The Island Economy of the Trump’s (so-called) Presidency

I was in Vietnam about this time last year.  President Obama also happened to be in Hanoi at the same time, working to enhance America’s internationally presence and improve trade relations with twelve Pacific Rim partners.  Vietnam and the other countries rejoiced at his arrival after a torturous past of wars and corruption that was crippling the economies of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.  Obama helped broker the twelve-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Many trade experts saw TPP as the single most valuable tool America had for shaping the geo-economic future of the region our way and for pressuring China to open its markets.  

TPP also included restrictions on foreign state-owned enterprises that dumped subsidized products into our markets, intellectual property protections for rising U.S. technologies – like free access for all cloud computing services.  Like any trade deal, TPP would have challenged some U.S. workers but it would have created opportunities for many others, because big economies like Japan and Vietnam were opening their markets.  For decades we had allowed Japan to stay way too closed because, because it was an ally in the Cold War, and Vietnam, because it was an enemy.  Some 80 percent of the goods from our 11 TPP partners were coming into the U.S. duty free already, while our goods and services were still being hit with 18,000 tariffs in their countries  – which TPP eliminated.

We could have even helped the economic reformers in China.  They were hoping that the emergence of TPP “would force China to reform its trade practices more along American lines and to open its markets  .  .  .  We failed the reformers in China.”

Ray Myers

P.S.  Happy Fourth of July weekend.  Enjoy.  Back on Wednesday, July 5th.

Connect to Nepal Relief

Tragedy stikes Nepal as a huge earthquake and its deadly aftershocks continue to wreck havoc on the citizens of this picturesque country at the foot of the Himalayas. Various countries and non-governmental agencies are already rallying to Nepal’s rescue. We can easily use the technology readily available to us to help in some way.

Use your technology to connect and express your concern. Please go online to see what you can do. Thank you.

Ray Myers

Are Libraries Dying in the Digital Age?

Unfortunately, the title of this blog is more than just a rhetorical question about the future of our public libraries. While these community resources continue to enjoy immense popularity and usage, particularly in most of our urban centers, their continued public funding appears to be in jeopardy. It seems that more public dollars are being invested in underwriting the construction costs of cavernous sport complexes throughout the country.

Perhaps the irony in all of this is that technology’s ability to search and retrieve information from anywhere in the world and put it in the palm of our hand, may be the very force threatening the future of these historic repositories of human knowledge. If you are fortunate enough to have a smartphone and the connectivity wherever you may be, going to the library for the sheer pleasure of browsing or enjoying a quiet space may quickly become a cherished memory of your pre-digital life. If public libraries do become obsolete, we will be losing “the power plants of intellect and opportunity . . . distributed without regard to wealth” (Dwyer, NYTimes, 4/24/15).

Please understand that I am not trying to pit the future of professional sports against the continued existence of public libraries. But I do think this comparison of the amount of public funding invested in sports entertainment while our libraries struggle for the dollars needed for basic operational expenses and maintenance is truly a “wake up” call. Inevitably, I hope that we will all continue to value and support the services of our public libraries and not become hostage to the frenzy of building bigger and better sports complexes at the expense of “our power plants of intellect and opportunity.”

Ray Myers

Baseball and Tech

I know that the major league’s opening day is just a few days away, and I am looking forward to enjoying “America’s” past time, but please, let’s make it more low tech. I went to a spring training game in Florida last month and I certainly enjoyed it, even more than any regular season game I have attended in the past few years.  Why?

Perhaps the biggest reason, aside from a clear blue sky that day, and a hot dog and a beer, was the absence of the electronic entertainment that one must endure throughout the course of a regular season game.  Maybe the thing I miss the most is just being able to talk to friends and family who may be with you, or even with neighboring fans in the stands. Perhaps this is just nostalgia on my part, but I do think that sometimes “less is more.”

So professional baseball will surely never be the same, and I know tech also enables us to crunch numbers of players and teams’  statistical performance and predict winners, etc., but that’s not really why I like to go to ball games.  Maybe it was about routing for the home team, however good or bad they might be – too provincial for today?

Ray Myers

Online Identities

Thanks to Word Press, I can now have a number of different identities online.  Okay, but this might be a little confusing to someone as old as me who is learning a new task: writing this blog, creating a new “identity.”  And then in the back of my mine, I am reminded by a contemporary that we may all be living on “borrowed time.”  If so, I am certainly trying to make the most of it with the identity I have.

So please don’t worry as you read these posts on “TechtoExpress” that you may be hearing the comments of a person with multiple online (or offline) identities.  Maybe I will learn to do that some day, but for the present, it’s just me.

Ray Myers

 

 

 

Sex and Tech

I thought this title might get your attention, and I am going to talk about sex and tech, but more in the context of current events and personal observations. It looks like the bastions of male dominance in Silicon Valley may have received some sexual sensitivity training over the past week.  Oh, I know that Ellen Pao lost her case against Kleiner Perkins this past week, but it also seems that many more women are now pursuing similar cases against some of their tech employers.

These cases will not fit into the category of a sexual revolution I am sure, but may hopefully open many more doors for bright young women who can make their mark in this field.  In the area of social media, I think you will find that young girls and women represent both the early adopters and most consistent users of this technology-enabled means of communication.  In our formal educational systems, I am not quite so sure, particularly as it relates to opportunies for young girls and women to excel in the formal STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  To my mind, there may be more social barriers and sexual stereotypes that girls (and boys) will have to overcome in the school setting.  This may very well include the biases held by their parents, teachers, extended family and school community in some cases.

Hope everyone enjoys the beginning of spring, and any time they may have to be with family and friends during this season of renewal.

Ray Myers

Tech-free Time?

I wonder what we would all do if we set aside certain times, days, occasions, etc., when we would all be “tech-free.”  This may be the hardest of all for our children, but for many adults, this would also be a wrenching experience.

I think you will find that some of our educational institutions at all levels are beginning to recognize the value of being “tech-free,” allowing administrators, teachers and professors to impose such restrictions at selected times.  At some schools in the boroughs of New York City, for example, there is a booming cottage industry in the storage of students’ cell phones outside the schools’ doors in renovated ice cream vans. There still may be plenty of technology inside the school, but imposing a ban on cell phones does appear to provide some degree of internal control.

The school building itself may be the last bastion for encouraging socialization (along with learning) across generations.

Ray Myers

Aerogrammes to Emails to FaceTime

So now there are a lot of ways to communicate globally.  Thanks to the Internet we may no longer have to write and read to connect remotely with colleagues, friends and family wherever they may be.  There are now many interactive technological tools that enable us to make these connections without being literate.   The telephone may be the most universally used in this respect.

Let’s consider some of the implications for students in learning about the world around them.  If we replace the book with the digital tablet, are we promoting electronic imagery and sound over printed text and individual imagination.  I recently read that college textbooks were still coveted by students for digesting and reviewing subject matter presented in their classes.  Perhaps this is not very scientific evidence in support of the best methods of learning, or maybe it is more an indication of how lecturing is still the most dominant pedagogy on college campuses?  Could it be that real learning is not going on in the classroom, but on the Internet or with the multitude of digital tools that today’s students possess if they are connected and affluent enough to possess.

The real issue may still be more about an economic divide than a digital one.  But as the title of this article suggests, we can still connect globally in a number of ways.  It may all be a matter of how fast you want it to be, but in this new century, speed makes all the difference.

Ray Myers

What’s Your Reality?

So life is full of many choices, and now we have all have a very critical ones to make.  Would you like to live in a virtual or real world?  A bit oversimplified I agree, but we do now have choices that did not exist until technology came along and made it at all possible.  The virtual world may be rapidly becoming the world where we spend much of our waking hours where we work and play online, communicating with increasing ease and access on a twenty-four hour basis.  In a certain sense we can create our own realities in the choices we make.  This was hardly an option that earlier generations had.

Technology can also be a tool that enhances the breadth and meaningfulness of our personal and professional lives.  But access alone does not guarantee this.  I think one of the “twenty-first century skills” that our students and all families must now learn is the prioritizing of our time so as to maximize our life experiences in both worlds.  I am also concerned that many children’s realities are exclusively contained in the four walls, or stories, of their family homes.  Ironically it may be the technology that confines them there physically when the World Wide Web can take them anywhere virtually.

Of course there is always the experience of attending school in a building with other students and teachers.  This reality is also changing with many variations and permutations of how and where students can attend classes, from elementary school through higher education.   Technology has again made this all possible.  A flexibility that surely benefits and enables access for many more learners.  While “old school” advocates may decry such alternatives in learning, this is a “twenty-first century” reality that may make the biggest difference of all.