What’s Missing From the Anti-Bullying Campaigns

The issue of bullying is all over the media these days, and for good reason—it has been ignored for much too long, and it needs this momentum in order to really cement itself as a serious problem that plagues our society. Goodness knows how much I was bullied growing up and the effects it had on the rest of my development.

There are many celebrities and campaigns that are currently addressing this issue. One such campaign that is gaining traction is standtogether.tv. The main motivator of this movement is that the website assigns each participant a serial number, which he or she then prints out onto a sheet of paper. The participant then submits a photo of themselves holding their serial number. There are currently 135,000 people “standing together” against bullying, and that number is growing steadily.

When you visit the website, you will find plenty of resources around the print-your-number activity. What you won’t find are solutions to the problem of bullying.  I had to scroll to the bottom of the site, and the very last tiny link was to the “learn more” page.

At the very bottom of the Learn More page, you’ll find this info about their goals:

  • Raise awareness on the overwhelming number of bullying incidences in the U.S.
  • Create a united community against bullying
  • Educate teachers, staff, parents and students on ill effects of bullying and effective responses before bullying becomes a serious problem
  • Help to implement proactive anti-bullying policy in your community. These changes could have a dramatic, positive impact on the lives of students in your community
  • Provide resources to parents of children being bullied, to educators and/or communities who are dealing with bullying situations

I find all these goals to be distressingly superficial. Just as you can’t cure a disease by fighting the symptoms of the disease, I don’t believe attacking the problem of bullying head-on will have any desirable result. Bullying is a symptom of greater problems surrounding the life of the oppressor. Criminalizing the act of bullying isn’t going to change that person’s life or their susceptibility to act in those negative ways. What it will do is increase the numbers of criminal records. I just don’t believe that talking about “the act of bullying” is going to change any child’s susceptibility to those acts, especially when that child still holds the prejudices/negative emotions/apathy that’s contributing to his inclination to act that way.

The only true solution to the problem of bullying is the one our society doesn’t want to face: moral education. I know this is anything but simple, but it is the only ideal that isn’t a cop-out. Children need to grow in an environment where positive virtues are nurtured, and good deeds are valued. The playground culture itself needs to be shifted towards the good. Children should grow to understand how rewarding it can be to have positive interactions with their peers.

It’s only then that we’ll see real, authentic changes to the issues that impede the younger generation.

The RAZR Reborn as a Smartphone

As far as dumbphones went, the Motorola RAZR was the ultimate device. Its industrial design was unprecedented: it had dual colour screens, a camera, bluetooth, and EDGE data for web browsing—all in an unbelievably thin package. It was so thin, in fact, that Moto had to design the keypad out of a single sheet of thin metal, instead of using normal buttons. I used my Gunmetal Grey V3i model for over 4 years—a long time in cellphone years—and I never grew tired of it. In fact, if smartphones never caught on, it would have remained a great phone even at the end.

The RAZR brand, to me, represents a phone whose industrial design, build quality, and features are so fantastic, the device will last you a long, long time. It’s for these reasons that I was apprehensive at the news of the revival of the RAZR brand. Verizon and Moto have announced the imminent unveiling of the Droid RAZR, and they’ve set up a teaser site with a countdown and video. The countdown points to a few hours before the Google-Samsung event.

Despite its secretive nature, someone has managed to grab an unpublished image off of the teaser site:

The teaser image looks nice, but in this brave new world of smartphones, specs are everything. I can only hope—for the sake of the RAZR name—that Verizon and Motorola thought out this phone through-and-through. We’ll find out within the next 24 hours.

On a related note, I’ve recently learned that the Google-Samsung event (scheduled for 10pm EDT) is being livecast on http://www.youtube.com/android; no need to read liveblogs (although I still will!). Samsung Canada has apparently told Canadian fans to pay attention to tomorrows news, as they’ll  be bringing the “coolest Samsung phone” to Canada within weeks. Translation: Nexus Prime will be released in Canada at launch!

On Smartphone Displays and Resolutions

(Update: updated graphics for 2013 and 2015 are available)

You might say I’m a bit overenthusiastic about technology and gadgets sometimes. When the joint Google-Samsung event which was scheduled for today was cancelled, it probably hit me harder than most people you know. I’ve had the day marked on my calendar, with reminders to follow multiple liveblogs, etc. All the same, the cancellation was understandable and it was a very classy display of respect for Steve jobs, who passed away last Wednesday, October 5th.

The long-awaited Nexus Prime is rumoured to be unveiled at this Google-Samsung event. As a Nexus One owner—the original Google phone—I’ve been really looking forward to Google’s newest development. The Nexus line have generally set the standard that Google expects all its Android partners to rise up to. For example, prior to the Nexus One, few phones had a combination of a high-resolution display, fast 1Ghz processor, good camera, etc. (for the time). Now, it’s rumoured that the Nexus Prime (or Galaxy Nexus, or Droid Prime) will raise that bar again, and this time bring the screen resolution to an insane 720p HD (1280×720).

I had to visualize this for myself, so I made this graphic:

(All ppi calculations were done using online tools such as this one)

The next generation of Android flagship phones are undoubtedly going to feature massive, pixel-dense displays like the Nexus Prime’s. These phones are going to be a joy to use—imagine having the screen resolution of most standard laptops in the palm of your hand. You could navigate websites in full, desktop mode, and you could even read the sharp text if you hold the phone close enough. To further illustrate the point, a 720p screen has 17% more pixels than the iPad. It’s crazy to think that my next phone is going to have 2.4× the resolution my current phone has. Such a large number of pixels requires a graphics chip that can drive them—which in turn requires considerable added (electrical) power, taking a toll on battery life.

The Samsung Galaxy Note (which is gradually being released in various markets) has a gargantuan 5.3″ display which packs so many pixels, it’s like holding a current high-end Android phone in landscape, and stacking 2.6 screens above each other to make another portrait screen. This phone actually comes with a stylus (like PDA’s of yore), and is meant for pressure-sensitive sketching and note-taking, plus regular touch. It’s a great evolution of touchscreen technology.

Platform makes an important difference as well. The HTC Titan is a new Windows Phone Mango device with a very large 4.7″ Super-LCD screen. Those of you who’ve been paying attention will remember that Windows Phone has a restriction on resolution: all devices must be 800×480—no more, no less. At this massive size, this respectable resolution would yeld a pixel density of 198.5ppi, which is about as detailed as current mid/entry-level phones on their smaller screens.

This next stage in display size and resolution is a great opportunity for Android to get ahead and stand out. iPhone, with it’s “retina” display, will continue to be stuck with a relatively small 3.5 inch screen. You get a lot of fantastic things with Apple’s star product—such as a great camera, best-of-class apps, and unrivalled battery life—but you’ll never get a large screen on which to really enjoy the content you’re watching. Once consumers see the plethora of stunning large displays lining cellphone kiosks, they will undoubtedly look at Android devices with a new level of envy.

Update: the Google-Samsung event has now been scheduled for October 19th in Hong Kong, at 10AM (In North America, October 18th, 10PM EST).