Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More news on the "lunch divide"

I recently read a newsletter that ties into a discussion we had earlier in the semester on the "lunch divide" and issues of inequity surrounding free lunch programs. The following link is to a blog discussing State Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-MO)'s views on a summer food program in Missouri. Davis serves as the chairwoman of the Missouri House Special Standing Committee on Children and Families and was quoted in her June newsletter as saying 'Hunger can be a positive motivator.' As Lee Fang points out in the blog, Davis actually extols the hidden benefits of child hunger.

According to Davis, laid off parents should just try homecooked meals rather than going out to eat. Her simplistic analysis of poverty, obesity, work, and the family has left me speechless. To top things off, she's a lawmaker! As the recession continues on and more people are faced with hunger, keep in mind Davis's advice: "If you work for McDonald's, they will feed you for free during your break."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

PayPal and data mining

I stumbled across an interesting article on PayPal's data mining practices, which brings up some serious issues surrounding online privacy and the digital divide. Individuals without established web surfing and online transaction histories are more likely to be labeled as "fraudulent users" and denied access to PayPal's services. By monitoring users' "digital breadcrumbs," PayPal can deny people access to their services based on their credit histories, the ways and means in which users access the web, and other unnecessary discriminatory practices.

I've been using PayPal for at least 7+ years, but have never taken the time to look at their privacy policy. I'm a bit surprised that I haven't thought of examining the fine print on that site, but that's going to change awfully soon. I can only imagine the amount of data that they've collected about me over the 7+ years that I've been a registered user. Yikes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Technological Impediments as Digital Dividers: China

China Requires Censoring Software on New PCs
Published: June 8, 2009

BEIJING — China has issued a sweeping directive requiring all personal computers sold in the country to include sophisticated software that can filter out pornography and other “unhealthy information” from the Internet.

The software, which manufacturers must install on all new PC’s starting July 1, allows the government to update computers regularly with an ever-changing list of banned Web sites...

Read more at the New York Times

Monday, June 01, 2009

FCC releases rural broadband report‎

FCC releases rural broadband report

WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- Improved cooperation between governments, tribes and agencies is needed to extend broadband Internet access to rural America, officials say.

In a congressionally mandated report released Wednesday, acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Copps said enhancing communications between rural authorities is one of the starting points for efforts to establish the high-speed Internet infrastructure vital for rural development, an FCC statement said.

Broadband "is the interstate highway of the 21st century for small towns and rural communities, the vital connection to the broader nation and, increasingly, the global economy," Copps said in the report, entitled, "Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy." "Our nation as a whole will prosper and benefit from a concerted effort to bring broadband to rural America." Read more here.

Download the report here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thanks for a fine semester

Folks, grades have been posted and I want to thank you for a fine seminar. You've inspired me to teach an overload seminar on "the information society" in Fall 2009, so watch for an announcement if you haven't graduated yet.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I hit the "Save Now" button instead of "Publish Post"

When I was going through my RSS feed this morning to delete the posts from LIS 640, I realized that my post about the book I read did not show up. Looking back on the website, I found that I saved my post as a draft instead of publishing it because I hit the wrong button on the bottom of the page. I attached the original text that I was going to put up at the bottom of this post. Sorry that this was a little late.

Thank you to everyone for a great semester. Although I was the token undergraduate in the class, I felt that you all had a great impact on the lessons that I took away from this class. Have a great summer.


Alison Armstrong and Charles Casement’s book The Child and the Machine: How Computers Put Our Children’s Education at Risk provides insight into the world of computer technology within elementary education. Throughout the book, Armstrong and Casement look at the issue of integrating computers into the classroom through different examples. The majority of the book talks about the cognitive development of children and how computers have a negative impact on evolving thought from concrete examples, such as learning to count with Cheerios, to abstract skill sets. Specifically, the authors breakdown how children learn how to read and also how to write. The reading process requires children to think and have a “sensory” connection with the text, such as moving their hands across the page of a book as they read a sentence. Also, the writing process consists of logic rules. Armstrong and Casement feel that computer technology simply spits out images and provides immediate feedback for children, preventing them from thinking on their own.

            The second issue that Armstrong and Casement try to address is the cost of computers within the elementary setting. The Child and the Machine looks at cost through different perspectives, ranging from the initial face cost to the amount of money it takes to update and maintain a stable network environment. There are additional costs, such as security measures to prevent theft, which Armstrong and Casement describe. Armstrong and Casement make the argument that the most important cost that school districts do not successfully implement is the money it takes to provide teachers and other faculty members with adequate technology training. In order to have a successful training program, Armstrong and Casement make the claim that school districts need to allocate 50 percent of their technology budget to training programs. Most schools, however, only provide 1-2% of this budget.

            Overall, the book provided a look into the politics of computers within the classroom and how technology impacts the cognitive development of young children. I felt that the book could have taken a more abstract look at how computers affect the future of students and their socioeconomic placement within the United States. Also, the book is quite outdated and does not mention the impact of Internet technology within the classroom.