November 20, 2008
MacArthur Study Says Teen Tech A Good Thing
It seems that the embrace of technology by youth to communicate and learn is something positive and not the decline of the world as we know it. The MacArthur Foundation commissioned a two year study called Living and Learning With New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project. The results contradict common perceptions that the Internet is turning young people into socially maladroit loners who will never see the sun or another human being unless via avatar.
Some ideas from the report: Conceptually, instant and constant communication allows friends to hang out with each other as an extension of offline lives. Exploring new media opportunities online opens up new avenues of creativity and expression. (If that sounds like the 60s all over again, maybe it is as delivered through a fiber optic cable.) The mechanisms of communication and media also teach people, and in some sense, help socialize them. People can teach each other using these tools. This is not to suggest the overthrow of the educational system, but tools that extend and change the way the system works.
So, as it stands, a teenager with an iPhone is not necessarily a bad thing. That's great news. Now I can go back to being old.
November 18, 2008
Founder Jerry Yang Giving Up CEO Position at Yahoo!
So Jerry Yang is leaving his CEO role at Yahoo, staying as a board member and "Chief Yahoo." Speculation leads to another Microsoft deal? Steve Ballmer was pretty clear that Yang was an impediment in doing a deal. The price may be right with Yahoo stock way down from earlier in the year. The problem is the economic downturn adds a layer of difficulty in pulling enough cash together to make a deal. Not that Microsoft is hurting for cash. The credit markets may be just a bit iffy these days for some merger deals. It might take a bit more effort to put a deal together. Now we wait for Microsoft to indicate whether or not the interest is there. Whatever happens, it will not be business as usual at Yahoo. That's probably a good thing.
November 17, 2008
Classmate.com Marketing Spawns Class Action Suit
Consider Classmates.com and their latest marketing effort. Last year they told at least one free user (and probably more) that he had email messages from former classmates who were trying to get hold of him. However, they only way to see those messages was to upgrade to a paid service tier. That user, Anthony Michaels, went to the premium service at $15 per month and discovered that no one was trying to contact him through Classmates. Michaels became a bit peeved at the site and its tactics and decided to file a class action suit. The status of that suit is pending.
Talk about a way to meet friends with a common interest. Here's an idea for enterprising social network operators. Why not create a site around class actionable grievances? Get people and lawyers together in one social site to share injuries and slights from common sources. I understand that ethical rules regarding the solicitation of clients may affect the business model. Somehow, somewhere there has to be a clever developer who can come up with a model that works. Who knows how many lawyers and potential clients might sign up to cash in on mesothelioma, telephone company billing practices, and other unchecked corporate (read deep pocket) activities. Some social web sites such as Facebook have groups that revolve around discontent. However, this idea suggests that discontent can be channeled into legal action resulting in a possible payout some five years or so later. (Disclaimer: this last paragraph was a badly written social satire. If anyone out there wants to give it a go, be my guest. I won't sue.)
More on the Classmates.com suit from ABC News. [MG]