Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Making the Internet a Safer Place

An amazing effort is being made right now by individuals who care about how safe, or unsafe, the internet is - especially for families. A new website has emerged, the Internet Safety Wiki, and, along with it, the Internet Safety Podcast. But this is a new resource with open-source mentality, so they're looking for help. If you care about safety on the Internet and you want to help, please check these sites out and find out how to contribute. The knowledge is out there, we're just trying to make it more accessible so that everyone who wants to be safe can be.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Better Education and the Flattening World

Hundreds of years ago education was scarce, and the best education was an apprenticeship. As the opportunity to become educated has become more available it has also become more necessary. For decades now a high school diploma has been required for anything career beyond manual labor.

We are now entering an era where a University degree is becoming the new high school diploma. In other words, if you don't get a University degree then there's a good chance you'll end up doing work that is not personally fulfilling. Fulfilling jobs that used to be attainable with a high school degree are now being digitized, automated, or outsourced. And to get a job on the "cutting edge" will likely require a Graduate degree.

The expectation that people educate themselves is not a bad thing. Education should be a lifetime pursuit for all people. The problems that arise with requiring more education deal with the opportunity to attain such education. This is a huge problem in the U.S., where higher education is not paid for by the government and most Universities put their students so far into debt that their graduates jump at the first job offered them instead of the one they really want or deserve. There are even more who are unable to amass the debt education imposes and are therefore unable to even qualify for those jobs that they are ultimately capable of doing.

As the world flattens we should be more aware of those around us. Instead we seem to be distancing ourselves from anyone who is not like us with respect to education and social status. We need to recognize the fundamental social changes imposed by a flattening world and adjust accordingly to prevent the elimination of the middle class and revert to the Dark Age caste system of educated nobility and the ignorant masses.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vocal Cords: Next on the Obsolete List

Ambient Corp. recently unveiled the next big breakthrough in speech recognition - recognizing words you don't even vocalize! A sophisticated neckband detects signals intended for the vocal cords and sends them wirelessly to a computer that then vocalizes them for you. This, of course, has astonishing potential for those who have lost the ability to use their vocal cords, whether through injury or illness. My only concern is for those people who have already substituted dating for chat rooms and outside activity and socializing for online RPG's. Physicality and sociality are already out the window, and it looks like speech in general is next!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Women in Computing:
Nature vs Nurture

Just over a year ago my wife graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Men in her field are about as prevalent as women in my field, Computer Science. Did my wife choose to work with children because she wasn’t given the opportunity to study any of the hard sciences? Is it because she is not capable as a woman to comprehend the hard sciences? No, she simply prefers working with children. I’m not saying that the field is perfect – we’re still getting used to women who prefer to study computers – but the rampant sexism just isn’t there.