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2012 election


Social media and digital to make textbooks obsolete soon


by Joseph Earnest  October 3, 2012            

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—As we make advancements in digital technologies, the print media is becoming more and more obsolete. To ensure that students move from print to digital platforms, the Education Secretary Arne Duncan has now called for a complete transition of all schools, from physical textbooks, to digital ones.


"Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete," he said. "The world is changing," Duncan said. "This has to be where we go as a country," according to Yahoo news.


But the question is, why the hurry? Why does the government want this move to take place soon, when very few people actually read books or are able to write coherent sentences without using a grammar or spell checker? The answer lies in the ability for people to be easily controlled and tracked through the use of computers.


When I was in college, it was mandatory for every student to sign up for an account at a Web site called "Turnitin". Turn it in simply means, turn your assignments in to the professor digitally.  The Web site then cross-checks the entire assignment with other texts of similar content all over the Web to make sure that students did not plagiarize or extract their content from the Web.  However, we were still required to buy physical textbooks even though we had access to the most informational libraries and databases online.


Buying Facebook likes, Youtube views and Twitter followers

This move that is being suggested wants to do away with anything physical that has to be read, so I presume the homework will be turned in digitally too, and people will have to spend more time on their computers.  Discussions that were once held in class where students would brainstorm, will now take place over the Web on forums like WebCT or even social networks.  This will greatly diminish the average student's ability to form meaningful social relationships in the real world, due to the  time invested in a virtual world, creating virtual friendships.


 We already see that occurring now where people and businesses believe that if they are popular in a virtual world, that will translate into success in the real world, which couldn't be farther from the truth. If you are a documentary filmmaker and want to get 1 million fake YouTube views, you can simply purchase a package online, to make it seem like your movie or video is popular and get it picked up by a big studio.


What is happening now is that in order for companies to give the impression to both the site visitors and potential advertisers that they are popular, they are buying Facebook likes, YouTube views and Twitter followers, as revealed in this article by the New York Times (pop-up) and this one that says 70% of Lady Gaga's 29 million followers are fake. (pop-up) Even Web sites with hundreds of comments on topics are mostly buying comments, where people in Bangladesh or India will post tons of comments on a particular subject for a small fee.  Web sites also buy fake "shares" to Facebook to give the impression that people are actually passing the story around like Whiskey bottles at a frat-house party.


Seeing is not always believing

If one had a product to sell, or information deemed valuable, why would one want fake comments or fake Twitter followers or Facebook likes?  This is not the target audience that will buy the product.  It is a lot better to build organic and authentic traffic because those are the loyal visitors that will buy the product or become loyal visitors of a news site. Fake traffic will definitely raise one's standing on Alexa and even increase the Google page ranking, but ultimately you'll be stuck with ghost traffic that won't stick around in the long run. BBC wrote this article about how fake comments are eroding trust on the Web. (pop-up)


Who benefits the most?

Students with the most Facebook friends or likes and Twitter followers, will be viewed by classmates as more worthwhile than others and even potential employers may fall into the trap of mistaking quantity for quality. The government also will benefit from such an arrangement because it will have a captive audience of the students' databases. In order to get state and federal grants or scholarships, these all-digital databases will eventually be linked to the Department of Education, since they are the ones pushing this transition. It will thus be easier for big brother to monitor students' activities by data mining these interlinked databases.


Remember, parents are not off the hook in regard to digital technology, because medical records too become digital by 2014, ushering in the RFID chip and biometrics, as demonstrated in this controversial article I wrote here. (pop-up)


Of course two of the other biggest retail beneficiaries of an exclusively digital textbook environment will be Amazon with Kindle, and Barnes & Noble's Nook, since both are at the forefront of such technology, and actually sell textbooks that have already been scanned into these devices. 


Yet people wonder why Texas is the leading state in homeschooling.

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