Back To School… With Some Extra Technology

from the that-time-of-year dept

It’s that time of year again. The NY Times is running a whole series of articles about college “back to school” time, and technology. Here are two that I found interesting. First, is one about my alma mater Cornell (of course it had to go first), talking about how they’ve designed a wireless tourguide using a palm device and GPS. There have been a few similar offerings (and people have been talking about such things for ages), but this one has a few interesting features. Basically, as you walk around, it feeds information to the Palm device telling you about that specific location. The system started out with the official Cornell tourguide info, but it lets anyone add their own comments. Thus, students seem to be adding all sorts of additional info (such as calling the campus store overprice – I guess some things never change). Those running the project are a little afraid this “graffiti” will get out of hand, and have talked about monitoring it. Maybe they need to employ a Slashdot-style moderation system to keep out the trolls. Otherwise, I think there’s a real benefit to letting people speak their mind and add it to the public record. Meanwhile, not so far away, at Dartmouth, the Times is running yet another story about Dartmouth’s famous “Blitzmail” system – which is the email system they’ve used for 20 years. I’ve read similar articles before, but this one seems to focus on how Blitzmail is really more like instant messaging than email, and suggest that Dartmouth makes a good case study for a future where everyone uses IM. What surprises me, is that they barely even mention Dartmouth’s famous wireless network, and how that impacts the way people message each other. They say that people will stop to Blitz each other as they cross campus, but suggest they only do so at public terminals. They also say that since people use Blitzmail so often, they don’t use mobile phones. Why hasn’t someone built a Blitzmail client for mobile phones, if it’s really that ingrained in people’s lives? Update: Also, the NY Times has a second article on Dartmouth, saying that all long distance calls are free from campus, because handling the billing was costing more than the calls themselves. Sounds like some commercial WiFi systems.

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