Things smart phones have replaced

things smart phones have replaced

Image: teacherswithapps

I shouldn’t be surprised with how long the lists are. Smart phones have been around for a while. They were looked upon as fancy upgrades to the phones we had at the time but in real terms they are having an economic and environmental impact. Fewer devices means less clutter in our homes and less e-waste. I still keep a paper copy of contacts and addresses because electronic devices are not 100% reliable. They can lose vital information because of a crash , loss or changeover. I back things up but there still isn’t a perfect way of ensuring your data is there when you need it. Worse is if you have no wifi or internet connection. Then you really are in trouble. In Australia we haven’t moved over to electronic purchase receipts. That would save so much paper. I love e-tickets of various sorts. It is simple and works well. I do carry my shopping list and any other list on my phone. No more lost bits of paper. I haven’t totally converted to e-books because a paper book is just nice to have and isn’t counted, tracked or quantified. You can just read in peace. Smart phones have revolutionised a lot of what we do and will probably continue to do so because they will run our smart homes , smart cars and smart gardens. I have seen non English speaking tourists in our shops using smart phone translators to get the things they need. It is not perfect but certainly better than being stranded with no way of communicating in a language you don’t know. It is less worrying for the tourists and easier on the shop personnel. Smart phones have also been our way of quickly establishing relationships with people. You no sooner meet someone than their smart phone comes out and you can see pictures of their family, their holidays, their skills. We have used them to create authentic relationships in a very effective way. They are very complex now and can do so much. In time they will replace more things and then add their own layers of functionality. There is another list on technologreview, apart from the link at the top of the post ,with more things smart phones have replaced. For the generation  coming into smart phone use, none of this is relevant. They have what they have and won’t know about what has been replaced so there is a whole bank of generational experiences which have gone too and whether that matters or not is to be seen. I was wondering who’d remember what a rolodex/teledex was and who’d actually care? I used to love playing with it and thinking it was something to achieve to have my own one! What the smart phone uptake does do , though, is create a way of thinking and processing information and if you don’t have the things you are used to, you might be scrambling for the workarounds and not understand some digital processes. That replacement function will be affecting cognition in some people.

Ambient Intelligence

These Chinese students have put together a video which effectively shows what ambient intelligence can mean for us. Sensory technology which responds to our needs. We have had precursors to it with smart phone apps which manage climate control in our homes and security devices which ring through to back up help for us. The next step is to have ambient technology in our environment so that our experiences are driven by the changes we want. There needs to be a lot more done on privacy, though, before we give ourselves and our environments over to ambient technology. Who wants a self driven car which can be hacked by some random? A wearable device which can be giving false information because it has been remotely tampered with?

And, if ambient technology is to become as integrated into our lives as previous technological revolutions like wood joists, steel beams and engine blocks, we need to subject it to the digital equivalent of enforceable building codes and auto safety standards. Nothing less will do. And health? The current medical device standards will have to be even tougher, while still allowing for innovation.” Walt Mossberg

Walt Mossberg’s article The Disappearing Computer has a good explanation of what is occurring and how this might play out. Artificial Intelligence and Ambient Intelligence are not going to go away. They are the future. It is important we understand the developments and their implications for us. TechCrunch also has a very good article, The next stop on the road to revolution is ambient technology , looking at the future possibilities and transformations which will be brought about by ambient technology. Since the plan is to outsource cognition to devices, then we need to know what the plans and developments are so we can have some useful input and know what it will all mean for us.

Polly want a cracker !

We are surrounded by crackers and crackpots on the internet. Par for the course and parroting of information is something we have to work to avoid. We have to know how to think , not what to think. It’s why we cannot downplay and underestimate the role of academics and librarians in our society. We need them to be vocal so we are reminded that good research skills are vital in a connected world where a lot of the information is repeated ad nauseam in well-trained ornithological style. Information regurgitation. That isn’t learning and it’s not knowledge but it is hard to avoid. The video clip points out, too, that it can put young lives in danger. The internet can make claims and pronouncements and people can feel obliged to comply because they don’t know how not to. It’s not that social media or YouTube or other popular sites are bad and evil but you have to understand how these things operate. Newly created , conventional wisdom is nothing more than pulp fiction and has to be recognised as that. Merlot II has an Internet Detective tutorial which helps gives students critical thinking skills about the internet. The stated objectives of the tutorial are that students:

be aware that there is an issue of information quality on the Internet
have learned practical tips and hints for evaluating Internet resources (eg dissecting URLs)
have a list of quality criteria to apply to information found on the Internet
have practical experience of evaluating electronic journals, mailing lists, subject Web sites and organisational home pages

The difference nowadays between the information rich and the information poor is delineated by the quality of powers if discernment with regard to information.

Should children use technology?

The ongoing discussions about whether children should or should not use technology, particularly of the mobile variety, continue and so they should We need to be clear about what we are dealing with. We need to be clear about the benefits and pitfalls. We need to be clear about what constitutes abuse of technology with children. Mobile devices are everywhere. The internet is everywhere. If you choose not to let your child have unlimited access to technology, then you need to be able to deal with the thoughts around the fact someone else might allow them access. Schools use mobile devices to good effect. Classrooms ought to be a safe, reasonable place for students to learn responsible use and the benefits of technology. Parents who do not want that can use schools which don’t use technology and have a different approach through early childhood. Have we decided what the best age is for using technology? Have we decided what children need in terms of experience when it comes to technology? I have seen primary school children in the Apple store in town. They love it. They are totally focused. I saw children at the Yidaki exhibition in the museum in town. It was an interactive exhibition with a well thought out use of technology to deliver its learning and messages. The children were silent. No one asked them to be silent. They just wanted to be and they wanted to see what the different technology offerings did and how they worked. They were lost in learning. It’s not technology which is the problem. It can certainly be the content and it can be the lack of balance. Everyone needs to practise a range of skills and to be open to learning from all sorts of areas and experiences. There has to be balance.

Taylor and Francis online have some interesting discussions about some of the myths surrounding children and their use of technology which are worth considering. Victoria Prooday is a mother , occupational therapist and blogger who is deeply concerned about the welfare of children in our society and puts forward some strong discussions and ideas about what we need to look at, how we might address it and then what we need to stop avoiding. We all need to look at this so that parents, children, experts and professionals can all have an ongoing conversation about what to do. We do need to manage technology until children can manage it for themselves in the same way we manage driving, ratings for media, travelling. We haven’t quite got it right where we are clear that adults need to be responsible for technology use until children are old enough because we haven’t decided what old enough is and what that means. We don’t have that problem with other things. There is a very good honours project by Kristina Hatch which looks at Determining the Effects of Technology on Children. We need to keep having that calibre of research, the discussions and the conversations. We tend to create opposing sides when we are not sure which way to go and what is the right thing to do. We need to keep exploring the experiences children can have with technology so we endorse the benefits and limit the negatives.

– How old do you believe children should be before they are exposed to technology of all sorts?
I think the only reasons very young children should not be exposed to digital media have to do with matters
of health – I’m not sure we know yet how much of what kind of exposure to electronic devices might have
some kind of negative impact on the development of very young children. But other than that, I see no
reason why babies should not be allowed to enjoy smacking their little hands on an iPad screen and
enjoying the colorful splashes and silly sounds it might make when they do it. The problem is not
technology, its doing any one thing to the exclusion of all others, a kid reading books every minute all day,
every day, is not a good idea either… Kids need a balance of play with all their senses – and the more we
can use our bodies while playing with digital devices, the better for kids. And kids also need a balance of
the real (nature) and the invented (all arts, including computer and video).

Cornelia Brunner – senior research scientist at the Center for Children and
Technology

Usability

 

Is usability a science now? Certainly there is detailed analysis around usability in the design of apps, websites and technology in general. Does detailed analysis and data collection make it a science?  The fact the hue saturation can fatigue users is a fact we know now. If the colour on your sites or in your apps is too saturated then people will tire easily and maybe blame the app or website . Don Norman is the doyen of design and who people interact with it and he is worth listening to because he has spent his life in this area, researching about it and then sharing his ideas. He is widely acknowledged for expertise in the fields of design, usability engineering, and cognitive science. He looks at how people interact emotionally with design and how that plays an important role in what they can or can’t do with technology or will or won’t do. “It’s the real needs of people, what people think they need often isn’t right.”  We do need , at least, cognitive science to determine the best outcomes for people who use technology. We do need to understand how it can impact on others when we choose and select our designs for apps and websites. UserFocus UK  has an interesting discussion about whether usability is now a science or not. It comes to the conclusion :

“But I do think we can agree that as usability practitioners we should at least adopt a scientific way of thinking. By this, I mean we should approach our work with a self-critical and naturally sceptical mind set, and that our methods, whenever circumstances and budgets allow, should employ the scientific method of investigation.”

Usability at the least needs to be informed by science and if you are using technology to teach others then you need to understand the basic , underlying principles of UX and UI design and their emotional impact. That way you make informed choices about what to use and how you present your content.

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