- Facebook Friends Are Real Friends After All
- Teachers More Fluent in Digital Technologies Than the Broader Population
- Toxic Working Conditions in Pakistan's E-Waste Industry
- What's Hot in THE FUTURIST Magazine
Not all relationships on social networks are equal, but they do contribute in various ways to social capital—the emotional and cognitive resources we get from each other that can contribute to well-being. This means that we don’t have to worry about our heavy use of Facebook turning us into social misfits.
Quite the contrary, write University of Cape Town information systems scholar Kevin Johnston and colleagues in the journal Behaviour & Information Technology. Previous studies have shown that social capital develops from:
- Bridging weak links (e.g., between people in different occupations or of different ethnicities),
- Bonding to those with closer ties (family members; co-workers in a department), and
- Maintaining existing ties (former classmates; neighbors who keep up with you after they’ve moved).
In their study of South African college students, the researchers found that Facebook use was predominantly devoted to maintaining and strengthening existing offline relationships, while seeking new friendships (offline-to-online) was less important.
Factoring in levels of self-esteem and satisfaction with university life, the researchers found a correlation with Facebook usage for bonding social capital. This suggests that students with lower self-esteem and satisfaction could benefit from keeping up with their Facebook connections.
Source: "Social Capital: The Benefit of Facebook ‘Friends’" by Kevin Johnston (Information Systems Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa), Maureen Tanner, Nishant Lalla, and Dori Kawalski, Behaviour & Information Technology (Volume 32, Issue 1, 2013), Taylor and Francis Online.
If today’s typical classroom—with chalkboards, paper books, and other artifacts from the age of John Stuart Mill—seems like a terribly old-fashioned way to educate children, don’t blame the teachers. A recently released survey by the Pew Internet and American Life project found that today’s teachers are heavy technology users compared with the broader population, that they are better versed in digital technologies and that humanities teachers actually use digital technologies in their classrooms more often than do math teachers.
Age plays a key difference in how teachers use digital technologies. Nearly half of teachers under the age of 35 said they have their students develop a Web site, wiki, or blog, or at least share their work online, compared with 34% of teachers over the age of 55. Younger teachers were also more likely to encourage the use of Web-based collaborative tools like GoogleDocs.
Surprisingly, teachers of language arts and social studies were almost twice as likely to have their students use online tools or participate in an online forum as were math teachers.
Teachers of all age groups were more likely to own a smart phone than the general public (58% versus 45%), to use a laptop (93% versus 61%), and to use a social networking site (78% versus 69%).
A large majority of surveyed teachers expressed concern that the digital divide seemed to be growing. Students from more-affluent households clearly had more access to digital technologies outside of the classroom than did other students.
In short, today’s education system may not be keeping up with technology, but it’s not the fault of teachers.
A cottage "e-waste recycling" industry earns needed income for hundreds of thousands of Pakistani families, but at potentially horrendous costs to their health, according to an eyewitness report.
Shakila Umair, a Pakistani native who is pursuing a PhD at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, interviewed hundreds of Pakistani e-waste workers and their family members. She noted that the workers typically labor within their own homes, spending as much as 12 hours a day burning or melting computer components and extracting the reusable parts. In the process, they expose themselves and their families to lethal chemicals on a daily basis.
Umair observed vats of acid being stored in close proximity to children’s sleeping quarters. Workers rarely wore protective masks even while immersed daily in hazardous fumes, such as dioxin and furans, from open-air burning of wires and circuit boards. Many of her interviewees reported physical discomforts and ailments whose causes they could not explain. None were aware of the toxins present in e-waste.
In a presentation at the ICT for Sustainability Conference, which convened February 14-16 at the University of Zurich, Umair urged Pakistan’s information and communications technology industry leaders to improve their documentation of workers’ health hazards, to teach workers safer methods, and to supply them with adequately protective gloves and masks.
The Annual Conference of the World Future Society: July 19-21, 2013, at the Hilton Chicago Hotel, Chicago, Illinois.
Don't miss your chance to meet MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, Ford Futurist Sheryl Connelly, and visionary author Ramez Naam among hundreds of other futurists from around the world.
The World Future Society's annual conference, WorldFuture 2013: Exploring the Next Horizon, will give you the opportunity to learn from others in many different fields, and to explore actions affecting our futures in as yet unimagined ways.
The conference will feature nearly 100 leading futurists offering more than 60 sessions, workshops, and special events over the course of two and a half days. And for those who want to take a deeper dive into key studies of interest, the preconference Master Classes allow for an in-depth look in a small group setting.
Do You Have an Invention That Will Change the Future? Submit it to Futurists: BetaLaunch
(Futurists: BetaLaunch intro video, courtesy of Cynthia Wagner)
Futurists: BetaLaunch (or F:BL) serves as a technology petting zoo
where engineers, designers and others can present their inventions to the 1,000
futurists expected to gather for the Society’s annual conference. The event takes place on the evening of July 19, 2013.
All inventors selected to present their inventions at F:BL will receive a complimentary registration to the WorldFuture 2013 conference ($900 value). Travel costs are the responsibility of each inventor. Enter by March 31, 2013.
By Ray Kurzweil
Can nonbiological brains have real minds of their own? In this article, futurist/inventor Ray Kurzweil describes the future of intelligence—artificial and otherwise. Read more.
By Rick Docksai
Reining in taxes and spending may be the wrong prescription for what’s ailing the world’s economies. A few success stories—Israel, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Russia—illustrate how increased taxing and spending are adding bounties of new jobs and cutting poverty. The key is doing so wisely. Read more.
By Ramez Naam
Ideas may be our greatest natural resource, says a computer scientist and futurist. He argues that the world’s most critical challenges—including population growth, peak oil, climate change, and limits to growth—could be met by encouraging innovation. Read more.
By Irving H. Buchen
As machines begin to learn and even to pursue higher knowledge, we may need to take another look at Isaac Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics. Read more.
By Rob Bencini
Students facing uncertain future opportunities (but very certain debt loads) may increasingly turn away from private colleges and universities that offer little more than a diploma. Instead, they’ll seek more-affordable alternatives for higher education, both real and virtual. Read more.
By Timothy C. Mack
As the world changes, we may need to modify our methods of forecasting to better make sense of change. Yet, we must not discard the still-relevant wisdom of the past. The president of the World Future Society lays out some rules of the road for forecasting that draw a middle path between inclusiveness and adaptation on one hand, and discretion and convention on the other. Read more.
World Trends & Forecasts
- Forecasting Violent Behavior in Psychiatric Emergencies: A simpler evaluation tool offers faster, more accurate predictions of violent behavior.
- China's Closed Circuits: Foreign firms are helping China become the world’s largest market for security cameras.
- Putting More Stock in Agricultural R&D: As some countries boost funding for agricultural innovation, others struggle to catch up.
- Predicting Obesity at Birth: Nongenetic factors may matter more than genetics in determining risk of obesity.
- Climate Disruption and Plankton Destruction: Researchers urge action to save phytoplankton and the sea life they feed.
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One common fallacy is that people are being replaced by machines. The reality is that machines don’t work without humans. A more accurate description is that a large number of people are being replaced by a smaller number of people using machines.
Futurists: BetaLaunch, THE FUTURIST magazine's invention and idea expo, is entering its third year and will be part of the opening night event at WorldFuture 2013. We'll be updating you soon on the BetaLaunch winners that will be showcasing their startups and inventions this July in Chicago. Right now, we would like to catch you up on one of our alumni, the Cyberhero League, an anti-bulling, pro-future game platform that teaches responsibility, sustainability, and civic-mindedness.
Over many centuries, attempts have been made to get food production out of the cities. Produce comes from the land and is transported into the cities. In most western cities, abattoirs have disappeared. Markets are still there, but no longer have a central role in our shopping.
Star Trek Into Darkness: Eye candy for the amygdala. Yes, this is another Hollywood blockbuster depicting a dystopian future with big explosions and small innovations. However, the first ten minutes are worth the price of the ticket. I was pleasantly surprised to see J.J. Abrams using the Ancient Aliens theory and a huge wink to author Zecharia Sitchin's work in the opening scene located on the fictional (depending on who you ask) world of Nibiru.
Spray-on skin. Lab-grown ears. Human tissue grown in a petri dish. We're going deep into sci-fi territory (and it is already happening).
“Extropy” is celebrating its first quarter of a century. The idea was formally introduced as a philosophy of the future in 1988, and many things have happened from the end of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century. A new millennium has been born and the philosophy of extropy is well-suited for these new times of accelerating change, full of challenges and opportunities.
One definition of resilience is “the ability to cope with shocks and keep functioning in a satisfying way”. Resilience is about the self organizing capacity of systems. This means the ability to bounce back after disaster, or the ability to transform if a bad stage has happened.