Dear Subscribers:A producer at CNN emailed us yesterday. As she put it, she's trying to find "a family that might be willing to work with us on a story about children who are addicted to the Internet. We are working on a special program in conjunction with Time magazine that will look at what life will be like for us as we enter the next century. I am trying to find a family, on the East Coast, that has a child that is really locked into an online existence … who would rather come home and play on the computer than on the playground [or] be with friends…." If any of you are interested, feel free to email us, and we'll forward your email to CNN. They would love to hear from you. The deadline is Monday.
Here's our lineup for this second week of May:
- Moms march, with help from the Net
- State of the world's moms
- Web News Briefs: Netizens not isolated; Newest Net nerds; Britons on kids online; E-health update; Napster the Webby winner; How Ford coped with the virus; Inside a dot-com; Education & the new economy; Tech camp for teachers; and more.
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Million Mom March organizer and New Jersey mom Donna Dees-Thomases "was so shaken by the Granada Hills, Calif., day-camp shooting last August that nine days later she applied for a permit to march in the nation's capital," reports ConnectforKids.org. Donna and her fellow organizers say that, in addition to the timing and deep concern that gun violence arouses in parents, the Internet was key in pulling together this major event - begun in the basements of about 30 moms' homes, nationwide. Connect for Kids talked with three of the Million Moms' organizers, who offer six tips for organizing a national event.
Here's the official Web site of the Million Mom March. The moms have a sense of humor: Don't miss "Mom's Time Out Chair". House of Representatives Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) gets a time out for saying, "This House is a pro-gun House." In response, a mom in Kentucky wrote, "We were under the impression that the House of Representatives was a pro-constituents House." Here, here! And for everybody's prayers and activism, there's the Tapestry of Words, inviting contributions from concerned Netizens everywhere. Our thanks to ConnectforKids.org for its coverage. If any of you march this weekend, we'd love to hear about your experience - via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are yesterday's (Thursday's) stories about the march in the Washington Post: "A Roster of Gunfire's Next of Kin" and "Reno Lauds Million Moms, Urges Tough Gun Laws". They include links to a bunch of earlier marching-moms stories in the Post.
State of the world's moms
Three billion people - half the world's population - are under 25 years of age, according to Save the Children. The organization has just released "the first-ever ranking of the well-being of mothers and children in 106 countries." Entitled "State of the World's Mothers 2000", the report compares developed countries (20) with developing countries (86) on 10 factors concerning the status of the mothers who live in those countries. To measure their status, Save the Children created a "Mothers' Index" because mother-specific data is hard to come by. To gauge mothers' well-being, the Index looks at both mother and child indicators of well-being: health status, modern contraceptive use, literacy, and participation as national government officeholders among mothers and, among children, infant mortality rates, access to safe water, primary school enrollment, and nutrition.
And, based on that research, Save the Children's call to action: a brand-new worldwide campaign called "Save the Children/Save the Mothers Campaign", announced this week.
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Web News Briefs
- Netizens: Far from isolated
In sharp contrast to another recent survey that said Internet use isolates (see our report), a study released this week shows that the Internet tightens family ties. The Pew Internet and American Life Project also found that, in the past six months, 9 million women have gone online for the first time, bringing "gender parity" to the Net's population. "This surge in Internet usage by women is also reshaping America's social landscape because women are using email to enrich their important relationships and enlarge their networks," the project press release reports. Coincidentally but perfectly timed, the study bears out the Million Moms March organizers' experience with the Internet (see our report above).
Here are some highlights from the Pew press release:
- 26 million Americans have used email to start communicating regularly with a family member with whom they had not previously had much contact.
- 24 million have used the Web and email to locate or hunt for family or friends they had lost touch with.
- 16 million say they have learned more about their families since they began using email.
- 30 million are members of families in which someone has created a family Web site.
- 54 million belong to a family where someone in the family has used the Internet to research their family history or genealogy.
Interesting, too, is the survey's look at "Women's Favorite Web Activities" and "Men's Favorite Web Activities".
- Newest Net nerds: UK women
"No longer is the typical online surfer a mid-20s male, who can't get a girlfriend and still lives with his parents," reports British technology news provider The Register. Before the end of the year 60% of the United Kingdom's new Web users will be women 25-40. The data is from the UK Department of Trade and Industry. The Register adds that "the 10 most recognised Web sites" among British women are: Amazon.com, Egg.co.uk (financial), Handbag.com (women), Smile.co.uk (financial), Lastminute.com (travel/entertainment), Letsbuyit.com, Monster.co.uk (job search), Zoom.co.uk (portal), Readytoshop.com, and Bol.com (media e-store). On this side of the "pond": This week FamilyPC rates the top women's Web portals - Oxygen.com, Women.com, iVillage.com, Myria.com, and WomenConnect.com.
- Kids online: The view from Britain
The breaking news about online kids in England was a runaway teen girl's return home. She and her parents had had a "row" over the family's $1,300 Internet service bill (about 900 pounds sterling), according to The Register. Referring to the girl as a "Web addict," The Register reported that "Karen … from County Durham sat at her PC late into the night talking to 'friends' she met in online chatrooms after getting Net access as a Christmas present." The story illustrates a big difference between North American Internet access costs and those in other places: Highly communicative teenagers is probably universal, but the lack of flat-rate Internet access (that North Americans take for granted) can lead to family tensions, not to lighter wallets!
For insight into how Britons are dealing with kids' online safety, we found interesting a report in The Register covering a House of Lords meeting on the subject last September. The British tech news publisher reported that education was the main theme that emerged from the gathering of "children's charities, police, researchers, and Government." "Education is the key to protecting children on the Internet - but in most cases, it's adults that need the schooling, not the kids." The Register suggested that one really memorable video that sticks in the minds of a generation or two of Internet users might be just the thing (for a possible example, see our report, "Online-safety lessons learned: 2 videos").
- 'E-health' update
Patients' interest in using email to consult their physicians outweighs concerns about privacy. That's the indication of a Wired News report on this week's conference in San Francisco about electronic medical records and patient privacy. But that doesn't mean data security wasn't on everybody's minds, Wired says. "In a move to assuage all parties' fears, an independent coalition presented a list of 14 principles to the 4,000 attending doctors, pharmacists, and health-care advocates, and encouraged all health-care sites to adhere to them." Wired's referring to the Health Internet Ethics Coalition of 20 popular health Web sites, many of which have been singled out for not being as careful as they could be about protecting users' medical data (see our report, "Health sites' privacy flaw"). Part 3 of the article has details on the Coalition's 14 principles. The article's a useful update, too, on how this Net industry segment is working out how to give users control of their own health data. Would you consult a physician or want your medical records available online? Feel free to comment.
In other e-health news, the New York Times has a story about how people are beginning to shop on online for the best buys in surgical procedures - not just tummy tucks and face lifts!
- Napster the Webby winner
Just as it began to look like Napster was in a no-win situation, the music-swapping software company won a Webby! The fourth-annual Webby awards (Oscars of the World Wide Web) were announced to a crowd of about 3,000 Thursday night at San Francisco's Masonic Auditorium. The winners, in 28 categories, had to hold their acceptance speeches to five words (not minutes!), according to Wired News (here are Wired's favorite "speeches"). There are some great sites on the winners' list - worth checking out. Meanwhile, the "best music site on the Web" is fighting a losing battle to keep Metallica fans off its service, CNET says. It bumped about 3,000 Napster-using Metallica fans off, in response to Metallica's law suit, but some users figured out a way around the "fix" and posted instructions so others could jump right back into the Metallica tune-swapping game. What does this say about the power of lawsuits on the Internet? If you have any comments, feel free to send 'em.
- The 'Love Bug': How Ford coped
A network administrator's view of life in a very large company is what the New York Times article offers in its writeup of how the "Love Bug" virus affected Ford Motor Company. We would not want to be in the shoes of the sysops responsible for 130,000 desktop computers used by employees speaking 14 languages in 46 countries! Ford was hit hard, the Times reports, with "1,000 computers directly infected and 30,000 salaried employees in Europe alone receiving 140,000 contaminated e-mail messages in the three hours before the network was shut down [last Thursday morning]. Having said that, though, the greatest loss to Ford was mostly in terms of hours of sleep for its network administrators - and the cost of high doughnut and bagel consumption. One Ford manager likened the experience to "a vandalism attack against the outside of an assembly plant." The virus didn't stop production. BTW, how did you cope (did any of your computers catch the virus?)? Do email us.
Meanwhile, for non-corporate PC users, SafeKids.com's Larry Magid offers user-friendly advice for prevention and cure. For the latest "Love Bug" news, CNET has a growing index page linking to all coverage, as does Wired News. CNN.com has a whole backgrounder series on hacking and computer security. And here's an engaging "Love Bug" conspiracy-theory piece in Wired News, pointing the finger first at Net music fans' favorite villain: the Recording Industry Association of America (source of a number of Net music lawsuits).
- Inside a 'dot-com'
No more garage-sale ambience, no more plywood desks, no more pets at work. Those are some of the things that happened at Handshake.com between its first round of venture-capital funding six months ago and its second, according to the Christian Science Monitor, which spent a day at Handshake headquarters both times. The Los Angeles dot-com links consumers with local service merchants. It was founded a year ago this month "by four guys in their 20s" and now has 40 employees. For anyone who has a child or student heading into a career in the Internet industry, this is a must/fun-read.
- Education & the new economy
As for the big picture, few people have quite the Internet overview of "celebrity venture capitalist" John Doerr of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. We found Doerr's keynote talk, "Mercenaries vs. Missionaries: Two Kinds of Internet Entrepreneurs," quite fascinating. He gave it at a conference in San Francisco organized by the Wharton School. It's the "missionaries" - "those whose aim is to build great companies to provide long-term value" - who will have the staying power through these wild early days of the new economy, Doerr says. But most interesting to us was what he had to say about education. He told conference attendees that "the one significant challenge" the new economy faces is the fact that "today's generation of children is being inadequately prepared to run it."
The solution to the education crisis, Doerr said, is not to hook up more PCs in classrooms. Besides smaller class sizes and a longer school day and year, he suggested that schools need "teachers who are given enough time and incentives to excel." He also highlighted the importance of parental involvement. A positive sign, Doerr said, is the fact that social entrepreneurs have begun to get involved. Examples he cited are the organizations represented by these Web sites: SuccessforAll.net by a foundation supporting school restructuring; LetsFixOurSchools.com about California's Proposition 26; and charter schools system University Public Schools. Reactions from any parent school activists among us would be most welcome. The perspective (on the post-correction dot-com world) of another venture capitalist, former Disney executive Jake Weinbaum, is supplied by ZDNet.
- Tech camp for teachers
One such camp, in the woods of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, has cabins, a camp store, and cabin computers instead of counselors. According to the New York Times, "campers" - from 45 school districts around Olympia - spend 12 hours a day learning to wire their cabins and network a handful of computers in them. At the camp store, campers get $2,000 in play money, which they use to buy the equipment (and tech support) they need to outfit their cabins. If not fun, it does sound like a brilliant way to help educators understand the connectivity process through and through. The piece also describes a more urban tech-for-teachers program at the University of Utah.
- 'Intelligence' for the college-bound
It's never easy to have a lot of options, and there are more and more for high school students figuring out how to "do" college. There's the traditional full-time-for-four-years option, the full- or part-time online degree program, and everything in between. It may take a little pressure off to know that - according to recent research from, ironically, Princeton University - one's own drive and confidence, more than getting into a top university, have impact on future success. The research was cited in a Los Angeles Times piece that in turn was cited in the Christian Science Monitor. Of course, not all researchers are convinced; the article mentions another, Harvard-based, study showing a big difference in income levels of graduates of schools "far apart in the rankings." And regardless of choice of school, college grads statistically earn twice as much as people who don't earn college degrees.
For college comparison-shopping, the Monitor links to a handy Web resource provided by the US Department of Education. It bears the catchy title: "IPEDS COOL" (Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System College Opportunities On-Line). It's a searchable database containing links to and information on more than 9,000 colleges and universities.
- For young moviemakers
Steven Spielberg and LEGO have teamed up to create a digital filmmaking kit for kids, according to the Associated Press (via CNET). The AP says this is only the second time Spielberg has lent his name to a product, part of LEGO's aggressive move into the world of mixed media and integrated technologies. Other examples are LEGO's CD-ROM games and, even more notably, its MindStorms robot-making kits. When we reported on the latter in December '98, we called MindStorms a "toy bundle" because it bundles toy parts, computer hardware and software, and online community; it was clear to us that MindStorms was a toy to watch. So, it appears, is the LEGO Studios Steven Spielberg MovieMaker" (maybe they'll pare that brandname down a bit!). The kit won't be on store shelves until next November. Expected to retail for about $180, it will include a digital video camera, video editing software, and LEGO movie "props."
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Have a great weekend, and - in the spirit of Mother's Day here in the US - may all you moms out there get the love and recognition you deserve!
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