Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, March 06, 2021

After years of going nowhere in challenging Google, Ask.com is throwing in the towel by niche-ing itself into a women-focused search engine.

Talk about a solution in search of a problem. It’s not like women are complaining that Google or Yahoo! aren’t meeting their Web researching needs. Granted, such a need can be manufactured via deft marketing and reliable technology; but as ubiquitous as Google is in this space, it’s going to be a tall order.

Basically, Ask.com is trying to cash in as quickly as it can, and since women are its chief demographic, that’s where it can have its greatest short-term ad-selling success. There’s no real strategy for the future beyond that.

And just to keep things straight: Ask.com has gone from its old Ask Jeeves manservant mascot — a somewhat masculine symbol — to a female makeover which, I presume, is going to include lots of soft colors and even flowery graphics. Quite the transformation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/06/2021 10:54:23 PM
Category: Internet, Business, Women
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The One Laptop Per Child project seemingly has a new mission statement: Today the developing world — tomorrow Birmingham, Alabama:

Birmingham’s City Council has approved a $3.5 million plan to provide schoolchildren with 15,000 computers produced by the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child Foundation, which aims to spread laptops to poor children in developing countries.

The foundation says the deal marks the first time a U.S. city has agreed to buy the machines, which also are headed to such countries as Rwanda, Thailand, Brazil and Mexico in addition to Peru and Mongolia.

The jokes about how Alabama is trying to elevate itself to Third World levels of development are obvious. More seriously, there are reservations about if the XO Laptop is well-suited for American kids, or even this school district specifically:

Birmingham school board member Virginia S. Volker likes the idea of laptops for students. But she said [Mayor Larry] Langford didn’t think through the plan before committing millions of tax dollars to pay for the machines. Birmingham schools lack wireless networks needed to get the laptops online, she said, and the system doesn’t have enough technology workers to train teachers, much less students, on the computers.

No wi-fi? Good night. The students can communicate with each other via the mesh networking, but it’s acknowledged that these machines’ primary purpose is to hook hungry minds up with the Web. If that can’t happen — and there’s no good wired solution for hooking up the XO to the Internet — these machines will become instant paperweights.

Plus, as I assessed by test-driving my XO, the oddball software interface simply isn’t up to snuff for educating kids — especially not American kids who are at least vaguely familiar with a Windows-like computing environment. I hate to say it, but Birmingham would almost be better off rehabilitating some old donated Wintel machines.

I’m surprised OLPC is supporting this move, as it seems guaranteed to backfire into negative PR. Either the foundation is delusional about a success here, or else it’s strictly going for the money.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/06/2021 10:32:30 PM
Category: Tech, Society
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