Sharing your Sexual History Online

This week, Venturebeat posted a story about an online platform called Luhu that helps individuals share their sexual health status with potential partners.  An individual now has the opportunity to let a potential partner know if they have a sexually transmitted disease before getting intimate with them.  The article does not explain if Luhu violates the confidential patient laws (i.e., HIPAA) that are currently in place in the United States.  In addition, it is specifically for individuals who get STD testing on a regular basis rather than those who only get tested during an emergency or on a sporadic basis.

Based on the information in the article, it appears that the platform is not for everyone.  Luhu seems to be only for individuals who have disposable income to use for it.  In addition, this particular platform is not useful for individuals who live in houses and/or communities that do not have internet access.  Therefore, it might not be beneficial for the individuals who are most at-risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.       

This is an interesting new media development because it displays the openness of some individuals to promote their sexual activity to a broader audience.  In some occasions, these individuals might be complete strangers who are sharing very personal information.  This might bring up some privacy concerns because an individual is sharing intimate information with others who could use it against them throughout social networking sites.

Will Senator-Elect Booker Lead the Charge for a Tech-Focused Government?

Last year, Newark Mayor Cory Booker won a special election to replace the late Senator Frank Lautenberg as New Jersey’s U.S. Senator alongside Senator Robert Menendez.  With the victory, TechCrunch claims that Senator-Elect Booker will become one of the most prominent voices nationally within the Democratic Party.  The interesting reason for this is not his power within political circles but due to the power he holds within technological circles, especially throughout Silicon Valley. 

In 2010, we saw this come to fruition in a $100 million donation from Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg to Newark Public Schools.  Some reports show that most of the money went to consultants and administrative costs rather than going to the students and educators.  However, it still shows the influence that Senator-Elect Booker has with technological companies throughout the country and world.  With that said, there is one question for Americans to consider.  How will technological companies and its millionaire/billionaire top executives influence democracy in the United States?

The TechCrunch article highlights some “liberal” policies that we might see coming through the Democratic Party in the years to come.  However, when a group of millionaires and billionaires leads the push for policy reform we can only assume that politicians will not hear the voices of the average American.  These tech executives might claim to be liberal and for the American people.  However, when the option comes for profits or the greater good, which one do you think they will choose? 

Mobile 3.0 Brings New Privacy Concerns into our Pockets

A new article on VentureBeat from Mihir Shah discusses the next evolution (or revolution) of our mobile lives.  The article discusses Mobile 3.0 and its attempt to shift our adoption of mobile phones into a stage of “emotional connection.”  This shift takes away our use of mobile devices as a mere distraction to our everyday life and turns the usage into something that will make our lives easier.  Some examples of this include, letting us know about products and services around us that we might be interested in, giving us the opportunity to leave private messages for friends in different areas around town, among other things.

For many technology enthusiasts, this information is great because it allows us to evolve all tech-related devices, products, and services.  However, for others, this is just another privacy concern to add to everything else they currently deal with (i.e., Facebook privacy issues, NSA, “Big Brother”).  In my opinion, this group has a valid reason to be concerned about privacy. 

The article discusses new hardware within the iPhone 5s phones called the M7 motion co-processor.  This co-processor activates sensors on the phone that always stay on, which means they are aware of everything taking place while your phone is on you.  The author touts this as a positive enhancement by stating “our personal devices will gain an ability to understand not only where we are but also what we are looking at.” 

This “enhancement” leads to some serious ethical concerns for individuals.  It is a great thing for advertisers and the NSA.  However, who gets to control all of the information that smartphone users share with others?  Just because you turn off the sensor in settings, does this mean that the sensor is not secretly recording your every move? 

In reality, the shift to Mobile 3.0 might bring many positive enhancements to our everyday lives.  However, how much of our personal life do we need to sacrifice to get these enhancements?   

iPad Debacle in the Los Angeles Unified School District

In December 2012, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) introduced a proposal to purchase iPads for every student in the school district, amounting for a total of 600,000 units.  School district officials and board members promoted the proposal as a key initiative to increase student achievement by “closing the digital divide.”  Many individuals criticized the proposal due to its hefty, $1 billion price tag.  The LAUSD school board approved the proposal and implemented their plan for the 2013-2014 school year.

Recent news from Mind Shift shows that the LAUSD board and district officials did not think through the planning and implementation processes of this new iPad initiative.  The story documents many issues that already came out of the initiative even though it is only one month old.  Two major tech-related issues include: students found a loophole in the security software and found ways to get onto non-approved content (i.e., Facebook, Tumblr); and, the Apple iOS 7 update caused issues for school administrators (i.e., filtering security protections) forcing them to collect every iPad to downgrade to iOS 6.  Other issues/complaints that surfaced include a rush to implement the program without proper planning, a lack of professional development for educators, and the expensive price tag per iPad ($678 per unit).

This news coincides closely with this week’s articles with case studies about failed IT projects.  It is interesting (and sad) to see that organizations still spend billions of dollars on IT projects without doing research to find common mistakes or pitfalls to avoid.  As I read the news, I could not help but think of the need for board members to get reputable consultation when voting on budgetary items, especially any that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.  However, I also believe that such a failed effort by a large organization, such as LAUSD, will help (hopefully) other school districts avoid making the same mistakes.  Now that I am informed, I will continue to monitor my local school district to make sure they do not fall for the same mistakes or pitfalls.