Gongol.com Archives: January 2023

Brian Gongol

January 13, 2023

Computers and the Internet Say cheese

Never read too much into anyone's assessment of culture that assumes consistent behavior across large numbers of people. But don't be surprised, either, when common patterns emerge in the data describing people in large groups. Take, for instance, the amusing case of a poll asking people of Generation X and older whether they take and share "selfies" on social media. ■ The answer -- after nearly 2,000 votes and 20,000 views -- was that for every person who said "I take a lot and share a lot", there were 88 who said "Rarely or never". Nobody ought to read too much statistical rigor into a self-selected set of responses to a poll on Twitter, but that's an extreme imbalance that would seem to be hard to fake. ■ And it's an extreme imbalance that wouldn't seem likely among younger generations. The presence of self-image (and images of the self) presented online are of such importance to some youth that the Seattle Public Schools have sued social media companies -- Facebook parent company Meta, Snapchat, TikTok, and Google-owned YouTube, among others. ■ The school district paints the social-media tools as a public nuisance with contributory responsibility for a crisis in mental health in their state. Whether the suit has merit will be up to the legal system to decide, hopefully with fairness and sobriety. ■ But the very act of initiating such a case shows that the schools realize there is a lot to teach those young people, and there isn't a lot of foundational work to build from. Whether it's called "digital citizenship" or "digital literacy" or something else, there's no hiding from the need to communicate skills and behaviors to the students in the classroom. That's especially the case if the people of, say, their parents' generation are 88 times more likely to avoid taking selfies than sharing them. Adults need to put in lots of extra effort to make sure that their reactions are prudent, not just impulsive.

Weather and Disasters News you can use

Of the various named weather phobias, iridophobia seems the least necessary. Who fears the rainbow?

Broadcasting RFE/RL opens new office in Latvia

Whatever further cements the broadcaster's presence in the region is probably for the good

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