Thursday, December 31, 2009

DWT: Driving Without Technology

Last week I noted how some apps have devolved into stupidity, but this one might actually be worth downloading for New Year's Eve.

When You're Phone Tells You You're Drunk, It's Time to Call a Taxi:

A new iPhone app called "R-U-Buzzed" aims to help you decide if you're too drunk to drive. In the month since its debut, the free app -- which is designed to look like a slot machine -- has been downloaded nearly 40,000 times from Apple's online store, with a noticeable spike in traffic on Christmas Day.

Based on the user's input of weight, gender, hours drinking and a tally of beer, wine and liquor consumed, the calculator spits out a blood-alcohol content number that looks very precise -- for example, 0.058%. It's accompanied by a color-coded message: "No hangover expected," printed in sober gray; "You're buzzed!" in yellow; or, in cautionary red: "Don't even think about it!...Designate a sober driver."
The story goes on to note that while some have turned the app itself into a drinking game (let's watch how wasted we can get), others have objected that the app itself is encouraging people to drink up to a certain point and drive, when drinking and driving should be mutually exclusive.

Nevertheless, it's an interesting app and may keep drunk drivers off the road. It's certainly better than the funeral home over in Rome, Ga. which is offering "free funerals" to people who go out tonight and kill themselves while drunk.

But what about those without cellphones? I found this story fascinating, on the number of Americans who are willingly opting-out of internet and cellular technology.
During the first half of the decade that ends this week, the proportion of Internet users barely inched upward, to 59% of adult Americans from just over 50%, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. But in the second half of the decade, that growth skyrocketed, and now nearly 80% of adult Americans use the Internet. At that pace, the offline American will become virtually extinct in the coming decade.

The Federal Communications Commission has conducted some research on off-line Americans and found that even those with Internet access at their fingertips often shun it. "A lot of Americans just don't see the relevancy," says John Horrigan, director of consumer research for the FCC's National Broadband Task Force. Indeed, lost amid all the hype about the social relevancy of the Web for young people is that it often serves little such purpose for adults.
The assumption has always been that the 20% or so of adults who aren't online were either elderly (and thus don't "get" the new technology) or poor (can't afford it). What the FCC's research seems to indicate is that many people choose to stay offline because they simply don't give a s**t.

Kudos to them (you're not missing anything, including this blog entry). What a refreshing note to end the year on.

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