Magazine article Information Today

The Dawning of the Power Users

Magazine article Information Today

The Dawning of the Power Users

Article excerpt

Ever since VCRs became too complicated for adults to program, we've accepted the fact that our children have taken over the title of "expert in all things technical." We have quietly turned to our 9-year-olds to help us send text messages or sell useless items on eBay. But now it's official: Certiport and Education Development Center (EDC) have released research results from a 4-year study of technically capable young people--better known as Power Users (http://main.edc.org/newsroom/features/certiport.asp).

That young guy you just saw sending a text message to his girl, downloading songs to his iPod, or furiously playing his game console with both thumbs wasn't just another sulky teen. He is part of "an emerging group of youth distinguished by their self-selected, long-term, intensive experiences with technology." According to the EDC report, "They are individuals who break out of the confines of traditional learning, demographic or technological barriers by constantly using, sharing, creating, producing and changing information in creative, innovative or unintended ways. By the age of 10 to 15, Power Users are in control of their technologies and have become self-directed learners, seeking and constructing new learning from their environments."

The research, which surveyed teachers, revealed that Power Users not only influence what is taught but how it is taught, and they even contribute to the teachers' own knowledge and understanding of the world of new technology. EDC suggested that these findings could be used to assist national leaders in planning effective education and workforce development policy and initiatives geared at leveraging the strengths of the up-and-coming Power Users.

"The economic health and prosperity of nations lie in their ability to build basic ICT [Information and Communications Technology] skills that qualify citizens to participate as effective members of the global community," said David Saedi, president and CEO of Certiport. "In addition, a unique population of Power Users is growing globally. We must develop curriculum, training and credentials that help fully develop and leverage their contribution to local economies."

A Million-Dollar Web Site

One such technically savvy youngster attracted global media attention earlier this year. Alex Tew, a 21-year-old from Wiltshire, England, created The Million Dollar Homepage by selling 1 million pixels of advertising space for $1 per pixel. By January, he had successfully sold all 1 million pixels, which together added up to one large Internet advertising base.

The site was brought down for 6 days by extortionists who used a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in hopes of getting a $50,000 ransom from Tew. Fortunately, he ignored the demands and worked with his hosting company, SiteSolutions, and used ProxyShield, a DDoS prevention-technology from GigeServers. Since the site is hosted in the U.S., the FBI is investigating the case along with the U.K.'s National High-Tech Crime Unit. Even with the downtime, the site was getting 1 million visits per week in January.

Tew started the project to pay for his university education, which he plans to start in September. In the meantime, he'll be continuing to update his blog, and he intends to write an e-book on his experiences.

Mozart's Musical Diary

A precocious youth by the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born 250 years ago this year (Jan. 27, 1756) in Salzburg, Austria. While the world is now awash in celebrations, concerts, and exhibitions about the life and works of this great composer, The British Library (BL) has created a unique contribution that will long outlast 2006.

As part of its award-winning Turning the Pages technology and collections, the BL has digitized Mozart's Verzeichnuss aller meiner Werke ("Catalog of all my works"). This manuscript is his musical diary, which contains 30 pages of musical details about his compositions from 1784 until his death in December 1791. …

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