Don't confuse the action with the tool

That's my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows. Governments, courts, school boards, and people in general too often focus on the wrong aspects of new things.  Whenever a new tool arrives - such as various forms of social media or smart phones - two seemingly opposite things happen.

First, as we experiment with new tools, people inevitably do stupid things with them.  Such as making comments or posting something on social media that the person would never have posted on a physical bulletin board, or written in an open letter to a group of friends.

Second, because humans have flawed risk perceptions, we are more comfortable with the familiar than the new, and thus exaggerate the risks of new things. 

Combine these two, and we see over-reactions that try to ban, control, or stop new tools, or seek over-reaching remedies.

Examples include banning smart-phones in schools, courts demanding that a juror hand over Facebook account info after a comment was posted rather than dealing with the actual comment (apparently just a post that the trial was boring), and governments like Egypt that try to control its population by cutting off various forms of communication.

Thinking about the uses, risks and ramifications of new tools, and how they change the status quo is a good thing.  But it is important to put all that in the right context.  And to consider ways to take advantage of them, rather than simply dismissing them.  If one is a late adopter, that's fine - but late adopters shouldn't be the ones making all the rules.

So with that in mind ponder these stats.  Smartphones are outselling PC's.  If iPads are counted as PC's, they now have 7% of the global PC market.  Facebook has more than 500 million active users,  and 50% log on to Facebook in any given day.   Twitter has almost 200 million users, posting almost 100 million times a day.

GeneralDavid CantonSlaw