Thursday, May 23
In an interesting op-ed for The Huffington Post, digital marketer and entrepreneur Lottie Ntim examines the digital divide — not here in America, but globally:
While Web growth in North America can be said to have been largely driven by technologies that cater to personal needs (PCs, smartphones, smartphone apps), Internet usage in other regions such as Africa, has developed through more social channels, such as mobile banking. While internet penetration in Africa hovered around 16 percent last year, mobile telephony soared to one of the highest in the world. Currently, 90 percent of the continent has access to a mobile phone—a phenomenon that has helped topple dictatorships and connects rural communities to otherwise difficult to reach services such as healthcare, in addition to the now common money transfers via text.
Nevertheless, there is certainly no shortage of demand for technologies developed for personal use in this region. However their cost and the likelihood of limited access to Wi-Fi networks has meant a different kind of growth for Africa when it comes to Web usage.
Like most high-tech companies, Google is highly secretive—one of the reasons Brad Stone’s glimpse at the company’s secret lab for Bloomberg makes for great reading. Here’s a taste:
Since its creation in 2010, Google has kept X largely hidden from view. Over the past month, Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to many of X’s managers and project leaders, who work with abundant resources and few of the constraints that smothered similar corporate research efforts in the past. “Anything which is a huge problem for humanity we’ll sign up for, if we can find a way to fix it,” Teller says.
Google X seeks to be an heir to the classic research labs, such as the Manhattan Project, which created the first atomic bomb, and Bletchley Park, where code breakers cracked German ciphers and gave birth to modern cryptography. After the war, the spirit of these efforts was captured in pastoral corporate settings: AT&T’s (T) Bell Labs and Xerox (XRX) PARC, for example, became synonymous with breakthroughs (the transistor and the personal computer among them) and the inability of each company to capitalize on them.
Stone’s full piece is definitely worth checking out.
Via The Huffington Post comes the bizarre tale of a cellphone, a murder, and an accidental dialing:
Police arrested a Florida man on first-degree murder charges Tuesday after he reportedly pocket dialed 911 and revealed his murder plot on a recorded phone line.
In the May 5 recording, which the Broward County Sheriff’s Office says will not be released, Pompano Beach resident Scott Simon can be heard allegedly telling someone that he’s going to follow another man home and kill him.
Minutes later, Nicholas Walker, 33 of Lauderhill, was shot dead while driving on I-95 south. His car then hit a guardrail and exploded into flames.
Sue Marek from Fierce Wireless reports that the world’s biggest retailer is putting a lot of focus on mobility:
Walmart is looking to mobile technology to redefine the shopping experience for its retail customers. Speaking at the CTIA Wireless 2013 conference today, Gibu Thomas, global head of mobile at Walmart, said that the company’s goal is to create mobile tools that are “indispensable for the customer when shopping in our stores.”
Specifically, Thomas said that the company will leverage big data to do such tasks as develop automatic shopping lists and other advanced capabilities that will improve the shopping experience. “Our goal is to create shopping tools that are second nature,” Thomas said. “The true power of mobile is re-inventing capabilities with mass appeal.”
Wednesday, May 22
Via John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable, acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn reiterated the Commission’s focus on mobile broadband while maintaining a “light” regulatory touch:
In her first speech as acting FCC chairwoman, Mignon Clyburn told a CTIA convention audience in Las Vegas Tuesday (May 21), that “maximizing the benefits of mobile communications will continue to be a top priority for the FCC” and that “mobile innovation is key to U.S. competitiveness.”
She said the FCC is on track to issue incentive auction rules by the end of the year.
Here’s some good news in the world of education. IIA member AT&T has announced it is partnering with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Massive Open Online Courses provider Udacity to launch the first online-only Master of Science degree in computer science. From the press release:
Workers with skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are increasingly important to our business – and to nearly every business – because STEM drives innovation and innovation drives our economy.
During the next six years, 2.8 million STEM openings are predicted. But, today, many STEM jobs are going unfilled as candidates lack the necessary skills, training or degrees.
Through this new program, Georgia Tech will be able to offer employers like AT&T a larger and more diverse pool of highly qualified, STEM-trained workers and help the U.S. retain its global competitive edge.
Cool stuff. And on a related note, check out our recent infographic on the benefits of broadband access in eduction.
A new report from Pew finds that teenagers are increasingly sharing information about themselves on social networks. Some numbers from the report:
• 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
• 71% post their school name, up from 49%.
• 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
• 53% post their email address, up from 29%.
• 20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.
Also in the report: 95% of teens use the Internet, and a whopping 81% of them use social media sites, the most popular of which is still Facebook (though Twitter and Instagram are making up ground).
Monday, May 20
Via Zack Colman of The Hill, Ben Bernanke is bullish on the tech sector:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke touted innovation and information technology as drivers of economic change in a Saturday commencement speech at Bard College in Massachusetts.
“Humanity’s capacity to innovate and the incentives to innovate are greater today than at any other time in history,” he said.
Bernanke also touted advancements in biotech, health care, and clean energy as helping keep the tech boom from becoming a bubble.
According to Alexis Kleinman of the Huffington Post, there are a whole lot of non-humans active on Facebook:
Facebook loves to talk about its ridiculously high number of users. Yes, Facebook has a whole lot of accounts, but many of them aren’t humans. eMarketer released an analysis of Facebook’s audience, and it turns out more than 10 percent of Facebook’s reported monthly users are not human. Over 100 million active Facebook users are pets, objects or brands.
Despite strong warnings from the Obama administration, hackers in China are still attacking America’s networks. As David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times report:
Three months after hackers working for a cyberunit of China’s People’s Liberation Army went silent amid evidence that they had stolen data from scores of American companies and government agencies, they appear to have resumed their attacks using different techniques, according to computer industry security experts and American officials.