Showing posts with label Competitive Advantage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Competitive Advantage. Show all posts

June 11, 2017

The Cloud Pays Off

So for those of you who thought the cloud only pays if your a consumer of technology who is looking for scalability and flexible pricing models, think again. 

Bloomberg has an interesting article on how Adobe is growing their revenue by billions switching their apps to to the cloud. 

Instead of customers paying a one time purchase price for Creative Suite or Acrobat, now customers must pay for Creative Cloud or Document Cloud subscription fees that may sound small in the beginning, but really add up over time. 

And more than that, Adobe doesn't have to worry about wowing customers with the next upgrade in order to get them to make another purchase, because as long as their products are competitive, the customers will keep paying their subscriptions fees money month after money month.

What's better than making a sale to a customer?  Selling to them in a cloud subscription model that keeps paying and paying and paying. 

No wonder it's better to have your head and technology in the cloud--it's a true rainmaker! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 27, 2016

Left or Right?

This sign from yesterday reminded me of the debates last night. 

Arguments, attacks, and counterpunchs between the candidates (and the parties they represent).

But in the end, the sign is pointing us in the wrong direction anyway. 

While we keep hitting each other up for getting and maintaining the awesome scepter of American power, our competitors on the international stage are moving on with their personal and national agendas, and we are in seemingly perpetual gridlock. 

The big problems that we face are not going away, and declaring who is the winner of the showtime debates, daily rallies, and witty sound bites, may feel good from the standpoint of whether our candidate is winning or not, but frankly is not solving any of our problems either.

A good fight is spectacular to watch, but we can be our own worst enemies as we are lost in shallow policy and rhetoric debates amidst leadership confusion, indecision, and (un)popularity contests, and even the winner may take home nothing but the rights to hoist another upside down sign.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 23, 2016

Big Government Turnaround

So I took this photo of a handout being distributed at a major local university here in Washington, DC.

Sort of ironic for this sign that says:
"Big Government Sucks"

...to be handed out in the capital of the United States of America!

It would make sense that this negative notion of big government is connected to the low approval ratings of Congress (17%) and government services (64.4) provided.

People are seeing and sensing that big government is bad government when it is:

- Dictatorial, corrupt, and discriminatory. 

- Mired in fraud, waste, abuse, and coverups. 

- Self-serving for the politicians that are elected to serve the people. 

- When it is bureaucratic and ineffective. 

- When it is confused and without vision or plan for the country. 

- When it's indecisive, makes bad decisions, or can't successfully execute short- and long-term on it's mission. 

- When it is lacking in basic values of democracy, freedom, and human rights for all. 

At the same time, big government can be great government, when it is a beacon of light for its citizens and for the nations of the earth. 

- When it protects us from dictators, demagogues, terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, criminals, and all sorts of disasters.

- When it holds strong and cutting-edge the economy, prosperity, innovation, education, and competitive advantage of the nation. 

- When it safeguards and keeps sustainable the environment for future generations. 

- When it preserves and fortifies freedom, human rights, social equity, equality, and justice. 

- When it looks after the needy and less fortunate.

- When it lead the world in exploration, discovery, partnerships, and ultimately doing good for the people, the planet, and our future. 

Big government sucks when it goes wrong and then they start handing out these sad signs on our nation's premier college campuses. 

This is a big problem to turnaround?  

But with smart, committed, and moral leadership, it can be done! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 8, 2016

When You Gotta Go

We went hiking the trails yesterday in Maryland along Rock Creek.

And we came across this makeshift toilet in the woods. 

Surprised at all by what you see? 

Apparently, the hole in the tree wasn't enough for someone.

They took the liberty of literally hauling a toilet seat out to the middle of the woods here and adding it to nature's wonders. 

I suppose they must've really wanted that homey feeling when they take care of their business. 

Who says America's has lost it's creative talent?

From the big cities to the wooded suburbs, we are a nation that does our business and does it extremely well. 

Especially during election time when some politicians can be so very full of it and of themselves. 

Can anyone see why we need to reestablish leadership and competitive advantage in this country? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 18, 2016

When It Comes To Education, We're Just Playing Around

So I overhead a conversation of 2 young women in Starbucks talking about their college education. 

One of them while acknowledging that she enjoys her classes, says, "But I still don't feel that I am learning anything practical!"

He friends responds saying, "Yeah, all we learn is X+Y, but what does that do for us in real life?"

The first young women says, "They need to emphasize the practical things and teach us personal finances, fitness, healthy cooking, and so on."

The second young women starts repeating, "X+Y, X+Y, that's all they teach us!"
I couldn't help but chuckle at this point, even though it was sort of sad. 

The education system is known to be so bad in this country, especially until you get to college. 

We've gone from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds, but no matter what you call it--it's still a big C-R-I-S-I-S. 

According to Ranking America, the US ranks 14 out of 40 countries in education--behind Netherlands and Poland.

Moreover, we rank 2nd in ignorance about social statistics like teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. 

Moreover, we are falling behind in our competitiveness ranking in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and are now 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries.

We can't innovate, improve productivity, and effectively compete if we are just playing around with our education system. 

If we don't change, X+Y may soon equal the bottom of the education barrel. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 29, 2016

Losing Our Tech-osterone

So a vendor comes in and does a pitch and demo for a product we were interested in. 

But this technology vendor, a Fortune 100 company, couldn't figure out how to plug in their laptop for the demonstration. 

The presenter is holding his plug from the computer and comparing it to the ports on the monitor and going, "Is it a male or is it a female?"

It's almost like he's going innie or outtie...

And he's repeating this over and over again as he keeps trying to plug in his cord to the various openings. 

Everyone is sitting sort of uncomfortably at this point, and so I try to break the tension and say, "I didn't know we were going to be getting an anatomy lesson today."

Well, we got the guy some technical help--the government to the rescue--and before long, he figured out the males and the females and the presentation was on the screen. 

The only problem, the title slide for his presentation had a misspelling for the product they were selling. 

At this point, all I can say is, this is why American business is getting soft!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 24, 2016

To Little Jonah

So swimming in the pool, I meet little 7-year old Jonah. 

He sort of made himself known to me when he decided he wanted to race me on the swim board.

I was going just a little faster--and I reminded him that I had a key competitive advantage, fins. 

He said, "Darn I should have brought mine!'

He asked how old I was, and I said a little older than you. 

Not satisfied, he pressed the question, saying "I can tell you are an adult."

So I had to cave and admit that, and pointing to my heart, added that "I am young at heart."

Jonah's in 1st grade, and wanted to know what grade I was in. 

His guess was 4th grade, and I said "That's about right."

Jonah is from New Orleans visiting his grandmother for Passover. 

She was watching him in the pool and smiling with grandmotherly nachas, ear-to-ear.

I told Jonah to make sure to treat his grandmother nicely. 

But Jonah at this point had jumped into my swim lane and was in mock superhero fighting mode, and said "I want to punch you."

I thought to myself, hmm it's not only my wife that feels that way (LOL).

Anyway, it was clear that I had made a new friend with Jonah, who was off bobbing up and down in the water well over his head. 

Bye Jonah--have a good time visiting for Passover. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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January 10, 2016

Enterprise Architecture - Make The Leap

Another good depiction of enterprise architecture.

What we are, the divide, and what we want to be.

We have to make the leap, but only with good planning and decision-making governance. 

Otherwise, it's a long fall down the project failure abyss. 

Faith is always important, but so it doing your credible part. ;-)

(Source Photo: Via Instagram)
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January 8, 2016

We Just Keep Giving It All Away

How do these things keep happening to us?

We lost a high-tech Hellfire air-to- ground missile, accidentally sending it to Cuba, likely compromising critical sensor and GPS targeting technology to China, Russia, and/or North Korea. 

But it's not all that different from how many other examples, such as: 

- Chinese cyber espionage snared critical design secrets to the 5th generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

- Iran captured and purportedly decoded an RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone.

- Russian spies stole U.S. nuclear secrets helping them to build their first atomic bomb.

We are the innovator for high-tech bar none, which is beautiful and a huge competitive advantage. 

But what good is it when we can't protect our intellectual property and national security secrets. 

The U.S. feeds the world not only with our agricultural, but with our knowledge.

Knowledge Management should be a mindful exercise that rewards our allies and friends and protects us from our enemies--and not a free-for-all where we we can't responsibly control our information. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to James Emery)
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May 14, 2015

Blame The SLOW Trains

So another tragic major train derailment in Philadelphia this week. 

Already 8 people killed and over 200 injured. 

All over the news, we see that the train was speeding by going just over 100 mph.

Yes, it was a curve, and maybe we need to build some straighter more stable lines (I believe that is partly what eminent domain used properly is for) and with the latest safety features. 

But does anyone ask how can other countries safely implement their trains at far faster speeds--that makes 106 mph look virtually like a mere snails pace in comparison.

Just last month, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the U.S. potentially upgrading to bullet trains that rountinely and safely go at far higher speeds:

Japan: 375 mph!

France: 199 mph.

China: 186 mph.

U.S.: 149 mph (even the Acela train has the potential to do at least this much, but for the most part they don't due to shared lines with commuter and freight trains and an aging infrastructure--uh, so where did all that money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act go exactly?)

In what now seems retrospectively almost mocking, Japan Railways, International Division Chief stated: "We have a track record of transporting a huge volume of passenger traffic with very few delays or accidents...Because the trains operate so accurately, travel can be made very efficiently [and safetly]." 

Do you think we the U.S. can catch up with our 21st century peers here?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Toshy Island Paddy)
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December 8, 2014

They Ain't Nothing


So Microsoft has tried to do the copycat thing of the Apple Store. 

See Apple (top photo) streaming with customers trying out their world-class computers and smartphones yesterday. 

See Microsoft (photo underneath) just a few storefronts down in the mall with nice vibrant colors, but just a handful of customers (the non-red shirts) in the entire place.

BTW, I took a look at the iPhone 6 Plus and liked the size (I thought I wouldn't) and ordered one (will be nice I hope to actually see the screen on this thing). 

At the same time, I tried the Microsoft Surface, and my wife says to me can you videotape me showing how long it takes to actually try to figure this thing out--piece of garbage!

It was also confusing why the Microsoft store was selling Dells and other companies computing devices--Ah, maybe because they don't have anything competitive of their own???

Microsoft great try with the overall store (Touche!) but you just don't have the retail products to compete with Apple--and the piles of Xbox in the rear of the store to draw people in--that wasn't working either. 

Microsoft still a winner at enterprise computing, but Apple hands-down has you on personal computing--everyone to their corners. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 23, 2014

Data 4 Ransom

The future of cybercrime will soon become the almost routine taking of your personal and corporate data as hostage. 

Once the hacker has control of it, with or without exfiltration, they will attach malware to it--like a ticking time bomb.


A simple threat will follow:


"I have your data. Either you pay for your data back unharmed OR your data will become vaporware! You have one hour to decide. If you call the authorities, you data is history."


So how valuable is your data to you?  


- Your personal information--financial, medical, legal, sentimental things, etc.


- Your corporate information--proprietary trade secrets, customer lists, employee data, more.


How long would it take you to reconstitute if it's destroyed?  How about if instead it's sold and used for identity theft or to copy your "secret sauce" (i.e. competitive advantage) or maybe even to surpass you in the marketplace? 


Data is not just inert...it is alive!


Data is not just valuable...often it's invaluable!


Exposed in our networks or the cloud, data is at risk of theft, distortion, or even ultimate destruction. 


When the time comes, how much will you pay to save your data?


(Source Comic: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 9, 2014

Lowest Price Guaranteed!

So I bought a really comfy chair--everyone wants one of these. 

(Note: Pictured here is not the actual chair or store from my story today.)

Anyway, I was so happy thinking about how lush the sitting experience would be. 

Yes, the "retail price" seemed high, but I got the "Veterans Day discount" and then bargained some more. 

So I thought I probably did okay on the negotiation, especially since I was dealing with a major national brand.

Also, the contract/invoice had in writing a "lowest price guarantee"--so that if within 30 days, I found the chair for cheaper, the company "would gladly refund the difference in full"!

Sounds good, right?

But something wasn't feeling right and when I went home I had trouble sleeping--something seemed off with this purchase and this merchant. 

So in the morning, I checked online and found the exact same chair for almost $300 less!

Well, I headed straight to the store with a printout of the lower price I had found and promptly presented it to the store manager for the refund of the difference as promised.

But instead of the glad refund, I got stonewalled and the dumbest look on the store manager's face I have ever seen. 

He started the million excuses why he wouldn't refund the difference in price as promised. 

First he said, oh, the chair I found was a different color--I showed him the chair online and the one in his showroom, and they were the identical color and everything. 

Then, he goes for a second attempt, saying, uh the price guarantee doesn't apply to prices found at outlets, and I said where does the price I found say outlet anywhere? He couldn't find anything like that. 

So he tries a third time to get rid of me, and says, the merchandise has to be advertised under "the same terms and conditions," and it wasn't.  I said what terms and conditions weren't the same?  He said, well, they just weren't the same. 

At which point, he told me plain and simple that he wasn't going to refund the difference and that I should get out of the store. 

I won't tell you all the (legal) details how, but let's just say this guy was sorry for trying to do that...and I walked out with the price difference refunded. 

Buyer beware--lot's of crooks out there trying to take your money and giving guarantees that are complete b.s. 

This is probably especially the case with many brick and mortar retailers who are having serious problems competing with their significantly lower overhead online brethren. 

Beware--Beware--Beware!!! 

I learned again today and taught my daughter to stand up for what is rightfully yours and don't let anyone take advantage of you!  

You work for your money too and no one should cheat you out of it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 7, 2014

The Games Organizations Play

So HP, under Meg Whitman, is breaking up into a PC/printing company and an enterprise products and services firm.

Um...well of course it’s the right thing to do to focus each and release the great value of these two companies.

Only, just a few years ago, under Carly Fiorina, HP a printer and enterprise products company combined with Compaq, a PC company, in order to gain the size and clout to succeed in the ever-competitive technology marketplace.

The B.S. of corporate America—everything and the opposite--to try and do something, almost anything, to try and raise the share prices of those strategically stalled companies.

From Meg Whitman, CEO of HP:

- October 2011--“Together we are stronger!”

- Then today, 3 years later--“Being nimble is the only path to winning.”

Yeah, whatever.

Merge, split—wash, rinse, repeat…fool the fools.

HP is still HP—especially compared to Apple, Amazon, Google, and even now Lenovo. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Angie Harms)

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August 16, 2014

Technology Easy Sell

Technology is not like buying a time share, thank G-d. 

We examine the costs and the benefits, and it either works and provides us a tangible competitive benefit or it doesn't.

"You can't be competitive without modern technology, you'll simply be out of business."

At the end of the day, you don't want to be sold a worthless bag of goods from a no good (not genuine) salesperson. 

Read about it here in my new article in Public CIO. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 15, 2013

IT Departments, Here To Stay

InformationWeek asks "Will IT Departments Disappear By 2020?"

This question comes from Forrester Research which sees the commoditization of IT as eroding the base for the traditional IT function and roles.


As we move to cloud computing--apps and infrastructure, as well as continue the trend for outsourcing IT such as help desk, desk support, and more what will be left for the CIO and his or her team to do?


The article answers this question with another major trend--that of consumerization--"differentiating value and visibility among consumers and employees."


This is where IT can be highly strategic in serving those needs in the business that are truly unique and that enable them to be high performing and even outperform in the marketplace.


These ideas of commoditization and consumerization are anchored in Lawrence and Lorsch's business studies of integration and differentiation of organizations, where organizations need to find their ideal state for integration of subsystems--such as through cloud computing, data center integration, and shared services--and for differentiation, where organizations differentiate themselves to address the unique value they bring to their customers.


So even with commoditization of IT and integration of services, the IT function in organizations will not be going away, no more so than HR or Finance functions went away with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. 


The CIO and IT function will be able to leverage base enterprise services as commodities, but they will be expected more than ever to focus on and provide strategic solutions for their customers and give their organizations the real technology competitive advantage they are looking for and desperately need. 


This is what distinguishes a real CIO--one that provides strategic leadership in being user-centric and coming up with customer-oriented solutions that are not available anyplace else--from those managers that only help to keep the IT lights on. 


If you are not differentiating, you are not really engaging--so get out there with your customers and roll up your CIO sleeves. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 19, 2013

iRobot For Your Windows


A Chinese company, Ecovacs, has developed a robot that cleans your windows--and it looks quite like an iRobot that cleans your floors.

You spray the cleaning pad, attach it to your window, and it senses that boundaries of the window and calculates a path to clean them. 


The spray pad wipes them, the squeegee collects dampness, and another wipes it dry. 


There are multiple safety features including dual suction rings, a safety pod with a tether, and an alarm if Winbot runs into problems. 


The spray pads once used can be removed, washed, and dried for another cleaning run. 


I like Winbot as long as it is just cleaning windows and not also looking in the window and listening to what you are doing to gain competitive advantages in a cyberspace that these days, knows few, if any, security bounds. ;-)

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June 22, 2012

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

This is a photo I took at Harpers Ferry.

There was a train coming by pretty fast, and on the flatbeds were what seemed like a endless line of Tractors. 

-- Red, red, red, red, blue, and then red again. 

I hurried to get my iPhone out and capture this photo while the train was rushing by at full speed. 

I love this shot, because it teaches an important lesson about diversity

Firstly, it reminds me of the children's song, "One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong."

From early in life, we are taught to conform a certain way--based on norms, culture, values, policies, rules, regulations, laws, religion, and so on. 

There always seems to be a reason that we have to talk, dress, think, and conduct ourselves--properly, politically-correct, and just like everyone else. 

And we are warned that "the nail that sticks out, gets hammered down"--so don't do it--it's too risky--you'll be labeled bad or worse yet, crazy. 

So while creativity and innovation is valued if it can bring someone a nice profit, we are still cautioned not to go out too far on a limb or else you risk getting ridiculed and rejected--hey "you may never work again in this town."

But in this picture, the tractors tell a different story--that it's okay to be a blue tractor in a long parade of red ones. 

No, the blue tractor wasn't a mistake, it isn't abnormal or alien or evil, it's just different and it's cool. 

The blue tractor stands out, but it isn't a bad thing to stand out--and the blue tractor won't get hammered down.

It's okay to be a blue tractor in a long procession of red tractors--and it's great to just be who you are--blue, red, yellow, green, or whatever. 

Conformity is not normalcy--it's just look-alike, copycat, and probably even boring. 

Being different can be novel, inventive, out-of-the-box and exciting--and more important it can usher in needed change.

I think we need more blue tractors in a red tractor world.

Will you take a chance and be a blue tractor too? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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May 25, 2012

Innovation: Leaders vs. Liars

There's a big difference between doing something and saying you're going to do something. 

Or as I learned early on--words are cheap, but actions speak loud and clear.

The Wall Street Journal (23 May 2012) reported this week about how many companies (and even academic institutions) overuse the word innovation--"the introduction of something new."

It's practically become cliche--"chief innovation officers, innovation teams, innovation strategies, and even innovation days."
So is innovation just the buzzword du jour or is ultimately something more?

Of course, the more we use something like the term innovation, the greater the chance to dilute its meaning. 

- "33,528--times [innovation] was mentioned in quarterly and annual reports last year."

- "255--books published in the last 90 days with innovation in the title."

- "43%--of 260 executives who said their company has a chief innovation officer."

However, innovation is not just a word to throw around and use lightly--innovation is our bread and butter in this country; it is what differentiates us from our global competitors (i.e. its one of our main competitive advantages) and is a source of our economic strength.

Not all innovation is created equal--there is "innovation lite" (my term), where we take something and make it better, faster, or cheaper, and then there is "disruptive innovation"--where we really bring something new to the market.  

"Everybody's innovating because any change is innovation," but not every innovation is transformative.

We can't afford for innovation to lose its meaning, because leaders and companies that abuse it and dilute it--and don't ultimately deliver--will end up losing their jobs and ultimately the companies themselves. 

Real innovation is like condiments, use it sparingly and it can pack a huge punch--pour it on indiscriminately, and you might as well just throw away the whole dish.

What we need are innovation leaders that don't just mouth the words and buy the toys, but champion it, invest in it, and empower and encourage their employees to make it happen. 

Innovate or die is our reality--so be a true innovation leader--don't lie to yourself if it isn't the real thing. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Seth Waite)

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May 12, 2012

It's Not iStuff, It's Your iFuture

There is an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (11 May 2012) called "Make It a Summer Without iStuff."

It is written by David Gelernter, Professor of Computer Science at the prestigious Yale University and I was much dismayed to read it.

With all due respect, Gelernter makes the case--and a poor one at that--for keeping kids away from technology.

He calls technology devices and the Internet, "the perfect anti-concentration weapon...turning a child's life into a comedy of interruptions."

Gelernter states pejoratively that the "whole point of modern iToys...is not doing anything except turning into a click vegetable."

Moreover, Gelernter goes too far treating technology and the Internet as a waste of time, toys, and even as dangerous vices--"like liquor, fast cars, and sleeping pills"--that must be kept away from children.

Further, Gelernter indiscriminately calls en masse "children with computers...little digital Henry VIIIs," throwing temper tantrums when their problems cannot be solved by technology. 

While I agree with Gelernter that at the extreme, technology can be used to as a escape from real, everyday life--such as for people who make their primary interaction with others through social networking or for those who sit virtually round-the-clock playing video games.

And when technology is treated as a surrogate for real life experiences and problem solving, rather than a robust tool for us to live fuller lives, then it becomes an enabler for a much diminished, faux life and possibly even a pure addiction. 

However, Gelernter misses the best that technology has to offer our children--in terms of working smarter in everything we do. 

No longer is education a matter of memorizing textbooks and spitting back facts on exams in a purely academic fashion, but now being smart is knowing where to find answers quickly--how to search, access, and analyze information and apply it to real world problems. 

Information technology and communications are enablers for us do more with less--and kids growing up as computer natives provide the best chance for all of us to innovate and stay competitive globally. 

Rather then helping our nation bridge the digital divide and increase access to the latest technologies and advance our children's familiarity with all things science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Gelernter wants to throw us back in time to the per-digital age.

With the ever rapid pace with which technology is evolving, Gelernter's abolishing technology for children needlessly sets them back in their technology prowess and acumen, while others around the world are pressing aggressively ahead. 

Gelernter may want his kids to be computer illiterate, but I want mine to be computer proficient.  

iStuff are not toys, they are not inherently dangerous vices, and they are not a waste of our children's time, they are their future--if we only teach and encourage them to use the technology well, balanced, and for the good. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to "Extra Ketchup," Michael Surran)


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