The magic of technology has unleashed the best of you

Last week, our On Tech editor, Hanna Ingber, shared a story about her kid who stumbled upon a design application that opened up his great interest in interiors. We asked your own stories about the surprising ways in which technology helps you unleash your creativity or discover new joys.

Guys (sniff), the responses are lovely. We are sharing a selection of them today.

The mission here at On Tech is to explore the ways in which technology is changing the way we live, who we are, and the world around us. We can’t ignore the harm, but I don’t want us to lose sight of the wonder either.

How great is it when we can share with our parents the knowledge we’ve gathered online or easily swap out songs from our favorite decade? Also, BIRDS! Chim is great. Here are edited excerpts from what some On Tech readers had to say:

Enjoy the magic of birds in daily work:

My morning walk down the driveway to get the newspaper transformed by Merlin Bird ID app.

A daily job has become a pleasure. Now, instead of ignoring the sounds around me, I can focus and identify the birdsong I’m hearing. Birds change according to their seasonal migration patterns, so the sound is always changing. It becomes a kind of meditation.

Ann McLaughlin, Carmel, Calif.

Link to playlist:

Sharing music and playlists on Spotify with my kids has been so connected. They get to listen to the music I grew up with, and I get to hear the latest stuff they’re listening to. Surprisingly, we listen to a lot of the same music, old and new. Much easier than creating mixtape.

They’re 17 and 18 now, but we’ve been doing this since they were around 13 – an age when parents can have a hard time finding ways to connect with their teens.

Jason, Corvallis, Ore.

Remove the pressure of perfection:

I’m one of those kids who can never peel off a sticker right away. I always have to wait a few seconds, or even days, before deciding on the permanent home of my attachment. Likewise, I hesitate to sharpen my brand new pencils unless absolutely necessary, and I reserve markers for the most important drawings.

You’ll never find scribbles in my sketchbook, because they’ve been pushed aside until I’m ready with a full vision. I always collect and save these items for a special day or a big idea, and in the end, my stickers wrinkle, my markers dry, and my sketchbooks dry up. add a bunch of unused, unloved stuff.

And then I bought myself an iPad as a graduation gift. I discovered the magic of sketching, note-taking, doodling and coloring – all digitally.

I have an endless supply of stickers at my disposal, which can be instantly selected and replaced. I have encountered countless colors and combinations.

Before long, I found myself journaling daily, experimenting with digital scrapbooks, and keeping all the memories in one place. If I make a mistake, I can immediately clean it with a virtual eraser. I can adjust stickers and letters to my heart’s content. My iPad has become an outlet for me to do whatever I want without fear of doing it wrong.

Sydney Lin, second year student at Vanderbilt University majoring in civil engineering

Teach dad about do-it-yourself repair:

Years ago, my ten-year-old son witnessed my growing frustration when I tried unsuccessfully to attach a new lawn mower blade. I assume he was bored when he returned home. Instead, he’s watching YouTube on his mother’s iPad.

A few minutes later, he appeared and asked softly, “May I try?” He finished in less than a minute what I tried in half an hour. ‘Up until that point, I thought YouTube was for cat videos.

This is the same kid who taught himself how to play his new ukulele on YouTube, along with lots of other unexpected skills.

Doug McDurham, Waco, Texas

Classroom learning is transformed by sound production:

I find that introducing students to podcasting opens new doors.

Students who hesitated to participate in class discussions were given the opportunity to share their opinions on topics of interest or research new topics. Students chose between three formats for their podcast: narrative, interview, and investigative. Few, if any, projects have ever offered this kind of freedom.

While video apps have been available for some time, their freedom of voice recording has only been liberated. They don’t have to worry about how they appear to the camera – they can convey their thoughts and ideas through voice. Teams can share audio files and edit them simultaneously to create the final product. What was once a class report has been redefined.

Lisa Dabel, a fifth grade teacher in San Jose, California.

Opera, not so scary:

For most of my life, I have respected opera as an art form that requires an incredible level of training and discipline. But, as far as I know, it’s not for me.

Sometime around late March or early April 2020, friends told us about recordings of the Metropolitan Opera’s past opera performances – free, one new every day – through the company’s website and apps. Within a few days, we had a new nightly routine: Having dinner, reading for an hour, then going to the opera.

Within a few weeks, we had begun to learn the names and styles of some of opera’s top performers. Within a few months, we had learned about the technical details of opera, vocal practice, set design and costumes, and had developed a taste for composers. (Sorry, everyone: Wagner, no; Glass, yes.)

We have been thinking deeply about the conflicts that arise when old, false beliefs (deviation, racism, more) embodied in the “rule” are met with multiple choices. new forms and ways of thinking. We were exposed to modern composers and vocalists who challenged our assumptions about tone, story and plot construction, character development, etc.

Who knew there was so much to discover about such a venerable art form? I definitely don’t – and I’m glad technology has brought opera into our homes and lives.

David Moore, Sequim, Wash.

Met Opera has ended its nightly streamings, but you can now watch and listen to past performances on the Met Opera on-demand streaming service, which offers a free trial period.

Tip of the week

Brian X. ChenThe New York Times consumer technology columnist, co-wrote article This week about digital breadcrumbs that can reveal personal details about people seeking abortions. Brian is here with suggestions to retract some information from Google, which has a digital database of almost everyone.

Google this month said it will automatically delete location data when people visit places that are considered sensitive, such as abortion clinics and addiction treatment centers. For example, if you set a destination in Google Maps to “Planned Parenthood” or “Anonymous Alcoholics,” the company will remove those entries.

Critics of Google say the company may, but does not, also wipe records of other types of location data, like GPS coordinates and routing information. (Google declined to comment.)

But you can control how Google keeps data about you. I wrote a column a few years ago explaining how to use Google’s automatic deletion controls, which includes settings to delete records of location and web searches after a certain period of time. The tricks are worth revisiting.

Here’s an example of how to edit location data settings:

  • In Google’s My Activity tool, available at Activity Controls, scroll to Location History and click Manage History.

    On the next page, find the nut-shaped icon and click Automatically delete location history. You can set the data to delete after three months or 18 months.

  • For those who don’t want Google to create a record of their location history, there’s an option for that too. On the My Activity page, click Activity controls, scroll to Location History, and toggle the switch to the off position.

  • Amazon told regulators it could change: To try to end a 3-year antitrust investigation in Europe, Amazon offer stop collecting non-public sales data about independent merchants selling through Amazon and allow them to sell through the Prime program without using Amazon logistics. My colleague Adam Satariano reported on Amazon’s proposals and why Europe has become the center of Big Tech scrutiny.

  • Trafficking behind online scams: Vice News report that online schemes offering business or romantic partnerships as an excuse to withdraw money from victims sometimes come from industrial-scale fraud centers in Southeast Asia, where imprisonment and abuse are common. employ workers.

    More: Nikkei Asia Written last year about workers being abused in online gambling and fraud activities in Cambodia.

  • Instagram has a lot of features: It’s a place to see what friends are up to, watch short videos from strangers, buy NFTs or doodles sold by influencers, to message others, and maybe write notes soon (for some reason). do). The Junk Day newsletter wrote that Instagram is a “the app doesn’t know what it should be. “

    Related from On Tech: What is Facebook? Another overloaded app from Meta!

Lemurs! Honey licking! From the fruit! These little guys really know how to enjoy their food.

We want to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this newsletter and what you’d like us to explore. You can contact us at [email protected].

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