Archive for January, 2008
I don’t know how I ran across this thing that Robert Scoble is now doing – but here he is interviewing people at Davos using a cellphone camera (actually two at the same time) – and questions coming in in real-time. I’ll just point you at his interview of danah boyd on QIK.COM (more about her later because she’s important to what I do in real life). Check danah at her blog “Apophenia :: making connections where none existed before.”
Jessica Margolin, a colleague who I run into once a month or so over at the Institute for the Future, has written a succinct post that begins “The real harm of helicopter parenting: correcting the problems we encounter in OUR generation and forgetting that our children will encounter entirely different ones…”
Jessica does a lot of thinking about young people – and her focus is quite good.
Her post suggests to me that the important thing is that we should always be teaching hyper-skills (meta-skills and meta-learning) – skills that allow kids (any age!) to organize and reorganize their thinking and their actions when the environment changes.
For me this is totally, totally key to what I’m doing these days. As a PhD Computer Scientist, I have skills that are generalizable. But, in case you hadn’t noticed it, VERY small numbers of programmers are now creating applications that millions and millions of people will use. A couple hundred engineers at Google can create online products that are used by hundreds of millions. A small group at Apple creates an operating system (based on FreeBSD) that supports fabulous software on devices undreamed of even twenty years ago.
So when I first started writing software in the 1960s, we were anticipating a global need for millions of programmers. But today, even though there may be lots of programmers, there are some very small groups who are responsible for the majority of today’s software. And consequently, what I have been doing recently is “re-treading” myself so that rather than concentrating on software-creation, which is a less-in-demand skill, I’ve been focusing more on visual, audio and written journalism. And on online strategies for my customers.
What’s that have to do with helicopter parents? Well, as parents you should be ensuring that your kids have the skills to step up above what they do day-to-day, and rather than beat their heads against the wall trying to get mundane things done. Ensure that they have the ability to pop their head “up above the surface of the water” look around and see the environment, and then retool what they’re doing in order to achieve long-term goals.
If you live in the US and a few other parts of the world, you might think that “being connected 24/7″ is the future of the entire world. That we will have mobile communication and memory and computing devices with us everywhere we go and that they’ll be connected to the network and consequently the rest of the world, at all times. That the world will be Twitter-like. Especially tweens may think this way. I suppose that US tweens don’t even think about there being any alternative. They’re just connected and that’s the way it is.
Well, there are more than a few barriers to “being connected 24/7″ which lead me to believe that our real connectivity model will be “on again, off again.” And that what developers need to focus on is memory/computerpower that is self-sufficient and can operate standalone most of the time, but can instantly “sync” itself to the rest of the world when a connection is available. If you have a PDA or iPod or practically any device that utilizes large files, you’re already acquainted with the term sync.
What’s the real future? Well, it’s obvious to me. Ultimately we’ll all carry devices that are capable of functioning “quite well” in standalone mode, but which sync up whenever there’s connectivity, refreshing information from the network while at the same time updating our own information on the net. Remember in 2013 to remind me of this and see if I was right.
I don’t have a huge readership (although I’m happy with what I’m getting), but if you look at my ClustrMap you’ll see that this blog is broadly read around the world. And so this is just a short post to say “thank you” to those outside of the US and Europe who are my readers. (ClustrMaps provides a little map showing where our readers are (based on the IP addresses of their ISPs), and it’s a pretty neat service.)
I’ve been tracking readership this way for about a year now, and it’s really gratifying to see that international readership has broadened out. It used to be primarily the US, with a little bit in Europe and some in India. Now we’ve spread to South America and more broadly in Asia.
Thank you to everyone.
Now, I’d better get busy and write more blog entries…