When Marc Stephens and his wife Jo decided on a home birth for their fourth child, the expectant father thought it wouldn't hurt to watch a few YouTube videos about worst-case scenarios: what to do if your midwife doesn't arrive in time, that kind of thing.
When Jo woke up one day with very strong contractions and that worst-case scenario came true, he had to step up to the plate and try and remember everything he had learned from the Internet.
"The videos gave me peace of mind. I think I would have coped, but watching videos made things much easier," Mr Stephens told the BBC.
Thanks to Marc's help, Baby Gabriel (5lbs 5oz) arrived safely and both Mom and boy are doing well. Although I suspect Dad may still be a little dazed...
I found this story interesting, considering Rosie O'Donnell starred in television shows for around twenty years: she now doesn't allow her children to even take a look at a small screen, in fact, she's signed a contract with their school saying that they won't watch TV or use computers (or presumably, any other gadgetry).
I'm all for allowing children to grow up in their own time, and can definitely see that limiting gaming, Internet and TV use and encouraging exercise and family time is a good idea. But none of these technologies at all, ever? Not only will her kids feel out of step with the rest of the world, won't they be at a huge disadvantage as they get older?
At it's best, good tech makes our lives easier and more fun and teaches us about all the fun, inventive, exciting applications of math and science. It seems a shame to demonize children's use of technology when we particularly need to encourage girls into the tech arena. Could this just be a clever way to get out of sitting through Blue's Clues (or whatever stultifying kids' TV is popular now)?
Inevitably, Twitter is atwitter with swine flu tweets of varying reliability. CNET's Larry Magid describes the authoritative swine flu tweets from the US Centers for Disease Control, along with warnings about regarding other swine flu tweets with caution. CNN also regards Twitter as a mixed blessing for swine flu info.
As I'm writing this, it's clear the media have gone overboard with the swine flu tale. No doubt people are grateful for a distraction from the world's economic crisis, but swine flu 24-7 is, at this point, generating unnecessary alarm. In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, Don't Panic.
You may, however, want to keep handy the following list of pretty reliable sources on swine flu. They will tell you when panic is appropriate.
Updates from the US Centers for Disease Control:
Updates from the World Health Organization, aimed largely at medical professionals:
The Washington Post's swine flu central, with some videos:
The New York Times has a swine flu central too, with interactive graphics and videos:
Yahoo News roundup of stories:
Swine flu FAQs on About.com's Patient Empowerment pages:
And, also inevitably, Wikipedia already has an entry on the current outbreak. In fact, mysteriously, it has two entries. Expect constant changes here, not all of them trustworthy, and heed the Wikipedia caveat--and plea: "This article may require cleanup (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Cleanup) to meet Wikipedia's quality standards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style). Please improve this article (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Swine_influenza&action=edit) if you can. (April 2009)"
It seems that over the last five years (the amount of time Popgadget has been around), I've talked a lot about how women are under-valued in technology and business, so it makes me very happy to talk about something that very much celebrates the successes of women: The Personality Project: Women of Personality.
The Personality Project: WOP, is a FREE e-book, written by the PR and Digital Marketing guru, Rohit Bhargava, bestselling author of Personality Not Included. After Bhargava published PNI, he was overwhelmed by how many women wrote to him about their experiences in business, and he was inspired to write Women of Personality, to showcase some entrepreneurial women who have used their dynamic personalities to create strong brands. I'm truly humbled to be included in this group, which includes amazing women like Kare Anderson, Emmy-winning journalist and author, and Dr. Marcia Firestone, founder of the Women Presidents' Organization.
Please do check it out- you can read it in full, just below, or just click the image on top of this post to download your own copy. Also- if you have in mind someone who should be included in Women of Personality, please do go to the WOP site and let Rohit know, as he's already working on Volume 2.
Computer-human interaction can be weird. So maybe it's reasonable that some of the ideas on display at the recent Computer-Human Interaction 2009 conference were a bit strange too, or at least strange-looking.
Technology Review has a roundup here. A sampling:
--odd goggles that permit the user to control a computer with eye movements alone.
--communicating with a mouse via sensations of hot and cold.
--turtle-shaped photo-displaying clocks that, when synced, show related photos.
--a small robot that can trundle a cell phone around.
--a camera and mic embedded in a matchstick whose purpose I will not even try to describe.
But, trust me, it's weird.
Street View, Google's attempt to index the entire world in 360 degree photographs, hit a snag this week in the small village of Broughton in Buckinghamshire, England.
Residents formed a human wall, stopping Google's vehicle from entering the village or capturing any useful pictures of its outskirts.
Paul Jacobs, who spotted the Street View car and called an impromptu demonstration, says he was motivated by a fear of burglary, as the area has seen three burglaries in the last six weeks: "If our houses are plastered all over Google, it's an invitation for more criminals to strike."
What do you think of Street View? I know I've had fun using it, but perhaps I'd feel differently if my house were clearly visible. Or if I had anything worth stealing.
Via The Guardian.
Researchers at the University of Leeds in the UK are working on ways to make joint implants last longer. At the moment, a knee or hip replacement only lasts about 15 years at best but the team of British scientists led by Sotiris Korossis is hoping to engineer new implants that won't wear out so quickly by working out how to sculpt them to suit an individual's skeleton. If that individual is an athletic type who needs replacement surgery following a lot of sporting activity, it's important to consider ways to minimize that risk in future, too - so the team is also looking into how to specially tailor implants for different sports in order to make them last longer. If they succeed, it's a win-win situation: fewer invasive medical procedures for patients and less investment for hospitals. Go team.
Via New Scientist.
Although President Obama is a great representative for the US in many respects he has become known on the other side of the pond for being a bit of a lame gift-giver. When he met up with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Washington last month, he handed him a pack of 25 DVDs. Which weren't compatible with British DVD players. Hardly the most thoughtful present.
This week he's been in the UK meeting The Queen, the 82 year old monarch who has been head of state of Britain and the Commonwealth for over 50 years and who is not known for her tech savvy. And he brought her... an iPod. Now, I wouldn't turn down a free MP3 player myself, but it hardly seems like Obama was considering his audience. Couldn't he have got her something more personal, more appropriate? And he even got it engraved, so there's no way she can get a refund.
The currently ongoing retrospective of Jenny Holzer at the Whitney Museum, entitled "Protect Protect" is a dizzy display of control over text and messaging. The show contains two sections. The first half contains pieces which are a continuation of Holzer's now famous explorations of slogans and marketing communication. Brightly glowing LED signs broadcast messages such as "Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise" in her work "For Chicago." At first glance the signs seem like not much more than the signage in New York delis which display the current jackpot of the state lottery. However, the subversive phrases make the viewer feel uneasy. The signs are often embedded into the wall, allowing the text to hang in the air above the viewer.
Much of her recent work, which comprises the second half of the show, uses text from declassified documents made public from the ACLU and the National Security Archives. The work of blown up military documents uses otherwise unaltered text and images that have been partially blacked out because what lies beneath was deemed too sensitive for the public. The pieces of enlarged photocopies offer an interesting and poignant contrast to the hi-tech LED signs. The connection between the two halves is the use of the simplest of forms and material to convey caution and danger.
There's nothing like beginning the day in a comfy chair with good coffee and a good newspaper. But finding a decent morning paper that's actually made of paper is increasingly possible only in a few fortunate places.
What's more, paper papers are shrinking even in those places. My beloved Washington Post, for example, is abandoning its separate business section and folding some business news into its main news section. That's bound to mean not only fewer business articles but less newsprint news overall. Even newspaper lovers like me will be getting all our news online before long.
Enter GlobalPost, the first serious grown-up news organization to appear in a very long time. It employs dozens of experienced journalists around the world and is filled with free news and features that usually are comparable in quality to those put out by major established news organizations. It also has a unique business model, which you can read about here and here.
GlobalPost, invented and run by real journalists, explains itself this way: