Thursday, September 30, 2010

LETTER - ‘Digirata’: Enjoy the Web - Published in Taipei Times, October 1, 2010

Dear Editor,

Helen Pidd’s recent Guardian article from the UK about cyberstalking and cyberbullying (“Tackling faceless abusers,” Sept. 27, 2010, page 9) was an important wake-up call about how the Internet must be monitored more diligently in the digital age.

In keeping with popular concerns over Internet use and abuse, including Internet addiction to online games, I wrote a short text to use as an educational tool in classrooms worldwide and it’s being translated into Chinese now as well. It’s called “Digirata” and is modeled as an homage to Max Erhmann’s famous 1927 poem Desiderata.

The purpose of writing an update for the digital age is to help students and teachers ponder the very issues that Pidd wrote about at length in her article. The text reads:

Go placidly amid the hot links and the distractions, and remember what peace there may be in unplugging.

As far as possible be on good terms with all persons online and never, never flame others or engage in any kind of cyberbullying or cyberstalking.

Key in your truths quietly and clearly; and read what others have to say, too, even the dull and the ignorant; for they too have their stories and ideas to impart, even if you disagree.

Avoid angry and aggressive flamers and out of control cyberbullies, for they are vexations to the spirit of the Internet.

If you compare your blog with other blogs that are better and have more visitors, you may become vain and bitter, so just enjoy your own blog for what it is and don’t worry abut the big guys. Enjoy your online achievements, as well as your plans for future downtime.

Keep interested in your own blogging, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in who you give your personal details to; for the world is full of trickery and Nigerian scams waiting to part you from your money.

Be yourself when you are online, or, if it so pleases you, adopt a persona. Use your real name or a pseudonym for your userid, and let no one steal your password, especially those pesky phishers.

Take kindly the counsel of your fellow bloggers and gracefully chat with your Facebook friends in real time. But don’t over do it, and always take time out to unplug and enjoy a weekly ‘Internet sabbath.’

You are a child of the Digital Age, no less than the spam and the pixels; and you have every right to blog to your heart’s content.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt cyberspace is unfurling as it should. Well, sort of, and you are part of the great equation, whatever that might turn out to be.

Therefore be at peace with Amazon and Yahoo, and make of your Kindles and your nooks what you will.

Whatever your labors and your aspirations, in the multitasking distractions of cyberspace keep peace with your soul — if you still have one.

Remember: With all its sham, mattdrudgery and quirky keyboards, it is still a beautiful online world.

Be cheerful. Be careful, too. Use the smiley emoticon as much as possible, and strive to be a happy camper. Unplug often.”

Published in the Taipei Times:
Copyright © 1999-2010


Nancy Willard in Oregon, working on cyberbullying and Internet safety issues, has created what she calls the DigiDesiderata and it's going public today: FULL TEXT SHE WROTE BELOW: urgent, important, vital, spread it around. See copyright info below first, however.

Nancy writes at her website:

re "DigiDesiderata"

Do you believe in synchronicity? In mid-September, I was contacted by Danny Bloom, a wonderful gentleman who had written a digital age version of the Desiderata. He wanted to use this document to help prevent cyberbullying.

At the same time I was working on a document for Facebook to provide to teachers to help them teach social networking safety (forthcoming) and the manuscript for a book for teachers on teaching Internet safety (Corwin Press, forthcoming).

With Dan's inspiration and support...... I wrote a new version.

What astounded me was how well all of the concepts I felt were so important fit into Max Ehrmann's original beautiful 1927 work. What I also have discovered is that the younger generation has no knowledge of Erhmann's 1927 poem or work. It is definitely time to for a renaissance of the original. He lived 1872 to 1945. Terre Haute, Indiana man.
Harvard Law School.

I am developing some beautiful posters using fiber optic photos and a YouTube video. These will be available soon. The sales will support the ongoing work of CSRIU. I will also have a reproducible version for teachers, along with some teaching recommendations. *Copyright information is below. TEXT FOLLOWS


Desires of the Digital Age

Go placidly amid the texts and tweets and remember what peace there may be in unplugging. As far as possible, be on good terms with all persons in the global digital community.

Post your text, pictures, and videos in a way that reflects well on who you are and the passion you bring to your life. Think before you post or send anything in electronic form.

Read and politely comment on what others have posted, even if you disagree with their perspective. They too have the right to post their opinions. Avoid aggressive cyberbullies, flamers, and trolls. They are vexations to the digital spirit.

If you compare your profile and number of friends with others, you may mistakenly think you are “hot” or “not.” Seek quality, not quantity in your online friending.

Enjoy your online activities, as well as the time you spend doing fun things with real people in the real world. Make sure the time your spend online does not interfere with your education, career plans, and personal relationships; for a balanced life is essential in this chaotic world.

Exercise caution when reading information on web sites or in messages you receive; for the Internet is full of trickery, scams, phishers, and those who promote hatred and bias.

But also recognize the wonder of an environment that gives everyone, especially the oppressed, the opportunity to express their own truths; for out of many truths expressed online by people with higher ideals may come higher truths. And everywhere online there are Internet heroes who speak out against harm or file abuse reports.

Be yourself online or, where appropriate, create an avatar. But do not engage in theft, deceit, or abuse, or seek to coerce someone to send you a nude sexy image. Always remember, just because you can, doesn't make it right.

Recognize you can form wonderful relationships with people online. Relationships are grounded in healthy communications and sharing, which is the essence of the Internet.

Read and follow the Terms of Use for the web sites you use, as these are grounded in the principles that support the well-being of all users on the site.

Connect safely. Use the privacy protections. Know how to detect when you are at risk, and how to effectively respond if someone sends you hurtful messages, distributes damaging material, or sends overly friendly messages in an effort to exploit you.

But do not fear you will always be at risk online; for the vast majority of people do not wish to cause harm or to see others harmed. Make a commitment to be kind and respectful to others and expect the same in return.

You are a child of the digital age, no less than the texts, messages, blogs, tweets, and clicks. You are a part of the emerging global digital community. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt this digital community is growing as it should.

Therefore be at peace with the electronic energy flow; for you are part of the great connecting. And whatever your online activities and aspirations in the multitasking cacophony of bits and bites, keep peace with your essential being.

Despite the immediate global distribution of images of destruction and despair, those who are now more effectively connected can better work to turn the darkness into light.

Be part of the light. Strive to be :)

© 2010 Nancy Willard

Permission granted to reproduce this in text format for non-commercial purposes under the following conditions:

1. Inclusion of the copyright notice.
2. Provision of a link to
3. Mention of the availability of posters. Additional use under a license is possible.


Thursday, September 9, 2010


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A new name for ebooks is waiting in the wings, but what will it be?

In our opinion an ebook is not a book, and maybe we need a new word for such ''device readers''. My guess is when the culture is ready, a new term will come bouncing down the information highway, organically and naturally, coined perhaps inadvertently by some geek in Manhattan or a PR operative on the sly.

Come to think of it, why do we even call a book, a book. That word: book. What are the origins of the word book?

This is interesting: The word book comes from Old English bōc which itself comes from the Germanic root bōk- a cognate to beech. Similarly, in Slavic languages (e.g. Russian, Bulgarian and Macedonian) буква (bukva—letter) is cognate to beech. It is thus conjectured that the earliest Indo-European writings may have been carved on beech woodSimilarly, the Latin word codex, meaning a book in the modern sense (bound and with separate leaves), originally meant block of wood.

So seriously, folks, we cannot call ebooks ''eblocks'' of ''ewood''. We do need a new word. If we build it, it will come. Well, we already built these device readers, dozens of them, but a new name is still waiting to be blessed and accepted. Any ideas out there for a better word than ebook? Maybe by 2025 it will happen.

''Digirata'' making waves worldwide in struggle against cyberbullying

Writer calls it 'classroom tool' for teachers, students

NEW YORK -- September 1, 2010


As online life gets complicated in the digital age, a freelance writer who says he penned "Digirata" hopes the text will speak loud and clear -- to millions around the world.

Preferring to remain unidentified here and claiming that his role in the process is to remain in the background and let the text speak for itself, the author says he's concerned about the abuse of the internet by cyberbullies and cyberstalkers.

So, in memory of teenagers like Megan Meir and Phoebe Prince and countless others who committed suicide after being bullied and harassed online, the author says he put cobbled the "Digiratga" together with input from several scholars and internet experts.

"I didn't write this myself," he says. "It wrote itself. I merely helped push the story to the media, and I hope the media will use the story to help foster more national discussions about these issues."

"Digirata" is a tool for teachers and administrators and counsellors to use around the world, he says. "It's just a small, minor contribution to the struggle against cyberbullying and cyberstalking, in the hopes of helping to push forward laws with teeth in them. We need legal documents, written into law, to take down and take care of cyberbullies. The internet has become a very dangerous -- and unpoliced -- place."

Words have power, the author told this reporter in a recent email interview. Words can hurt, but words can heal, he also says. Words can destroy, words can also educate. So "Digirata"
was born, he says.

"Digirata" is just 89 words long. But the man behind the text hopes the words can go out and reach the world, influence legislators and politicians, and help teachers and students get a handle on better uses of the internet, while at the same time putting an end of unmoderated interent abuse.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A note to Claire Cain Miller at the New York Times re SONY E-reader


It's not a book, it's not a book, it's not a book. And it's not reading. What people do when they take in text from a screen is called, for lack of a better word, screening. It aint reading. Future MRI and PET scan tests will prove this.

re: Claire writes:

On Wednesday Sony introduced a new line of e-screeners and applications for iPhones and Android phones.

The Sony Reader TouchSony has updated each of its three e-screeners. The Reader Pocket Edition, with its 5-inch screen, weighs less than many of its competitors. The Reader Touch Edition has a 6-inch screen and the Reader Daily Edition is the biggest of the bunch at 7 inches.

“Consistently the No. 1 thing we heard was it needs to feel like a book, so you just forget that you have a device in your hand,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division.

To try to achieve the book feel, Sony made the e-screeners smaller and lighter than before. Most noticeably, all three e-screeners have touch-screens for the first time, something that consumers expect in gadgets these days.

Sony previously offered touch on the two bigger readers and updated the screens by removing the top layer of glass so there is less glare and to make them more responsive. While the older versions required forceful touching, the pages of the new e-screeners respond even to a hovering finger. Sony also used an improved E Ink Pearl display so text is now visible in direct sunlight, the company says.

The new devices arrive as the market is getting ever more competitive. On Tuesday, said that Staples would start selling the Kindle, and Borders lowered the prices of two e-readers it sells, the Kobo and Libre.

Sony’s new Readers range from $179 to $299, significantly more expensive than some of the others available, like the $139 Kindle Wi-Fi and the $100 Libre.

Despite the raging e-reader price wars that are expected to heat up as the holidays approach, Mr. Haber said that “we found in this space that people step up and buy features they want and price is less significant.”

Sony has struggled to capture the same brand recognition as other e-readers. Amazon, as one of the world’s largest bookstores, started out with a big advantage, Mr. Haber said.

“You think of books in the past and you don’t think of Sony,” he said. “It takes time to build a brand in books.”

Sony’s bookstore offers a few unique things, like borrowing books from public libraries and an upcoming partnership with Goodreads that will add reviews.

While Kindle users can download books anywhere, using either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, readers of the Sony Pocket and Touch Editions still have to plug their e-readers into a computer. Readers of the Daily Edition can now download books using 3G or Wi-Fi. Sony added Wi-Fi because, contrary to its expectations, the majority of people use their Readers at home, Mr. Haber said.

The Pocket and Touch Editions will be available Wednesday and the Daily Edition by the end of the year.

The new phone apps will be available later this year and, like the Kindle app, will allow people to pick up where they left off in a book when they switch devices.

Sony is also expanding availability internationally — including to Italy, Spain, Australia, China and Japan — and the new readers include 10 translation dictionaries in addition to two English ones.