Sunday, January 16, 2011

Achieving Technological Literacy

Kevin Kelly — the co-founder of Wired magazine and author of the best-selling New Rules for the New Economy and What Technology Wants — decided to home-school his 13-year-old son … and wrote about the experience in The New York Times Magazine.

“One of the chief habits a student needs to acquire is technological literacy,” Kelly wrote. “Technology will change faster than we can teach it. My son studied the popular programming language C++ in his home-school year; that knowledge could be economically useless soon.

“The accelerating pace of technology means his eventual adult career does not exist yet,” he added. “Of course it won’t be taught in school. But technological smartness can be.”

The nine principles of technological literacy that Kelly taught his son are relevant for all of us — especially those of us who graduated from eighth grade more than twenty years ago. Here’s a sampling. (I urge you to read them all.)

• Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything you need until the last second. Get comfortable with the fact that anything you buy is already obsolete.
• The proper response to a stupid technology is to make a better one, just as the proper response to a stupid idea is not to outlaw it but to replace it with a better idea.
• Nobody has any idea of what a new invention will really be good for. The crucial question is, what happens when everyone has one?
• The older the technology, the more likely it will continue to be useful.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Public Relations: A Growth Industry

Good news for PR professionals, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics: between 2008 and 2018, employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow 24 percent … much faster than the average for all occupations.

The increasingly competitive and global business environment will spur demand for PR pros, particularly those with specialized knowledge, international experience or fluency in additional languages. The rise of social media is also expected to foster employment growth for PR practitioners.

The competition for entry-level public relations jobs will likely remain fierce, as the number of qualified applicants is expected to exceed the number of job openings.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bad News for Bank of America; Worse News for the Consumer

Jason Grodensky paid cash for his house in South Florida last December. With no mortgage and sole ownership, the last thing he worried about was the possibility of foreclosure. Nevertheless, Bank of America foreclosed on the house seven months later. It wasn’t until Grodensky brought his problem to the attention of the Sun Sentinel, that it began to be resolved. Bank of America has said it will straighten out the mess at its own cost.

According to The New York Times, this may be just the tip of the iceberg. In order to feed the investment community’s insatiable hunger for mortgage-backed securities, many banks — including JP Morgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage — took short-cuts and made errors in the recording of deeds. As a result, they’re putting a temporary halt to foreclosures. It’s a step in the right direction, but clearly not the total solution to a complex public relations problem that could continue to haunt lenders, their customers and investors for a long time to come.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Antibiotics from the Brains of Creepy-Crawlies

Think about this the next time your healthcare provider writes a prescription for an antibiotic — your medication may have been derived from the brain of a cockroach!

Researchers from the University of Nottingham (U.K.) have discovered as many as nine different molecules with powerful antibiotic properties in the brains of cockroaches and locusts which could lead to novel treatments for multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The team of infectious disease scientists has found that the tissues of the brain and nervous system of the insects were able to kill more than 90 per cent of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Escherichia coli — as well as a variety of emerging superbugs, such as Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and Burkholderia — without harming human cells.

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