Posts Tagged ‘Pew Research Center’

Mark Zuckerberg thinks he should read more books ( and ( and he has made that his New Year’s Resolution for 2015- he will read a new book every two weeks. And I have to admit, after a day of facing the internet, social media, my smartphone, my office phone, and every other iteration of screen imaginable, I’m pretty pro-books at the end of the day too.

But here’s the thing, Zuckerberg said, “I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”

And this on its own is an interesting statement from the man who invented a whole new platform for human engagement with the universe, usually in a terse, poorly composed, un-reviewed, multi-media, heavily internet-influenced, referential and visually distracting manner. For Zuck to acknowledge that internet literacy, being on top of the latest instagrams, status updates, and tweet-reading alone don’t help one to necessarily broaden and deepen their own intellect- well, it’s kind of a big deal. It’s a bit of a line in the sand. And I like it.

However, and I find interestingly, Zuck didn’t specify HOW he will be ingesting the books. Will he be reading them via a variety of online/downloadable media, or the old fashioned paper format way? There is a difference. And the difference matters. And we are only just beginning to scrape the surface of looking at how the interface of screens impacts our retention, our emotion, our engagement with the content we are reading.

As the sister of a man who manages a very popular little independent bookstore in San Francisco (whoop whoop Books Inc. on Chestnut Street!), I’d like to think that we are all reading more, but lately I feel more compelled to pose the question of whether what really matters is not THAT we are reading more, but WHAT we are reading and HOW we are reading it. See this study if you want to learn more about this type of research:

And the same apparently is being implied when it comes to taking notes and studying them- early studies and research indicate that doing it “ye olde fashioned way” with pen and paper and hand helps us to retain more of the content than the act of typing does.

But then we come to this issue of more and intellectually superiority and canonization. Stay with me here. By canonization, I am not intending any religious interpretation of the word. I’m merely intending to bring up the fact that some of us get to claim we are smarter and have better taste and we get to claim what is worth reading and what is not. And, well, that gets pretty tricky.

The other night I saw the film “Birdman.” Highly recommend it. So weird and different and interesting. And boy I love Michael Keaton. Always have. Glad to see him back. Anyhow, there’s this great scene in the film where Keaton’s character gets in the face of this legendary, reputedly indestructible and all-powerful theater critic and they have this outstanding dialogue in a bar about whether she gets to judge him for being a former movie star and trying to break into theater. I loved it because it touched on the central hatred that anyone in art or creative work has about critics, whose sole job it is to judge them and then publish that judgment for others to use to, in exchange, judge them. That scene really hit me. And Keaton has this one incredible line that really caps off the whole interchange between them- where he tells the critic, “None of it costs you anything. You risk nothing.” We love to hate critics because this is what they do. They impose their allegedly more developed, informed and well-rounded opinions upon us of what is good, what is worthwhile, what is quality without putting really any skin in the game. There’s a convenient little rebuttle to that here in the Chicago Tribune, but in reality, that’s a pretty hard argument to argue with.

What’s my point? My point, I think, is that criticizing and judging others for their creative choices and how they choose to spend their time is a waste of time. I will always be glad to know that people are reading, including Zuck, no matter what they choose to read and how they choose to read it. I want people to consume the creative works of others. I want people to listen to music, even if I don’t enjoy what they’re listening to. I want people to go to the theater, even if I hate the play. I want people to go to the ballet, even though it bores me to tears. And I want them to extend the same courtesy to me.

Frankly I am flabbergasted that “the average American, in 2013 read one book a month, according to the Pew Research Center.” Seriously, think about that! 12 books in a year? Sounds like an overestimation for most people I know, unless somehow magazines, comic books, cereal boxes, and/or poems are counting as books these days.

Anyhow, I hope your 2015 is off to a great start, even if it’s not off to as great a start as Zuck’s. Let’s all plan to create, consume, and converse more this year.


September 22, 2010 –

Sneaking off to smoke cigarettes. Experimenting with alcohol. Sexual experimentation. These are all Hollywood hallmarks and symbols of adolescent youth in the United States. Americans think of the teenage years as the time to get out into the world, try new (and perhaps forbidden) things, and become an adult in the process. But what if in the process, the adolescent become a felon?

Every once in a while a high profile case involving teens and the internet hits the web, and parents start to squirm. Generally, however, these cases highlight how the Net may be perilous to the teen, not how the teen may be perilous to the Net. While in some situations those warnings are legitimate, it may be time for parents to begin to consider another way in which their child’s internet use may be perilous to their future: hacking.

Today’s teens are more tech savvy than any other generation, and the generation that follows them will be all the more savvy. According to a February 2010 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, “Internet use is near ubiquitous among teens and young adults. In the last decade, the young adult internet population has remained the most likely to go online. Over the past 10 years, teens and young adults have been consistently the two groups most likely to go online, even as the internet population has grown and even with documented larger increases in certain age cohorts (e.g. adults 65 and older).”

Thus it is no longer sufficient to think of every teen as wide-eyed and naive about the varied functions and uses for the Net. Many teens are way ahead of the rest of us, hacking and writing code, doing their own programming and creating the next generation’s tools. However, the same teen urges that drive them to experiment with drugs and sex– those strong hits of hormones and a sense of invincibility– also today lead them to commit crimes on the web.

Just this week a 17 year-old Australian teen caused a “massive hacker attack on Twitter which sent users to Japanese porn sites and took out the White House press secretary’s feed.” The teenager, Pearce Delphin, simply revealed a Twitter code security flaw and publicized it. The flaw was then exploited by hackers who subsequently wreaked havoc on Twitter’s user base of more than 100 million for nearly five hours. When asked why he would do such a thing, Delphin reportedly replied, “I did it merely to see if it could be done … that JavaScript really could be executed within a tweet…I had no idea it was going to take off how it did. I just hadn’t even considered it.””

But the story gets better, before the Associated Press could actually hypothesize what the danger of this hack might have been, 17-year old Delphin came through with it first, “Delphin said it could have been used to ‘maliciously steal user account details.’” He told the reporters, “The problem was being able to write the code that can steal usernames and passwords while still remaining under Twitter’s 140 character tweet limit.”

Likewise, in 2008 another 17-year old from Pennsylvania admitted to crashing Sony’s PlayStation site after being banned for cheating in a game called SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals. By intentionally infecting the Sony site with a virus, the teenage honors student was able to crash the site for a duration of 11 days in November 2008. In that case the kid got lucky, rather than pursue the case as a grand jury investigation, the authorities decided to let the teen’s local juvenile court handle the charges. In the end, the 11th grade student was judged delinquent and charged with unlawful use of a computer, criminal use of a computer, computer trespassing and the distribution of a computer virus.

Somewhat humorously, Net security sites like Symantec and McAfee have pages dedicated to teen use and abuse of the Net. Symantec’s is titled “The Typical Trickery of Teen Hackers,” and addresses questions such as “I discovered that my teenager had figured out my computer password and logged in, resetting the parental controls we had installed. How did this happen?.” In their recent 2010 study McAfee reports that, “85 percent of teens go online somewhere other than at home and under the supervision of their parents, nearly a third (32 percent) of teens say they don’t tell their parents what they do while they are online, and 28 percent engage with strangers online. The survey results should serve as a wake-up call for many parents.”

While teenage tomfoolery and trickery is generally regarded as humorous (thanks Hollywood) and as a coming-of-age tendency, the trouble begins when a teen’s future is jeopardized because he or she has not developed a sense for the moral and ethical implications of their actions on the web. Because hacking is not as tangible as, say, stealing a T-shirt at the mall, it is harder for teens to grasp how a few key strokes can be considered criminal. Yet it is up to today’s and tomorrow’s parents to put in the extra effort to educate teens about how their activities online may jeopardize their extremely valuable future.