Archive for the 'Digital Divisions' Category

ITU in Honduras, connecting communities

May 19 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

The ITU, or International Telecommunication Union, has produced another video about their efforts to connect  a remote and impoverished area of Honduras. They sent out a technician to install a wireless telephone that locals can use to communicate. This kind of thing can make a big impact in communities, allowing businesses to communicate with suppliers and buyers who only come to town once and a while.

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One in five Americans have never used email?

May 18 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

A recent survey from marketing firm Parks Associates has found that around one in every five American house-holds have never used email or any other Internet service. So potentially one in five Americans have never used email.Lack of experience with technology

The survey interviewed heads-of-households and found that of those that had never used email, around half were 65 or older and around half had a high-school level education. It also says that around 20 million households do not have Internet access.

Heads-of-household tend to be the oldest people in the house, the release about the study doesn’t say, but I wonder if they asked about kids in the household. Kids make much more use of the Internet than adults do, and the Internet is available in libraries in most places.

Via TechBlog and PC World

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The hyperconnected and the rest of the world

May 18 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

Source: IDC/Nortel White Paper - The Hyperconnected: Here They Come!
Source: IDC/Nortel White Paper -
The Hyperconnected: Here They Come!

A post by Steve Rubel up on his site Micro Persuasion, points at a gap between the hyperconnected and the rest of the world. The term comes from a recent IDC/Nortel study that surveyed people for the number of communication devices and communication applications. The hyperconnected are those who use online communication services extensively and from a myriad of devices. People who use Twitter from their cell phone, check email on vacation, or have Flickr, Facebook, myspace, LinkedIn, Pownce and gTalk and use them all regularly.

The survey says 16 percent of internet users fall into this category. The hyperconnected have at least 7 gadgets, including computers, mobile phones, gps maps, video game consoles, and PDAs, and use at least 9 applications or services, including things like Firefox, Outlook, RSS readers, Facebook and Twitter.

Rubel writes about the passive online, and how this gap represents a barrier to user-generated media online.

I believe this gap will narrow as more people get comfortable with the technology and with participating online more. Will there always be a sizable group people who decide not to participate, barring any other reason from getting online?

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Importance of open standards

May 18 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

The UN’s Commission on Science and Technology for Development will be looking at the progress on goals later this month set forth by the World Summit on the Information Society, WSIS, which was held in 2003 and 2004. The goal of the WSIS is to outline ways to promote an information society that will be accessible to all people.

Intellectual Property Watch has a piece up about the opportunities that the commission’s meeting will hold for companies and governments relating to IP.

The Importance of open standards was brought up one of the sessions that were held in the lead up to meeting of the UN’s commission. Delegates highlighted the use of free and open source methodologies as a way to accomplish the goals set forth by the WSIS.

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Municipal WiFi folds in Philly

May 14 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

Earthlink has announced that they will turn off the municipal WiFi in Philadelphia in June. The system never ended up being as popular as Earthlink needed it to be. They wanted 100,000 customers, they have a little more than 5000. Earthlink is also planning on shuttering, shelving or selling all of their other WiFi networks throughout the country, in New Orleans, Texas and California.

With no other companies building city-wide wireless networks on WiFi, looks like the whole muni WiFi thing is dead. But people have been saying it for a while. Who ever thought that a technology like WiFi designed for homes and offices would be good choice to cover an entire city?

Meanwhile, Sprint recently inked a deal with wireless broadband company Clearwire to build a high-speed wireless network on a new technology WiMax throughout the U.S.

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Chicago Public Library's digital divide plan

May 12 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

I spoke with Chicago Public Library’s marketing director, Ruth Lednicer, about what they are doing for city residents. I asked her about the Cyber Explorer program, which pays college students to teach library patrons how to use the Internet, and about other ways the library is working on fulfilling communities’ tech needs.

Digital Divisions interview with Ruth Lednicer (transcript after the bump):

Ruth Lednicer – CPL

Continue Reading »

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Technology creating generation of 'nobodies' says scientist

May 11 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

Oxford professor and neuroscientist, Susan Greenfield, said children’s brains are rotting from too much exposure to technology. In an interview for The Sunday Times Life & Style section about her life and work, Greenfield discusses her theory about the effect of video games and Internet Media exposure on the brain chemistry of developing children.

Greenfield theorizes that the structure of modern technology emphasizes method over content and will rob children of imagination, creativity and personality:

If the purpose of a game, for instance, is to free the princess from the tower, it is the thrill of attaining the goal, the process, that counts. What does not count is the content – the personality of the princess and the narrative as to why and how she is there, as in a storybook. Greenfield avers that emphasis on process in isolation becomes addictive and profoundly mind-changing.

-John Cornwell, The Sunday Times

What about games that emphasize content and interpersonal relationships, like the Sims, or massive online multiplayer games, where getting along with other people is critical for success? What about the online masses who would rather participate in social networking than isolated video games, or split time between the two? As someone who has enjoyed video games throughout my life, the things Greenfield says about the addictive nature of games rings true, and yet I think I have personality.

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Comcast mulls overage fees for Internet subscibers

May 08 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

Because broadband isn’t expensive enough already I suppose.

Last month I wrote about a West Coast ISP that began offering high-speed Internet plans with download limits. According to a piece at Broadband Reports, Comcast is considering putting a 250GB download limit on customers and charging fees for exceeding the limit.

Comcast has been doing a bang up job for it’s customers. For the past year, experts and customers have been shaking their fists at Comcast’s attempts to disrupt bandwidth intensive bit-torrent traffic over their network.

However there seems to be growing resistance to Comcast’s and other ISPs’ push to more tightly control the Internet traffic that flows through their networks. Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden, a democrat from Oregon, made some strong remarks, warning the ISPs. It sounds like the growing support for customer protection has finally started to reach some of the politicians through their constituency. I wonder if Comcast is scared.

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FCC's payouts to telecom need adjusting

May 05 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

The Universal Service Fund is that extra tax you see at the end of your phone bill. It was originally established to fund the expansion of infrastructure into poor and rural areas. The FCC is in charge of the fund, but because of some weird rules in how the money gets dispursed, the FCC estimated payouts to telecom companies are now out control, doubling over the last 7 years.

So the FCC recently voted on a temporary measure to cap the payments until the rules can be fixed. According to Ars Technica, analysts are calling for the revision on the rules to focus the payouts on building out broadband throughout the country rather that continuing to pay telecoms for the old fashion phone lines.

Great idea. It should be obvious though right? Paying the telecoms to build out the modern Internet infrastructure instead of copper phone lines?

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Pew Internet: Teens are writing more

May 05 2008 Published by Ryan under Digital Divisions

pew-chart.gifA recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life project reveals that teens are writing more. Through 700 phone surveys and interviews with parents and teens aged 12 to 17, researchers discovered that all teens were writing for school and a vast majority enjoyed writing. Parents agreed that their teenagers were writing more then they did at the same age. Much of their writing occurs through the Internet, on social networking sites, instant message, email, and text messages.

While it’s true that teens are using the written language more, educators and others are worried that the use of the instant methods of communication where brevity is more important than proper use of the language is causing more harm than good.

I think that anything that gets kids to communicate and create is worth it. Teens are taught in school how to write properly and are required to write properly. I think that as long as they are taught the difference between the way they would write to friends and the way they would write to be taken seriously, it’s not a problem.

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