WE SPENT THREE days in and around the RDS in Dublin, taking in the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. This is the fifth time I have spent more than eight hours under the roof of the RDS for the Young Scientist Exhibition. We made three podcasts at this event. I believe you can predict the direction of future uses of technology by observing the behaviour of the most technically astute Irish teenagers. Some casual observations:
1. More than 70% of the second level students I met had MP3 players. Some had MPEG-4 players. They carry these devices everywhere. Like today's college students, Irish teens enjoy personal music collections. This is their stuff and often the most expensive single item they own.
2. When questioned about their research, young scientists often cited Google as a source. It is as though Google was the starting point, the peer review and the ultimate destination of their work.
3. Microphones and shoulder cameras still command respect from kids. They open doors and get free lunches. They help you append easily to ministerial delegations. We used the lightweight end of the multimedia kit from Tipperary Institute to produce a few podcasts about the Young Scientist Exhibition. Note to self: bring the rifle microphone next time.
4. Just like their parents, most schoolkids get their personal music collections for free. One told me, "Sure, we pay our license fees. It's our music when it plays in our house so we can record as MP3."
5. "Only stupid people get done for file-sharing." There was little sympathy among young scientists for self-induced computer virus attacks as a result of file sharing or for landing in the crosshairs of IMRA's music collection investigators.
I think BT deserves a big round of applause for sponsoring the Young Scientist Exhibition. The young scientists of Ireland represent some of the brainpower of the next generation of Irish development. I think their inclinations should be respected--even enshrined--as fundamental digital rights in Ireland.
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