Det er teknologiens skyld

I dag i Berlingske Tidende har cand. mag. Mette Thomsen, som jeg tror er kvinden bag dette designfirma, en kommentar om børn og ny teknologi. Desværre kan jeg ikke linke til den, for den er ikke på nettet (endnu da).

I artiklen indleder hun med at nævne de kommuner, skoler og børnehaver som på det seneste har anskaffet IPads til børnene og citerer deres lovprisning. Jeg læste derfor begejstret videre, da jeg altid bliver mistænksom, når det er teknologien, der bliver lovprist, og ikke det, den muliggør.

Jeg blev dog skuffet, for efter en omvej omkring Adorno, der som bekendt bekymrede sig om, at vi mennesker nemt kunne blive gidsler for vores egen teknologibegejstring, kom hun frem til sit egentlige ærinde, nemlig at hun for nylig havde været til familiefest, hvor samtlige de 12 tilstedeværende mindre børn, havde siddet bøjet over hver deres IPad og slet ikke havde leget sammen.

Hun gør dermed det samme som de skoleledere og kommunalfolk hun skoser i indledningen. Nemlig  giver teknologien skylden for altings skrækkelige tilstand.

Vi var selv for nylig til en selskabelig komsammen med mange børn, og min søn kendte kun værtsbarnet. Han fiskede derfor straks telefonen op af lommen og begyndte at spille under bordet. Jeg bad ham straks om at pakke den væk og deltage i løjerne. Det gjorde det artige barn jo, men det gjorde de andre ikke. Og de inddrog ham ikke i deres samtale/leg/spil/fodboldkigning. Så efter en time meddelte jeg ham, at han godt måtte tage den frem igen, så han ikke skulle kede sig ihjel.

Og hvad vil jeg så sige med dette kedelige eksempel fra min egen virkelighed? Jeg vil sige, at problemet her ikke var teknologien men børnene og deres forældres opdragelse af dem. Hvis det er ok for et værtsbarn at sidde og se fodbold i fjernsynet, mens fødselsdagsgæsterne er overladt til sig selv, så har det da ikke noget med teknologi at gøre, men med opdragelse.

Jeg vil gerne have læserne til lige at bruge to minutter på at lytte til Dr. Michael Rich fra Harvard, som siger noget om opdragelse. Han understreger netop, at ordentligt opdragede børn klarer sig bedst i ALLE sammenhænge. På nettet, i skolegården, som teenagere. Som med næsten alting her i livet, kan teknologien bruges både godt og skidt. Det er op til os!

(Hvis du ikke gider se videoen, så læs her, jeg har oversat hans vise ord:

Dr. Michael Rich, director of Harvard’s Center on Media and Child Health (11/03/2010)

Jeg synes, at dit barns brug af Internettet er et godt sted at undersøge din måde at være forældre på. Vi har igen og igen kunnet konkludere, at den mest effektive opdragelsesmetode, uanset emnet, er den, vi kalder den autoritative. Autoritativ opdragelse betyder, at du er opmærksom på dit barn og i god kontakt med det, men også sætter meget tydelige grænser. Den autoritære opdrager derimod sætter tydelige grænser, men er ikke i kontakt med barnet. Den autoritære opdragelse indebærer meget strenge regler, men disse forældre er ikke i kontakt og dialog med deres børn og er ikke opmærksomme på barnets behov. 

Så er der den eftergivende opdragelse, hvor forældrene er i kontakt med barnet, men ingen forventninger har til det og ingen begrænsninger sætter, så alt bare er OK. Sidst er der den uengagerede “opdrager”, som hverken er i kontakt med barnet eller har nogen forventninger til det. Dette er naturligvis den tristeste form for forældre, vi oplever. 

Så, når du begynder at spekulere på, hvordan dit barn skal introduceres til og bruge Internettet, ja faktisk når det gælder al opdragelse, så er vores råd at prøve at optræde autoritativt. Lyt til barnet, vid hvad du taler om, vær en model for barnet ved den måde, du selv bruger nettet på. Sæt klare grænser og gør dine forventninger klart samtidig med at du forklarer barnet konsekvenserne, hvis de ikke lever op til dine forventninger. 

 Vær tydelig, åben og kommunikerende med dit barn, så bliver de det samme med dig.)

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Elektronista

I know I’m not supposed to brag. But I’m going to do it anyway. I’ve been made “Electronista of the Week” by Danish online magazine Elektronista, focusing on the cross-section between women and technology. With the honour comes an interview where I got the unique chance to tell about my favourite gadgets and web-thingies. Here’s the interview in Danish. Below a version in English. *I’m that proud of it*

She’s more connected than her sons and has many more years of media experience than most of her more than 1000 followers on Twitter. We bow to copy-writer and social media consultant Néné La Beet and eat up her digital tips and tricks.

What’s your favourite gadget right now? That would have to be my IPad2. The loveliest toy and also very practical at times. I use the IPad at the breakfast table to read the paper and check Twitter, on the train to continue with the paper, in the sofa for Twitter, reading, silly stuff, Monopoly with my son. Sometimes also in bed for more of the same. I’m looking forward to the holidays where I’ll try it out with games, travel books and novels.

I also have a Flip camera, which makes uploading and editing a piece of cake. I use it for different things, but mostly to help my ten-year-old son make skater-films and fingerboard films and upload them to YouTube. I won’t even mention my Iphone 4 which has become a part of me. I think I might be addicted…

What do you wish for? I’m a very lucky woman who recently got a new Imac, Iphone and IPad, so I don’t really have a long wish list. What I would like though, was for somebody to sync all my devices so we could share music and films and deal with all of it from one computer. I just don’t have the patience to figure it out myself.


What do you consider the most interesting digital tendencies right now? What has caught my attention the most, lately, are all the new social media that address a narrower group than “everybody”. I’m in love with Pinterest, where you share pictures of stuff with each other. A piece of special jewelery, a dress you’ve seen in the street, a marvellous book shelf, etc.

And there’s Goodreads, where we share books we read, the great international network for knitters and crocheters, Ravelry. More work related is “Facebook for business”, Podio, developed in Denmark.

Can you name something that somebody should invent? I think that printers are lagging behind the general technological development. Why must it be so hard to connect to a printer wirelessly? And printer drivers, honestly, why haven’t they been phased out years ago? And, I’d like somebody to invent something that would allow us to roam abroad without getting ruined and without adding to the phone companies’ already padded wallets.

When are gadgets and technology really really cool? I love when gadgets communicate seamlessly with each other. I do not understand how it can be considered a competitive advantage that your device can’t work with other devices.

What website would you like to recommend to others? Zite is an app for IPad, which aggregates news in an incredibly intuitive way. You can see on Twitter who opens Zite first in the morning. They are always first with the news! Other than that it’ll have to be the above mentioned Pinterest. But it eats up my time, I swoon over all the lovely stuff out there!

What are your favourite mobile apps right now? My favourite apps are all those that aid me when I’m mobile. I use IMailG to check mail, InstaGram for posting pictures to Twitter and Facebook, various transport apps that show times, delays, etc. We use Viber to speak with each other for free, particularly smart when you’re abroad. And of course the Wikipedia app, which answers all our questions while we’re out and about. Last, something very basic, the Shopper-app, which is just a digital shopping list. Its advantage is that it’s always in my pocket, never at home on the kitchen table.

Can you recommend some people or pages to follow? On Facebook I’m happy following Slate, TED, Huffington Post and Vanity Fair, as I tend to forget to check these marvellous American news- and trrend media if it’s not fed to me. On Twitter it’s too hard to recommend anyone special, I follow so many intelligent, interesting, funny and helpful people. Check my followers and who I talk to!

Do you have a technology tip for others? I take pictures of stuff I want to remember. It’s low-tech perhaps, but it works. I note stuff in Evernote, so I can always have it with me. I save links with Instapaper and have ALL my files, photographs and music in the cloud on Dropbox. That way I don’t need to remember anything (except the cable to connect my laptop to the projector when I give workshops. I forget that every other time!)

Typical of the incredibly fast development in the digital world, this interview was made on Sunday night. On Monday night, just after it was published, Apple came with the news of the ICloud. So now, very soon, I’ll have what I wished for!

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A few days on the Interwebs

Across all the media I (try to) follow on the Interwebs, all kinds of news and information appear every minute, hour, day. I read lots and lots and lots but fear that much of it is forgotten again very quickly because I don’t “do” anything with it. Have been pondering this for a while and then thought that if I quickly save links or keywords on a dedicated page and then write a bit about it, the information might stick better. So that is what this is!

I read this post on Salon about Wikileaks and Assange. I’m not quite sure whether this is mere conspiracy theory or if there’s something to it. What do you think? I find it to be the most far out “coincidence” that it is Assange who’s accused of rape – of all the famous people who take, more or less, advantage of their notability. Salon, however, is not the first to suspect the Wallenberg family of wrong-doing. If you’ve read the Stieg Larsson trilogy or books by Jan Guillou you know what I mean. If you would like to read a complete update on the whole story of Wikileaks and Assange, go to Vanity Fair and read their interview with the enfant terrible.

Also at the serious end of the spectre, Sarah Palin has published a video to clear herself of the accusations against her for inciting hatred. I’m sure you already knew that, but have you actually seen the clip? And have you seen that map with shooting targets that she had on her website until moments after the Arizona shooting? The interesting thing about the video is the obvious discrepancy between the text, which (except the little “slip” with blood libel) is really quite good and her completely insincere expressions, which she clearly can’t control. And then the technical glitch; that you can see the teleprompter reflected in her glasses. *Amateurs*

I will get to news about gadgets and new ways to waste time on the Internet in a moment, but why don’t you bookmark this short article for reading when you’re in that “OMG, I’m mortal and I will eventually die”-mode. It’s a reflection over two famous atheists’ last stance before death and it’s both thought-provoking and quite life-affirming. The two atheists are hundreds of years apart – it’s David Hume and Christopher Hitchens.

I’d read about the Mikkelsen brothers before, but like with so much else, I’d forgotten about it. Then yesterday, I read about them again in Wired. Two brothers make good use of collaborative software to help refugees trace their families. It’s called Refugees United.

The lovely, but slightly awkward chef and animal welfare campaigner Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has started the campaign Hugh’s Fish Fight. I predict that he’s starting this at exactly the right moment in history and that this campaign will be quite successful. Sustainable fish is the new black. Please like the likable Hugh on Facebook – you can do it directly from the Fish Fight website. More importantly, however, is to walk the walk. Eat sustainable fish. Which, among other things, means that we must choose our sushi restaurants with care.

The rest of this post is light weight stuff, but life must consist of both or we go mad:

This morning @tveskov posted this about Steve Jobs‘ leave of absence and the IPhone 5. It’s fairly tech-heavy, but the gist of it is that the financial markets are very worried that the Apple top management  can’t quite pull off the constant innovation without Jobs. Must admit that I don’t know enough about the personalities in the Apple top to have an opinion about that. One would think that, based on experience, Jobs would have taken great care and hired some visionary people, knowing what happened the last time he had to leave the company. The rest of the article is about expected features on the IPhone 5. Looks wildly interesting and like a huge leap forward. Which is much needed, because as it is now, the Android phones are rapidly overtaking the IPhone in many respects.

My dear husband has an IPad and I have tech-envy. But on the other hand am not quite sure that I have enough spare time to really enjoy it. Can I use it to read in bed? I feel that it’s slightly on the heavy side, as my bedroom is icy cold and you can’t really sit up in bed unless you’re wearing a sweater… On the other hand, this is the device I’d bring to the breakfast table (rather than my phone) to read the news, check the weather forecast, etc. And to the sofa in the evening to tweet and browse. Anyway, the next one is said to not have a home button. I’m fine with that, as long as it can skype, which is what I miss most on the current one. See a video demo of it here.

Another Apple news tidbit is that the (free) Twitter application for Mac is really, really good. And that it has a super cool extra function (only works in Safari and Chrome and only with the latest OS), which lets you tweet directly from a webpage. If this interests you, have a look here.

I don’t read women’s mags, I’m not much into fashion and generally uninterested in celebrities. But. (There’s always a but). I adore the reports from the big events in the movie biz with all the superstars in their fabulous dresses. Can’t tell you why, but after the Golden Globe thing the other day everybody scrambled to see Ricky Gervais’ faux pas, but I jumped to Vanity Fair to look at all the dresses. I think I agree with VF that Natalie Portman was loveliest of all – pregnant and rosy. Just saw her shine in The Black Swan, a dark dark film but Portman is fantastic – she actually does the dance scenes herself, a feat that is truly amazing. As much as I adore Julianne Moore I HATE her dress! Same goes for Mad Men star January Jones’ red show stopper. Bah. But I rather like Angelina Jolie’s understated green. Do you share my fascination or do you say BAH, who cares?

Picture from Foxsearchlight.com

Speaking of dresses, this one could save the planet. I want to see it at the next Golden Globe or Academy Awards!

Anders Høeg Nissen (@4nd3rs) of local Danish Harddisken fame brought this marvelous little thingummy to my attention. I have to say, with my lacking DIY-skills, this is something I absolutely MUST HAVE. As those of you who’ve visited me at home will know I’m very fond of what silicone can do for me. Outside my body, that is.

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Am I a geek?

Some would say yes, others would say no. The yes-sayers are members of my family and some of my friends who find my rather intimate relationship with my laptop and my phone unnerving and unnatural. The no-sayers would be fellow bloggers and tweeters who routinely build own websites and say things about XHTML that I don’t understand…

When I saw Geek Girl Meet-Up (link in Danish) announced on Twitter I was attracted to it, but also very much in doubt as to whether I belong there or not. I still am, to be honest, although I am now officially a participant. I have been asked by a true geek (and this, in my book, is VERY positive), my friend Lisa (link in Danish), to describe what geeky stuff I can contribute with. Hm.

I just don’t think I’m geeky enough to contribute in a setting like that. At least not with traditionally geeky stuff. But there’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. And that is Danish/international companies’ use of English as corporate language.

I like it. I like it if we can emerge from our self-sufficient little island and become part of the world out there – being colleagues at work with people from all over the world and let ourselves be enriched. And English is the obvious choice in our part of the world, where the German, French and Spanish we learn at school are far from sufficient to get us through much more than ordering a meal at a restaurant.

As you all know, I love the English language in all its richness and complexity. I even make a living, more or less, from my love of this language. I love Danish too and would probably love every language I learned well enough. When I read a really beautiful sentence I go all soft and “aahhh”. Guess that’s pretty geeky in a way…

I don’t claim to speak or write it perfectly – don’t think I ever will. But I feel much better about this after my years in England, where I found that most English people don’t either…

What I’m trying to get to is this: Corporate-Speak is NOT English. The language non-English people speak amongst themselves is of course English. It’s just not, well, you know, English. (And it’s not American either). Each time you enter a big international company or go to a conference and listen to people speak, you hear a new, slightly different, version of Corporate-Speak. Then, when you start working with them on their texts, you get into the strangest discussions about language. Like, can we use “difficult” words when not everybody understands them? My claim is, yes, absolutely. You cannot and should not lower the level to some sort of 10.000-words lingo that everybody understands. That would be terrible. We would never do that if we wrote ads, articles, etc. in our own language!

The reverse is also a problem. A kind of imagined “over-familiarity” with the English language. We’ve discussed this on Twitter lately and all the English/American and bi-lingual totally agree. When Danes speak English, they adapt a tone that’s even more blunt than the “original” Danish. Read an article (in Danish) about that here. The f… word, which I could never write, is overused in Denmark, because Danes don’t grasp just how nasty a word it actually is. The fact that it can be heard on television a lot (although in the UK and US it’s usually beeped out) and that rap-artists believe it’s the most common word in the English language, does NOT make it acceptable in book titles, conference blurbs and adverts. It just doesn’t. Some people will think that I’m just an old hag who disapproves of swearing and “modernity”. But it is not so. I wish I was less prone to swearing, but I do swear more than I like to admit. I just don’t say the f… word, unless… There should be a wide gap between what you write in the public sphere and what you say when you stub your toe on the table-leg.

So, what I am is a language-geek. I don’t want to be a custodian, watching over a language spoken in bygone times, but I want us to maintain a rich and easily understandable language, be it Danish or English or any other. Easily understandable in the sense that sentences are complete, punctuated in such a way that they make sense when you read them, and in the sense that “difficult” words are used where they are necessary and not to show off.

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What women want. Aha. But what do men want?

Phones 4U has done a survey on the attractiveness of men, judged by the mobile or smartphone they own. Not too surprisingly women find men with Iphones to be the most attractive. You know, they have enough money to buy one and hopefully use some of the arty applications rather than sports- and porn applications…

Iphones in the family (bar one who wasnt present...)
Iphones in the family (bar one who wasn't present...)

Read about this survey here in MacWorld. I scrolled and scrolled to find the bit about the reverse situation. How does a man think a woman’s phone adds or detracts to her attractiveness? But will you believe it? There’s not a word about that.

Now, does that mean that men don’t care what phone a woman uses as long as her other, eh, attributes, are attractive to him, or does it mean that Phones 4U simply didn’t think to reverse the question? Which leads to another question: Does that mean that far more men than women own Iphones? I know you should be careful when judging from your own circles and I am. But still, at least half of the Iphone owners I know are women.

Just asking…

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My favourite Apps

If you don’t have an Iphone and don’t have any plans to buy one, you’ll loathe this post. So I suggest you don’t read it. If you still read it, you know, just to allow yourself to get annoyed, then consider this:

“Yes it was a shocking thing to say, and I knew it was a shocking thing to say.
But no one has the right to live without being shocked.
No one has the right to spend their lives without being offended.
Nobody has to read this book.
Nobody has to pick it up.
Nobody has to open it.

And if they open it and read it, they don’t have to like it.
And if you read it and dislike it, you don’t have to remain silent about it.
You can write to me.
You can complain about it.
You can write to the publishers, to the papers,
You can write your own book.
You can do all those things.

But there your rights stop.
No one has the right to stop me writing this book.
No one has the right to stop it being published, sold, or bought, or read.
And that’s all I have to say on that subject.”

This quote is by the brave and wonderful Philip Pullman, in reply to a person who chastised him for criticising the Christian faith in his new book. It’s about much more important things than whether you can be worked up about other people loving their Iphones, but it really does apply everywhere. Thank you to Richard Whitelock for opening up his new blog with this lovely quote. It was brought to my attention by @rhodri, who never replies to tweets, but who often tweets good stuff.

The Iphone apps are what makes your phone truly yours. Look at a person’s apps and you’ll know a lot about them. Thanks to Twitter I only rarely “hunt” for apps, they sort of present themselves when people tweet ecstatically about them. My other sources are the tech blogs and Wired Magazine. And people, of course. When you get together with other Iphone-lovers, they’ll tell you if they’ve found a new app that they love.

I have two Twitter apps, Tweetdeck and Tweetie (they can do slightly different things) and the Facebook and LinkedIn apps. I think I tweet as much from my phone as I do from my computer. Typically because tweeting is something you sneak in between other things you do and when I’m at the computer I’m usually supposed to be working… Facebook and LinkedIn mostly on the computer I think, but wouldn’t be without either on the phone.

I have a shopping list app which I’ve taken to more than I thought I would. I never write a pen-and-paper shopping list anymore. I’ve had to personalise it a lot to accommodate for this family’s apparently special shopping needs and deleted lots of items that I never ever buy, but now it works just great. Great advantage is that I always have it with me, both when I remember something that I want to add to it and when I go shopping. A similar type of app is a to-do-list app, which I’ve only just got. Usually, I find that to-do-list “systems” never work for me, but this one could. It’s still “on trial”. Many good features.

An app that has really and truly improved my life is the sleepcycle app. I first heard of this technology years ago and have coveted it ever since. Your sleep is monitored (originally by a bracelet) and, having set a time where you have to be up, it will wake you at the best possible time before that, which is when your sleep is lightest. It is brilliant! Has also shown me how my sleep pattern changes drastically from day to day and goes a long way in explaining why I sometimes feel dazed even if I have slept 7+ hours and at other times totally perky after <6 hours.

The Iphone also functions as a portable reference library, which is incredibly practical when you have a memory like a sieve and a child that asks at least 25 questions a day, some of which rather tricky. I have the lovely Wikipedia and Wikitap apps (for discussion of the use of Wikipedia, look here), Dictionary, Ordbogen (Danish – English), RedDelicious (all my bookmarks readily available), Iformulas and Reader (all my RSS feeds imported from Netvibes).

As most people I also have a number of news apps from my favourite news sources and also some aggregated news. Almost every paper and online news source have their own app, so it can be tailored very specifically to your needs and wants.

Then there are a number of practical apps that you can’t really claim to “need”, but which are all very handy. I have the Flickr app so I can upload pictures from my phone directly to Flickr with comments, tags and everything. I use that a lot. I’m very pleased with the Flixster app, which shows me what’s on in my local cinemas and with the Urbanspoon app, which guides me to restaurants in London while I’m there. I’ve used that more than once and been very pleased with it. Also I have a few recipe generators for when I’m completely out of ideas. Some funny dishes have come to the table thanks to YumYum, BigOven, among others.

A handful of apps cater to my intellectual and artistic needs, among them Stanza, which lets me read classics for free as well as a number of high quality magazines. I re-read The Great Gatsby on a flight to Copenhagen not long ago, that was very pleasant! Another app in that vein is the new app from the National Gallery, called LoveArt. Take a look at it, it’s really fabulous!

To entertain my son when we’re in the car, on a train or he’s bored in a restaurant I have a whole page of games. Very handy indeed!

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Waving the feminist flag again

Knowing how it upsets quite a few of my male readers I just can’t help myself. It’s Ada Lovelace day today, so we’re celebrating women who have excelled in technology.

I’ve chosen not to celebrate any woman in particular but instead to muse over why so many women still shy away from technology.

Ada Lovelace embraced technology although it hadn’t even been invented when she was around. She was guided by her curiosity combined with a brilliant brain and the financial circumstances to allow it.

I think that there’s a number of reasons why women don’t tend to embrace technology the way men do.

*disclaimer*
Please note that I use GENERALISATIONS in this post. I KNOW that not all men embrace technology or are good at it, I KNOW that there are women who excel in hardcore programming, etc. etc. But I’m sure you’ll agree that MORE women than men shy away from technology and that MORE men than women enjoy discussing Megabits of this and Gigabytes of that.
*end of disclaimer*

One of these reasons is the rather dull and unsurprising that technology has always been a male thing ever since the invention of the first technologies when women were still mostly “housewives” and dumbed down by themselves, their mothers, their fathers, their teachers, their brothers, their husbands and society in general. When computers started to be household items, everything to do with them was communicated in a special language, almost exclusive to people who worked with computers and completely unintelligible to anybody outside. But most men had to either pretend to understand or buy some copies of PC World and get an understanding quickly if they didn’t want to be out of the loop.

For women it was enough to learn the weird code language that was WordPerfect. Learning that was not at all considered a computer skill and nobody ever told any secretary that she could take her advanced WordPerfect coding skills and transfer them to other forms of computer coding – that the principles were the same even if the codes were different. So a large group of people – women – who could have become programmers and learned HTML as easy as one-two-three was completely lost. Because when Apple came with their What You See Is What You Get word processing technology and Microsoft came right at their heels and delivered Word to the world, everybody forgot all about WordPerfect and the skillset required to work it.

The language surrounding computers and other daily life technologies has certainly become a lot more accessible with the acceptance and knowledge that the target group has exploded and now includes everybody. But techno speak is still rife and you do need to learn some basics if you want to purchase some new technology and actually know what you’re buying. It’s also very helpful to know basic computer lingo when you make the inevitable call to the dreaded call centre for help. But I still think it would be really helpful if the ad said: This phone has 8GB memory. That equals x number of songs or x podcasts or x movie length films. I mean, who cares whether it’s 8 or 16GB? What you care about is whether there’s room for your entire Itunes library.

So when I talk to other women about technology and they get defensive about learning a bit of computer lingo I challenge them. Every time we enter a new chapter of our lives, we learn the language belonging to this particular subgroup without giving it much thought. You start studying law and after a year or so you’ve adopted a whole new set of words which you use effortlessly, inside and outside university. When you start cooking you learn the difference between tsp and tbsp and after the first mistake you know what “separate the eggs” means. When you first get pregnant (or your girl does) you learn a whole new set of words and phrases and suddenly know exactly what is considered a “normal” birth weight and what isn’t whereas previously you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if somebody had told you that their baby weighed 12 kilos at birth.

I therefore challenge women to sit down and learn the basics about computers, so they can understand enough to make sane purchases, avoid viruses, guide their children and do what they want to do on their computers and smartphones. Whining that it’s “too complicated” just doesn’t cut any slack with me.

And now for the second reason why I think women are lagging behind when it comes to technology. I think they lack curiosity. Or rather, they lack the inclination to pursue their curiosity. And I think that’s with us from childhood. The further we go back in time the less women are likely to have been encouraged to act on their curiosity as children. And if you go to a toy store or a book store’s children’s department you’ll see how that’s still so very much the case. I should underline that this is a lot worse here in the UK than it is in Denmark. Can’t speak for the rest of the world. The wonderful Science Museum here in the UK has developed the most amazing series of exploratory toys and, happily, they’re on sale all over the world. However, in many a toy store or department store these toys are displayed in the boys’ section and not in the girls’. And where, unfortunately, it’s a general trend that children’s toys today don’t encourage them to think “out of the box” (Now, who is responsible for ruining that phrase? come here and I’ll spank you!) as much as previous generations’ toys, it’s much more true for girls’ toys. If you don’t believe me, go take a look. And don’t tell me that I can just avoid them. I only have boys. But then, I’m not talking about me. Keeping in mind the size of the toy departments and the amount of money spent on advertising toys every year, there CLEARLY are people who buy it, right!

I blame the mothers, particularly the ones who ought to know better, for giving in to this. Just heard this morning that some girls at son’s school were invited to a birthday party with a “Makeover” theme. That makes me want to be sick in somebody’s designer handbag.

In the teetering stack of books next to my bed is a book called Curious? by the psychologist Todd Kashdan (@toddkashdan on Twitter). I haven’t read it yet, but I bought it based on his op-eds in The Huffington Post and an article in the Guardian. I’m very curious myself and have often been told that I’m too curious for my own good. Imagine how pleased I was to read that curiosity is actually good for you and leads to much more “life satisfaction” if such a thing can be quantified. The curious are seldom bored, there’s always an avenue to explore. So what I know now, in the midst of the huge sea of things I don’t know, is that at least I’m not going to die of boredom.

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So, what I meant to say on Ada Lovelace day, was this: Yes, ladies, there’s a historic precedence for women to not be curious and to be cr*p at technology. But that’s all it is. There are no excuses anymore. And if you can’t be bothered for yourself, then do it for your children. They deserve that you make the effort to understand the world they live in.

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