iPod: is it right to have it alongside music, or should the device be solely for religious purposes?

Personally, I think people should be allowed to worship however they please, as long as they’re getting the spiritual growth they want out of the experience. That being said, I think there are some instances, like the ones above, that push the boundaries of acceptability:

  • Having a service pray for you because you don’t have time, kind of defeats the purpose in my mind
  • Whipping out your private parts and placing them on an altar in virtual Notre Dame cathedral is pretty disrespectful no matter where you are
  • Using an mp3 player solely for a religious text isn’t as blasphemous as people want to think

To the last point I like what Rachel says in response to people perhaps arguing that having a religious audiobook may be tarnishing the value of the text. To this, she says the audio format actually brings the teachings back to their origins. Many religions were spread through people passing stories along; only later were they written down and binded into books.

Another valid point is why should it matter what mp3 file the audio is next to? Like I mentioned before, as long as someone is getting their spiritual growth, or knowledge, that’s all that should matter.

This seems like a very touchy subject, but what do you think? Is the Internet ruining worshipping or just changing it?

I may be out of the loop on this one, but I recently discovered a great function in Google Maps. I was toying around with the idea of creating my own personal map that would list the internship spots of everyone in my class. At the time I had no clue that Google offered this function – though is it really shocking that they do?

Here is the step-by-step to making your own map:google maps

1. Log-in to your Google account

2. Go to Google Maps

3. Click ‘My Maps’

4. Click ‘Create New Map’

5. Add a title and description and make your map public or private.

6. Search for your locations – The option to “Save to my maps” will come up and you can then begin populating your map with whatever it is you choose.

Many mapping possibilities

I find this Google Maps function is great for organizing events between friends or classmates, as with my map. If you know where people are, it’s easier to schedule in a lunch at a middle location. I’m sure businesses could put it to good use in tracking where customers come from. The possibilities seem endless if there’s a solid focus and plan for the map.

If I can find the time I’d like to make a map of locations I eat at. I think it’d be a good guide for reference to myself or anyone who takes my food tastes seriously. If I take advantage of the functions of ‘my map’, I could even enter in the details of what I order and how much I liked it or not.

If you’ve found this tool for Google maps before, have you used it for any interesting project or event?


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I now blog at inseansopinion.com full time. Please visit me there for movie and book reviews as well as any other commentary that comes to mind.

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