kids, computers and change

I haven’t been blogging for a while because I’ve been involved in the logistics of moving a university depratment to a new building this week (think herding cats and you get the picture). Now that I’m back I’m going to make up by having a bit of a stream of consciousness about slightly connected topics.

1. My kids have managed to ruin my computing at home by spilling water over the keyboard which has taken out the ‘n’ key and the space bar. I tried using the on-screen keyboard and it’s like pulling teeth – it is worse than trying to do a full blog post via txting. I found it seriously hard work so I’ve resorted to the laptop. It’s these small uphill battles that make my online experiences so erratic, or perhaps I’m just making excuses however other people seem to be ‘always on’ and in my experience power plug issues, network connectivity, kids and other various things always get in the way of me doing this. I talked to a colleague about the transient nature of my online stuff when we were trying out plaxo recently. I was trying to get my twitter friends into it and then tried using my facebook contacts, but the interface started to annoy me and I was five seconds in without success and about 5 seconds away from giving up so I do think that the ten second rule than NN (Neilsen Norman) the usability gurus used to apply to websites still holds (in my experience) to web apps. In 2006 the BBC had this down to 4 seconds for commercial sites selling goods.

2. Janet Street Porter did a rant in the Independent on Sunday in her editorial about how all our details are being exposed and exploited by, for example, YouTube and the fact that studies show that people using the internet and social network for long periods have trouble making real friends and that relationships for the next generation are going to suffer. I hardly ever agree with JSP and my views are significantly different to hers on this but I do think that getting the public/private stuff right on the internet is difficult. I tend to be very cagey about myself because I do prefer to keep my private life a closed book, knowledge is power and you never know when that slip of the tongue might come back to bite you. Other people however are totally very open and I find this refreshing but also a bit disconcerting. I’m a very shy person and I expect that comes through with how I act online and choose to reveal myself in the virtual world. I don’t worry about how kids will deal with real relationships by the way. They’re just finding new ways to communicate, not replacing the old but enhancing these.

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About willwoods
I'm Head of Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University.

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