Weekly Roundup 1/18/2011

Horrified by Schools that Give Every Student an iPad
Mark Belinsky, Huffington Post, Jan. 5, 2011

Snyopsis: The iPad is yet another device that puts greater distance between consumers of technology and those who will wield the real power in our increasingly technological world: the people who know how to create and change that technology. That's the contention of Mark Belinsky, founder of the nonprofit group Digital Democracy, which helps such people as reporters living under repressive governments and low-income teenagers learn computer techniques that facilitate self expression and democratic participation. Belinsky contends that conditioning kids to use machines solely based on prepackaged "apps" is a recipe for creating a powerless citizenry.

Takeaway: Says Belinsky: "The iPad is magic to children. Press a button and it does everything that you want it to. The problem is that it doesn't tell you how the magic happens...When downloading an app, there is no explanation that the app is utilizing the accelerometer, contact list, and your current location....This is exactly the kind of mentality that is getting kids to fall behind in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics."

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


On Martin Luther King Day, remembering the first draft of ‘I Have a Dream’”
Clarence B. Jones, The Washington Post, Jan. 16, 2011

Synopsis: Former King adviser and speechwriter Jones recalls, in an excerpt from his book Behind the Dream, the drafting of King’s historic speech for the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” – and King’s spur-of-the-moment decision to scrap the prepared text and deliver the now immortal lines.

Takeaway: “In front of all those people, cameras, and microphones, Martin winged it. But, then, no one I’ve ever met could improvise better.”

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


After Tucson, Is the Anger Gone?
Matt Bai, The New York Times, Jan. 15, 2011

While some see the shooting rampage in Arizona as a turning point in the nation’s civic life and national discourse, the long-term impact of the tragedy remains to be seen, Bai suggests.

Takeaway: “Perhaps…we have to consider…that the speed and fractiousness of our modern society make it all but impossible now for any one moment to transform the national debate,” Bai suggests.

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor


Obama’s Speech After the Tucson Shootings

Synopsis: Commentators and politicians on both the left and right have described the president’s speech after the Tucson shootings as a powerful call to end the poisonous political rhetoric. Many also say it could be a political game-changer.

Takeaway: Read the speech yourself; what do you think? Is more civil discourse likely to follow?

Tom Colin, Contributing Editor