Dear Subscribers:Here's our lineup this second week of April:
- Family Tech: College search, and research, online
- Rev. Jesse Jackson: Interview by SafeKids.com's Larry Magid
- Web News Briefs: Web radio silence; Yahoo! sells porn; CIPA compliance; Schools & bandwidth; Hatewatch.org's successors; E-books; Cookie-less ads?; Teen health online….
- Monitoring online kids
Publishers Pipeline - low-cost or free educational software, housewares,
PC hardware, music CDs, etc. Examples this week:
Jumpstart Phonics (Reg price $29.99, FREE after mail-in rebate)
Westclox Quartz Travel Alarm Clock (Reg price $24.99, FREE after mail-in rebate)
Hamilton Beach Deluxe Juice Extractor (Reg price $99.99, $44.99 after new "Instant Rebate")
- College search online
The Web certainly doesn't replace those in-person campus visits many college searchers are making this spring, but it's great for reducing the number of choices! In his Family Tech column for the San Jose Mercury News this week, SafeKids.com's Larry Magid tells how colleges' and universities' own Web sites can be useful, then reviews some commercial sites designed to ease the search. The latter are good for comparing schools in various categories, such as student-faculty ratio, student-body aptitude-test averages, tuition, etc. Visiting these sites with their daughter taught Larry and his wife some things about daughter Katherine's interests, as it did Katherine about theirs, Larry reports. Clearly, the process fueled some helpful family discussion.
If any of you would be willing to share with us your stories about college searches on the Net, do email them to us, via email@example.com.
- 'College Times'
And while we're on the subject, the New York Times has just launched a great service for college students and faculty, not to mention high school students looking for a nice research tool: "College Times". Basically, the paper has put a "portal-style" search engine and directory, organized by academic subject, on top of its news database. And if you're a Women's Studies major and don't want to miss a single piece the Times publishes related to your subject, you can give them your email address to receive free, personalized emails alerting you to new articles of specific. For students there's also news about college/university itself, and faculty members can find education news and "Teaching with the Times" packaged for them. None of the articles in the College Times database seem to date back much farther than March 2001, so "currency" is this resource's greatest value. Meanwhile, this is a very smart way for a newspaper to attract the customers of the future, as well as turn around the shrinking of the media's "youth market."
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Rev. Jesse Jackson: The spy-plane crew's release, online safety, and other topics
Reverend Jackson was in Silicon Valley this week for the Rainbow/PUSH Digital Connections 2001 Conference. His organization has been pressuring Silicon Valley companies to be more ethnically and racially inclusive in their hiring practices. SafeKids.com's Larry Magid interviewed Jackson at the conference. His article about their wide-ranging discussion starts with Jackson's comments on China's release of the 24 crew members of a US spy plane and ends with some sensible thinking on children's online safety.
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Web News Briefs
- Web radio silence
A struggle about online ads and rights between actors, advertisers, and broadcasters has silenced hundreds of Web radio stations in the US, reports CNET. The broadcasting companies say the break in their live radio streams is temporary, CNET says, adding that the catalyst was a "disagreement between broadcasters and advertisers over who should pay for commercials that are rebroadcast on the Net." But that's only one of many issues cybercasting has raised, including struggles over copyrights and royalties. Here, too, the Internet has thrown all the balls up in the air again.
And speaking of music on the Web, Yahoo! will this summer join the crowded field of online music services. According to Wired News, it's teaming up with Universal Music Group and Sony Entertainment to launch a subscription music service. Yahoo will be the first Internet company to make available the two labels' Duet service, whose online version will be "a streaming and downloading subscription service with tiered pricing models" like cable TV packages. It will compete with Microsoft's MSN Music, MTVi's just-announced service, and MusicNet (by RealNetworks with EMI, Warner Music, and Bertelsmann). Meanwhile, even as the court said Napster's doing a terrible job of blocking copyright music (according to TheStandard.com) and "experts say Napster is doomed" (according to Newsbytes.com), Napster just acquired Gigabeat, whose technologies may help the file-swapping site do a better job of filtering, reports Internet.com. Too little, too late?
- Yahoo! sells porn, too
But music isn't all Yahoo.com sells. In a news byte, Wired News reports that the site has been selling "thousands of hard-core video tapes and DVDs" in its Yahoo Shopping area - "under stringent control," the company says - for more than two years. Reuters (via CNET) expands on the story, adding that Yahoo! had "dramatically increased its porn offerings in recent weeks," looking to increase revenue. Yahoo! President Jeff Mallett did say this week that the site's shopping area has increased other product lines as well, including toys and computers. Other news reports this week indicated that online porn is the one sector of the Internet industry that has felt little impact from the dot-com downturn.
- CIPA: Comply by July
That's July 2002, actually. According to Washtech.com - regardless of the ACLU's, ALA's, and other organizations' legal challenge to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) - the Federal Communications Commission is telling schools and libraries receiving federal "e-rate" connectivity funding that they have to comply with the mandated filtering law by that date. And they have to show that they're working toward compliance by this October 28. "The FCC's rule came as a setback for a number of groups that have challenged the law's constitutionality; many of them argued that the schools and libraries should be given at least an additional year to factor in the changes," Wired reports, adding that an attorney for the plaintiffs said they would ask the court to hear all the arguments necessary to reach a decision on whether to issue a preliminary injunction against the law before the October deadline.
- Boost for the tech sector?
That's what US Democratic leaders call their new, "ambitious high-tech legislative agenda," according to TheStandard.com. The plan was announced late last week by Sen. Thomas Daschle (D-SD) and Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO). Clearly aimed as an alternative to President Bush's tax-cutting approach, the agenda includes "pledges to hook up every American home to broadband Internet access within the decade; to 'fully fund' the e-rate program, which subsidizes Internet access for schools and libraries; to double civilian R&D funding; and to make the R&D development tax credit permanent [which Bush, too, supports]," TheStandard reports, adding that "congressional Republicans are also assiduously mindful of the tech sector's needs."
- Online ed is schizophrenic…
…in two ways, Washtech.com reports. 1) "More colleges and universities than ever are using the Internet to teach their students, but few have figured out how to take advantage of the medium's unique qualities to improve education," and 2) while the dot-com doldrums have made educators wary of technology, "many say they are continuing to expand their Internet-based course offerings." Washtech.com was covering this year's Blackboard Summit in Washington, held by Blackboard Inc., privately held seller of software for colleges and universities and one of the Washington area's largest tech companies.
- Schools' growing bandwidth issue
They, too, according to the New York Times, are finding you can never get enough bandwidth. The statistics show that more and more teachers are embracing technology in the classroom (95% of US public schools were connected by '99. Of those schools, 63% were connected using at least 56K dedicated lines), but there's a downside to that - more and more people sharing the connection. "Schools are reaching the limits of what their network infrastructure can handle - which in turn may limit the types of applications educators can take advantage of for teaching and administrative tasks," the Times reports, providing some anecdotes of individual schools' experience and that of Classroom Connect, a company serving the school market.
- Out of Hatewatch.org's ashes…
…rose three new anti-hate sites, reports Wired News. They - PartnersagainstHate.org, Tolerance.org and Hatemonitor.org - will fill the vacuum left by the January closing of HateWatch.org. They're backed by powerful organizations: the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
- The new B-school
"The economy is down, [business-school] applications are up, but the tech revolution has changed the MBA forever," reports TheStandard.com. Not long ago business schools like Wharton (at the University of Pennsylvania) and the London Business School had to work hard to stem the tide of students leaving for dot-com jobs and stock options. But that effort was not for naught, apparently: "The dot-com era has been good medicine for B-schools. It dispelled decades of complacency and prodded schools out of their technological torpor," TheStandard reports. Sounds as if next year's students will get a lot more for their tuition!
- Europe: Post-grads' dreams
This is the Continent's version of the increasingly universal story about university grads (and undergrads) pursuing dot-com dreams. We're glad to see economics have not dashed too many hopes. According to Washtech.com, "a new generation of university graduates in the Old World is no longer looking for the 'warm womb' of academic and government sinecures. Instead, a lot of them now crave the risk - and potential profits - involved in launching their own businesses." And institutions are supporting them. For example, the university at Leuven, Belgium (about 20 miles outside Brussels) "now employs a team of lawyers, patent experts, economists and engineers to help draw up business plans for students who want to become entrepreneurs," Washtech reports.
- The word on e-books
If any of you like reading books on computer screens, there was an update on that ongoing story this week. ZDNet reports that "Adobe Systems and Amazon.com announced Tuesday that Adobe's Acrobat eBook Reader software is now available through Amazon's online US bookstore, along with nearly 2,000 fiction and nonfiction e-books based on the Acrobat Portable Document Format. The deal isn't expected to add much to either company's bottom line soon, but it does raise the visibility of digital books." ZDNet's Patrick Houston took Adobe up on its emailed offer to try the eBook Reader and wrote up his experience with the technology. Read the story to find out what he thought.
- Web ads without cookies?
Advertising-technology supplier Interadnet in North Carolina is hoping to leverage the US public's concerns about online privacy with a cookie-free ad service. CNET explains, "Ad technology companies typically place 'cookies' on individuals' computers when an advertisement is delivered, giving them the ability to track consumer behavior online and gauge the effectiveness of an ad campaign or target marketing to consumer preferences. Web sites also use the markers to hold passwords and personal information for custom services such as Web-based e-mail." On the other hand, a new study by the Web-audience analysts at WebSideStory shows that "cookies are not a big concern among Web users."
- Teen health online
The Web, with its anonymity, seems to be a particularly attractive place for teens to find answers to health questions. And they're an "ignored population, medically speaking," says one medical expert mentioned in a New York Times piece on the subject. The Times points out a number of "Web sites focused on teenage health and written by medical professionals with a view to providing balanced, factual information." They provide answers to questions about everything from naval piercing to eating disorders.
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Monitoring online kids: Sensitive issues
Monitoring software - which records online activities on the PC on which it's installed - is an alternative to filtering. For some parents, it's better than filtering/blocking software, a thus-far flawed technology that blocks many legitimate Web sites, because they'd rather use a deterrent than wholesale restriction of online activity. A child who knows Mom or Dad could at any time check where s/he's been online might be less inclined to visit sites of which Mom or Dad would not approve.
But when parents use monitoring secretly, other issues besides online safety come into play - for example, trust and communication. A recent Los Angeles Times piece does a great job of illustrating the sensitivities involved in monitoring family members, especially doing so secretly. It leads with a disconcerting example of what monitoring can tell parents and, with a number of anecdotes, illustrates both the positives and negatives of using this technology. It also names some monitoring products.
Another form of monitoring is much less complicated and just plain wise: placing the connected computer that children use in a high-traffic area of the household, so they're well aware that Mom or Dad could walk by and glance at the computer screen whenever kids are online. This one's a must for any connected family. Here's The Times of London reporting on just such a recommendation to parents from the UK's Internet Crime Forum. For this and other guidelines for parents, see this page at SafeKids.com. And please send us your own views on monitoring online kids - what works for your family.
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That does it for this week. Have a great weekend!
Anne Collier, Editor
Net Family News
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