Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hack me once shame on me, hack me twice...

As technology continues to revolutionize our world, the associated vocabulary continues to expand. Hacking used to relate to coughing or chopping something with an axe or cleaver. It now means gaining access to a computer and viewing, copying, or creating data, generally without the intention of destroying data or maliciously harming the computer (the malicious side of things, per Urban Dictionary, is called "cracking") At some point, "hacking" morphed into the kind of high tech covert operation often featured on today's hottest crime shows. Now it's something more basic and, in many ways, more dangerous because it is more accessible. Kids often hack each other's social networks and alter the status message or send out phony messages in each other's names. Sometimes the hacked message is funny but many are inappropriate and others are downright mean. It's become the kind of slippery slope where you can literally see innocent intentions turn bad and friends turn to frenemies and then full scale enemies right before your eyes. This is one more issue responsible parents should be talking about with their kids before giving the green light to network socially and then again during and then again and again and again. If each one of us can convince our kids that hacking, even when it begins for fun, is wrong, then maybe the malignant side will be exposed more quickly and dealt with. As long as the majority of social networking kids view hacking a Facebook status as a funny thing to do, the slope will get slicker and people will get hurt.

Over the weekend, I enjoyed reading Ruby Red by Kirsten Gier. This international bestseller is a great choice for kids in 6th or 7th grade and up. There's a mystery, a lot of suspense, time travel, some historical highlights that are well placed within the time travel, realistic teenage friendship issues, angst, and romance. The link here to hacking? Well, the Guardians are tinkering with and manipulating a chronograph to control the time travel of the chosen few and it would seem that not all of the tinkering is so innocent. This is the first book in a trilogy and my only complaint with it is that I now have to wait for the second and third books to find out what really happens and what stories lie beneath the main one (because it's clear that there's a lot going on here and many details have yet to present themselves). I love the characters, not to mention the cover and the title!

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