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Friday, April 21, 2006

Christian social-networking

The reporting (about mainstream social-networking) isn't entirely accurate, but Associated Baptist Press does look at the downside as well as the upside of religious sites in this category. It cites a wise parent pointing out the false sense of security Christian social-networking cites can foster. "Ken Satterfield, a father and marketing specialist, told Associated Baptist Press anonymity of the Internet causes people to divulge personal information they ordinarily wouldn’t share. The Christian label on or Swordwalk, another Christian site, causes some people to let down their otherwise careful guard against strangers, he said.... As a parent, Satterfield said, he also struggles with the choice between shielding his children from potentially harmful media and letting them learn how to navigate the world on their own." supposedly offers all the services of a MySpace - customized profiles, blogging, music, etc. What this article doesn't say is if this by-invitation-only site of 4,500 members to date has similar security measures. Its founders, who say its growth is "incredible," "concede users with malicious motives might be able to access the site," Associated Baptist Press reports. It also seems to suggest an element of exploitation.

Kid-tracking phones

I blogged about this when Sprint first unveiled its service, but the Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro actually reviewed the phone, thinking here and there from the perspective of "the objects of all this surveillance." He does get one thinking about how far we've come since 9/11. "As demonstrated by a Sprint publicist yesterday, the service was deceptively easy to use . . . considering that the whole idea would have been science-fiction fodder a decade ago." He concludes with the thought of what it might feel like for a traveling employee knowing HQ can in this way "manage its mobile assets." I wonder how big the market is for this technology, which does seem to take potential privacy invasion to another level. Rob writes, "The whole idea of tracking your family in this manner is weird and alarming on some levels. So is the notion that we're all so deathly afraid for our kids that there's even a market for this." Do you agree? Email me or comment in our forum.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Web by phone

If it's happening in Europe and Asia, it'll happening in North America too, where cellphones are concerned. And the latest study - by market researcher Ipsos Insight - found that in some spots people are checking email and browsing the Webs with their phones more than laptops, the Associated Press reports. And the AP adds that mobile phone Web-browsing is moving beyond teens and young adults.

Circumventing teens

Teenagers doing the circumventing, that is - with Web proxies. CNET's "Kids outsmart Web filters" leads with the story of Oregon high school student Ryan bypassing his school's filter by setting up a Web proxy at home so he could access Web sites the school blocks. The school eventually figured out what he was doing and worked out some countermeasures, but there was no disciplinary action - its wise administrators told CNET this is how they learn. And of course Ryan's not alone. "An increasing number of teenagers are setting up proxies on home PCs to sidestep school filtering traps, in addition to using free proxies set up on the Web, according to technologists at schools and at content-filtering technology providers," CNET adds, elaborating.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Better spyware protection

To keep our family PCs more spyware-free, suggests Washington Post security writer Brian Krebs, we need to give up our rights. It's not as radical as it sounds, but he acknowledges one does give up some convenience. Basically, he's saying we can keep our PCs more secure if we run application software under sub-accounts, or non-admin accounts - the ones that don't have the power to install programs or modify the operating system. Why? Because, Brian says, "spyware and other unwanted programs have a much harder time getting their hooks into your system if the current user lacks installation privileges." Check out the article to see how.


It *sounds* like startups are just capitalizing on social-networking's runaway success, but this is real. "Power to the people" has definitely arrived on the Internet, and what Larry Magid (my partner at and I are delighted we're beginning to see is people power in the kids' online safety area. Already, dozens of bands and artists on are interested in joining an effort to educate and protect teens who use MySpace. But I ramble. Getting back to social-bookmarking. As a CNET columnist put it, "The amount of good content on the Web is exploding. So how does a person find not just what's good, but what other people think is good so that we can at least talk to each other about the same things?" One way is to use social-bookmarking sites like and, or a "cool mashup" of the two: (the article links to dozens of others too). These are basically voting systems, in which the people decide what sites are worth our while.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Young cellphone 'junkies'

"Multi-socializing will be a needed skill in tomorrow's economy," reports the Lansing State Journal, referring to teens' social multitasking. Multitasking is about juggling tasks. Teens do that too in the process, but the main activity is, in a way, "juggling people" in the sense of holding multiple one-on-one conversations simultaneously in instant-messaging while talking or texting on the phone and typing comments into a blog or social-networking site. The Journal cites a Michigan State professor as finding the skill admirable in some ways. Adults, who aren't used to this style of communication may wonder why, but it helps to observe how it's done, and experts find that there are positives and negatives to it, as with most ways of relating. "Teen cell phone relationships aren't necessarily shallow, experts say. They're just different. Sure, kids miss out on the non-verbal cues, but the length of the conversations can compensate for that," the Journal reports. Check out the article for some more insights - as well as a sidebar on some recommended rules for parents on teen cellphone use.