Monthly Archives: March 2009

Digital literacy proposals in the UK

According to a report in The Guardian the UK Government is considering introducing digital literacies to the primary school curriculum. Under the web-based learning proposals, children would learn familiarity with blogging, podcasting, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and communication. 

I think it is fascinating that Twitter gets such a high profile, but then I’m not surprised about it. Twitter is a form of online SMS but with a lot extra, and text messaging is hugely popular. The proposals also demonstrate a high level of confidence about the usefulness of content on Wikipedia, and the continuity of short messaging services online.
That being said, I would think the thrust of the proposals are more likely to on the use of the web for finding information and for communication, whatever the applications in use now might be.

Skype now has the largest share of international voice traffic

According to research firm TeleGeography, Skype now has the largest share of international voice traffic. Skype’s cross-border international traffic grew by 41% over 2008 to 33 billion minutes. Not bad for a company that launched just 5 years ago.

This result squares with my expectations in that the global economic meltdown will drive higher use of low-cost communications services. Other contributing factors are likely to include take-up of broadband internet connections, including mobile connectivity over smart–phones, notebooks and netbooks.

Future Montage Vision

After have developed scenarios in collaboration with others, Microsoft put together an excelled video montage of our possible future lives, including at work and at home, in 2019. Drawing on long-term trends, customer challenges and emerging technologies, the montage gives examples of how current prototypes might evolve.

Check out the video here – it is less than 2 minutes! A lot easier to consume than a multi-page tech trends paper :)

How many emerging technologies can you pick? Here’s a few that I noted:
  • augmented technology
  • e-health technologies
  • digital wallets
  • display technologies including 3D, electronic newspapers, transparent digital walls and ultra-thin displays
  • Identification management including biological 
  • Location sensing and context aware technologies
  • Real-time conversation translations
  • Touch 
  • Ubiquitous computing

I know that the montage is still a Microsoft view of the future so you take it for what it is. I’ve got to say though, based on my own horizon scanning experience the vision displayed in the montage is a reasonable one…although just how widely available is another question. Of the technologies listed above, only the transparent wall stood out as new development. I’ve been tracking developments in others for as long as seven years. 

Whatever else you may take away, can I suggest that the video is a great way to get a sense of the pace of change on the horizon.

Social self-regulation

There have been some interesting issues around social media/social network self-regulation over the last few days. 
In the UK right now there is pressure on Twitter to lift their self-regulatory performance. As far as I can see, Twitter gets rid of users that post harmful or illegal content. Maybe not as fast as they could though.
I think it was Facebook (FB) that recently got rid of some 5,000 sex offenders from their site.

However, in an interesting twist, FB has gone social in developing a new set of self-regulatory controls. FB has proposed a set of principles and rights & responsibilities on their site and invited users to comment on them. I’ve copied the draft Rights and Responsibilities statement on safety to illustrate what is being proposed. There is clearly a significant burden of responsibility proposed on users.
3. Safety

We do our best to keep Facebook safe, but we cannot guarantee it. We need your help in order to do that, which includes the following commitments:

3.1 You will not send or otherwise post unauthorized commercial communications to users (such as spam).
3.2 You will not collect users’ information, or otherwise access Facebook, using automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without our permission.
3.3 You will not upload viruses or other malicious code.
3.4 You will not solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else.
3.5 You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user.
3.6 You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.
3.7 You will not promote alcohol-related or other mature content without appropriate age-based restrictions.
3.8 You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.
3.9 You will not facilitate or encourage any violations of this Statement.

The question is, will self-regulation be effective? Where should the onus lie – on the service provider or the user: social self-regulation?