September 26, 2004

Parents and Kids in the Information Age

I saw this on Fred Wilson's blog:

Jerry's daugther won't let him read her blog any more. She moved over to Live Journal and put up a password. I think that's her perogative and if my girls want to do that, it would be OK with me.

But I'd miss the ability to find out what they are thinking. Take Emily's trip to Greenkill this week. When I asked how it was, I got back "it was OK". I asked a few more questions, but that was all I was going to get.

Then she blogged the whole trip and I got to find out what she did and what she liked and what she didn't. That's what I wanted and through her blog I got it.

Sad, that.

It got me thinking . . . how many of the following product ideas will never happen in a million years, how many exist now, and how many will exist soon?

  • Instant Notification of Kid Actions. Kid does something, goes somewhere, writes something online, watches a prgram on TV, joins some website, subscribes to something, sees something, hears something, gets within N yards of a place or person(s) he or she's not supposed to be near, and the parents get an instant electronic notification.

  • Big Mother: The kid has a personal cellphone. Mom has one too. One big difference: Mom's phone lights up whenever the kid's phone is in use. Press a button, and Mom can see who the kid's talking to, or listen in on the kid's conversation. Or review the kid's call log. Or monitor the kid's location via GPS. Or browse the directories of photos or digital videos or MP3s stored on the kid's phone.

  • Blog Reader Tracking: Who's reading my kid's blog?

  • RFID-embedded clothing and accessories: RFID-embedded jeans. Sneakers. Backpacks. Lunchboxes. Hats, gloves, coats, and scarves. Skateboards. Bikes. LoJacking everything in sight.

Of course, if parents can keep an eye on kids, kids can keep an eye on parents. I sometimes wonder if the future is going to be like the scene in the Scorsese film Casino, where DeNiro's character describes how everyone's watching each other in Vegas:

Since the players are looking to beat the casino, the dealers are watching the players. The box men are watching the dealers. The floor men are watching the box men. The pit bosses are watching the floor men. The shift bosses are watching the pit bosses. The casino manager is watching the shift bosses. I'm watching the casino manager. And the eye-in-the-sky is watching us all.

It's been a while since I re-read Forster's 1908 The Machine Stops:

"The Machine," they exclaimed, "feeds us and clothes us and houses us; through it we speak to one another, through it we see one another, in it we have our being. The Machine is the friend of ideas and the enemy of superstition: the Machine is omnipotent, eternal; blessed is the Machine."

Posted by brian at September 26, 2004 12:17 PM


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Posted by: dan at September 30, 2004 10:40 AM

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