Friday Five: Future Cities, ATMs and Digital Natives

Digital Natives, Yet Strangers to the Web – from The Atlantic

One of the most resonating articles I’ve read in a long time. If you have teens or pre-teens, or if you teach, read it, really!

“According to Loewy, this dichotomy amounts to a major missed opportunity. Kids not only need to be proficient in how to use digital technology, becoming savvy coders and prolific ebook readers, he explains—they also need to deeply, holistically, and realistically understand how the digital world works behind the scenes. And that doesn’t only mean realizing that sexting is a victimizing and punishable offense with long-term repercussions. Or that social media can be addictive and full of predators. While it’s undoubtedly important to keep kids safe when they’re online, these focuses give kids “a distorted view of the digital world,” Loewy writes. “It is a view that reflects the fears of adults rather than the aspirations of youth.” “

and…

“Loewy half-jokingly compares the state of digital learning in America’s schools to that of sex ed, which, as one NYU education professor describes it, entails “a smattering of information about their reproductive organs and a set of stern warnings about putting them to use.” “

Sad, or hopeful? A pet store put price tags on rescue animals to see if potential owners would be more interested knowing that they cost money. It worked. The store didn’t take the money, and the animals got a home. Happy ending. But still…

Sad, or hopeful? A pet store put price tags on rescue animals to see if potential owners would be more interested knowing that they cost money. It worked. The store didn’t take the money, and the animals got a home. Happy ending. But still… (via MyModernMet)

Mobile payments – why waiting is no longer an option, from WIRED

The payments sector is getting very crowded. And interesting.

For virtually anyone interested in making money from the growth in smartphones, mobile payments make sense. Transaction fees trump online content as a means of generating profit — and as time goes on, a larger percentage of customers both online and at the cash register will be expecting the ability to pay through their smartphone. The question is, which direction should merchants take to position themselves for mobile payments?

 

An awesome project: a group of teenagers create a mobile ecological village for the homeless. Via MyModernMet

An awesome project: a group of teenagers create a mobile ecological village for the homeless. Via MyModernMet

The Disruption of ATMs… They’re going to need to evolve, and fast – from Quartz

The poor, overlooked and under-appreciated ATMs are due for a serious overhaul if they want to survive. These days we only use cash, in general, for small purchases such as a coffee or a taxi ride. Digital money aims to make cash unnecessary even for those. So, why will we need ATMs? Because they don’t just dispense cash.

“In Latin America, the typical ATM has 50 to 75 features, compared with 25 in the US, says Mattes. It allows people to pay water, phone, and electricity bills, and even to pay to view a soccer match on their televisions at home. In the UK, people can top up their phone balance or contribute to charity via cash points. New machines being trialled by UBS in Switzerland will allow people to open bank accounts; instead of cash, they spit out a brand new debit card. “A new machine can do 95% of what a human teller can do,” says Mattes. That includes easy things like bank transfers and accepting cash, but also things like sanctioning car loans.”

Skeletal leaf bowl sculptures, by Kay Sekimachi - via Colossal

Skeletal leaf bowl sculptures, by Kay Sekimachi – via Colossal

The State of the Newspaper Industry, from Nieman Lab

More on the relentless march of mobile. Pew Internet has just published their 2015 media report, always worth a good read. In this report, Nieman Labs highlights the main points, pulls out the best graphs, and leaves us with the foreboding feeling that the ad revenue decline for physical newspapers isn’t going to end just yet.

It’s not just physical papers that are being threatened. As of January 2015, 39 of 50 online newspapers had more mobile visitors than desktop readers. Yet, websites hold the reader’s attention for longer than their mobile versions.

Oh, and podcasting continues to grow in popularity. Yay. And, may I add, in quality.

Tesla batteries are sold out until 2016 - via Curbed

Tesla batteries are sold out until 2016 – via Curbed

The Tyranny of Constant Contact, from The New York Times

I am spending almost an hour a day clearing out emails, which is ridiculous.

In my own effort to stay afloat the data surf, I subscribe to two policies. First, if it takes me more than 24 hours to respond to an email, I’ll apologize to the sender; after a day, the failure to respond betrays disinterest, concern or alcohol poisoning.

Second, in the intimacy-based communications hierarchy (with a face-to-face meeting or a phone call being at the top, and tying a message to a rock and then burying the rock in the dirt being at the bottom), I try always to meet the incoming vehicle at its level or higher. You can’t answer a phone call with a message on FarmVille.

Smart Cities and Security, from The Guardian

future cities

The idea of Smart Cities is fascinating and exciting – I’m auditing a MOOC called “Future Cities” from the ETH Zurich and loving it, the field of urban design is quite breathtaking these days. And an extra plus, the course is helping me appreciate the city I live in even more than I already did.

But, the article raises a worrying and valid point, in that the more connected our city infrastructure, the more vulnerable to hacking. Sensors, power meters, street lights can all be hacked for information and/or personal use. That’s not new. What is new is the increasing interconnectivity, which leaves entire areas vulnerable to anything from seriously inconvenient pranks to large-scale attacks.

“A city has plans for earthquakes or floods in some areas, but I don’t think many cities have any plans for cyber attacks.”

For more on the future of our cities, I have a new Flipboard magazine:

flipboard future cities

Have a great weekend! Ask difficult questions!

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