Have I Got Your Attention?

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Social Networking Sites are posing a threat to the psychological development of children, a report in the Guardian suggests today. Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution has spoken out about the fact that internet regulation in the UK has not been extended to these broader issues.

Arguing that social network sites are putting attention span in jeopardy, she said: “If the young brain is exposed from the outset to a world of fast action and reaction, of instant new screen images flashing up with the press of a key, such rapid interchange might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Perhaps when in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviours and call them attention-deficit disorder.

Greenfield also talks about the erosion of the sense of identity which is a result of: 

“fast-paced, instant screen reactions, perhaps the next generation will define themselves by the responses of others”.

She quoted one user saying they had 900 friends;

“that you can’t see or hear other people makes it easier to reveal yourself in a way that you might not be comfortable with. You become less conscious of the individuals involved [including yourself], less inhibited, less embarrassed and less concerned about how you will be evaluated.”

 Greenfield warns us about how this may impact on the mind, as social networking becomes a part of our daily routine. The solutions it seems lay in education, culture and society, rather than legislation.

This is a fascinating subject of discussion which appeals greatly to people who work in the field of Psychology and Social Development. I think there is a real need for further studies into the impact of the internet on children and their development.

The Twitter Blackout

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If you use Twitter you may have noticed that recently some people have started to replace their avatars with simple black squares. This gesture is in support of a political protest going on in New Zealand over an amendment to the copyright law due to come into force at the end of February. The Guardian reports that:

The law in question is Section 92a, an amendment to the country’s copyright law that is due to come into force at the end of February.It [] tells internet service providers that they “must adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for termination” of accounts used by anyone deemed a “repeat infringer” – regardless of whether the person has been convicted of a crime or not.

As part of the protest, New Zealand’s Creative Freedom Foundation is asking internet users to replace their photos and icons with blank spaces to give people an idea of what the internet could look like under the new regime.

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, director of the CFF, says thousands of New Zealand musicians and artists have signed a petition against the law, and that the public needs to voice its frustration.”While copyright infringement is a problem for artists, our petition shows that thousands of artists think that it is a greater problem for people not to get a trial,” she said. “Treating fans as guilty until proven innocent isn’t what artists want done in their name, and many see that as being damaging to creative industries.”

Open Source Social Networking Sites

f_1220040590We are all familiar with Facebook, the hugely popular social networking site, well now you can create your own lookalike site for free. Joomunity describes itself as ‘a facebook clone’  it is a community site and social network built on top of the popular Joomla CMS.

Joomunity is GNU/GPL Free Software, with no licence fees and all the source code is available. There are other Open Source alternatives available such as Elgg,  MYsource Matrix and Insoshi . So what are you waiting for?