Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Multi-Touch Computing Table

This video shows an amazing future, one in which a table can become a creative workspace for all gathered around it. There is an especially amazing clip about 3/4 of the way through about how the table(computer) works wirelessly with objects like cameras and phones placed on it. Check it out:

You can also check out the host site of this video, Brightcove.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Buy, Buy, Baby

Do you know How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds? This is the subtitle to the book listed above. Susan Gregory Thomas tells a great story (listen to the NPR interview). She explores the many ways children are targeted, especially through the use of "educational" TV shows and the use of licensed characters throughout nearly every area of a child's life.
Many points struck throughout the book. Here are some particularly telling quotes:

  • "But in the late 1970's and early 1980's... the chief point of connection between parents, children, and toys was no longer in playing together: it was in buying something." pg. 57
  • "Because Wal-Mart wields such enormous buying power... it may be edging into the uniquely advantageous position of single-handedly shaping the marketing and selling of children's books in the United States." pg. 176
  • '"The only time a child drives a book purchase is when the book features a licensed character," one publishing executive explains. 'pg. 177 (Really the only time a child0-3 drives a sale for any product is when it features a character.)
Children are at the cornerstone of "cradle to grave" marketing, thus the attention-grabbing shows thrown all around our culture, i.e. Baby Einstein, Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues, anything Disney, etc. Sadly, it does not seem there is strong evidence to give the label of "educational" to most any of these shows. Yet, this label is given because it has proven to help create a growing market for corporations mentioned below, among others. Children under the age of two have been shown to only gain character recognition from these "educational shows" they watch. But this is perfect if you are a marketer. Kids want your product without even knowing what your product is. This concept is explored thoroughly throughout the book.

Disney, Kellogg's, Gatorade, McDonald's and others all use a company called Cover Concepts (link to their "free" material, including a Bubbalicious teacher guide- how healthy) to "help" give away "free" curriculum to cash-strapped preschools. This free stuff is ADVERTISING! in a bad way.

But terribly, "the marketing industries goals' are to mirror back to people not who they actually are but who they would like to be, to confirm that their ideas are the right ideas, and to instill a sense that every problem has a simple solution." (pg. 222) This simple solution is to BUY their product, no matter what it may be. Every question has an answer of buy, no other. Where does this leave us?

It seems we must take it upon ourselves to find a way to escape this all-encompassing trap. The last quote of the book left me with a tear in my eye. Here is the passage:

Teresa Acevedo, a director of aTucson-area Head Start program remarked, "I don't know when or why we accepted the idea that educational experiences have to come from a catalog!" She clicked to the next slide depicting the center's stunning desert surroundings. "We weren't even taking advantage of, or paying attention to, the natural beauty around us," she said. Then there appeared a picture of children playing as the afternoon sun sliced through, thick, cottony clouds. "But then," she said, "we went outside."

Friday, May 18, 2007

I've Scratched!

I downloaded the software and had a blast creating my own little sprite and programming him to say hello and walk around the screen. It really was something a 3rd grader could do, but powerful enough to make it interesting for anybody. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

With simplified code, programming becomes child's play - The Boston Globe

With simplified code, programming becomes child's play - The Boston Globe
Have you Scratched lately? This idea of graphical programming looks great. I can't access the website at this point because of the amount of traffic they are receiving. It would seem that many people have a great interest in being able to control what they can make their computer do, and to do that quickly and easily.

Heavy Multivitamin Use May Raise Prostate Cancer Risk -

Heavy Multivitamin Use May Raise Prostate Cancer Risk -
Just when we thought the world was safe for those wanting to be super healthy, a study like this comes out and suggest we make actually be slowly killing ourselves. And to think that Ray Kurweil stakes his eternal life on those hundreds of supplements he takes everyday. I guess I'll just stick to nutrient rich Gorman Heritage Farm fresh food.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Techdirt: Run For Cover: Wal-Mart To Invade Electronics Market

Techdirt: Run For Cover: Wal-Mart To Invade Electronics Market
I've been trying to decide for months what new computer to buy, but decided against buying one at all last week. I've got a Dell, Pentium III, 778 MB Ram or so, and only a 9GB hardrive, the biggest problem at this point. So I decided to backup all the music and photos I didn't really need on MediaMax and CD and iPod, and just wait for purchasing a new computer. This may have been a great idea. If Walmart really gets in on the electronics market( read the article above), and prices drop(not that I would buy from Walmart), maybe I can get a great deal in 3 or so months. We'll see.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Would You Like to Boost Your Memory?

It can be done by doing something as simple as wiggling your eyes back and forth. Apparently this engages both your right and left hemispheres, thus giving your brain a better chance of remembering what things you thought you saw or heard and what things you actually saw or hear. Have fun!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Have you seen this video?

What a cool video! The music somehow fits perfectly and enhances the simply presented, yet profound message.

The Machine is Us/ing Us