Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Archive for March, 2007

Knowledge is Power

My husband John makes an interesting observation on the dilemma of internet filtering in schools (http://staff.bbhcsd.org/schinkerj/archives/2007/03/23/protecting-our-students/).
He notes that, “Our schools are supposed to provide adult supervision in all areas where students are using the Internet.”

But what does “adult supervision” mean – an adult simply present in the room (completely ineffective) or an adult actively engaged in looking over kids shoulders as they are online (completely unrealistic). How does this “rule” apply in an age where school campuses and other public areas are increasingly wi-fi enabled and internet devices are increasingly smaller and more convenient? If a student could use her cell phone to access the internet in the bathroom, could the school district be held liable if there is no adult present there at that time?

John also writes, “It may be time to stop relying on the technology to protect them.” I would argue that technology cannot really protect them. One of the most critical roles technology plays in our society today is expanding and organizing our access to data, information, knowledge, and opinion. Filtering software on an institutional level makes no sense because members within a large group of people will rarely agree on what should be filtered.

I access the internet every day. With my filtering limited to pop-up blockers, I very rarely “stumble” across what I consider to be inappropriate sites. In fact, I’m more likely to be surprised by inappropriate content in my email in-box (despite the use of Popfile to filter incoming messages) than online. I think the problem of inappropriate material coming in from outside is exaggerated. The larger threat may be students from seeking out this content from within and sharing it with other students. It’s very difficult to stop the spread of knowledge.

From an administrative perspective, I will admit that it is difficult to address the issue of appropriate content in a blanket way for all age groups. As a parent (essentially a family administrator), I do not ultimately want to limit my children’s access to or discussions of knowledge on any topic. However, since they are currently only 5 and 7 years old, there are definitely some issues to which I do yet not want them deliberately exposed by others. Interestingly, I am not worried one bit about what they might encounter using the internet at their school. I am, however, somewhat concerned about what their teachers might do, say, or model. And I am greatly concerned by what they learn from contact with other students.

My mother has said that we should have taken greater care to live in what she considers a “better” school district, implying that somehow a higher percentage of college-educated parents, greater monetary wealth, or less ethnic diversity makes a school district “better” and would eliminate my concerns. Obviously, there is no place we could move where everyone would agree with my specific views on what is appropriate.

Even though exposure to a large variety of ideas and values could be considered one of the downsides to living in a society with human contact, I personally consider it one of the upsides! As much as we want to protect our children at all costs from all “evil” influences, such contact ultimately works for good by testing and strengthening their character, their sense of self, and their personal ideas of right and wrong.

John writes that, “But maybe it’s time to stop worrying so much about what someone might post online, and start teaching our students how to behave responsibly — as both information creators and information consumers — in this environment.” Ah…the true power of education! On the whole, knowledge is freeing, and attempts to limit knowledge usually indicate an underlying insecurity and/or an attempt to wield power over another. In so many areas of life, we’d be better off acknowledging what we each perceive to be reality and discussing it, rather than trying to ignore, deny, or hide from it. It is a worthwhile exercise to consider why any particular subject is considered taboo – and to realize that such subjects will always be the ones that young minds eager for knowledge of any kind will seek out.

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The Man on the Dead Horse

Since December of 2006, this historical photo of a man sitting on a horse has been sparking speculation and interest.

Dead Horse

The photo was one several historical pictures included in a 2007 calendar issued by The Sheboygan Press. Theories about the story behind the photo have poured in from places as diverse as Norway, Scotland and Brazil. The BBC, AP, CNN, and other major media outlets ran stories on the photo. The following link seems to have a pretty good explanation for the image. So the mystery is solved, right?

http://www.sheboygan-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070127/SHE0101/701270488/1062/SHEnews

Not so fast. THIS site has a DIFFERENT theory. It’s a remarkable example of the depth of research that some have put into figuring out the story behind this picture.

http://ancestralmanor.com/dnn/Default.aspx?tabid=129

So, what’s the point?

How many pictures do you have at home, in a printed or digital format? And each picture has at least one story behind it. After all, it was taken for a reason. And you probably figure that there’s no point in writing down the story behind the picture because YOU know what the picture shows, what it means. After all, it’s OBVIOUS, right? I think you see where I’m going here.

In junior high, we did a sociological anthropology experiment where we were asked to describe how people far in the future might describe a toilet seat if it were unearthed in an archaeological dig. We came up with all sorts of hilarious theories – the most memorable being a religious ceremonial object, since most houses have them.

The point is that in just a few short centuries or decades, things we take as commonplace today will be completely exotic, their uses perhaps even undecipherable. This is even more true now than it was when I was in junior high. My kids don’t have a clue what purpose a typewriter, rotary dial phone, or walkman served. The only place they’ll see one is in a museum (or my mom’s storage unit – she’s got EVERYTHING in there).

Your pictures are precious, but your memories and stories are priceless. I’m sure neither the man on the dead horse nor the photographer taking the picture could have imagined the impact that image would have on people over 100 years later. And perhaps the story behind the photo is mundane, but wouldn’t you still like to know what the heck was going on? So please, for the sake of future generations, go ahead and write down the stories behind your photos!

Memory Management

Do you take digital photos? Are they stored on your computer or on your camera’s memory card? If they are in your computer – bravo! – but are you able to quickly find what you need when you need it? The computer is the 21st century version of the shoebox: all the photos get thrown in the computer and most people STILL can’t find that photo of Aunt Sally they took at the family reunion.

Lots of people use the folder system to organize their photos. Some elaborate examples are blogged about here: http://www.trustyetc.com/trustyblog/?p=74

The problem with folders is that they are time consuming to create, allow you to view your pictures only one at a time, and don’t provide an efficient method for cross-referencing. If you DO try to cross reference, you are usually forced to create multiple copies of the same image, so space quickly becomes a problem.

I am a photo organization and memory preservation consultant. Since I help people organize their photos and capture the stories behind them, it is essential that I, myself, am organized!

Creative Memories’ “Memory Manager” software is simple and elegant in design, with more sophisticated and intuitive features than the popular programs Picasa or Photoshop Elements. And at $40, it’s less than half the price.

Like the other two programs, Memory Manager organizes not only digital images, but also digital video, scanned documents, and audio files (including MP3’s). It allows for single-click editing and CD/DVD backup. Like Photoshop, it displays multiple thumbnail images and allows for quick drag and drop sorting. But here are some amazing Memory Manager features the other two programs don’t offer:

  1. Stores both import date and picture date – and allows sorts on either
  2. Allows picture date edits – great for scanned-in photos or correcting photos mis-dated by your camera – & shows a visual timeline of all files
  3. Searches by season (winter, spring, summer, fall) using “fuzzy” dating logic
  4. Unlimited journaling with spell check for every file; journaling stays with the file
  5. Option for automatic shadow copies of all files, images & journaling upon program close for painless backups
  6. Cross-tag and file pictures in multiple places WITHOUT making multiple copies
  7. Powerful custom search on key words or strings, by event, by date, or by individuals in the picture
  8. Has the option to overwrite after edit or keep individual revisions
  9. Revisions are kept with original photo for easy viewing and managing
  10. View images that have been printed or not printed
  11. Has 45 print layout templates. Easily make index prints, wallets, 8×10’s or unique combinations of sizes
  12. Create & print custom journal boxes with or without borders in desired size, font, & colors
  13. Create a custom default toolbar with your favorite editing tools

The editing features are awesome because they are simple for non-technical people to learn and use. The search feature is my favorite because of the versatility. I am able with just a few clicks to locate and display all the photos taken in summer showing both our kids.

My husband John was skeptical. He demanded a showdown and challenged me to find a particular copy of a picture of Emily just after birth, which we had in some folder on the home server AND on a backup CD. Using Memory Manager, I had the image up on my screen before he had even found the CD with the image on it!

Memory Manager also comes bundled with Storybook Creator – free digital scrapbooking software that creates albums using simple drag and drop functionality.

To take a virtual tour of Memory Manager, go here: http://www.CMmemorymanager.com/

To purchase this software AND receive free, in-person, one-on-one training, go here: http://www.myCMsite.com/DebS

Welcome to the 21st century!

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