NewsScan | 9 Aug 16:50 2004

NewsScan Daily, 9 August 2004 ("Above The Fold")

NewsScan Daily, 9 August 2004 ("Above The Fold")
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       Declining Numbers of Computer Science Majors
       The 'Stickey' Web
       The Utility of High-Speed Access
       Apple Accused in France of Unfair Play
       World Wide Wonderland: Lewis Carroll Scrapbook

       Flash Card
       Honorary Subscriber: Fanny Bullock Workman
       Mailbag: The World As We Find It

     The Computing Research Association says that the number of newly
declared computer science and computer engineering majors in the U.S. and
Canada fell last year 23% from the year before. The explanation is fairly
straightforward: since the dot-com bust a computer science degree no longer
seems the key to instant riches. But Peter Lee, an associate dean of
computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, is unworried by the falloff
in applications: he thinks today's students are often of higher quality,
because they're motivated not by money but by love of technology. (USA Today
8 Aug 2004)

     'Stickiness' is the term Web marketers use for their highest goal: the
creation of sites that hold visitors with special features. The Expedia
travel site, for example, offers virtual tours that provide panoramic views
of hotel rooms, beaches, etc., and lets viewers guide themselves through the
tour to focus on what they're most interested in. Expedia executive Stuart
MacDonald says, "We've always seen content as very important, but recently
we've taken it to the next level. For a lot of people, the trip almost
starts when they start to plan. To the extent we can make that easier and
more fun, it's good for business." But is stickiness really possible at
dialup speeds? Possible -- but perhaps not as likely. MacDonald says,
"Broadband is absolutely a part of it," because people's expectations have
increased and they now expect to see video clips on commerce sites. (New
York Times 9 Aug 2004)

     In some U.S. public housing developments residents can tap into shared
broadband networks for less than $15 a month -- much less than the cost of
individual high-speed accounts. According to Rey Ramsey, CEO of the
nonprofit One Economy Corp. in Philadelphia, "the real issue was trying to
get access in the home where it's convenient. If the library or learning
center closes at 6 and you don't get off work until 8, that's not real
access." Robert Wendel, a former Cisco engineer working to provide access to
housing complexes, points out: "In the early days, a lot of low-income
housing didn't have washer-dryer hookups, either"; he predicts: "Eventually,
all new houses will be wired this way." (Washington Post 8 Aug 2004)

     Online music retailer Virgin Mega has lodged a complaint with the
French Competition Council charging that Apple Computer has "wrongfully
refused" to license its Fairplay copy-protection technology and open up the
iPod portable music player to rivals. Apple uses to the Fairplay technology
to prevent unlimited copying of songs and to restrict other online music
providers from making their secure song files transferrable to the iPod.
(AP/San Jose Mercury News 6 Aug 2004)

     The Library of Congress has developed an online version of "Alice in
Wonderland" author Lewis Carroll's unpublished personal scrapbook, which
includes illustrations, newspaper clippings and handwritten annotations.
Since Carroll chose and arranged the items personally, the collection throws
light on his interests and collecting habits. The Internet version of the
notebook includes timelines of Carroll's life and contemporary events, a
portrait gallery of people whose names appear in the scrapbook, and a system
for searching the text for a word or a phrase. See (AP/7 Aug 2004)


     "We shall not cease from exploration. And at the end of our exploring
will be to arrive where we started and to know the place for the first
time." (T.S. Eliot)

     Today's Honorary Subscriber is the world-traveling explorer and
mountain climber Fanny Bullock Workman (1859-1925), who in partnership with
her husband, William Hunter Workman, explored many of the world's great
     The Workmans described their explorations in numerous magazine articles
and in these books: "In the Ice World of Himálaya," Ice-bound Heights of the
Mustagh," "Peaks and Glaciers of Nun Kun," "The Call of the Snowy Hispar,"
and "Two Summers in the Ice Wilds of Eastern Karakorum." They were among the
first westerners to set foot on the great glaciers such as the Biafo, the
Chogo Lungma, the Hispar, the Siachen, and the Kalberg.
     In her later years Fanny Workman went on lecture tours, and may have
been the first woman to lecture at the Sorbonne. Experiencing what she
believed was "sex antagonism" from male scientists and climbers, she lent
her support to the causes of woman suffrage and women's rights. She also
encouraged women to pursue higher education, and left large bequests to Bryn
Mawr, Radcliffe, Smith, and Wellesley. In her lifetime she was honored with
medals bestowed on her by several European geographic societies, and was
enrolled as a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and a member of the
Royal Asiatic Society.
     Workman was born Fanny Bullock in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was the
daughter of a prominent Republican politician who was governor of
Massachusetts in 1866-1868. Educated in private schools in New York City,
Paris, and Dresden, she was married in 1881 to Dr. William H. Workman, a
Worcester physician. In 1889 they began vacationing in Europe and from 1889,
when Dr. Workman retired for health reasons, and they moved to Europe where
they lived for the next nine years and took journeys to the countries in the
Mediterranean and the Near East. They became avid bicyclists, logging
thousands of miles, first in Algeria, and Spain, and later in Ceylon, Java,
Sumatra, Cochin China (today's Vietnam), and India.
     The Workmans kept extensive notes on their bicycle journeys, later
turning them into their popular jointly-written books. In 1899 they made the
first of seven journeys into the largely unexplored Karakorum Range of the
Himalaya Mountains. During these explorations they mapped, photographed, and
recorded scientifically pertinent observations of snow and ice conditions,
glacier structures and movements, meteorological data, and physiological
responses to altitude.  In 1903 Workman set an altitude climbing record for
women atop the 21,000-foot Koser Gunga, which she bettered three years later
with her 23,300-foot climb to the Nun Kun peak.

im for Margo McLoone's "Women Explorers of the Mountains" -- or look for it
in your favorite library. Note: We donate all revenue from our book
recommendations to adult literacy programs.]


     Visit for an answer to reader
Scott Pollard's question about "how can you write of Schrödinger and not
mention the cat?" and enjoy an interactive way to conduct the experiment
(Fred Robinson)

   Well, I'm certainly sorry I contributed to the mailbag brouhaha about
kids and computers. It's a shame that such a worthwhile and interesting
question devolved into an Ad Hominem attack. (And I emphatically apologize
for the poor wording, on my part, that contributed to that.)
   The irony is that I suspect that if you put me, Mr. Bledsoe and Mr.
Hamilton in a room together for a couple of hours, we'd emerge with genuine
respect for each other, having learned a lot from each other, - and possibly
even having discovered that we agree about more things than we disagree
about. Such, perhaps, is the limitation of technology (or, perhaps it's just
our limited writing skills.)
   Mr. Bledsoe quoted my comment: " parents, we are not nearly as
interested in fractal animations as we are in the nurturing and development
of our children's creative thinking, critical thinking, love of learning and
progressive success and confidence" and asked: "How can you pretend to speak
for all parents?"
   It was not my intent to sound as though I was arrogantly claiming that I
know what all parents want. However, at such a fundamental level as this, I
will say that I'm quite hopeful that few parents actually do believe the
only alternative: that computer projects are as or more important than their
children developing those crucial thinking skills and habits.
     Mr. Bledsoe also wrote: "The parents of my students have been delighted
to see their students learning with the tools of today's culture and have
told me so repeatedly" and "You are dismissing my students' work and its
effect on their learning without having seen or heard it, by guessing what
it is. Shame on you."
     I simply did not mean to suggest that the parents of his students
should not be delighted with the creative and critical thinking that their
children have developed and used with their projects, or that the students
themselves should not be proud of their accomplishments. What I DID mean to
suggest was simply that I don't believe such creative and critical thinking
skills REQUIRE computer projects -- and therefore it is easily imaginable to
me that Waldorf students, as one example, can easily develop develop just as
much with those skills that are so crucial to their success.
     And finally, Mr. Bledsoe wrote: "I'm very sorry that you have closed
your mind. It's bad enough when anyone closes their mind to the
possibilities of technology, but a teacher doubly-so because he or she
impacts the lives of so many students."
     I don't believe I have "closed my mind" about technology -- and was a
little surprised at that conclusion. (Of course, I'm sure everyone with a
closed mind says that.) Possibly Mr. Bledsoe is not in the best position to
judge the impact I have on students since he did not even correctly guess
whether or not I use computer technology in the classroom. (Hint: my
reference to a 20-year computer technology career should have been a good
clue). I would suggest that it is more that my mind is OPEN to the fact that
people can develop phenomenal creative and critical thinking skills without
computer projects. Indeed, I think that's been proven over and over again.
     I imagine you probably won't want to print this, since much of it is
sort of self-defense, besides which, the topic has begin to tire some
readers. In that case, I wonder if you would do me the favor of forwarding
this to Mr. Bledsoe.
     Thanks again for NewsScan! (Matthew Blaisdell)

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