C-4 THE NEW MEXICAN Saturday, September 18, 2010
TECH spends week
By Kathy Matheson
The Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A central Pennsylvania
technological college with fewer students than many
Facebook users have friends is blacking out social
media for a week.
The bold experiment at Harrisburg University of
Science and Technology — which has drawn praise,
criticism and even a jab on late-night TV — means
students and staff can’t access Facebook, Twitter or
a host of other ubiquitous social networks while on
Provost Eric Darr said the
exercise that began Monday
is not a punishment for the
school’s 800 students, nor a
precursor to a ban, but a way
for people to think critically
about the prevalence of social
The blackout comes on the
heels of a report that Web users in the U.S. spend
more time socializing on Facebook than searching
with Google, according to data released last week
from researchers at comScore Inc.
Still, Darr said he can’t believe the controversy
generated in the Twitterverse, blogosphere and aca-
demia, with some accusing the school of inflicting
“a terrible thing and an infringement upon people’s
Customers await the launch of the new iPad tablet computer in May at an Apple store in central Rome, Italy. At first glance, the rights.”
iPad looked like a heavy, overgrown iPod touch to this reviewer. But with a few months use, it became apparent to him that it’s one “By and large, the students are supportive of the
of those devices he’s always needed. ANgElo CArCoNI/THE ASSoCIATEd prESS whole exercise and don’t get so worked up over it,”
On campus, attempts to log in to MySpace or
Tech TeST LinkedIn return the message: “This domain is
blocked.” E-mail, texting and other Web surfing is still
iPad wins over skeptic
allowed, but not instant-messaging.
Student Ashley Harris, 22, said the blackout has
freed her to concentrate on her classwork instead of
toggling on her laptop between social networks and
the lesson at hand.
“I feel obligated to check my Facebook. I feel obli-
gated to check my Twitter. Now I don’t,” Harris said.
“I can just solely focus.”
For one user, device fulfills tablet computer when it came out in April.
It cuts the mouse and keyboard out of the
hold comfortably in one hand. In particular,
I need one hand free to steady myself on the Part of Harris’ willingness to disconnect stemmed
promise of tablet computer equation, giving us a straight, tactile connec- New York subway. from her feeling that the experiment demonstrates
the young university’s focus on innovation. The pri-
tion. While the iPad builds on the iPhone, I was wrong. The iPad isn’t too heavy if I
By Peter Svensson it feels like a bigger achievement. The first support it on a bag when standing. And the vate nonprofit institution was founded in 2003 and
The Associated Press iPhone was a great phone, driven by far- screen is just big and sharp enough to display operates out of a 16-story building in downtown Har-
thinking new ideas. But other people had decently a letter-sized document or a refor- risburg, the state capital about 95 miles northwest of
NEW YORK — At first glance, the iPad made good phones before. Before the iPad, matted newspaper page with teasers for a Philadelphia.
looked like a heavy, overgrown iPod Touch. no one had made a good tablet computer. couple of articles. Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief of the social media
After just a few months of use, however, When I first got my hands on an iPad for Replacing paper was the rationale of news site Mashable.com, said he’d be interested to see
this iPad skeptic realized that it’s so much a review, I played games on it for about a Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle e-reader, but the if the university collects any hard metrics from the
more — it’s one of those devices I’ve always ban, such as better class attendance or more assign-
month. My favorite strategy game, Battle for multi-purpose iPad beats it at its own game.
needed. Those don’t come around very often. ments turned in on time.
Wesnoth, was written for the PC, but actually The Kindle was revolutionary, but it has been
But he doesn’t think a blackout is feasible over the
Most things get less interesting the more works better on the iPad, thanks to the imme- held back by a screen technology that’s slow
long-term. Though Facebook has been blocked in
examples you see of them. If you’ve never diacy of the touch interface. Several other to react to our commands. It can display
some workplaces as a time-waster, it is a crucial tool
seen a computer before, the first one is a rev- games conspired to suck away my productiv- static page after static page, but scrolling and
for college students to coordinate social schedules,
elation, but each model gets less remarkable. ity, so it took me a while to realize that the zooming don’t really work.
organize events, plan study sessions and collaborate
Apple Inc.’s iPad is the other way around. iPad actually fulfills a longtime tablet vision Amazon launched a new TV spot this on assignments.
It looks more impressive in light of what’s as well: It’s like a sheet of paper, electronified. week, showing a man struggling to read “You really can’t disconnect people from it in the
come before it. I’ve seen many tablet com- That’s what made me plunk down $499 for an iPad poolside in bright sunlight, while a long run without creating some real inefficiencies and
puters of different stripes since 2002, when one of my own once I was done with the bor- bikini-clad woman next to him is reading backlash,” said Ostrow.
Microsoft introduced Windows XP Tablet rowed review unit. a Kindle comfortably. It’s true that Kindles Ironically, the university hosted a social media
Edition. The quality has varied, but they’ve all I knew I was waiting for a device that are more readable than iPads in bright light. summit on Wednesday — mid-blackout. That caused
been failures, even the recent ones. They’re a could replace printouts, magazines, news- What the ad doesn’t mention is that that’s the some angst for guest speaker Sherrie Madia, commu-
Stonehenge’s worth of near-useless slabs. papers and books in my life. At first, I didn’t only situation in which you’ll be happier with nications director for the University of Pennsylvania’s
The iPad finally fulfilled the promise of the think the iPad was it, because it’s too heavy to a Kindle. Wharton School, who, like many, is used to tweeting
She said the buzz around the ban has started a
much-needed conversation about effective use of
social media and how to balance online life with the
coming out: Games world offline.
“Do we really want to be enslaved to Facebook or
Twitter?” Madia said. “Once you create anything in
The following video games are u Cars Toon: Mater’s Tall Tales (Wii, Wii and dS, rated E10+) social media, you have to feed the beast. When you
among those set for release this rated E) stop adding content, you disappear.”
week, according to vgreleases.com: The university has created course work around the
u gladiator Begins (pSp, rated M) Friday, Sept. 17 ban, and some students will write essays about their
u UFC Undisputed 2010 (pSp, rated T)
Tuesday, Sept. 14 u gormiti: The lords of Nature (Wii u lionheart: Kings’ Crusade (pC) experience.
and dS, rated E10+ on Wii and E on Darr acknowledged students can use smart phones
u Halo: reach (Xbox 360, rated M) to bypass the university’s computer network or go
u Scooby-doo! and the Spooky dS) Today
u Truth or lies (Xbox 360, pS3 and u Horse life Adventures (Wii and dS, to a nearby hotel for unblocked WiFi. And at a tech-
Swamp (Wii, pS2 and dS, rated E10+)
Wii, rated T) rated E) centric school, he said, some students will try to get
u The lord of the rings: Aragorn’s
around the firewall just to prove they can.
Quest (pS3, Wii, pS2, pSp and dS, u legend of the guardians: The
rated T) owls of ga’Hoole (Xbox 360, pS3, Mcclatchy Newspapers Yet if people feel that compelled to check status
updates or Twitter replies, that’s important to know.
“I want an honest reaction to the experiment,” Darr
The provost also confessed to some trepidation:
College officials can’t use social networks this week
similar recommendations when you visit a standing a human’s thoughts. either for student recruiting, business networking or
new city. curriculum planning.
Tech companies are already working to
predict what people want, but only in pieces. AT&T, Sprint, Verizon “Next week, I will be as thankful as the next person
we’re back on social media,” Darr said.
Search engine Google Inc., movie-rental
service Netflix Inc. and online radio service
to carry Samsung tablet So will junior Giovanni Acosta, 21, who said he’s
been texting up a storm trying to coordinate social
Pandora try to anticipate what people want NEW YORK — All four major U.S. wire-
Tech’s evolving there even before they know they want it. less carriers will sell an iPad-like tablet
events without Facebook and Twitter.
But student Dan Warseck, 36, said it doesn’t bother
SAN FRANCISCO — How smart do you Stringing those functions together with the computer from Samsung Electronics Co., the him — he prefers face-to-face communication and
want your smart phone to actually be? Do you wealth of other information that phones col- companies said Thursday. doesn’t even have texting on his phone.
want it to read your mind, even a little bit? lect about people could pave the way for even Samsung and the service providers “I’m not one of these people who puts their life
more helpful electronics, Rattner said. — AT&T Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp., T-Mobile online,” Warseck said. “My friends have my phone
Intel Corp.’s research chief, Justin Rattner,
A challenge is training computers to ana- USA Inc. and Verizon Wireless Inc. — didn’t number if they really need to get in touch with me.”
says that technology has advanced to the
lyze data from “hard sensors” (which mea- say how much the Galaxy Tab will cost, or
point that “context-aware computing,” an
sure location, motion, voice patterns, tem- exactly when it will be on sale.
idea that’s been around for two decades, is perature and the like) and combining those
becoming more of a reality with the rise of Verizon Wireless said in a statement that it
findings with data from “soft sensors” (such will start selling it “in the coming weeks,” and
mobile devices. as calendar appointments and Web browsing Sprint said it will do so “this fall.” T-Mobile
That could lead to phones that act as history). and AT&T plan to sell it this holiday season.
psychics in your pocket. Rather than simply For example, your phone could detect that
amass secrets about you, the devices could The Galaxy Tab has a 7-inch screen, half
you’ve just left work and seem to be on your the size of the iPad. It runs Google Inc.’s
be doing things with that information, such way home — a location it might know from
as predicting what you might do next and Android smart phone software and can play
your address book. It could then automatically Flash video from the Web, which the iPad
offering suggestions. recommend the best route around traffic. can’t. It also has two cameras for videocon-
Rattner showed a few examples during his “Things don’t get really interesting until ferencing, which the iPad lacks.
keynote speech Wednesday at Intel’s annual you fuse that hard sensor data with soft sen- The iPad starts at $499. The Tab will prob-
developer conference in San Francisco. sor data,” Rattner said. “It gives devices almost ably cost less, both because it’s smaller and
Among them: a prototype application Intel this sixth sense of anticipating what a user will because carriers will probably subsidize it
worked on with Fodor’s Travel. It learns need in the future, whether that’s the next few when buyers sign up for two-year data ser- People walk by the Harrisburg University of Sci-
what types of foods you like to eat and what moments or at dinner later in the day.” vice contracts. ence and Technology building last week in Har-
types of attractions you like to visit, based on Rattner added that researchers are even risburg, Pa. The university is experimenting with
searches you type into the phone or locations making steps toward the “ultimate form of shutting off Facebook, Twitter and other social
identified using GPS. The software makes sensing” — a computer capable of under- The Associated Press networks on campus. MArC lEvy/THE ASSoCIATEd prESS