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Should the Digital Divide Be Closed? June 23, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in education, InformationIssues.
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Interesting bit from the Freakonomics blog on the New York Times website, pointing to a new study that is showing a statistically significant DECREASE in math and reading test scores among students with home computer and internet access.

Meanwhile, students with limited access to computers and internet did not experience this statistical decrease. Does this mean that we should not be working to close the digital divide? That we should not be trying to make computers and internet accessible to every child?

Another point found in the study was that students who had computers and internet at home, but were limited in usage due to “more effective parental monitoring” did not experience the same negative effect on test scores. Perhaps the children in these households put the technology and internet access to more productive uses?

This study is seems to indicate that computers, internet and technology are not only not a magic pill to increase test scores, but without the proper guidance, may be a distraction and hindrance to students’ academic performance.

Does this mean that we should not close the “digital divide”? What do you think?

The 10,000-Year Clock December 14, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Uncategorized.
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Photo by Rolfe Horn (courtesy of The Long Now Foundation via HowStuffWorks.com) The 10,000 Year Clock prototype currently operates in the Science Museum of London.

Remember the panic as Y2K approached? Many people and companies were worried about how the millions of computers and electronics worldwide would handle the year change, since so many were dependent on a 2-digit year, rather than 4. Would computers think it was 1900?

As it happened, the year changed with no major problems, and thanks to computer scientists and programmers, the world’s electronic systems maintained functionality.
One computer scientist, Danny Hillis, started thinking about Y2K as early as the 1970s, and realized that humans were quite short-sighted in their technological developments, and something was needed that would transcend generations, and maybe time itself. Thus, the 10,000 year clock was born.

His idea? Design a clock that keeps time for the next 10,000 years. For example, this article was published in the year 2009, but by Hillis’s new clock, it would be the year 02009. But beyond adding another digit to our date, the clock would mean so much more.

Check out this article at HowStuffWorks.com to learn more about how the 10,000 year clock works. Also, find out more about The Long Now Foundation.