Thursday, July 18, 2024

The folks who triumphed in something called the Learning Global Giveback Competition want everyone to know what they did. It’s just not clear why we care. (Photo: earl53)

The Grammys may have eliminated more than 30 award categories — goodbye, prize for Best Hawaiian Album — but it is still possible to win in some awfully specific and yet uninteresting arenas.

Like all winners, the folks who triumphed in something called the Learning Global Giveback Competition want everyone to know what they did. But they’re simultaneously giving some vexatious lessons in modern media:

The expense of publicity is too low. You can now send a free e-mail to publicize something no one cares about, while it once made financial sense not to bother people with irrelevancies.

Believe it or not, everything is not local. And it’s a mystery why businesses and organizations purposely trying to obscure their location don’t know that.

Case in point: Management Sciences for Health, a Cambridge nonprofit made up of more than 2,000 people across 73 nations, wanted to develop online learning courses for its staff, clients and partners. Thanks to its need, two Boston area tech providers are among the winners of that Learning Global Giveback Competition.

Get that? An announcement about the competition’s results reached Cambridge Day because Management Sciences for Health is in Cambridge, but Management Sciences for Health itself hasn’t won anything; it got some volunteer companies to make software for it, and that software was submitted for a prize.

But where are the homes of the winning companies, EnVision Performance Solutions Inc. and Illumina Interactive Learning Inc.? (The announcement says “Massachusetts,” which is valuable if you care equally about all 10,555 square miles of the state, meaning it doesn’t matter to you whether someone tells you the most obscure news about Abington or Yarmouth, Barnstable or Wrentham. It’s all the same, right?) And where is the home of Learning in Nongovernmental Organizations, also somewhat dubiously known as Lingo? It’s not so easy to find out.

Illumina has a “contact us” page saying it’s in Dedham. EnVision exists everywhere and nowhere, according to its own, addressless website, but you might be lucky enough to stumble across the LinkedIn page for owner Irene Frielich — referred to on her own website only as the mysterious “Irene” — and that says “Greater Boston.” Whatever that means. Lingo also goes the route of website and e-mail only, abandoning those tediously old-fashioned mailing address and phone number.  The Web page announcing its competition results has a dateline from Orlando, Fla., but that’s more likely to be where the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference and Expo was held. (For the record, Cambridge Day also goes the route of offering only e-mail addresses as contact information, because it’s a Web-only news source run by a single person and clearly based  in Cambridge. When it was a print publication, a mail address and phone number was included in each issue and posted online.)

So the people who care about these Learning Global Giveback awards were: at the Learning Solutions Conference and Expo in March; in the industry and already know all about this; in Dedham, the home of Illumina; and in the synchronous nowhere and everywhere of cyberspace, where Lingo and EnVision do their best to look bigger than they are by not being anywhere at all.

It’s not exactly like winning a Grammy, is it? Even a Grammy for Best Hawaiian Album.