Monday, 14 December 2009

Ed Balls - kids need more protection on TV

As if the Government wasn't doing enough to protect kids in the UK by making it ever harder for anyone to work with them at all, today saw the Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, claim that kids appearing on TV need more protection.

I would agree that there's a need to address the recent phenomenon of broadcasters using children's emotions for ratings winners, but is new legislation the best way forward? The problem I have with increased legislation is that it tends to create even more problems than it solves.

Surely common sense and political pressure are better alternatives to a heavy handed regulatory approach?

I do think the idea of better Media literacy in schools is a good idea, and this could be incorporated into ICT schemes of work, since much of the content kids themselves access, in an unfiltered way, resides online.

I hope I'm not turning into a free market libertarian, but this administration's desire to control everything we do seems out of control.

19 million watch X Factor final. Why?

Why did more than 19 million people watch this weekend's X Factor final, the show's largest audience in six series?

Personally, it' rather passed me by. Call it the Big Brother Syndrome, or perhaps attribute it to the fact I've been very busy at school, but I find it puzzling.

You can read all the statistical data here.

From a Media Studies viewpoint it shows that:

  1. Simon Cowell is great at capturing populist trends
  2. Simon Cowell is great at monetizing the TV show as an international brand
  3. Audiences don't always follow predictable patterns
  4. Institutions hate to leave their comfort zone if audiences and advertisers seem happy, although experience suggests that time and repetition should dull popularity.
Thanks to the Web I can of course revisit what I missed and see the key moments, thus saving myself hours of valuable life time, focusing in purely on the best bits. Does this make me a bad media consumer, or a thoroughly postmodern media interaction specialist? I'll leave you to decide.

Using the iPhone in connected learning

A great story from Wired about an American university piloting the use of customised iPhones for student learning and collaboration.

The rise of connected mobile technologies for learner interaction, content access, and collaboration is likely to be one of the big buzzes of the next year or so.

You probably didn't read that here first, but if you're reading it on a smartphone then you're surfing along nicely on the Zeitgeist wave.

Ushahidi - open source disaster prevention

This is a great demonstration of the power of social networking for positive good.

Ushahidi takes Google Maps and allows contributors to add real-time, geo-tagged data and postings, focused on areas of conflict or natural disasters.

It's a brilliant learning tool to show how areas of man made or natural disasters cope.

Have a look at the Afghan website, Alive in Afghanistan, which gives a very different picture to the mediated news that we see, read and hear in the mainstream Western media.

It makes for fascinating and disturbing reading, taking you into the heart of a conflict zone in a much more accessible way than normal news outlets can manage.

iPhone and the Stockholm Syndrome

Maybe it's getting quiet in the run up to Christmas, but I was intrigued by this report, claiming to have spotted similarities between iPhone users and their dedication to the product, and the so-called Stockholm Syndrome, where captives become enamored of their captors.

My own mobile phone contract expires next May, and as Vodafone, my supplier, are due to start selling the iPhone in the New Year, I will confess to having been tempted to upgrade to one.

Many of my colleagues are surprised that I haven't gone for an iPhone before. However, although I use Macs a lot of the time, I'm not a slave to the product. For me, the iPhone has always been to expensive, especially given the fact other phones can do better in key areas. That said, the iPhone seems to have matured into a decent product and costs have fallen. Although I've been a Win Mob fan for the last two years, the time for a switch may be coming.

If it does, I just hope I don't develop any un-natural emotions as a consequence.