The battle between parents, school, and teens over cell phones involves many levers to push and pull. Now AT&T has added a new twist: for $4.99 per month per line, parents can add on customized controls through the new "Smart Limits" service. Phone options include limiting talk time, text messages, instant messages, and Web content and downloads.
Teens naturally balk at the idea of limits, but there are many advantages to making these controls available.… Read more
When you look at technological generation gaps, the ubiquity of cell phones is one of the dividing lines between youth and "elders." Today's teens can't imagine life without cell phones, and if you walk across a college campus you'll see students glued to their phones seemingly at every waking moment.
On the adult authority figure side of this divide, some school districts, including Cleveland and New York City, are trying to ban cell phones outright. Now I can understand an "out-of-sight, out of trouble" approach, but the strictest bans prohibit the devices anywhere on campus, even in the bottom of a backpack or a locker. Kids are ingenious in their attempts to come up with creative ways around the ban, everything from hiding a phone in a sandwich roll to parking the devices for a fee at a nearby store. … Read more
Ask any first grader to name the five senses and sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste will roll out as a satisyfying answer. But this list leaves off the sense of balance, along with body position. We generally don't think of this sense because it is always on. We close our eyes and it gets dark, but we still know which way is up and what our bodies are doing. Gravity feels like a constant force of nature, and we feel firmly rooted in our bodies.
The key word here is feel. As much as we may take it for granted, there is a true sensory process going on, involving the vestibular organs of the inner ear, the positional information coming from our joints, as well as integration of other sight and touch cues. And since it is a sensory process, it can be manipulated to induce an illusion. Neuroscientists have used surprisingly low-tech methods involving virtual reality goggles and a stick to create an out-of-body sensation in ordinary people.… Read more
Information is the new currency. When it comes to social-networking sites and many other online enterprises, your attention is the product that is being sold. So it is not surprising that data mining, particularly efforts to link your online behavior to specific opportunities to market to you, is an exploding trend.
Data mining in itself is not inherently good or bad, but it raises many social issues whose implications we all need to understand and include in our ongoing dialogue. Data mining has benefits, including an opportunity to create a customized online experience that truly serves you better. Misuses can lead to serious breaches of privacy. I encountered several stories on data mining Tuesday that caught my attention.… Read more
It's back to school time, and Internet safety expert Linda Criddle has come up with homework for schools, students and parents: Do a safety checkup of your school's Web site to ensure that it is not making too much personal information publicly available.
She has created Guidelines for Safer School Web Sites to help schools cope with the new realities of our information society. News that can be appropriately shared within a school community--student names, team affiliations, sports practice times, and photos, for example--can expose students to considerable risk for misuse when shared with the whole world online.… Read more
It was awhile ago that YouTube first allowed video comments on its service, and over time responses in video form began to populate the site--including those that address the original video and those that don't. In theory, Friction.tv is a Web portal built around YouTube's video response feature. In practice, there are few, if any, response videos, though people have been active leaving text comments. (In the interest of full disclosure, Friction.tv is a sponsor for the NewTeeVee Pier Screening Series in which I have been asked to speak on a panel).
"Summer lovin' had me a blast. Summer lovin' happened so fast..."
When iPhone came out, I fell hard. I was all ready to sign up as an early adopter. After all, the iPod tops my list as the gadget that has improved my life the most over the the past five years (with TiVO in a close second place). Apple convinced me that the iPhone was the next quantum leap in the digital lifestyle.
Well, now that iPhone and I have been together for a couple of months, I wish I could kick it to the curb like a summer fling. Unfortunately, we're bonded together by a two-year contract. Why hasn't iPhone been the end-all, be-all device I was hoping for?… Read more