Do technology companies such as Google have a social responsibility?

Read an interesting piece in yesterday’s New York Times.

Google has had this promise of many years: ‘Don’t do evil”.

But the playing field is changing.  Unfortunately the walled gardens are in business e.g. facebook.  This poses real challenges when you want to be able to search against everything of potential relevance but facebook won’t play ball.

Apple is another example of a wwalled garden.  Apple wants us to live in their garden, using their Apple storage and Apple devices.  Another problem for Google.

So can Google prosper and not do evil?

Interesting to see Reid Hoffman of Linkedin commenting.  Linkedin has built up a huge database and network based on data provided by site participants (for the most part not using the paid subscription version of product).  Does Hoffman/ Linkedin have a responsibility to these users?

In many respects the most interesting observation in the article is the reminder that in most cases the creators of new social sites (and other technologies) have very little idea as to what the eventual impact of their invention will be.

 

 

 

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Are we dumbing things down?

NY Times piece suggesting there is some level of ‘dumbing down’ going on in some Universities

Reading this piece in the NY Times would not encourage you.  Is this more of the same?  Have students so many distractions, such high expectations, that traditional study no longer gets traction as an idea?  And have the Universities, in recognition of this, dumbed things down?  Or is this simply some distorted thinking of people who are getting ‘long in the tooth’?

We read a great deal now about the importance of collaboration – and that education needs to incorporate plenty of this.  The authors have some interesting comments in this respect – collaboration seems to afford  students the opportunity to skip what they don’t like or what they find difficult.  Perhaps in this we are missing a trick?

 

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Web 2.0 not all positive

Web 2.0 is not all about positive developments. Jaron Lanier’s excellent book ‘You are not a gadget’ should be recommended reading for all of us promoting Web 2.0

Photo of Jaron Lanier performing at the Garden...
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Close to finishing Jaron Lanier‘s excellent book: ‘You are not a  gadget’.  For someone like me who promotes social networking and web 2.0 Lanier certainly asks some tough questions.  I will comment in more detail in a later post – but I have to say his criticism of our obsession with the wisdom of crowds and of Wikipedia make a great deal of sense.  When I studied English in High School the cheat guides to the classical texts e.g. Hamlet, Persuasion, etc were Coles’ Notes.  They provided you with bullet proof analysis/ critiques for the texts – but obviated the need for original thinking/ imagination/ creativity.  Likewise Lanier argues that crowds will never produce original thinking on a par with an Einstein.

Today read an interesting piece in the New York Times on Hasbro‘s plans to dumb down a number of their games e.g. Monopoly.  They are making an effort to make the games more attractive through inclusion of some unnecessary technology – dressed up as a way to prevent cheating!  Seems to me cheating was always part of the fun in these board games.  More interestingly they also comment on the fact that younger people’s attention spans are continuing to shrink.  Without doubt this is a serious challenge for all educators.  And Web 2.0 has contributed significantly to the problem.

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