Beyond Reading

June 14, 2008

Last Summer, I did a light post about how much people are reading.

I’ve been reading a lot of reading reports lately, and a lot of press about the reports. The press is depressing, the actual reports don’t paint nearly as dire a picture and I’m working on a post about that later.

A few key things caught my eye today. According to a new report put out by Scholastic Publishing, kids who are high-frequency internet users are more likely to also be high-frequency readers (going online once a day but also reading for fun once a day). Also, 64% of online users ages 9-17 say they participate in activities that extend the reading experience when online.

AND HOW. Read the rest of this entry »

Cell Phone Dependency

May 6, 2008

An interesting and frightening thing happened this weekend. My brother lost his cell phone. Or rather, my brother lost his cell phone, failed to show up at two or three places he said he was going to be, and no one heard from him for nearly three days.

As it turns out, it had fallen out of his pocket in someone else’s car and then had the battery die, so the other person was driving it around for a couple of days all unsuspecting. And he didn’t show up at his previously scheduled events because the Clinton campaign* called the restaurant where he works at the last minute to schedule a huge dinner, which he then got roped into working even though he was supposed to be off that day, and he couldn’t tell anyone because he didn’t have his phone.

But the whole thing was kind of scary, because it made me realize I have no other way to reach him. I sort of kind of have an email address for him, but I’m never sure if it’s the address he’s still using any more, because he’s not much of an emailer. (At least, not to his geeky sister.) Since he works at a restaurant, he doesn’t really have a “work phone,” (though my parents did go to the restaurant and leave him a physical note-style message when they got a call from the person who did have the phone.) I don’t know the phone numbers of any of his friends. Conversely, I suspect he doesn’t know my phone number without looking it up in his own phone. Hence, the loss of his cell phone pretty much meant that my brother fell off the face of the earth.

Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Credit for Mediocrity

November 30, 2007

On my drive home from work yesterday, I heard a story on NPR about mobile phone giant Verizon’s plans to make their network more open to different types of wireless devices. I was happy to hear the news, because I think that the result will benefit both Verizon and consumers. I was completely blown away, however, to hear Verizon announcing this decision as if it were some kind of new, ground-breaking approach and NPR reporting on it as if they were right.

The gist of the announcement is that Verizon will soon make their services available to customers who have not purchased a phone directly from Verizon. This means that you could buy any phone you wanted, be it a mobile phone you’d carry in your pocket or a mobile broadband card you’d plug into your laptop computer, and use it to connect to Verizon’s service in order to make calls. This is a major shift in the way that Verizon has done business in the past, where in order to use their services you were more or less required to buy a phone from the company.

By opening up their network in this way, Verizon hopes to encourage a much wider range of devices to connect to their service. They envision a day when you might be able to make a call to your oven over their wireless service and tell it to begin preheating before you left the office so that your dinner would be hot by the time you got home, to note just one example from the NPR story. In order to make up for the loss of revenue they would have previously earned by selling you a phone, the company will likely charge higher rates to customers who use their own devices, but this does offer more choice and flexibility to consumers while allowing the company a new source of potential revenue.

This is all fine and good. I heartily congratulate Verizon for making what seems to me to be a very good decision. In spite of this enthusiasm, I remain shocked and offended that anyone would be impressed by such a basic thing.

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