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Home media ecology

A friend whose blog I read sometimes titles her entries "Imponderables." I suspect this might fit under that category.

Every time I visit with a telecommunications provider, I hear a sad litany of just how tough it is to make a profit in today's marketplace. I don't get it.

In 1988, this was, as I remember it, my telecommunications outlay:

  • Basic telephone service including handset rental: $25 a month
  • Long distance service, $10-20 a month
  • One television and one radio (receiver built into a stereo amplifier) = $500 with a life span of 36 months = $15

Total about $55 a month.

In 2008, this is my telco outlay:

  • Basic telephone service, no handset, $25 a month
  • Long distance service, $10-20 a month
  • Cell service for 3 lines, text messaging, data service: $120 a month
  • Satellite TV, no movie or sports channels, $50 a month
  • Home broadband Internet access, $50 a month
  • Webhosting, two sites, $40 a month
  • Various wireless charges at hotels, airports, etc. $30 a month
  • Three televisions, three computers, printer, scanner, 2 cell phones, 1 cell phone/PDA, 5 telephone handsets (now portable with base stations), 2 iPods, GPS system, wireless home router, DVD player, VCR, stereo receiver/amp (No TiVo - yet.) All devices which need to be replaced now and then. Maybe around $9000 worth of electronics with an estimated life span of 36 months = $250

 Total about $580 a month!

And telco providers aren't making money? I don't get it.

I thought of this while playing with a chart that Lee Rainie from the Pew's Internet & American Life uses in this The New Media Ecology presentation. (He credits Tom Wolzien, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., but I can't seem to locate his work.) Here is my adaptation:





There's been some fuss lately about whether Prensky's Digital Immigrant/Digital Native analogy is accurate or useful. I'm not sure. But I do feel that while I may not have immigrated to a new digital country, I have moved from an information desert to an information jungle over the past 10 years or so. (And I have the bills to prove it.)

I am pretty sure that our kids don't inhabit this jungle any more skillfully than us geezers. They've just never known the desert.


Making Nancy's message sticky

sampcf8a202317cc4638.jpgJohn Pederson offers up the challenge to make the ideas about filtering and Internet safety Nancy Willard writes about "sticky."

Chip and Dan Heath in Made to Stick; Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (Random House, 2007) suggest that "sticky ideas" have some common characteristics and that all of us can make our ideas stickier. Sticky ideas:

  • are simple
  • have elements of the unexpected
  • are concrete
  • come from a credible source
  • contain an emotional appeal.
  • use stories to make an impact.

(For those of you who would like to review the concept of stickiness, see this post.)

Can we make Nancy's ideas "stickier?" Off the top of my head... 

  • are simple

The dangers from predators on social networking sites has been overblown, resulting in adult hysteria and Internet overblocking.

  • have elements of the unexpected

More female teens solicit sex online than dirty old men.

Cyberbullying is causing kids more harm than sexual predators.

Middle School and High School girls were about twice as likely as boys to display cyber-bullying behaviors in the form of email, text, and chat. <> 

  • are concrete

Iin 2005 there were only 100 known cases of child exploitation related to social-networking sites nationwide and that there was “not a single case related to MySpace where someone has been abducted." “Predators & cyberbullies: Reality check,”

  • come from a credible source
A study conducted by the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School (JAMA, 2002) examined how well seven Internet filters blocked health information for teens at settings from least restrictive to very restrictive.  They found that at the least restrictive setting only 1.4% of the health information sites were blocked and 87% of the pornography sites were blocked. At the most restrictive setting, 24% of the health information sites were blocked with still only 91% of the pornography sites blocked. "Does Pornography-Blocking Software Block Access to Health Information on the Internet." JAMA, Dec 11, 2002. <>

  • contain an emotional appeal.

 “What a person can accomplish with an outdated machine in a public library with mandatory filtering software and no opportunity for storage or transmission pales in comparison to what person can accomplish with a home computer with unfettered Internet access, high bandwidth, and continuous connectivity… The school system’s inability to close this participation gap has negative consequences for everyone involved.” Henry Jenkins, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture <>

  • use stories to make an impact.

David Knight's life at school has been hell. He was teased, taunted and punched for years. But the final blow was the humiliation he suffered every time he logged onto the internet. Someone had set up an abusive website about him that made life unbearable. <>

I rather jokingly suggested we have a contest to see if who could write the "stickiest" bit about this topic. Scott McLeod at Dangerously Irrelevant said he'd promote the idea as well.

Submit your "sticky" idea here and win a free copy of Machines Are the Easy Part; People Are the Hard Part. (I'll let Nancy be the judge of the best idea!) You will need to include your email address when you add your comment - addresses aren't published on the blog itself.

Contest closes November 1 so stick with it!


Lessons from the mouse


Recovering from a few days spent at the Disney parks in Orlando with my two adult kids and oldest grandson. We had a wonderful time. We got along well, the weather was great, we got to all the parks and rode on everything we wanted to ride, saw a bunch of shows and fireworks and parades, and just enjoyed each other's company. The hotel had nice enough rooms, a great swimming pool and easy access to the efficient Disney bus system. The FAME conference sessions went pretty well, too.

I was feeling really good about the whole trip until I got on the car park shuttle at the Minneapolis airport. During the 10 minute ride back to my truck, two couples discussed their week in "the Magic Kingdom." It was hot. The rides were lame. The crowds were impossible. The food was inedible. All the kids wanted to do was play in the hotel pool. They dropped a bundle. On and on they complained - with their elementary-school-age kids right beside them learning just how terrible a vacation they'd just had.

How could we have had such a great experience and these folks such a poor one - at the same place at the same time? Am I just too dumb to know when I've had a bad time? Are my expectations too low?

I starting thinking about how these families and mine approached the experience in quite different ways... 

1. We read about where we were going. The Unofficial Guide to DisneyWorld is about the best $20 a person can spend to make one's trip a better one. It describes and rates everything you find in the parks including restaurants, hotels, shows, transportation systems and the rides. It gives lots of advice on how to manage your visit when the parks are busy. And it is spot-on accurate. I even bought my grandson Paul his own kids' guide which was nearly in pieces by the time we got there. He about had it memorized and knew just what things he really wanted to do. He's my kind of 6-year-old! (My bus companions seemed to be surprised that some of the rides were old, some were too scary for young kids, etc. They went in clueless.)

2. We got a jump on the day. We were at each park by the time it opened at 9AM. We went on the most popular rides first, grabbed and used FastPasses when possible, and tried to eat a bit before standard dining times. We followed a touring plan and the longest we had to stand in line was 15 minutes and for most attractions is was less than 10 minutes. We had fun at the less glamorous attractions. Mid-afternoon when it got really hot and crowded we headed back to the hotel for a nap and a swim and then sometimes went back out again in the evening. We snacked often! (For my bus companions, it wasn't a vacation unless they could sleep in until at least 11.)

3. We knew the reason for going. At least I knew my reason - to spend some time with my kids - to get a chance to talk to my busy daughter, to watch my son shop for gifts to take home to his first girlfriend, to see the excitement in Paul's eyes and voice when he talked about being chosen for Jedi training and tell his dad about it on the phone. Yeah, the rides and shows are fun, but not as much fun as seeing the whole experience through the eyes of kid who adores Star Wars, dinosaurs, and pirates. And who probably did like the hotel pool and playground as much as the parks. (My shuttle group seemed to go for the adults rather than for the kids in the group. The vacation was all about them.)

It sounds trite (and probably is) but the visit was a wonderful reminder of that happiness is less a matter of circumstance and more a matter of attitude. I chuckled the entire flight back home about my daughter's response when I asked if she wanted my upgraded first class seat or to sit back in coach with Paul. "Is this a trick question?" just popped out!

I sincerely hope my shuttle bus folks next year just find a hotel with a nice pool close to home where they can sleep in, let the kids play, and come home happy. 


A thank you from my kids.

I guess they don't realize it was their inheritance I was spending ;-)