High school: Where life without smartphones is a form of death?

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In Popular Mechanics (December/January), Jacqueline Detwiler profiles teens at an Indianapolis high school who might well think so… certainly for a while at least.

Chromebooks were given to all the students for the year. Introducing a teen born in 1997 (Google took off in 2000), Detwiler writes that, whether he knows it or not,

he is part of the first generation of human beings who never really lived before the whole world was connected by pocket-sized electronic devices. These kids might never read a map or stop at a gas station to ask directions, nor have they ever seen their parents do so. They will never need to remember anyone's phone number. Their late-night dorm-room arguments over whether Peyton or Eli Manning won more Super Bowl… click here to read whole article and make comments



Amazon suing over fake online reviews

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Last time out, we looked at how, on the internet, even science journals can be fakes. The internet doesn’t offer the physical cues and clues that help us spot scams. Such scams include five-star “reviews” from hype houses and click farms.

It’s got so bad that in October Amazon started suing:

Late last week, Amazon filed a lawsuit against more than 1,114 individuals who allegedly have posted fake product reviews on the site. Amazon claims many of the defendants have operated mostly out in the open, listing their services and answering ads via the “gig site” to write glowing five-star reviews for $5 a pop.

click here to read whole article and make comments



Fake reviews, sure; but fake science journals?

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Fake reviews, sure… but fake science journals? Yes, says Science, the current affairs magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: Entire Web addresses are hijacked and fake versions of sites are erected, in the hope of stealing their web traffic and users’ credit card numbers:

According to a tip sent to Science, fraudsters are snatching entire Web addresses, known as Internet domains, right out from under academic publishers, erecting fake versions of their sites, and hijacking their journals, along with their Web traffic.

Website spoofing has been around since the rise of Internet search engines, but it’s only in the past… click here to read whole article and make comments



Bob the Robot’s TED talk: What robots are and aren’t

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Last time out, we looked again at whether artificial intelligence would kill our jobs, and it seems that may depend on what we understand our jobs to be.

There are those, of course, who think that robots will become fully functional human beings, entities one could marry or trust to care for loved ones.

I don’t see that happening, but it would be only fair to introduce ourselves to Bob the Robot, who gave a TED talk recently ( TED = technology, entertainment, and design). As neurosurgeon Michael Egnor explains, Bob is really pretty cute but a clarification is in order:

Robots… click here to read whole article and make comments



Will artificial intelligence kill our jobs? That depends.

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It depends on what we understand our jobs to be. For example, AI has invaded fashion salons:

That's right -- the fitting rooms in Ralph Lauren's Polo flagship are smart. Very smart. Equipped with radio-frequency identification technology that tracks items via their tags, the room identifies every item that enters and reflects it back on the mirror that doubles as a touchscreen. Shoppers can interact with the mirror, which functions like a giant tablet, to control the lighting, request alternate items or style advice from a sales associate.

In that environment, the successful sales associate isn’t someone who fetches the red item, but this time in blue or a different size. The… click here to read whole article and make comments



Jumbotron, the smartphone is coming to get you!

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Recently, we looked at the repetitive stress injuries and traffic mishaps that can result from texting (instead of seeing, listening, and living).

Assuming we do want to live and be painfree, it’s worth reflecting for a moment on the older technologies that will be forever altered or extinguished by such new contenders, for example, the jumbotron

The Jumbotron is somewhat static, void of the “like” button that is a signature of Instagram and Facebook, but remains as another window by which fans can be seen to the world, albeit as they shove nachos and Bud Light into their faces. In a world where the seemingly oxymoronic job of reality television casting… click here to read whole article and make comments



Live to text? Well, it’s your neck ...

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Last week, we looked at driving while “intexticated,” which, as we saw, is good way to find out whether or not there is a God, though not a recommended way.

Just as excessive keyboard use has resulted in repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, excessive texting can be a serious pain in the neck:

A leading Australian chiropractor has warned that 'text neck' - a condition often brought on by bending over phones and tablets for several hours at a time - is becoming an epidemic. …

Much of the increase is among teens.

'Instead of a normal forward curve, patients can be seen to… click here to read whole article and make comments



Driving while “intexticated”

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Okay, here’s the obligatory column on how new media use can wreck our health and morals.

Oh wait, in the wrong setting, it could—and does—kill thousands of us.

If you have anything in particular to live for, or possibly share the road with someone who might, read this after you come to a safe stop:

An auto safety site in the United States claims that 23% of auto accidents in 2011 involved a cell phone.

If correct, that should be no surprise. The minimum distraction is 5 sec, which is just enough to close the “window of opportunity” that our driving instructors told us about—the few seconds when we can avoid an anticipated crash.

Fifty-five… click here to read whole article and make comments



Portrait of a social media addict ...

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“Every Day I Want To Quit Social Media,” moans author and Buzzfeed writer Michael Seidlinger, wailing “I am drowning in a sea of anxiety created by Twitter and Facebook.”

Given that he probably knows better than we do how to delete unwanted social media accounts, I suspect he isn’t serious. But we’ll see:

I always have at least a handful of tweets and posts ready days, sometimes weeks, ahead of when I plan to use them. It keeps me calm, assured that I will always have something meaningful to say, or at the very least, something funny, clever, clickworthy. I never want to be caught off guard. I never want to… click here to read whole article and make comments



Down with the selfie! Let’s be groupies!

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The infamous Nelson Mandela memorial service selfie: Danish prime minister Helle-Thorning
Schmidt flanked by David Cameron and Barack Obama. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images


At the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik attempts a nuanced defense of the “selfie,”

The usual complaint against the selfie is that it substitutes terrible narcissism for what once was a sense of seeing things for their own sake—that what matters to the eye of the iPhone camera is not the place I am in but the fact that I am in it. The need to memorialize the moment takes precedence over living the actual experience. But have we not always been inclined to “take” our faces to… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Connecting is MercatorNet's blog about social media and the virtual self. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your tips and suggestions. Post comments. We want to make it as lively as possible. The editor is Denyse O'Leary, a Canadian journalist. 

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