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The personal journal of technology journalist and conference speaker Randall S. Newton.

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Monday, March 07, 2005

A Good Ralph Rant a Day Keeps Complacency Away

Ralph Grabowski is my colleague in CAD journalism, and a friend of long standing. His popular email newsletter, UpFront eZine, is a must-read in the engineering software industry. He often uses his dry Canadian wit, aligned with a large dose of skepticism, in his blog to skewer pretentious notions and pan poorly thought-out products. Today he turns his sights on Microsoft's network-enabled bear:

"... the ultimate vision is to have the stuffed animal interact with a child, doing such things as playing games and reading stories. Because the bear is on a network, a parent could also use it to interact with a child remotely -- communicating or even taking snapshots through an embedded camera."

Now, that is a scary vision. The world's smartest scientists (as Microsoft likes to boast) think it be great to:

1. Kill off children's imaginations.
2. Make parents even more distant from their children.
3. Use stuffed animals to photograph children.

We take our children to Galinano Island off the West Coast of British Columbia, a couple of times a year. One of my daughters always remarks: "There's nothing here." [By that she means no malls, no computers, no MS Messenger, not even a telephone -- just a small cabin, trailed forests, sandstone cliffs, and debris-strewn beaches.] "So how come we have so much fun?" she wonders.


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