Stories tagged text messaging

May
26
2009

Is texting too much of a good thing?
Is texting too much of a good thing?Courtesy Brandon ChristopherWarren
Physicians and psychologists are starting to worry about a new risk to teen health, this time it has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol or other risky behavior. According to some researchers, teenage text-a-holics are beginning to suffer health effects associated with too much time spent hammering away on cell phone keys. These effects range from injured fingers and hands to anxiety, sleep deprivation and poor performance in school.

According to information provided by major cell phone companies, American teenagers sent and received an average of 2,272 text messages per month in late 2008. That's almost 80 messages a day, and the number appears to be growing with the rise of unlimited text message plans.

Some researchers believe that this rate of text communication - and the feeling of constant contact with parents and peers that it provides - may be altering the way that teenagers develop socially. Psychologist Sherry Turlke is quoted in a recent New York Times article:

Among the jobs of adolescence are to separate from your parents, and to find the peace and quiet to become the person you decide you want to be. Texting hits directly at both those jobs.

In other words, in the past teenagers have needed distance from their parents and time alone to develop self-identity. But in the era of constant electronic communication, some worry that this path to development is becoming impossible for texting teens. So what will replace it?

Researchers are quick to point out that there are lots of good things about these new communication technologies, including the way that they make us all feel connected with one another, which is usually a good thing. But is it too much of a good thing?

Are doctors and parents worried because they just don't understand, or is texting really a risk to teen health?

Apr
01
2009

Calling ancient Egypt: Believe it or not, archaeologists in Egypt have discovered this crude device believed to be the first cellular signal transmitting device.
Calling ancient Egypt: Believe it or not, archaeologists in Egypt have discovered this crude device believed to be the first cellular signal transmitting device.Courtesy GAP archaeology specialists
With an avalanche of new archaeological discoveries coming from Egypt in recent weeks, this latest find has thrown all previous ideas of ancient Egyptian culture on end.

Archaeologists working at the site of the Giza pyramids just west of Cairo have found evidence of what is believed to be primitive cellular telephone technology. While ancient Egyptians were considered to be way ahead of their time in architecture, engineering and language development, previous work in Egypt has not shown any signs of electronic communication potential.

Here is the fully annotated report from the Giza Archaeology Project’s (GAP) website.

Researchers admit they were slow to report their findings since people would find it so hard to believe. In fact, they couldn’t fully believe it themselves until they did more analysis.

Back in December, they discovered a tomb wall rendering of a device that looks a lot a cell phone. But they quickly turned their attentions to other meanings for the symbol since it couldn’t have possibly been a telecommunications tool. Then in mid-February, members of the same research team looking in a newly discovered burial chamber in the Pyramid of Khafre found an unbelievable discovery: a wooden device that looks similar to a cell phone was mixed in among the gold and treasures buried with the royal dead at the scene.

“At first we thought it was simply a religious relic,” said lead research Mike Lohnor of GAP. “Then one of our more nerdy archaeologists started poking around on it during his coffee break and discovered there was a crude network of wires in a hollowed out area inside the device.”

Doing some chemical tests on the unit, the archaeology team found that the wood was actually a special strain of cedar that has properties that conduct, and actually amplify electricity.

Click here to see photos and diagrams of the inside the wood cell phone.

“The network of wires inside the wood block was arranged in such a way that when held out in the sun at about a 45-degree angle, a fairly strong electrical field could be induced,” Lohnor said. “While the Egyptians hadn’t figured out a speaker system to tie into this electrical format, they did have a ten-digit numerical keypad that allowed them to send coded messages.

Tomb art confirmation: This piece of tomb art inside the Pyramid of Khafre confirmed researcher's beliefs that they had found a crude text-messaging device.
Tomb art confirmation: This piece of tomb art inside the Pyramid of Khafre confirmed researcher's beliefs that they had found a crude text-messaging device.Courtesy GAP archaeology specialists
“I essence, the leaders of ancient Egypt were text messaging each other,” he added.

Just a couple days after finding the inner workings of the wood device, archaeologists doing more work inside the Pyramid of Khafre found a narrow vertical passage leading to the tip of the pyramid. Inside was another tight web of crude copper wires.

“So the pyramids were serving a dual purpose,” said Lohnor. “As we’ve known for a long time, they were burial monuments. But it also appears they were cell phone signal towers.”

Click here to see photos of the antenna shaft.

Hieroglyphic experts have been brought on to the project to see if there are any recorded samples of these ancient text messages might have said.

“We’re really at a loss to figure out how these text messages were used,” Lohnor said. “Like a lot of ancient Egyptian language, it was probably only used by the elite: the ruling authorities and the religious leaders. Maybe it was a quick way to communicate with masons working in quarries in Upper Egypt, or a way for the Pharaoh to get updates from generals in the battlefield. We won’t really know until we can get our hands on more message samples.”

So far, the only text samples that have been uncovered are a warning to not text while driving a chariot and another passage noting that there was a daily limit of 10 texts per day to vote for Egyptian Idol.

And if you’ve made it this far without figuring it out: Happy April Fool’s Day!!!

We've had plenty of discussion about text messaging here on the Buzz recently. Here's a video report about a novel use of that technology in Kenya, where a wild elephant sends regular text messages about his whereabouts for an amazing reason. What I don't get is how his big hoofs and type on those little cellphone keypads.

OMG: Here's another video report on a monk seal in Greece that texts reports of her daily activities to an animal shelter that rehabbed her from injuries. And here's a link on that story to a report of a crocodile that sends text messages to scientists. What's come over these animals?

Oct
15
2008

What can messages on your cell phone say about you? They can potentially reveal your age, gender or even your identity. Linguistic forensics is being increasingly used as an investigation tool and as evidence in court, including in cases where suspects claimed text messages as alibis. In a recent case, text messages from a missing woman’s phone were used in the conviction of her ex-boyfriend for her murder. Experts determined that the style of suspicious text messages from her phone pointed toward him as the author rather than her. They looked at, among several differences, her consistent use of the spelling “myself” versus the use of “meself” in the questioned texts.

Dr. Tim Grant is researching the linguistic analysis of text messaging and has developed a method to quantify stylistic differences between two texts. He also has put together a database of 7000 texts so far. He hopes his research will determine the base rate for specific texting features and show similarities among groups of individuals that frequently text each other. You can contribute your text messages to his research at a link in the article below.

Txt Crimes, Sex Crimes And Murder: The Science Of Forensic Linguistics

Jul
30
2008

m i @ risk?: Emergency room doctors have issued an alert about increased injuries they're seeing to people who are text messaging while doing some other activity. And starting Friday, Minnesota law will ban texting while driving a motor vehicle.
m i @ risk?: Emergency room doctors have issued an alert about increased injuries they're seeing to people who are text messaging while doing some other activity. And starting Friday, Minnesota law will ban texting while driving a motor vehicle.Courtesy Alton
These headlines caught my attention this week after I was nearly smacked by a car while entering a crosswalk last weekend. The teen-age driver didn’t see me as she was typing in a text message on her cell phone. I had a few choice words I wanted to text to her.

Emergency room doctors are seeing a significant upswing in cases of people injured while trying to multi-task while text messaging. According to this AP report, there have even been two fatalities linked to texting. They view the situation as being serious enough that they've issued a public alert about the dangers of texting while doing other tasks.

Starting Friday (Aug. 1) here in Minnesota, it will now be illegal to text message while you’re seated behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Drivers convicted of the violation will face a $300 fine. Eighteen other states in the country also ban texting while driving while six states outlaw using any type of cellular communication device while driving.

As one of the doctors puts it clearly in the AP story, texters think they’re multitasking and being efficient with their use of time, but they’re actually doing two separate tasks in several second increments. And while driving, having your attention diverted from the road for even a couple seconds can have disastrous results.

What do you think? Does text messaging need to be regulated? (take our poll) Is this an over reaction to the situation? Have you had a scary situation involving texting? Share your thoughts here with other Buzz readers.

UPDATE: Here's the link to a story that reports nearly half of all teen drivers text while they drive.