Do you know about the new “Secret Boards”? If not, you may be missing out!

Pinterest is one of my favorite online activities! To those of you who have never used it here are the basics:

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Who uses Pinterest? According to ComScore, about 30% of users are 25-34 years old and about 80% are female. In addition, about 60% of Pinterest users have earned a college degree and about 60% of users live in a household with an income of $25-75K.

You may be asking yourself, why is Pinterest so popular? First, Pinterest visually stands out. It is like a visual bulletin board for the Web. Second, it thrives on beautifully simple images of ideas

 groups together on a board of a user’s page. In addition, users can follow all of a user’s board or just a single board. Lastly, you can view or locate boards based on a subject, topic, or them. Some popular searches are crafts, gifts, fashion, interior design, and holidays.Image

So what about these new “secret” boards? Well a recent article, “Pinterest Secret Boards Keep Your Pinning Under Wraps,” announces Pinterests new “secret boards” that are only viewable to the user and not to the public or the users friends. Prior to this change, what you pins were viewable to the public and also to your friends. Now, just in time for the holidays, you can pin gift ideas, party ideas, and anything else you don’t want others to see.  

Well who cares about these “secret” boards? Large and small companies get A LOT of referral traffic from Pinterest. In fact, Pinterest is the new leading referral traffic generator for retail brands. You can bet that Pinterest will be going crazy around the holidays mainly because of those popular topics I listed earlier (crafts, gifts, fashion, interior design, and holidays). Also, a lot of other online social networking sites have seen the growth and momentum of Pinterest and are working to add some of the same features to their sites. 

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BYOD: a Right or a Privilege?

It used to be that there was a certain amount of pride in having a company-supplied computer or cell phone. Nowadays, for those I know with this perk, it just means having two computers or two cell phones. It seems that company devices are unnecessary in a world where every competitive employee already owns a computer or smartphone, something which certainly was not always the case. So what’s the big deal with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)?

A sample of the future workforce, college-educated employees ages 20-29, were surveyed regarding this issue. Their feelings regarding BYOD were overwhelmingly strong– the workers felt it was a right, and not a privilege, to utilize their own devices at work. In fact the workers answered that, regardless of company policy, they currently engage their personal devices at work. 1 out of 3 said they would break company policy to do so.

So why are companies against BYOD? Well for one, with employees engaging their personally-owned devices, companies lose control over the IT hardware and how it is used. How does a company tell an employee what they can and cannot do with their personal devices? The lines inevitably become grayed. Security of company data is also an issue. The same rules must be followed with personal devices as when using company-owned devices, but when an employee is let go, retrieving the company’s data becomes trickier.

This considered, two-thirds of the young workers surveyed believed they should be responsible for the security of devices used for work purposed, not the company.

Are these employees simply being selfish, or is there something to BYOD? CIO.com says there are benefits. The most obvious benefit being the money saved–up to $80 a month per user. With BYOD, the users cover most, if not all, costs related to their devices, and in most companies with BYOD policies, they report being happy to do so. This is most likely because of the second benefit: employee satisfaction. Workers chose their personal devices themselves, and usually for good reason. Therefore, they are much happier to use a device of their personal choosing than one chosen for them by the company, with which they may or may not find themselves compatible.

Users are also more likely to be frequently updating their personal devices, keeping the company on the cutting edge of technology. With BYOD, the company benefits from the latest technological features without having to constantly update each device themselves–or foot the bill. For users, this is also less hassle, as many company updates are slow and tedious.

Could it be that what on the surface seems a selfish demand of young employees, could actually be mutually beneficial to them and their employer?

Give me back my iPhone, Grandpa!

Also, get off Facebook and don’t say LOL, ’cause you’re old and old people just shouldn’t.

More and more recently, that old man meme about how Grandpa can’t understand iPhones, Linux, or the cloud is showing up more and more often. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols of computerworld claims that the joke is becoming “increasingly irrelevant.”

The article, Grandpa the programmer, argues that older people (baby boomers) are just as competent in using new technology as are us younger folks. I know I’m asking you think way back to the beginning of the semester, and I know how hard that might be, but bare with me please. We spent more than one class discussing the notions of technology immigrants and technology natives, where we labeled those people born into the Digital Age the natives and those who have, at a later point in their lives, adopted new technologies the digital immigrants. If I remember correctly, we (yes, me too) argued that it was practically infeasible for technology immigrants to adapt to the Digital Age environment entirely. Now, jump to the reading for this week (if you read it). In chapter one, Norman argues, to some extent, that digital immigrants have a hard time adapting to new technologies. He gives several charming anecdotes regarding this idea that when new, more intricate gadgets come to the market, people, particularly older people not accustomed to the maturation of technology, just don’t know how to work them! These seemingly true stories magnify Norman’s persuasion and credibility. I mean, I totally want to believe him that the maturation of technology is growing at a speed that digital immigrants just cannot keep up with, right?

But now, we have Vaughan-Nichols writing in plain contrast to this idea that has been brought up time and time again. I think we were so into telling our own stories about our own grandmothers and grandfathers not knowing what to do with an iPad that we didn’t even think about the age of the creator of the iPad. Apple is seemingly the leader in producing brand new, state of the art technologies — probably the most popular gadgets that old people can’t figure out. But the CEO of Apple, is no spring chicken! He’s plenty old enough to be a grandfather and he must understand technology in order to develop such innovative ideas and successfully bring them to the market.

I understand that Vaughan-Nichols is talking a lot regarding the actual creation of the code, and that’s much different than just adapting to a tangible product. But didn’t we say last week that older people were more about Facebook because they didn’t have the time or the skill for all the HTML included in Myspace?

I’m not going back on my argument that it’s more difficult for people not born into the Digital Age to pick up a brand new gadget — mostly because my grandma asked me where the keypad was on my phone at dinner last Sunday and because my mom continually asks me for the meaning of those stupid text message abbreviations. But I think it’s super interesting to think about the creators of these technologies that us young kids are infatuated with. They could be my grandfather!

What do you think? Does the baby boomer generation understand technology and all it has to offer? Or were you right saying that they cannot ever entirely grasp new gadgets?

Can kids really learn without teachers?

Given our discussion today on technology for learners vs. technology for learning, I remember reading this article the other day.

If you’re not familiar with OLPC, OPLC stands for “One Laptop Per Child” and it aims to, well, give one laptop per child in a third world country. Initially, the goal was to bring the cost down to $100 or less, but as far as I know it’s no longer the (main) goal, though of course price is always on their mind. The laptop is also made specifically for a third world country; it’s solar powered, uses flash memory instead of a hard drive (so the data can be shock resistant if they drop it), things like that. You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olpc

The article was really eye-opening, and it shows how important intuitiveness is necessary in design. I know Windows 8 and Mac OSX try to simplify the design as much as possible, and that’s great (although this particular tablet was running Android).

First of all, it shows how powerful curiosity is — this kid that opened the box had probably never seen anything like it before in his life. Yet he figured out that something was in it, and managed to not only open the box, but even turn on the device in there!

Then, the kids take the concept of “technology for learners” to the extreme. No teacher in sight, no Google to be heard of, yet these kids explored almost every nook on their tablet. They even got around the measures that the researchers installed to stop them from doing things like customize the home page of the tablet.

Of course, these findings need to be researched much, much more. This development in two isolated villages is great, however there still needs to be more tested and understood about their behavior.

For what the observations and research is worth, it definitely proves that kids can learn through self-taught and self-motivated methods, although how effective this is in the long run remains to be seen, at least for these African village kids.

It shows that education can be cheap; these tablets already had preloaded applications on there for the kids to explore and learn. In our own modern world, there are resources like Khan Academy and message boards that people can learn from. Information is so free and yet the structures of the acquisition model of learning can make it expensive (although, with that said, there are benefits to the acquisition model).

Now, in addition to the concept of technology for learners, what do you think of the OLPC? The criticisms of the organization seem to be valid — such as there are other pressing needs to be addressed such as food and water rather than laptops, and that in a sense, these laptops can ‘Westernize’ the groups it is given to. And maybe these devices shouldn’t be given to these remote African tribes that have no contact with people like us; disrupting their lifestyle might just be a bad idea. Maybe (just maybe) this is a very loose form of the acquisition model of learning where we subtly Westernize them in a shell that resembles the participatory model of learning. Of course this is just making assumptions since I don’t know what types of movies or games are included on the devices. Plus it’s just a wacky theory to begin with.

In addition, the organization has been criticized for simply distributing the devices and “walking away”, with the assumption that the recipients would be able to learn the device on their own, without showing the recipients how to use the technology to their advantage. These recipients end up leaving the device on a shelf because they could not figure it out and apply it to their education. Sound familiar?

But at least for the countries that already are adjusting to technology, like Peru, or even here in the United States, it seems like a great, cheap way to introduce technology in low income areas or areas with no access to technology. Maybe it’s not appropriate for remote communities but for ones with technology already there, it seems pretty awesome.