Monday 28 November 2005

Is Xbox 360 A Heed To True Convergence?

The dominance of Microsoft in personal computing is undeniable. The launch of the Xbox 360 last week marks the next effort following the original Xbox by Microsoft to dominate the personal gaming market. Its competitors are the Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Revolution that are not due out until 2006. More than a gaming console, the new Xbox differentiates itself from other systems by also billing its own to be the ultimate convergence device for all digital media—music, video, and pictures. Little attention, however, has been given to the “social” convergence that this device may bring. While the powerful hardware of the Xbox 360 is no doubt a technological marvel, its Xbox Live service may turn out to be the “killer” architecture that will bring on true convergence. The development of a persistent online community with its Live Marketplace creates an unique social construct through which gamers around the world can interact seamlessly with each other without ever meeting face to face. Over time, this social convergence beyond any geographical border will make a greater impact on our young generation than any technological convergence such machine may bring. Regardless of which platform emerges as the winner of this console war, ultimately it will be the social and not technological impact it may make that will determine its legacy.

By Philip Jong • At 07:12 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Play • Under Tech • Under World
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Monday 21 November 2005

Big Brother Of Digital Living

In early November, reports surfaced that music CDs distributed by Sony BMG Music Entertainment had embedded hidden anti-piracy software known as Extended Copy Protection (ECP) inside personal computers used to play its CDs. The ECP software was installed in the form of a “rootkit” that were designed to evade detection by anti-virus or anti-spyware software. While the rootkit itself was not malicious, concerns quickly arose among security experts that other malware might easily exploit this rootkit to piggyback malicious codes. Initially, Sony BMG defended its policy on Digital Rights Management (DRM) by citing its disclosure on the use of such software in its End-User License Agreement (EULA). While I firmly support the need to protect copyrighted materials, I believe Sony BMG had acted in bad faith and not in the spirit of the EULA here. More importantly, such “big brother” mentality assumed an ignorance or indifference among its users that were quickly proven wrong in this case. Last week, the media conglomerate finally admitted to its wrongdoings and recalled all CDs using this copy-protection scheme. A removal tool had also been developed by the company to uninstall the unwanted software. Although its action may signal the beginning of an end to this DRM debacle, it also signals the beginning of a new threat in the era of digital living—the prospect of a big brother who is secretly watching every use of our digital media.

By Philip Jong • At 05:38 AM • Under Column • Under Tech • Under World
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Monday 14 November 2005

Zero-Tolerance Policy—Friend Or Foe?

This week the Ontario Human Rights Commission will release a landmark settlement decision with the Toronto District School Board to end the practice of zero tolerance used in school discipline. This settlement was in response to criticisms that the Ontario’s Safe Schools Act inappropriately favored harsher disciplines with black students than students of other ethnicity. While the decision does not imply bias or wrongdoing by the school board, it stands as a direct challenge to public schools in both Canada and US where such practice is widely implemented. Moreover, the policy of zero tolerance has long been regarded as the best strategy in curtailing unwanted behaviours, such as violence and drug use, in students. A suitable replacement may never be found or accepted by all stakeholders. On the contrary, this decision is a wake-up call to question whether such board disciplinary imperative is both morally and socially justified. The zero-tolerance approach ignores mitigating factors or inciting circumstances that may be the root triggers of misguided behaviours in students. It also violates the lawful principle of retribution valued by our society. Abandonment of such policy will force school officials to once again focus their attention on dealing with the prevention rather than the aftermaths of unwanted conducts. The goal of punishment in our schools should be to reform, not to reject.

By Philip Jong • At 03:35 PM • Under Column • Under World
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Monday 07 November 2005

The Generation Gap Of Blogging

Last week the Associated Press reported a survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that found nearly a fifth of all school-age teenagers in the US had their own blogs. This compared to only about seven percent of all adults who were bloggers. The researchers cited the main reason that teenagers blogged was a desire to be in touch with friends and peers. What has not been said is that such finding also reflects a fundamental change in how our youths communicate with each other as compared to previous generations. This change is more than a mere embrace of new technology but a philosophical adoption of changing means in human interaction. In these blogs, teens can openly express their thoughts and feelings, often anonymously. Other teens can then post their honest responses online. Consequently, blogging has become the high-tech bridge on which open communication takes place in the teen world—a feat that the adult world of today has yet to master.

By Philip Jong • At 01:47 PM • Under Column • Under Tech • Under World
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Tuesday 01 November 2005

Changing Of The Seasons

Changing Of The Seasons

By Philip Jong • At 07:36 PM • Under Media
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