Supertaskers: The rare few who can multitask

Several studies have shown that it's impossible for most people to concentrate on two or more things at once --homework and Facebook updates, for example, or driving and talking on the phone. But new research has found that about 2.5 percent of the population are supertaskers, capable of multitasking without suffering a decline in performance. University of Utah researchers set up 200 volunteers in a driving simulator and gave them each a cell phone. As they drove, they had to hit the brakes occasionally to avoid hitting a virtual car in front of them; meanwhile, they had to respond to a series of word and math tests through their phones.

The vast majority of subjects were terrible at multitasking: They were 20 percent slower to hit the brakes and performed worse on the phone-mediated word and math tests. But to the surprise of the researchers, one in 40 people excelled at performing two tasks at once, indicating that they could simultaneously concentrate on driving and a challenging phone conversation. There is clearly something special about the supertaskers, study author tells LiveScience.com. It may be that human beings have only recently developed the skill, he says, or it may be that some people's brains naturally have the ability to handle several tasks at once. Researchers now plan to study fighter pilots, chefs, orchestra conductors, and TV producers to see if there is a high percentage of supertaskers in some professions. Meanwhile, they warn against assuming you're one of the exceptions, since the odds are so heavily against it ;-)

Only one out of 40 people can pull it off... do you know a supertasker? I do. Post your comment here!



Do iPods cheapen music?

Like millions of music lovers, Steve Almond of the Los Angeles Times was thrilled with the advent of iTunes and iPods. "Suddenly, not only could I download virtually any song I wanted, I could easily organize my music and have it with me at all times.

But I'm starting to wonder whether supreme convenience has impoverished the actual experience of listening to music. When I was a kid in the prehistoric '70s, listening to music took time and commitment. After rifling through my collection, I'd put an album on the turntable, drop the needle, and sit around and melt into the music, often reading the lyrics from the album cover. It was not something I did while working on homework, let alone while checking email or thumbing out text messages. It was a transcendent event, with real emotional impact. These days, the ease with which we can hear any song at any moment we want, no matter where we are, has diluted the very act of listening, rendering it just another channel on our ever-expanding dial of distractions. Music is more accessible than ever, but it's also less sacred." -As seen in The Week

What do you think, do iPods cheapen music?



The PC: Miraculous but boring

Where's the sense of wonder? asked David Fearon in PCPro. The story of personal computers is one of "amazing semiconductor and materials science," astonishing leaps in processing power, and cleaver engineering that makes e-mailing and Web surfing quick and easy. But if you try to engage someone in a conversation about computing power, you'll soon notice they're wearing a glazed expression. You won't hear any admiration for "all this massive investment, all this science involving some of the world's finest minds." That's because "computing technology is assimilated into everyday life with such speed and regularity, we don't even notice that we should be amazed." We think nothing of firing up a browser, searching the Web for "fun games," and moments later playing "a game running in a Flash plug-in, running in a tab, running in a browser, running in a window, running on a multi-windowed operating system." Yet just a few years ago, that now routine scenario was inconceivable. That's computing for you. "It's a humdrum, everyday sort of miracle, but a miracle nonetheless." -As seen in The Week

Generation me, myself, and I

It's a frequent complaint among parents: Young people today are spoiled, self-centered, and have a huge sense of entitlement.

A new study has found evidence that it may be true. Researchers examined the results of a standardized personality test given to college students nationwide between 1994 and 2009. Called the narcissistic personality inventory, the test measures the respondents' degree of self-regard through a questionnaire that asks them to choose among such statements as, "I insist upon getting the respect that is due me," or, "I usually get the respect I deserve." (Narcissists favor the former.) The portion of students who registered as having high narcissism surged from 18 percent in 1994 to 34 percent in 2009. Psychologists have been debating the mixed results of various studies on whether self-centeredness is rising, but San Diego State university psychologist Jean Twenge tells Discovery News that she is "extremely confident" about her findings. It is clear narcissism is rising," she says. - As seen in The Week. Read a related blog post here.

So what do you think... are young people are becoming more narcissist and do you think social networking sites are a contributing factor?

Lessons from the European Dating Front

Russian brides are passe, says Petra Prochazkova in the Czech Republic's Lidove noviny. Now it's Russian men who are wooing women's hearts all over Europe's online dating websites.

"It may seem unlikely --after all, Russian women tend to see their men as drunken layabouts and filthy primates. But in the eyes of foreign women, Russians are "real men, at once romantic, kind hearted, and mouthwateringly manly." Czech and other European women are tired of the West European males on offer, "these bespectacled intellectuals or bland, boring bankers. We have our own intellect and education --we don't need a partner who reads nonfiction in bed. What we need "is a he-man, one of those real guys with a rugged complexion, weather-beaten by the Siberian winds." In surveys that measure this sort of thing, Russians currently come in third among the most attractive men in the world, "right after Italians and Americans." So even though many of them "dress like mobsters" and have absolutely no taste, they can afford to be selective in choosing their ladies. European men take note. "Women find a buttoned-up, humorless miser to be a far worse mate than your garden-variety Russian drunk." - As seen in "The Rise of the Mail-Order Russian Groom" in The Week.
MfG,
Erin

Real-time bidding: An invasion of privacy?

I love this editorial, it's by my favorite editor at The Week, Eric Effron. "If you are creeped out by those online ads that seem to know far too much about us --"Looking for a divorce lawyer?" "Need to lose weight?"-- then brace yourself.

Marketers are starting to employ a new technology, dubbed real-time bidding, that enables them to target messages based on what we're doing online at that very moment. Apparently, it's not enough that ads for everything from CDs to cosmetic surgery are now generated according to our recent Internet searches, Facebook postings, and even the content of our email. Now, if you make an online purchase of, say, a golf club, within milliseconds companies can buy online ad space from Google and other search engines to pitch you golf balls or golf vacations. The technology, Google's Neal Mohan tells The New York Times, "delivers on the promise of precise optimization."

Personally, I'm not sure I want to be precisely optimized. Then again, maybe it's better than all the imprecise optimization that goes on in the nonvirtual world. According to a recent study, every day, the average American is exposed to some 3,000 commercial messages, subtle and otherwise. That may seem hard to believe, until you remember that ads zoom past us on busses; greet us at the gas pump, in elevators, and at urinals; are stamped on eggs and other products we take home; have infiltrated movies and TV shows in the form of product placements; and, thanks to naming rights, have co-opted the identities of major sports stadiums and even school gymnasiums. If this all leaves you feeling a bit queasy, consider this: "Airlines have even sold ads on motion-sickness bags." - Eric Effron, The Week

Okay, so what did we learn here? Mainly that cloud computing programs, such as Google's Gmail program, can scan your email messages to deliver relevant online ads to you (doesn't sound like a good thing). We also learned more about contextual-based advertising (could possibly be a good thing if it ever gets here). The thing to keep in mind is protecting your privacy and limiting your use of too many online services. Read up about your digital footprint and see my shocking previous post on Google and privacy issues here.
B4N,
Erin

How about this: Getting disconnected

My best friend was on a conference call today where she heard of a new malady facing the human race: disconnect anxiety. I knew immediately what she meant, having experienced it at times myself, but wow, it’s always interesting not only to hear that others have a similar dysfunction, but that there’s an actual term for it. Hey, that's my job, tracking terms.


“Disconnect anxiety” describes what happens to people when they get cut off from their technological source: cell phones, email, social networking sites, blogs and the Web. We’ve seen it and experienced it, but isn’t that also the very definition of a SNAFU?

BlackBerries become CrackBerries, believe me I get it, this is the industry I work in. But when you finally unplug for a decent amount time, you see that the real world is still even more fascinating. In fact, just recently--back from a three week trek in South America with very little online access and “no, we didn’t bring our laptops”-- I must say I found my unplugged sojourn completely liberating. I was more present and enjoying the moment and the world around me. In fact, everyone was ;-)

The latest research shows that 68 percent of Americans suffer from occasional disconnect anxiety when away from a computer or cell phone: feelings that range from general discomfort to inadequacy and panic. Okay, time out… I think everyone needs to take even a mini-digital vacation, don’t you?

Try it. Unplug for a day… okay, maybe 4 hours. Disconnect from the motherboard and take a stroll, look up at the sky, watch the clouds. Whatever you do, just remember that life happens off the grid, too. The Internet is here to enhance our lives, not be our lives. So, connect back to yourself, the Web will always be there when you return.
Ciao,
Erin

Tasty Tech Tidbits: South American Style

I just returned from vacation in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Peru, and along the way I enjoyed learning a little about the tech industry in South America!

For example, did you know Latin America is the world's growth leader in terms of computers-per-person? In education, Uruguay is a pioneer in implementing the dream of Nicholas Negroponte: one laptop per child. Uruguay has also implemented "Zonamerica" a technological free-trade zone on the outskirts of Montevideo. Nearby neighbors like Brazil, Argentina, and Peru have backed various official stimulus packages for [[infopreneur|infopreneurs]], as well as laws to protect and encourage local [[software]] development. I find these examples to be exciting and it makes me reflect on the opportunity the region has to keep narrowing its digital divide!

A particular highlight in the tech field is Chile. With an initiative that managed to make headway in the demanding world of the social media networks that are so popular these days, Chile has emerged as a technological frontrunner. However, even though an enormous amount of faith has been put on the viability of social networks to facilitate communication during catastrophes (like the recent earthquakes in Chile and the [[Twitter]] rallies worldwide), it was also made very clear to me that both foreign service programs and national human volunteers are still necessary factors in delivering serious relief.

I also discovered the fact that Chile's earthquake has scientifically shortened the day. The geek inside me finds this intriguing ;-) As if the day weren't already short enough, it just got a little shorter according to a report in The Week. The massive, magnitude 8.8 earthquake that rocked Chile on Feb. 27 was so deep and strong that it redistributed the Earth's mass slightly; that movement shifted the axis by about 3 inches, enough to speed up the Earth's rotation. The faster it rotates, the shorter the day. Experts estimate the day is now 1.26 millionths of a second shorter than it used to be, and even though it sounds like an infinitesimal reduction, it is something that will last forever...

Claro! South America is incredibly impressive, and fun and full of light and life ;-) At the tech event I attended in Santiago, sponsored by Chile Ayuda, someone asked "Are you a tech entrepreneur?" "Of course," I said. "Well, I've got a suggestion for you: move south. No, I don't mean to Los Angeles or San Diego, I'm talking about way down south in Chile. They'll welcome you with open arms and offer you incentives." "Thanks for the tip!" I replied. And then I looked at my friend and thought hey, I may need to check this out...
C4N
,
Erin

One of my favorite terms is silver surfer...


...and "silver surfer" is the NetLingo Jargon Word of the Day today ;-)

A silver surfer is an adult, generally 50 years of age or older, who frequently surfs the Web and spends time online ("silver" refers to the color of their hair).

Unlike neophytes, silver surfers are considered netizens, experienced users of the net. The phrase silver surfer is commonly heard in the U.K., but applies to midlife adults (generally those in their 40s, 50s and 60s), and seniors (age 70 and over) everywhere. Here are a few humorous U.K. expressions I get a kick out of: BHIMBGO, BHOF, BARB, WOOF

The fact is surfing the Internet is great exercise for the aging brain! It helps keep you mentally sharp and feeling connected. Read my prior post "Know Any Silver Surfers? Get Them Online!" here. There are several online communities dedicated to silver surfers, in fact ThirdAge.com is definitely worth checking out. And if you haven't already done so, subscribe to the NetLingo Jargon Word of the Day here!
Cheers to the WOGs,
Erin
p.s. If you like the comic book character Silver Surfer, you should quick meet Surfus too...

Just another day in the life of Web head


I was catching a little junk sleep in the cube farm this morning when I woke up and suspected that a carnivore had attacked my inbox. I had a drunk mouse and sure enough, my zen mail messages had been carpet bombed and the bots , spiders and Trojans were winning the war against my firewall. I called tech support, who gave me the usual technobabble which bottom line meant it was going to be an all day repair job.

I could see from my peer-to-peer networking system that the net.god upstairs in the nerve center was trying to fix the problem and boil the ocean at the same time, the digiterati in the next cubicle were working on some new neologisms, and the neo-luddites across the way were talking about the latest in netsploitation. The network pirate two doors down was looking sinister this morning and the rest of the geeks, like me were just checking out the shareware girls as they, and the rest of the cappuccino cowboys, came to work.

I still considered myself a wild duck so decided it was the moment to take the nerd bird and pitch my shrink-wrap software, technopuppet idea to a guerrilla marketing drive-by VC in the Valley, Mr. Joe Letsdoit. I grabbed my smart phone, Googled it, then MapQuested it (I still like it better than Google Earth ;-) and headed for the airport before my seagull manager arrived. Within a few hours I was in Joe’s office ready to do my dog-and-pony show. Joe turned out to be pretty much of a drump and today he was experiencing a little ticker shock. He immediately asked me to open my kimono before even signing an NDA. I did, he groked my idea, but was already looking for a way to greenwash it. He said he had to keiretsu the idea and would get back to me.

I made the barbie bird flight back, stopped by Sharper Image with the rest of the technojunkies and made it home in time to work on my text-to-speech app for tomorrows office presentation by yours truly, the demo monkey, also known as waldo. The current look is cross of cornea gumbo and angry garden salad, but my main purpose tomorrow is to make sure everyone is eating our own dog food. That is, of course, if the tier zero propellerheads in IT haven’t jerry-rigged my system. Oh well, at least it wasn't a total salmon day. HIOOC, better head to *$ before I burn the candle at both ends, C4N!

Lifestreaming: The New Over Flow of Info

Trying to stay on top of technology is no easy task. Fortunately it is one that I love. Especially when I get to learn about new and intriguing technology that ultimately impacts us users. And then I get to try and explain it ;-) but for me that's the fun part.

Take lifestreaming for instance...

I just read an excellent column by Paul Gillin in BtoB who recently joined the Posterous parade and subscribed to Google Sidewiki. You've got to love a columnist who's second sentence out of the gate is "These technologies are going to mess you up."
Here's what he had to say:

"Posterous is one of the emerging class of so-called lifestreaming tools (Ping.fm is another) that magnify the voice of individuals by syndicating their comments through multiple online outlets. With Posterous, my messages automatically ripple out to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, my blog and even video- and photo-sharing sites. Post to Posterous and be published everywhere.

Sidewiki is, potentially, even more disruptive. Google describes it as a way to “contribute helpful information to any Web page,” but it is really an invitation for customers to take over your site. A feature of the latest version of the Google toolbar, Sidewiki enables anyone to share commentary about any Web page. With a single click, visitors can see other people's opinions in an adjacent sidebar.

Services such as Posterous, Sidewiki and Google's new Wave platform are taking the commercial Internet to a new level. The first 15 years of the Web were all about sites: Information had a virtual home, and it was up to the visitor to find it. That scenario is about as efficient as requiring friends to come into your living room to hear your movie review.

The next evolution of the Web will take us beyond the site to a metaphor based upon content. Twitter began the journey three years ago with a service that casts messages into cyberspace to be caught wherever readers choose to catch them. Twitter has a Web site, but the majority of its active members send and receive tweets through third-party readers. Nearly every social platform will offer this kind of integration in short order.

These trends will disrupt traditional concepts of influence. Individual opinions will increasingly be magnified and syndicated through channels that can't easily be evaluated by monitoring comments, trackbacks and Technorati rankings. Marketing messages will be less important than the audience's validation of those messages. The winners will be the companies that do the best job of enticing constituents to do the talking for them." Fantastic!

Read more articles by Paul Gillin, a consultant who specializes in community journalism and social media, on his website, http://www.gillin.com

Can You Really Get "Addicted" to the Web?

Apparently yes, you really can get "addicted" to the Web. And despite the many jokes about it, Web addiction is becoming more serious for both teens and adults.

Researchers are finding that teens who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to become addicted to the Internet. They are also finding that adults who spend many hours everyday involved in pornographic websites, gaming sites, and online communities are likely to be depressed, according to The Week.

Internet addiction has been a problem for the South Koreans and Chinese who, because they embraced mobile technology much earlier on than we did, are already going to rehab for Internet addiction. Now Americans have an Internet rehab facility too. A new center called reSTART opened in Washington, ironically near the Redmond headquarters of Microsoft. For $14,000 it offers a 45-day program intended to help people wean themselves from pathological computer use, which can include obsessive use of video games, texting, Facebook, eBay, Twitter and any other time-killers brought courtesy of technology.

Are you or is someone you love addicted to the Internet? Take this test and find out!

As more studies continue to emerge about teens and adults who "spend nearly every waking minute on the net or playing video games" the chicken-and-egg question remains unsolved: Does heavy Internet use cause people to be depressed and lonely, or do depressed and lonely people gravitate to excessive time on the Internet?
What do you think?
Erin

The iPad: Will it change your life?

Fans of Apple's new iPad are predicting it will have a revoltuionary impact, changing the way people consume books, newspapers, and magazines, and bringing high-definition movies, videos, and TV shows to a protable, right-sized screen. Count me among the converted, said Farhad Manjoo in Slate.com as reported in The Week. Having just handled one myself, count me among the converted too!

The thin, flat, 1.5 pound wonder unveiled by Apple founder Steve Jobs this month is a perfect hybrid of laptop and smart phone. It will enable people to cruise the Internet and read email on a relatively large, almost magical touch screen. It runs for 10 hours, without having to be recharged. Best of all, it's a huge upgrade on Amazon's Kindle, providing a more intimate, full-color alternative in which the user sees two pages at a time, with a crease down the middle. Readers can turn pages instantaneously with a flick of their fingers.

"The iPad is undeniably cool, but it's hard to see where it will fit in," said Nancy Dillon in the New York Daily News. "It's another device I never knew I needed." The iPad has no digital camera, so you can't use it for video calls. It doesn't multitask (what!), so you can't surf the Web shile checking email (hello?). And it can't run applications that Apple hasn't approved. Having said that, Version 2.0 is sure to be better.

Tablet devices like theiPad are the wave of the future, destined to make your PC obsolete. Today, most poeple want their computers to connect to the vast databases of the Internet--known as the cloud--whenever they want and wherever they are. The iPad, for all its imperfections, has made that movement inexorable. "Whether it finds mainstream success or not, there's no going back."

Have you tried the iPad yet?
Erin

Can Facebook Affect Your Credit?


It's become common practice for marketers to glean information from social networking sites. Now, like many campus admission boards and future employers, financial lenders are studying your Facebook and Twitter updates "to gauge your creditworthiness." In particular, small, private lenders seem most likely to tune into your tweets to get a better idea of your lifestyle and how likely you are to pay.

As crazy as it sounds, your digital footprint is also based on your tweets. "Chances are slim" that larger lenders bother to keep tabs on you in detail -- but if they do, it could be considered a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. To be safe, give lenders, and any non-personal accounts, a different email address from the one attached to your private or social networking accounts.

Internet Terms for Word Lovers Worldwide

Before he passed away, William Safire asked me to compile a list of new Internet terms that were both clever and relevant. Even though he referenced NetLingo in his column, the list never got published. Here are 25 Internet terms for word lovers, enjoy!

vlog - (pronounced like blog) - It is a blog that provides a video journal on a subject rather than text entries. Basically this is blogging using video, and can best be thought of as an online video diary. Video blogs may be watched on the computer or downloaded to a portable device for later viewing. Like audio Podcasts, vlogs may also be delivered on demand via RSS feeds.

blogosphere - "Reaction was swift in the blogosphere." Blogs are transforming the way journalists report, filter and break the news. Are you part of the community?

phishing - (pronounced "fishing") - An online scam in which the perpetrator sends out a large number of legitimate looking e-mails that appear to come from respected companies, but in fact lead to a spoof Web site in order to steal your information. I've listed everything you need to know including an example.

pharming (pronounced "farming") - The latest cyberswindle, pharming, threatens to reel in entire schools of victims. It is a fast-spreading online scam which redirects Web users to phony sites where criminals can capture passwords and other data. Unlike phishing, which targets one user at a time, pharming nabs multiple victims at once.

harvest or harvesting - Similar to the traditional definition of gathering crops off the fields, harvesting in the online world refers to gathering e-mail addresses or IM addresses from the Internet. For example, harvesting is the leading method spammers use to acquire new addresses.

keylogger - Short for keystroke logging, this is a computer program or a hardware device designed to record a user's keystrokes. The "keylogger" records everything the user types in, including e-mails, login names, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account info, etc., in order to steal this information. It was originally created as a diagnostic tool for software development. Known as the computer virus that takes spying on victims to another level, this malicious program is capable of switching on a webcam for instance, allowing the hacker to literally peek into victims' lives!

whack - Online jargon used to describe a forward slash (/) in a URL. For example: you may hear "http colon whack whack dub-dub-dub dot netlingo dot com". I've heard it 8 times in the last week! For a full explanation, and a second definition, look it up in the dictionary.

RFID (pronounced: R-F-I-D) It used to be for cattle, now it's for humans. High-tech tagging goes mainstream, you've got to read these real life examples!

RSS - "Really Simple Syndication" which is basically a format for syndicating Web content. To learn more about it, see examples, and get the code to use it yourself, go to this definition.

ransom note - Chances are you've seen one of these by now but didn't know it had a name. You know, those images of wavy letters
or numbers you have to manually type in to go to the next page. Go to this definition to see an example.

geocaching - Got an adventurous streak? Are you a gadget freak? How about a big fan of the great outdoors? Then this high-tech treasure hunt may be for you...

travel bug - This refers to the hidden cache or newly discovered treasure one locates when geocaching.

telematics - This describes the technology that wirelessly connects the electronics in a vehicle to external hardware, usually GPS satellites. The role of telematics will expand to allow music to download directly to a car stereo through a wireless broadband connection. In fact, the Consumer Electronics Association predicts that the future of telematics lies in entertainment: TV, movies and games piped into the car wirelessly.

silver surfer - An adult, generally 50 years of age or older, who frequently surfs the Web and spends time online. Unlike neophytes, silver surfers are considered netizens.

hot spot - Many national and local retailers, especially coffee shops, are now hot spots, places with wireless Internet connections.

tribal knowledge - For those of you who have worked on a particular project since its inception, you're more than just a knowledge worker, you've got tribal knowledge.

breadcrumb - This one is clever, it's the nickname for the kind of top navigation menu that uses a string of section names to identify where you are. Used as a verb it's even better, such as "We can breadcrumb this section so we don't have to pile up content in the left nav." Go to this link to see an example.

eating your own dog food - If you're in the software industry and you're not "eating your own dog food" you'd better sit up. Even Microsoft does it daily. The phrase "eating your own dog food" has morphed into a verb: "We've got to dog-food that product" (meaning we've got to start using our own product internally at our company).

cookies - you've heard of them, are you sure you know what they are? If you do, then you know it is important to find, view, edit, and delete some of them on a regular basis. Speaking of cookies, they continue to prevail as an important Internet technology and like many good oldies but goodies, their usage has since morphed into a verb: "Don't worry about the backend reporting yet, we first have to cookie them." Love it!

little r - Yesterday I received an e-mail at work from a colleague asking "Can you please little "r" me?" I was like, what does that mean?

photonics (pronounced: foe-tahn-ix) - foreign to you? Over the coming years it will become as much a part of the popular lexicon as "electronics" is today. It is the science and technology of using light particles (photons) to carry information over hair-thin fibers of glass (as in fiber-optics).

microphotonics - It is said that photonic crystals are to photons what semiconductors are to electrons. Things keep getting smaller.

push - as opposed to pull, do you know difference? Is the Web push or pull technology? Is e-mail push or pull? Answer: The Web is pull technology and e-mail is push. It's easy to understand once you read the explanations.

contextually aware - Wireless apps of the future will know what you're doing, where you're doing it, and maybe even why. The idea is also known as
"conceptually aware" software and networks. I love reporting on stuff like this, but are we really ready for all these sensors?

grid computing - A form of networking that uses the resources of many computers in a network to a single problem at the same time. IBM's VP for
Internet strategies says, "it's the next big thing." Alien enthusiasts, on the other hand, have known about it for quite some time :^)

cloud computing - A style of computing in which dynamic, scalable and virtual resources are provided over the Internet. Cloud computing refers to services that provide common business applications online, which are accessed from a Web browser, while the software and data are stored on the servers.

If you haven't already, use the links to subscribe to NetLingo: The Blog ;-)
Erin

Tasty Tidbits on the Tech Front

Will you take me so I can text?
The traditional quest to get a driver's license at 16 is on the wane, as a generation hooked on texting, Facebook, and being driven around by parents no longer sees independent mobility as critical to their social lives. Just 30.7 percent of 16-year-olds got their licenses in 2008, down from 44.7 percent in 1988. - The Washington Post

The Always, Always, Always-On Generation
It's hardly news that young people are fascinated with social media, video games, TV, and iPods, but a new study finds the average young person from 8 to 18 now spends literally every waking moment outside of school on the Internet, watching TV, listening to music on MP3 players, texting, or using some other electronic device. That comes to kids spending an average of seven and half hours daily consuming media in some form, AND, when you include multitasking, kids actually consume close to 11 hours' worth of content in that time. Study co-author Donald Roberts said, "This is a stunner."
- The Kaiser Family Foundation

What happened with Google, something about China?
The Internet giant announced last week that it would stop censoring its Chinese search engine, after suffering what it called a "sophisticated cyber-attack" on the private Google email accounts of Chinese dissidents. Google stopped short of blaming Beijing directly for the attack, but the company's actions speak volumes. Since 2006, Chinese users searching for "Tiananmen Square massacre" or "Dalai Lama" have come up empty. Now, says Google, all searches will be unfiltered, even if it means the company's expulsion from China and the loss of around $600 million in annual revenue. - The Week

Privacy Watch: The FBI Illegally Snooped
The FBI illegally gathered records of more than 2,000 domestic telephone calls between 2002 and 2006, by invoking nonexistent terrorist threats or by simply asking phone companies for the information. The bureau often justified the privacy violations by issuing approvals for its record-collecting after the fact. Calling their methods "good hearted but not well thought-out," FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni said, "We should have stopped those request from being made that way." Records show that FBI managers continued to approve requests for records for two years after bureau lawyers raised concerns. - The Washington Post

How the Feds Actually Helped Spies and Hackers
Google made headlines recently when it announced that computer hackers, presumably from China, had broken into its servers, said Bruce Schneier. What is less well known is that the U.S. government inadvertently aided the hackers. After 9/11, at Washington's request, Google created a backdoor access system that allows the feds to spy on email and other Internet transactions. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access, and it's not just foreign spies who are sneaking through the backdoor: U.S. intelligence agents have been caught using their access to spy on wives, girlfriends, and notables such as President Clinton. Criminals have broken in to steal credit card and back account information. Far from making us more secure, these systems put us all at greater risk. - CNN.com

The CES in Vegas was a Success
A comprehensive keynote address from Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and innovative product announcements from top technology companies fueled excitement at the 2010 International CES, the world's largest tradeshow for consumer technology. Owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association, the show this year featured the world’s most innovative new technologies, from android products and apps to tablets, eReaders, netbooks and smartphones. View a list of the new products announced at the 2010 CES here.

Is the iPad another game changer?
Like other revolutionary products by Apple, the industry is buzzing about how the iPad could change the way people use media. Apple CEO Steve Jobs described the iPad as "a third category of device" that falls between a laptop and a smart phone. Known as a tablet, or netbook, publishers are betting the device and its bright 10-inch screen, will renew interest in reading books online (which are conveniently available at Apple's new iBooks store ;-) Read more here.

As seen in The Week, subscribe to The Week here!
Happy February,
Erin

I'll Say It Again: Big Brother Really is Watching You

"How do you feel about the federal government's spying on everything you do online, every call you make, every trip you take?" asked Brian Doherty of The American Conservative. Get used to it.


Thanks to the "massive security apparatus" erected after 9/11 , the government now wiretaps international calls without warrants, creates profiles of citizens even if they're not suspected of specific crimes, and seizes information without judicial oversight.

In this brave new world, private companies--"to which we entrust more and more information about what we are saying, writing, buying, and thinking:--willingly turn over reams of information about their customers. Much of this takes place secretly, but it has been confirmed, for example, that Sprint Nextel provided the government with GPS locations of its subscribers 8 million times in a recent one-year period, and that the National Security Agency built a secret room at an AT&T center in San Francisco "to grab all its Internet traffic." In our wired age, the paranoids with aluminum-foil hats are essentially right: The government is now monitoring everything you do. - As seen in The Week

For more online shocking online privacy revelations, watch Big Brother, Big Business,
Erin

New: TXT MSGing Helps Develop Spelling


This just in: Text messaging is found to help develop rather than damage spelling. A new study reported by the BBC found that children who regularly use the abbreviated language of text messages are actually improving their ability to spell correctly.

A study of eight- to 12-year-olds found that rather than damaging reading and writing, "text speak" is associated with strong literacy skills. Researchers say text language uses word play and requires an awareness of how sounds relate to written English.

Improving 'hmwrk'
The study suggests that students who regularly use text language - with all its mutations of phonetic spelling and abbreviations - also appear to be developing skills in the more formal use of English. If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it, according to one researcher.

The research, part-funded by the British Academy, suggests that texting requires the same "phonological awareness" needed to learn correct spellings. So when pupils replace or remove sounds, letters or syllables - such as "l8r" for "later" or "hmwrk" for "homework" - it requires an understanding of what the original word should be.

Instead of texting being a destructive influence on learners, the academics argue that it offers them a chance to "practise reading and spelling on a daily basis". Using initials and abbreviations and understanding phonetics and rhymes are part of texting - but they are also part of successful reading and spelling development.

As I've always said to educators and parents, don't get frustrated, get creative. If text shorthand is helping kids write more or communicate more , that's great, that's what teachers and educators want, to get students communicating. Read more and listen to Erin's radio interview on Voice of America about how experts are divided over Internet changes to language.
CUL8R,
Erin

Hi from Silicon Valley, time for a little laugh!


It's a new year, you got a new job, and you're moving to a new city? It's all part of the American experience. If you haven't gotten a chuckle over this one yet, enjoy! Read it to the beat of the song, "The Beverly Hillbillies."

Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed,
A poor college kid, barely kept his family fed,
But then one day he was talking to a recruiter,
Who said, "They pay big bucks if ya work on a computer..."

Windows, that is... PC's... Internet...

Well, the first thing ya know ol' Jed's an engineer.
The kinfolk said "Jed, move away from here."
They said, "California is the place ya oughta be,"
So he packed up his disks and moved to Silicon Valley...

Intel, that is... Pentium... big amusement park...

On his first day at work, they stuck him in a cube.
Fed him lots of donuts and sat him at a tube.
They said "your project's late, but we know just what to do.
Instead of 40 hours, we'll work you 52!"

OT, that is... unpaid... no personal days...

The weeks rolled by and things were looking pretty bad.
Schedules started slipping and some managers were mad.
They called another meeting and decided on a fix.
The answer was simple... "We'll work him 66!"

Tired, that is... stressed out... no social life...

Months turned to years and his hair was turning gray.
Jed worked very hard while his life slipped away.
Waiting to retire when he turned 64,
Instead he got a call and escorted out the door.

Laid off, that is... debriefed... unemployed...

Now the moral of the story is listen to what you're told,
Companies will use you and discard you when you're old.
So gather up your friends and start up your own firm,
Beat the competition, watch the bosses squirm.

Millionaires, that is... Bill Gates... Steve Jobs...

Y'all come back for blog updates now... ya hear ;-)
Erin

It's the Largest List of Text & Chat Acronyms

Now in print! It's outrageous, it's fun, it's a great gift. Our new book "NetLingo: The List" is both a handy desktop reference and a "coffee table meets toilet humor" book containing thousands of hilarious sayings used by millions of people.

NetLingo is the leader in tracking online terms and "NetLingo: The List" is the largest collection of text and chat acronyms:

* People magazine says "The NetLingo Guide to acronyms is super!"
* It's modern, it's shocking, it's funny, it's real, it's timely, it's handy, it educates, it entertains
* Explains the difference between acronyms, abbreviations, shorthand, initialisms, and leetspeak
* Takes an inside look at the dynamic language that eludes conformity or consistency
* Contains a cornucopia of crude humor, sexual content, profanity, drug & alcohol references
* Material is not appropriate for children under 12 due to mature and suggestive themes
* Only $9.95, get copies of "NetLingo: The List" here!

OMG, that is so last century...

Do you remember the days when a family would sit together and chat as they ate breakfast? How about the time when adults would read the newspaper and competed only with the television for the attention of their kids?

Today the morning routine is more likely to revolve around parents checking e-mail and Facebook and Twitter accounts, and kids sending text messages, playing video games and updating their social networking profiles.

Welcome to 2010! If you're like most people, this new routine can cause some conflict and complaints, mainly that technology is eating into family time. According to a recent article in the New York Times, this is morning in America in the Internet age. After six to eight hours of network deprivation --also known as sleep-- people are increasingly waking up and lunging for cellphones and laptops, sometimes even before swinging their legs to the floor and tending to more biologically urgent activities =:-0

If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you may want to make a New Year's resolution: Resist the impulse of diving into the digital domain so early and instead, set aside family time. Meeting your own standards will be tough as your CrackBerry will be tempting you, but switching from work mode to parenting mode is important, especially if technology has started to take precedence over morning cereal. And don't forget to walk to dog who's most likely been doing a longer dance each day at the door <(-'.'-)>

Happy New Year everyone!
Erin

NetLingo Top 10 Internet Words of 2009

NetLingo.com announces the Top 10 Internet Words of 2009! Listed in alphabetical order and chosen for their popularity, here are the Top 10 Internet Words of 2009 according to NetLingo.com:


anime - the reason why kids are learning Japanese
cloud computing - software as a service is a must know
flash mob - how social media impacts world revolutions
meme - the new viral, it's an idea that spreads quickly
OMG - I thought he'd never leave, next year it will be ZMG
sexting - to send sexy pics on cell phones is all the rage
Twitter - #1 most popular term is spawning a new lingo
twitterverse - check it out for 12 more twitterati terms
unfriend - New Oxford American Dictionary word of year
Web 2.0 - the one millionth word added to English

Make one of your New Year's resolutions to learn more lingo by signing up for our Word of the Day newsletters... Happy New Year 2010 everyone!
HHTYAY,
Erin

Erin named Top 25 Women in Tech to Watch

Erin Jansen, founder of NetLingo.com, has been named to the first annual AlwaysOn "Top 25 Women in Tech to Watch" List. This year's winners will be celebrated at a special luncheon, presented by Accenture, at "Venture Summit Silicon Valley," taking place Tuesday, December 8, 2009. Selection for the list was based on the following criteria: overall innovation, ability to identify new market opportunities, commercialization of new products and services, creation of stakeholder value, and media buzz and awareness in the tech community.

Venture Summit Silicon Valley is a two-day gathering that highlights the significant economic, political, and technology trends impacting the global growth investor. The Venture Summit features the most influential venture capitalists and angel investors, corporate buyers, investment bankers, and entrepreneurs in keynote presentations and panel debates. Erin will be attending the Venture Summit, you can learn more about her here!

I had an affair with Tiger Woods


That's the punchline my girlfriend is using these days, she even wants to get t-shirts made. But despite all of the viral jokes about Tiger's philandering, it's sad. The lesson? Aside from his infidelity issues, Tiger got caught because of his digital footprint. That's right, recently called telephone numbers left on his cell phone and hundreds of text messages saved on someone else's mobile device got Tiger caught in the digital act.

As I research technology and the psychological impact it has on our lives, I find myself questioning what do we value most? Judging by how we spend our time, it's definitely our computers. Most people spend more time with their computers than with their spouse or significant other. More than 80% report that they grow more dependent on their computer every year and 24% say the Internet can serve as a substitute for a significant other. The fact that 1 in 3 boys ages 13 and 14 are considered heavy online porn users, and that 11% of adults say they'd be willing to implant a device in their brains that would allow them to access the Internet, causes reason for concern. (Source: The Week)

Computers are also a growing source of stress. The average person experiences frustrating computer problems twice a month and wastes 12 hours a month due to computer problems and hours each day due to the side effects of multitasking. Not to mention the stress and humiliation of getting busted because you left your digital footprint behind! As I've said before, the advice is to either not engage in improper activities or only communicate about such activities in person, in real time. Just ask Tiger, this thing hasn't even gone viral yet.

It's Outrageous, it's Fun, it's a Great Gift!

The new NetLingo book is a handy guide of every text abbreviation and chat acronym you'll ever need to know! Just in time for the holidays, "NetLingo: The List" is a great "gag" gift and conversation starter to say the least. Not recommended for children under 12 due to adult content, this "coffee table meets toilet humor" book contains thousands of hilarious sayings used by millions of people.

NetLingo is the leader in tracking online terms and "NetLingo: The List" is the largest collection of text and chat acronyms to date! More than 82 million people text regularly, it's no wonder you've seen some of this cryptic looking code... but you haven't seen it all until you've seen "NetLingo: The List." Get a few copies to give to your peeps today!

* Material is not appropriate for children under 12 due to mature and suggestive themes
* Contains a cornucopia of crude humor, sexual content, profanity, drug & alcohol references,
* It's modern, it's shocking, it's funny, it's real, it's timely, it's handy, it educates, it entertains
* It's for parents and professionals, educators and enthusiasts, everyone who gets online
* Explains the difference between acronyms, abbreviations, shorthand, initialisms, and leetspeak
* Take an inside look at the dynamic language that eludes conformity or consistency
* People magazine says "The NetLingo Guide to acronyms is super!"
* Great gift for adults, only $9.95, get copies of "NetLingo: The List" here!

Happy December everyone,
Erin

Tasty Tidbits from the Tech Front


Reduce your carbon footprint with the best holiday gift I've seen! Consumers obsessed with the "need to upgrade" are flooding landfills with non-biodegradable, old cell phones, laptops, and iPods.

The MOTO W233 Renew offers a potential solution.
The first "carbon neutral" cell phone is constructed with a casing made from 100 percent recycled water bottles. It even comes with a prepaid envelope for when you inevitably need to dispose of it; just mail it back to Motorola to be recycled. Only $49.99, you can buy it on Motorola.com

In social networking news: A new worm is spreading on Facebook. It posts a racy photo on victims' walls. Clicking the image takes users to a porn site. The image is then posted on the user's wall. Yikes! It's unfortunate but true, criminals are increasingly targeting Facebook users so keep aware. And last week 19-year-old Rodney Bradford of Brooklyn, NY convinced police to drop charges that he committed a robbery at 11:50am by proving he'd updated his Facebook page at 11:49am. It's the first criminal case in which a Facebook entry has provided alibi evidence.

In international news: Egypt is launching the world's first Arabic-language Internet domain. The new domain name will be ".masr" --which means ".Egypt" -- written in the Arabic alphabet. "It is a great moment for us," said Egyptian communications minister Tamek Kamel. "Ther Internet now speaks Arabic. "But press-freedom activists warn that content in the new domain would likely be censored. "The fact that Egypt is launching this Arabic domain is ironic really," said Soazig Dollet of Reporters Without Borders. "Egypt is one of the enemies of the Internet." The international Internet regulatory body, ICANN, voted last month to allow use of non-Latin characters in Web addresses.
Source: The Week

And now for something a little crazy: A man marries a video game character... what? A man has married his virtual girlfriend. That's right. The girlfriend is a character in the Love Plus video game. They honeymooned in Guam and held a public wedding reception, read more about it here. Until next time, see you online.
Erin

Generation Gaps at Work: A Look at Gen Y


Twenty-something workers may often seem to be in a "constant whir of socializing," said Jeffrey Zaslow in The Wall Street Journal. They text, they send instant messages, they even tweet. While some worry that "hypersocializing" can kill productivity and dull interpersonal skills, others see the benefits. Younger workers have a "gift for multitasking," and they know how to get "to the pithy essence of an issue." They still schedule a meeting or pick up the phone when it's necessary, says technology analyst Ben Bajarin. "If not, they text."

These days, the generational divide in the workplace isn't defined primarily by what you wear or the music you like, said Alina Tugend in The New York Times. It's defined by how you communicate. Even if you're not about to ditch your land line or use Facebook as a primary means of communication, understand how your younger colleagues communicate, and keep an open mind. For example, don't bother leaving a voicemail when calling someone younger than 30. "They don't listen to them." And if you must send emails, "make them short and sweet - no rambling missives."
See also: generation d, generation e, generation x, generation y

As quoted from our favorite magazine The Week.
Join NetLingo in the coming months as we look at the generational divide in the workplace, online, and in real life. Sign up for our blog updates here!

2009 Word of the Year: unfriend


Unfriend has been named the "2009 Word of the Year" by the New Oxford American Dictionary, chosen from a list of finalists with a tech-savvy bent. "Unfriend has real lex appeal," said Christine Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford's U.S. dictionary program.

"In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year." Other words deemed finalists for 2009 by the dictionary's publisher, Britain's Oxford University Press, came from other technological trends, the economy, and political and current affairs. In technology, there was "hashtag," which is the hash sign added to a word or phrase that lets Twitter users search for tweets similarly tagged; "intexticated" for when people are distracted by texting while driving, and "sexting," which is the sending of sexually explicit SMSes and pictures by cellphone.

Here are some of the other words considered finalists for "2009 Word of the Year" -- netbook, paywall, freemium, funemployed, zombie bank, birther, choice mom, death panel, teabagger, brown state, green state, ecotown, deleb, and tramp stamp; to learn more about these terms, check out David Coursey's article in PC World.
AAYF,
Erin

Americans send 4 billion texts each day


Twice a year, the organization representing the wireless industry puts out facts and figures on how much we're using our cell phones in the U.S., and each time the survey results are announced, the findings are astounding.

The big number this time around, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association: In the past six months alone, Americans sent an estimated 740 billion text messages, which equals about 4.1 billion text messages each day!

Or look at it like this: An SMS has a maximum capacity of 160 characters, let's say (for the sake of example) that your average text message is about 80 characters long. And let's assume that your average novel contains about 100,000 words, and each word has about five letters. Assuming all that, we here in the States are writing the equivalent of about 656,000 books--all via SMS--every 24 hours. At that rate, we could match the entire catalog of the entire New York Public Library system (which holds about 20.4 million books) in a little over a month.

A few other interesting facts and figures from the CTIA survey:
* The average cell phone bill in June 2009 was $49.57, up more than a buck from June 2008;
* The average length of a voice call was just 2.03 minutes, shorter than any other year since the CTIA started keeping records in 1988;
* There are about 276,610,580 wireless subscribers in the U.S., up about 14 million from last year, and more than double the number in 2002;
* The various wireless carriers (or at least the ones who reported figures to the CTIA) raked in $151.2 billion in revenue from June 2009 to June 2008—again, more than double what they made in 2002.

In any case, if the CTIA's tally of 740 billion text messages in the past six months stays on track through the rest of the year, we'll pass 2008's total of one trillion text messages easily, ending up at nearly a trillion and a half messages for 2009 (and remember, that's just in the U.S.). Can anyone say information overload?

The full CTIA survey results can be read here. Sign up to get the NetLingo blog on your Yahoo or Google page here!

Trick or Tweet: Tidbits from the Tech Front


Facebook plans to keep profiles of the dead. Death doesn't erase the digital footprints that people leave in life and Facebook has announced it won't erase them either. The site will "memorialize" profiles of the dead if their friends or family request it.

Such accounts will be different from regular Facebook profiles, according to The Associated Press. For example, the site will remove any contact information and bar people from logging in. The person's profile also won't appear in the "suggestions" section of Facebook, and only the deceased person's confirmed friends will be able to find them in a search. The development comes as Facebook becomes an important social hub for its more than 300 million active users worldwide to keep up with friends and family.

And in other social networking news...

Hollywood studios have begun inserting anti-Twitter clauses into stars' contracts in order to prevent leaks of confidential information via social networking. Cameron Diaz and Mike Myers are among the first to sign contracts including language said The Hollywood Reporter. Their contracts with DreamWorks for the next film in the Shrek franchise are said include a clause forbidding postings to any "social networking site, blog, or other Internet-type site."

And finally, in a special story called "Trick or Tweet" Wired reported that as many as one in every 500 links posted on Twitter lead to sites hosting malware. The spread of malware is aided by the popular use of short URLs on Twitter, which generally hide the real website address from users before they click on a link, preventing users from self-filtering links that appear to be dodgy. As I've said before, if you're a Twitter user you should learn how to handle these short URLs. There are several ways to see the underlying URL, unfortunately most methods are still inconvenient.

One of the easiest ways to check short URLs is an add-on for Firefox called Long URL Please. It automatically converts any short URL on the Web. You won’t even see a short URL, you’ll only see the underlying link. Others take more work, for example, Untiny and PrevURL will check short URLs for you but you have to copy and paste the short URL into these sites. Or if you’re an avid Twitter user, you might like TweetDeck. It organizes your Twitter account on your desktop and can preview most short URLs. Of course in every case, you may see URLs you don’t recognize so you still won’t know if the site is safe.
MfG,
Erin