Rabid Reseller: All hail the newly created age of digital parenting

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This article appeared in the 15th October, 2007 issue of CRN magazine.

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Rabid Reseller: All hail the newly created age of digital parenting
Alright, so modern technology isn’t quite as simple to use as we like to think. Those of us who use the stuff every day forget that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic for the rest of the population.

The punditariat is fond of saying that computers need to be as easy to use as a VCR before we can cease our simplification efforts. Great choice of technology for the analogy. Not. A quick look at the flashing zeroes on the front of most VCRs will put the lie to that comparison.

However, it is still generally true that your average ten-year-old can not only fix the clock on the VCR but can also show you how to use your computer properly, that is, as long as there are cartoons that need to be recorded or websites from which they can be downloaded. Perhaps that’s what’s needed to incentivate the adult population to come to grips with technology. Necessity. No beer unless ordered online. Even at the pub. This is a win-win solution.

After successfully ordering beers, and consuming them, punters wouldn’t be able to hold the mouse straight to order more. So Rabid’s suggestion will simultaneously educate the population about technology and also reduce the over-consumption of grog.

If any government is game to try such a scheme we’d also like to suggest that you not be allowed to purchase things like cigarettes unless you can successfully align a Rubik’s cube in ten minutes.
This would have the added bonus that only real smart-arses would have the ability to smoke, but they’d be too smart to want to do so in the
first place.

If this forced adoption of technology shows signs of success we could rapidly expand the plan to cover other areas where we seek compliance. For example, teenagers would be required to produce their own music video before being allowed to download music online. Once they realise how hard it is they might be more inclined to spend a few of Dad’s dollars in the online store instead of joining Captain Jack Sparrow’s crew.

And when it comes to requests to attend parties, concerts or anything else that implies after dark activity, surely they should be required to program the computer to provide a whole-of-house lighting control system complete with audio alerts.

This would save parents having to drag themselves out of bed in the wee small hours, as the computer would turn on all the lights and loudly ask “and where do you think you’ve been until this un-Godly hour?”

The beauty of this system is the abstraction from the natural rage welling up inside parents. The computer wouldn’t rely on any emotional response and wouldn’t be tempted to water-down the dressing-down when faced with blubbering apologies. Of course this system would be absolutely clock-locked.

One minute past-midnight gets the full “you are so grounded” speech along with a good hour of “when we were young ... ” anecdotes. Of course, teenagers would be required to wear headphones during this procedure. Don’t want to wake their parents.

It goes without saying that Rabid is also working on a differentiation model for this application.

You need to be able to accurately tell the difference between a teenager fumbling with the lock, or even gently knocking because you thoughtfully deadlocked the door before retiring, and the far more strident door-pounding that comes from those working up at the constabulary.

You don’t want the coppers getting one of your automated dressings-down. In those situations the automated system would confidently announce “that’s not MY child, officer!”

Gotta go! Someone at the door!
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