Friday, May 1, 2009

Kids Brains? Good, Bad, & Grey

I sat through a great presentation yesterday by Dr. Aimee Drolet of UCLA Anderson School about how older consumers react to emotional messages and how their worldviews on the time they have left impacts the responses to messages.

One conclusion she reached from her own and related research is that older study participants were more comfortable with a balance of inputs -- good and bad, for example. In contrast, younger respondent in the US (not in Asia) needed to perceive something as either good or bad and had a difficult time with "grey." She said that wasn't the same in more communal cultures.

Hmm. I wonder if that is the same with our younger children and how that impacts their decision-making? My own tween/teen children seem to have positive responses to more things than I would expect, but I've never looked at their attitudes this way...

Friday, March 13, 2009


My oldest is 15 and took the PSAT for the second year - her school urges them to start taking it in the 9th grade for practice.

What is impressing her? All the lovely and expensive mailers from colleges she has never heard of. In a year when units of mail are down dramatically, my lovely teenager is impressed by old fashioned mailed brochures.

I view it that mail isn't otherwise part of my children's overdeluged lives of digital images. It now has become "special."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ah, Daylight Savings Time!

This is the first school morning after Daylight Savings Time kicked in, "springing forward" for an hour Sunday morning.

Yesterday began the ritual of recalling how many clocks we have in our home. As the kids (and we) get older, whose job it is to change all these clocks come into question. This year, I noted we have more and more "automatic" clocks that reset themselves from a central server: cell phones, cable, etc. But we still have clocks on the microwave, clocks in our cars, wall clocks in the kitchen, living room, dining room...

We, as most folks, in theory have fewer watches. My three kids all have watches...somewhere. But two of them usually look at their cellphones instead.

I have something like 6 watches. Why do I have six watches? Well, I have one for the gym and working out. I have one dress watch. I have an inexpensive watch in green and another in red. Two others were gifts that usually sit in the drawer.

I finally have pulled out the pin in the three I rarely wear and they have become my backup watches. So that leaves three to remember to change yesterday...or I'll put them on later and not realize I hadn't changed the time.

Why are we doing this again? There is a nice piece on the origins of Daylight Savings Time on the US Naval Observatory's pages:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mabinogi now has elves...and why that matters at my house

Nexon, a South Korean gaming company known for the game Maplestory, has moved elves into Mabinogi. You would think that you had minted gold coins in our house.

Mabnogi, a "free to play" massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG), runs the core game free and then allows you to buy more functions as features with a Nexon card, found at your local Target, 7-11, or other retailer. My son buys cards every so often to get more pets, weapons, and gear.

My two daughters, who both play the game as well, are more frugal. One found that there was a NPG (non-player character) giving away Elf cards for free and told the other. They spent quite a bit of time yesterday trying clothes on their new elves and chattering about a new expansion area in the game that was launching.

My kids have been fickle to games and virtual worlds for some time, drifting from one to another. Mabinogi has something for all three and is run very well. All three kids can play together on our home network system because we don't have to pay a monthly fee per user, but can decide to invest their hard-earned real world money to upgrade their experiences.

In addition, Mabinogi keeps freshening the game, adding features and places to keep them excited.

Would I rather they be reading a book? They do...long into the night so I need to return to quietly turn off their lights over sleeping heads.

The real magic is it has my 11 year old writing. She is cueing off of Mabinogi characters, creating her own stories for up to three hours a day on weekends. She has compiled a fabulous mini-library of engaging stories, taking these digital adventures in the world of words.

I've only played once. I guess I'm stuck in the glory days of my Star Wars Galaxies Wookie that I invested so much time on!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Smithsonian/USA Weekend/YouTube: National Anthem Singing Competition

Do you have a young, sparking vocalist in your midst? Or can your family help you record and make a video as a family project of your own singing talent? The Smithsonian is going very Web 2.0 to bring the public into the spirit of the National Anthem, and this might be an excellent family project.

The Smithsonian is partnering with USA Weekend and YouTube to create a National Anthem competition. Very charming and a nice Web 2.0 integration with the museum's mission. The Smithsonian "gets it" fairly well, plus has a new director from more of a digital heritage. They even Tweet (

And, of course, I put in a submission...helped out an critiqued by my lovely family. I had two of my children over my shoulder making changes with the video edit (too slow here, mom!) and one just wincing in the corner.

Take a listen at, vote, and listen to some of the rest, then pass this on!

Note: You need to help your own younger children and submit for them.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New and Old Fashioned Valentine's Day

I do miss the painful era when my kids were younger of the Valentine's cards for $1.99 from Thrifty Drugs (now Rite Aid). They had to have the perfect card and then slaved over it, writing the exact right names, matching up the goofy characters with which kid would get it, and angsting over who gave them what card back.

My kids are older (11-15) and so am I. Cards have given over to candy passed between friends. Strangely this year, no digital valentines. Many other "Hallmark holidays" have swung into major digital mode. I got more digital Christmas letters than I had patience for. Some of them became a meld of business updates and reminder pitches seeming "Facebook-y" friendly. Some of them were fabulous but strange versions of Photoshop art, melding places and faces to a new form of social comment. Some were animated gif things that I can't even describe.

But Valentine's Day this year didn't really go there. From my kids and husband, I got traditional printed greeting cards, even more traditional than in prior years. I got some Facebook apps to send me hearts and flowers, but nothing more than a blip. Some iPhone apps launched for V-Day and even e-card SPAMs were highlighted, but it was a digital trickle

Michaels Craft Stores ended up with an NPR mention that they are busier than ever, with a free make-a-card event at their stores that was crazy-busy. Sales of do-it-yourself crafts are reported to be on the increase, not surprising in this economy, but surprising that we haven't flipped to digital love in this era.

Are we getting closer to emotional, physical home? Or is digital finding its own places and spaces depending on what we are needing for that holiday? Family is near and dear but 2nd-degree friends (friends of friends) are an email blast away and not a "Valentine"?

Amusing on another front -- I was wandering around Second Life on the 13th and found another trail of Valentine's Day. There were some of the most gorgeous artificial balls and dances, with beautiful surreal outfits, and couples dancing in Second Life. Couples were slow-dancing (that is, their SL characters were) in beautifully decorated elegant ballrooms, ice palaces, and nightclubs. I felt I was intruding in that these seemed both public and intimate, so went back to my own RL home and waited for my kids to get back from an old-fashioned, rock music school dance.

Valetine's Day itself? Despite the Recession, we enjoyed a very crowded evening at our delicious neighborhood pizza joint, packed with other families enjoying a live Valentine's Day together with soda, pizza, and beer...while a big-screen TV was on in the background, droning the news.

Gifts, you may ask? I got a lovely necklace made by my 15-year-old daughter (who makes jewelry professionally already at this age) and new windshield wipers from my husband, who installed them in the dark.

Hope your own Valentine's Day was personal, fun, and with those who care for your heart and needs. That's not yet a fully digital world and it will be interesting how these worlds blend over time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What is a newspaper for?

So what is a newspaper for?

Son, 13: "Funnies."

Daughter, 11: "Funnies."

Daughter, 15: "Communicate things." But why do you read it? "I don't know."

(This was after our usual fight for the funnies in the morning.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dallas Article on Teacher Tube, Army of 1

Good article in the Dallas Morning News on TeacherTube today. It evidently has 1 full-time employee and over 800,000 videos/month viewed...and from the outside has nearly no business model with perhaps one ad shown on the front page.

So how can this asset thrive and survive?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ah, The Holidays with Wii and Sci Fi Curses

We are blessed to have Christmas, Hanukkah, and my son's 13th birthday in the same few weeks. So we are Wii-abundant. We already had succumbed to the Wii and Wii Fit, as well as Wii Kart months ago, after spending a lot of time haunting Circuit City. The kids, in fact, earned the money for all but the Wii Fit. The Wii Fit was my indulgence. I'm not sure it is when I step back on the scale each time and it nags at me...but that's another post.

So with the recent birthday, we just enjoyed both Wii Skii and Wii Star Wars Lightsaber...whatever it is called. Wii Skiing is a bit of patting head and rubbing stomach, but all three kids have spent the weekend re-learning to ski the Wii Ski way. And the trash talking around the lightsaber duels has given me new instruction in Sci Fi swearing. Frack and Frell have come back from BSG and Farscape. (Note: BBC has swear word dictionaries online:

New wonders have opened up now that we have hooked with Wii to our wi-fi in the house. Now the kids have begun creating Isaac Newton, Ben Franklin, and little bald piggies to share on the Mii function. I've had dreams already of little Mii people coming out at night and taking over the house. I wonder....can that be done as a humorous web video?

Of the lovely quips so far, besides the sci fi curse words, has been the following quote at dinner, "Hey, now I can really be 13 on the Internet!" Ah, what we are teaching our children...

Ah, and school starts back up tomorrow morning. I'll miss them. Really. I mean it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Amazing Resources from UGC for Connected Ed

I'm working on putting together resources for parents and interested schools on what is out there in connected media for the classroom and home. The challenge is THERE IS A LOT OUT THERE. Lots of user-highlighted stuff. To me, this is an interesting world of User Generated Materials (blogs, videos, podcasts) because there is a need for these voices and not a good "professional" source to bring this all together that doesn't cost an arm and a leg as a service...or that isn't trying to create a walled garden and own the space all by themselves.

This space, which is a blend of Edublogging and self-publishing, needs something like BlogHer to monetize it so teachers and parents aren't creating these content spaces out of the goodness of their hearts.

More to follow. Ping back with thoughts.