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Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Slashdot It! A friend of mine has a 16-year-old kid. Smart as hell, a near math-genius, hasn’t assaulted or murdered anyone to my friend’s knowledge. But, come to think of it, not exactly sociable, more withdrawn than he used to be. Depressed? In need of support, help? Not sure. He lives sometimes with his mother but mostly with my friend, his somewhat distracted but fundamentally caring dad. Recently there was a big meeting at the high school, calling in parents to discuss one of the trendy problems of the day: Kids’ absorption with (even addiction to) the internet. Turns out a lot of the kids were tapping into porn sites, texting photos and other stuff, sometimes harassing classmates and spending a sh*t-load of time doing it. And if it wasn’t porn it was “too” (whatever that means) intense gaming, etc. The school recommended that parents who don’t know what their kids are up to online find out. We don’t want another Columbine now, do we? So, my friend the Dad did. After failing to get his kid to talk to him about what he was spending his time on – his grades were good and the kid’s view was essentially, what difference does it make what I do, it’s my life, bug off, yo…Dad checked things out on his own. His kid apparently wasn’t too worried about his privacy, because he left his computer open all the time. So, after ruminating over it for a while – it’s so wrong to do this, my friend thought; but it’s in my kid’s interest, right?, that’s what everybody’s saying -- he got into the kid’s computer. This is what he learned: No porn, no massive use of video games (some but not huge amounts), no anti-social, violent, disaffected tendencies, no cookied or stored how-to-blow-up-things websites -- great relief! -- but massive amounts of use of this website called, Digg. What the f**k is Digg, my friend wanted to know? And why is my kid spending hours on it a day? Turns out he was spending hours on Digg as well as a bunch of other sites, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Mixx, etc. But Digg was the biggest time drain. My friend confronted his kid who, after angrily challenging his dad’s invasion of his privacy -- guilty, his father said, really guilty, I’m sorry -- actually engaged, according to my friend. Or, more accurately, he invited his father to check out for himself what he was doing. My friend did. The kid was reading and “digging” articles on subjects all over the place – from new theories on molecular chemistry, astronomy to nutty pics of animals superimposed onto the faces of corrupt politicians. It seemed relatively harmless actually compared to the possibilities. In fact, just for research purposes of course, my friend started checking things out on Digg himself, on his own, just to keep up with what his son was up to. It was interesting, my friend said. And he continued checking things out -- later; now actually -- because yea, he admits it, he likes it. He doesn’t do it too much, he says. Maybe an hour a day. Well, maybe a couple hours a day. But not much more than that. Except when he’s at the office where, what do you expect him to do, stop doing stuff online? Before, it was reading ESPN, SI, NFL,, etc. compulsively, checking every minute for the next update of who the Giants are likely to select on draft day. (Surprise, the same person they were likely to select a couple minutes, hours, days ago.) So, yea, he’s doing it a lot, he guesses. But it’s not like he’s registered on Digg. No way. Or posted or “Dugg” anything. But what if he did or does, so what? You wouldn’t believe all the stuff there on computers & gadgetry, gaming, politics – hell, even the sports posts aren’t so bad and include sh*t on sports minutia you wouldn’t believe. It’s really pretty cool. Something else. There’s crazy over-the-top drama on Digg. People threatening to walk out (protest, riot, invade?) because Digg changed its algorithms (a term my friend probably hadn’t heard of until now, after going over it with his son). “Power Digg Users” were pissed because it was harder for them to retain their power, according to some Diggers. Or, if you listen to others, they were pissed because the changes rewarded drek and didn’t value those Digg users who took it seriously and helped build the site. Via Burbia Get Daily Updates via Email Protect your computer with Windows Onecare Get paid $7.50 for reviewing my post Ad Space

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