Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Generation Gap

I encountered a clear generation gap recently as I led a workshop for teachers in my school. I was explaining and showing them how they how to guide their own professional development during the summer by using Technorati to find blogs on topics of professional or personal interest to learn about them on their own time. When I tried to get a sense of how many people were familiar with blogs a 20-something teacher said she used them all the time, especially to "keep in touch with her friends." When other teachers expressed confusion at this she went on to explain how every day she checked in with several of her friends' myspace or xanga pages to see what they were up to, quickly pulling up a page and saying, "see, here are pictures of my friend's new baby that he just posted. It's so easy to put up pictures and stuff so everyone can see them right away." A few teachers in their 40's and 50's had a near disgusted reaction to this, making faces and saying, "That's so impersonal! I could never keep in touch that way!" I only use blogs for information, not to keep in touch, but I've known about the communication habits of younger people for a while. What was interesting for me was that we're so inundated by negative publicity about social networking sites that we don't realize that most people are using them for very positive communication habits if we haven't adopted these new habits ourselves. It's important to keep an open mind!

As it turned out, the offending teachers later apologized when they realized they had been kind of rude, so any ruffled feathers were unruffled by the end of the day.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Media Literacy Rules 1-3

Rule No. 1: Check a second source.
Rule No. 2: Check another source.
Rule No. 3: Check another source.

Students have to get used to looking at multiple sources when looking up information on the internet. I've come to believe this is the number one best method for finding dependable information. Adults--all internet users--have to learn to do this, and stop giving credence to the notion that just because something is published on the web it's true.

Case in point, I was looking for an ipod recently and happened upon "theipodseller dot com," to which I'm not even linking, it's so dripping with scam. The site boasts 40% discounts on various ipod models because they are going out of the ipod reselling business. The too-good-to-be-true discounts should scream scam so loudly I shouldn't have given the site more than a cursory glance, but because I wanted them to be true I gave the site enough time to do a little background check. Googling "complaints theipodseller" gave me a message board that's collecting info on Apple-related scams. Scrolling down to May 19th you see a list of reports on this site and people have posted their own research about the it, such as the whois info and mentions in articles. The gist is that the domain registrant is connected with several sites that claim to be selling other products for short periods of time and then disappearing. The thing people thought was so weird is that when you actually try to order an ipod you're only able to give them your name and email, no credit card. So my guess is that this is just a mechanism to collect emails to sell to spammers.

The moral of the story is...always get a second opinion, or more.