I was visiting the Wall Street Journal site when I came across this somewhat odd competition sponsored by the Korean firm LG Electronics, better known as "Lucky Goldstar" to oldsters like me who remember it before its move to a less geeky-sounding name. It turns out that this is the second time that the "LG National Texting Competition" has been held in New York. Last year, a 13 year-old won the competition. This year, the $50,000 prize went to someone else as the video will inform you. I suppose it's less inane a sport than, say, hotdog eating--there may be benefits in conveying more information in less time with a cell phone provided that the message itself is meaningful to some degree. Sports often arise from more mundane activities; for instance, the car begat automobile racing and so forth, so this particular application is not particularly surprising.
A caveat I have as a development scholar, though, is a pretty big one: Most of the folks in the developing world do not have these fancy models with QWERTY keypads. Instead, they have letters under numbers just as virtually all more basic models do. Given that the link between cell phone usage and development in LDCs is being touted more and more, this sort of thing would be a welcome activity. Perhaps LG or another firm could sponsor this competition in places like the Philippines where folks are famous for their text messaging prowess. However, the competition there should be run with bog standard keypads instead of QWERTY ones to reflect how most users type into their cell phones. Game on!