On Thursday BBC News gave us a child's view of the $100 laptop. The article reads like a techie version of Jim Carrey's breakout movie The Mask, with Rufus Cellan-Jones as the star. The laptop, which came by way of Nigeria, unleashes incredible intuition and abilities in young Cellan-Jones:… Read more
I know that being a parent has got to be the uncoolest perspective in Silicon Valley. After all, it's much more cutting edge to be libertarian, 23 years old, working 24/7 and sleeping on a futon in your cube.
But no one stays that way forever (thank goodness), and I'd like to think that those of us who have moved down the road a few years have a lot to add to technology design. With Facebook's Beacon plans blowing up this week, you can really see what happens when new "features" are added by twentysomethings who are coding and rolling out products as fast as they can.
I'm proposing a new job title to add to Facebook's Executive Team: VP of Adult Supervision.
My suggestion is only half-joking. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was called out for ageism earlier this year after he stressed the importance of "only [hiring] young people with technical expertise."
The problem is that Facebook's users aren't only people like their mind-blowingly young executives and programmers. A large proportion of their users are over 35. We don't appreciate having our privacy stomped on, and just because we want to participate in social networks, we don't necessarily want to live our lives in an exhibitionist fishbowl. Product design suffers when a grown-up perspective is not taken into account.… Read more
Tech toys are all the rage this holiday gift-giving season, and I have a request for all the cool, creative, and wired aunts, uncles, and friends who are choosing presents for the kids in their lives. Please consult with parents before you buy a child a high-tech gift, especially any toy or gadget that has an online connection.
Just as you wouldn't spring a puppy on a family as a surprise, you should check in with parents before you give a tech toy. I can testify on behalf of frazzled parents, even those of us with a techie bent ourselves, that we are dancing as fast as we can to keep up with the implications of computers, gadgets, and online communication for our kids.… Read more
I've been searching for something intelligent to add to the discussion about Megan Meier, the 13-year-old girl who committed suicide after she was insulted and dumped by an "online boyfriend" on MySpace. The online persona "Josh" was actually a fictitious hoax created by an adult neighbor who was a mother of one of Megan's friends.
It's one of those senseless tragedies that is difficult to comprehend and put into any kind of perspective, especially seeing Megan's mother appear on The Today Show this week. Matt Lauer asked Tina Meier to speak out against the retaliatory online harassment toward the bullying neighbor, who has been publicly named. My heart broke seeing a grieving, outraged parent put on the spot as the one asked to rise above the cycle of violence. She clearly wasn't ready to do so, and it would have been a lot more productive to ask a more objective anti-bullying expert to speak out against the dangers of vigilantism.
Cellphones, laptops, digital cameras and MP3 music players are among the hottest gift items this year. For preschoolers.
On the plus side, retailers and toymakers have learned that children are not satisfied with fake gadgets. Hooray for authenticity!
On the minus side...… Read more
Here's the lede from a Phoenix local news story: "CBS 5 Investigates discovered some Valley teachers making their private lives public by posting them on the Web."
Is it really a news flash to learn that recent college grads who are now teachers use MySpace? And that teachers have content on their MySpace pages that they don't want their first-graders to see?
Here comes the online networking generation gap, moving from college into the working world.
Most college students use online social networks, so most new teachers will have social network profiles. And yes, some of the MySpace and Facebook pages will still bear traces of sophomoric behavior on them, given that these new teachers are only a few years removed from being sophomores.
Am I concerned about this issue as a parent? Yes, of course, potentially. But this particular "investigation" looks like a low trick (or height of FARK) as the CBS 5 team decided to systematically snoop into teachers' pages. The news program says they "took a list of teachers who just started teaching in Arizona and searched for them one at a time on MySpace, checking to see which ones have profiles and what they might show."
What disturbs me most is that the CBS 5 story moves to the question of what kind of "higher standards" we hold teachers to and is more than willing to keep raising the bar to create wildly unrealistic standards of off-duty conduct. … Read more
The Internet has enabled the emergence of a collective consciousness that is unprecedented in human history. We are coming together as a hive, and the intelligence of the swarm is being mined and utilized like never before.
Knowledge is power, information is a cash commodity, and who decides how these resources and benefits are distributed? The latest controversy about Facebook's Beacon advertisements is one of many examples that suggests that the issue of user control over his or her own information is reaching a tipping point. We, the online masses, are developing a new sense that our own information is sacred and worth protecting, and not to be indiscriminately broadcast, or blindly exploited for someone else's commercial gain.
Beyond a "right to privacy" that might have meant "secrecy" in the past, we need to think about the right to control our information when it comes to:What I say about myself What others say about me, and How that information is used
I see these issues coming up time and time again in a thread that runs through everything from Internet safety, to social networking, creative artists' rights, consumer/patient rights, all the way up to government wiretapping and surveillance.… Read more
Earlier this year the National Football League (NFL) announced new "security" rules requiring that all professional photographers wear NFL-issued red vests or lose their stadium access. What the photographers discovered was that these NFL-issued vests also carried the Canon logo, and that has led to outrage and protests across the professional community. Turns out that outrage was justified.… Read more
I caught CNET Editor at Large Brian Cooley on the CBS Evening News report last night, "The Secret Lives of Teens." In the second installment of this three-parter, which featured a tug-of-war between a daughter and her mother concerned about her risky online behavior, Cooley observed that, "This is just the return of the Cold War, with different players. Instead of the U.S. and Russia, it's Mom and Dad versus Joey and Bill." Cooley talked about parental control technology but added that, "In the end, this points back to the parenting relationship, and it moves away from technology when you really have to make a difference in their lives...you cannot rely on software."
I agree with Cooley's conclusion. Online safety for teens is a complex issue that cannot be covered in one blog post, but the CBS Evening News series gave me a lot of food for thought. They posed the question, is parental spying on teen Internet use an "invasion of privacy or smart parenting?" and I wish the CBS series had given more consideration to the possibility that digital spying is a misguided parenting practice.… Read more