Tag: study

Songs are getting shorter

A new study finds that pop songs themselves are getting faster as listeners’ attention spans diminish  and young people have the attention span of goldfish

The study was penned by Hubert Leveille Gauvin, a doctoral student in music theory at the Ohio State University who looked at the year-end top 10 on the US Billboard chart between 1986 and 2015.

He found that instrumental openings to songs have shrunk dramatically over the past three decades and, to a lesser extent, the average tempo of hit singles has been speeding up.

In 1986, it took roughly 23 seconds before the voice began on the average hit song. In 2015, vocals came in after about five seconds, a drop of 78 percent, he found.

His study was published in Musicae Scientiae, the Journal of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music. He linked the trend to the rapid rise of Spotify and other streaming sites that give listeners instant access to millions of songs.

“It makes sense that if the environment is so competitive, artists would want to try to grab your attention as quickly as possible and the voice is one of the most attention-grabbing things that there is.”

Apparently if you like to concentrate, you like instrumental music.

As an example of the shift, Leveille Gauvin pointed to Starship’s 1987 hit “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which takes 22 seconds for the vocals to begin and more than a minute for the chorus.

On the 2015 hit “Sugar” by Maroon 5, Adam Levine gets to the point within seven seconds with the lines: “I’m hurting baby / I’m broken down.”

Leveille Gauvin doubts that many pop stars are clamouring in the studio for shorter intros, he just thinks it is a steady evolution in songwriting conventions.

He connected the trend to scholar Michael H. Goldhaber’s concept of the “attention economy”—the quest to hold attention in an internet overflowing with information.

“You can think of music as this double role. Music has always been a cultural product, but I think that more and more songs are also advertisements for the artists,” Leveille Gauvin said.

Playing computer games will stuff up your University chances

If you play computer games you are less likely to get into university, according to a recent study.

The study, prepared by Oxford University students who obviously did not play computer games and whose parents had money, have found that playing computer games appears to reduce a teenager’s chances of going to university, while reading enhances the likelihood that they will go on to study for a degree.

The study tracked 17,000 people born in 1970. If they read books at least once a month they were significantly more likely to be in a professional or managerial job at 33 than those who didn’t read books at all.

Girls had a 39 percent probability that they would be in a professional or managerial position at 33 if they read at 16, compared to 25 percent if they didn’t pick up a book.

Boys had a 58 percent chance of being in a good job as an adult if they had read as a teenager, compared to a 48 percent chance if they had not.

However once they started playing computer games regularly and doing no other activities the chances of going to university fell from 24 per cent to 19 percent for boys and from 20 percent to 14 percent for girls.

The boffin who headed the research for Nuffield College, Mark Taylor, said that there was “something special” about reading for pleasure.

While kids who went to the theatre regularly did well in life that was usually because their parents had dosh. But books were cheap for everyone.

In fact everything seemed to be better than computer games because they were either communal, like playing in an orchestra, or had a direct academic application, like reading.

Playing computer games frequently did not reduce the likelihood that a 16-year-old would be in a professional or managerial job at 33, the research found.

More children can use a smartphone than tie their shoelaces

Technology is changing the world to such a large extent that many children know how to use a computer or a smartphone but cannot ride a bike, swim, make breakfast or even tie their own shoelaces.

The shocking news came from a report by internet security firm AVG, which surveyed 2,200 mothers of children under five who had internet access as part of the Digital Diaries series of studies, highlighting how exposed children are to technology.

The results don’t just point to a single country either, as the report covers children in the US, Canda, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, but children in certain regions had different levels of technology skills compared to others.

It was revealed that 58 percent of the children in the two to five year old bracket had mastered how to play a basic computer game, with the figure jumping to 70 percent for children in the UK and France, showing the prevalence of video games for toddlers.

Even in the two to three year old bracket nearly half, 44 percent, were able to play a computer game. In comparison, only 43 percent of the same age knew how to ride a bike, one of the first skills learned in childhood.

19 percent of children aged two to five are smart enough to use a smartphone, but only nine percent of the same age group can tie their shoelaces, one of the most basic life skills we’re thought. 21 percent of four to five year olds knew how to use a smartphone app, while 17 percent of two to three olds had the same skill, showing that children are being exposed to technology at an even younger age.

The report also found that there is very little gender divide in terms of technology skills, with 58 percent of boys knowing how to play a computer game, compared to 59 percent of girls. Likewise, 28 percent of boys could make a mobile phone call, compared to 29 percent of girls.

25 percent of young children could open a web browser, but only 20 percent could swim unaided, so parents may need to keep an eye on their youngsters on the PC just as much as in the pool.

Older mothers were seen as better at teaching life skills, with 40 percent of over 35s teaching their toddlers how to write their own name, compared to only 35 percent of mothers under 35. Let’s hope they’re teaching them to value their family more than social networking at least, since a previous study revealed that Facebook and the like was more important.

More European young children had technology skills than US children, with 44 percent of children in Italy able to make a mobile phone call, compared to 25 percent in the US. 70 percent of children in the UK could play a computer game, compared to 61 percent in the US, and 78 percent of kids in France could use a mouse, compared to 67 percent in the US.

AVG said that parents need to take these findings into consideration, because with children using technology at a younger age it means parents need to teach them computer and online safety earlier than previously expected. They might want to teach them how to tie their shoelaces while they’re at it.

Those young people go mobile mad

Browser maker Opera says that this generation of young people are more likely to use mobiles than any generation before. No kidding.

In its latest State of the Mobile Web report, Opera sings that more than half of Opera Mini users in the United States access the Web using a phone rather than a traditional desktop or notebook PC. Its theory is that mobile gear is part of everyday lives. No kidding.

It also turns out that young mobile users in the United States are behind the curve for eschewing PC-based Web browsing for mobile browsing. In many other countries, particularly developing economies, the percentages are much higher. No kidding.

Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzchner said that his outfit has often said that the next generation will grow up knowing the Web mostly through their mobile phones. Surely not.

“We see this trend already emerging in different regions around the world. The mobile Web will bring a profound change in how we connect with one another.”

Opera found that countries with the highest rates of young Internet users surfing the Web mailing from PCs were also the nations were smartphones are among the top handsets browsing the Web: the United Sates, Germany, Poland, and Brazil, for instance. However, in countries like South Africa, Nigeria, and Indonesia, as many as nine out of 10 young Internet users tap into the Web from phones rather than PCs, but those same markets show fewer smartphones in use.

In other words the development of the smartphone has nothing to with mobile Web access.

Outfits like Nokia still command major market share despite the fact that they have not managed to break into the mobile market yet.

More than three quarters of US mobile users from ages 18 to 27 browse the Web while on public transit, 90 percent have shared photos using their phone, 70 percent have online friends they’ve never met in real live, some 44 percent have asked someone on a date via text messaging, but only about 30 percent have tried mobile blogging.

The data is collected from Opera Mini servers, which act as proxies compressing and paring down information sent to Opera Mini mobile browsers. Demographic data was collected using voluntary user surveys sent to mobile user’s handsets.  No kidding.

Businesses will face widening cyber-security threats in 2011

Many businesses are struggling with how to approach a growing list of cyber security threats according to a report by technology research firm Ovum.

The report, called 2011 Trends to Watch: Security, found that cyber espionage and online fraud are the two most pressing threats that need to be addressed, while other problems like compliance and intellectual property protection also rate high.

Ovum found that cyber espionage had moved from the realm of governments to businesses, meaning that companies can no longer afford to ignore this growing threat. It cited incidents of state-sponsored cyber attacks within the commercial sector, including the allegedly Chinese attack on Google earlier this year. 

34 US companies were found to have endured similar attacks, while the Fortune 500 list are seen as always under threat.

Cloud services and virtualisation are other areas which require focus as they brings new security risks of their own. Ovum said that the pace at which security in cloud computing and virtualisation is being understood is slow, which could create significant challenges for what is ultimately a very open network. 

An exploit on a cloud could have extremely destructive and widespread effects given the shared nature of the service.

Ovum said that a new, holistic approach to security needs to be taken, focusing on protecting assets as opposed to merely defending perimeters.

The study also highlights growing demand for better security on embedded devices like smartphones and tablets which have taken the world by storm over the last couple of years. With the embedded device industry expected to boom further in 2011, security must be tightened.

It is recommended that businesses adopt a risk management strategy, effectively to focus on prevention rather than cure. Ovum also suggests vendors should play an increasing role in improving security on the devices and services they provide.

“Security needs are growing fast,” said Gragam Titterington, analyst at Ovum and author of the report. “Businesses are facing a large-scale, well-organised and well-resourced criminal network which is intent on defrauding them and their customers.”

Smartphone boom keeping display manufacturers afloat

Demand for larger high-resolution displays is growing, due to the global boom in the smartphone market, according to a second quarter report by DisplaySearch.

The Quarterly Mobile Phone Shipment and Forecast Report revealed that larger screen sizes and higher resolutions were in high demand due to the flourishing smartphone industry, which is constantly pushing for larger and higher-quality panels.

Shipments of larger panels with higher resolutions were up considerably during the second quarter of 2010, with Samsung, AUO, and Chimei Innolux reporting increases of 26.7 percent, 11.4 percent, and 11.3 percent respectively.

The average display size for mbile phones increased to 2.3 inches, up by three percent in the second quarter compared to the first and by eight percent compared to the same period last year. LTPS-based panels, such as AMOLED and LTPS TFT LCD, also grew in average size by seven percent compared to the first quarter and 15 percent compared to 2009.

The QVGA (240×320) resolution dominated the market in the second quarter of 2010, with DisplaySearch estimating that it will rule 24.4 percent of the market by the end of the year. 

The WVGA (480×800 and 480×864) resolution also saw good progress, growing from 2.6 percent market share in the second quarter of 2009 to 5.3 percent in the second quarter of 2010, amounting to a 121 percent increase or 62 percent on the first quarter.

Revenue for main displays was up 14 percent on the previous quarter to $3 billion, which is also a three percent increase on the same period in 2009.

Shipments were up to 389.1 million, an increase of five percent on the previous quarter and eight percent on the previous year. 

Average selling prices for mobile phone displays also grew to $7.72, a nine percent increase on the same time last year.

“The strong mobile phone results in Q2’10 demonstrate the popularity of smart phones, which require higher resolution and larger displays to enable applications such as social networking, navigation, and web surfing,” said Calvin Hsieh, Mobile Phone Research Director of DisplaySearch. “This successful performance drove mobile phone main display revenues for the quarter.”

Pre-school kids gaze at screens for way too long

Two-thirds of pre-school children are exceeding the recommended daily limits of screen time, a new study by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington has found.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screen time, which includes television, DVDs, computers and video games, should not be more than two hours a day for children under the age of five.

The study, which included nearly 9,000 children from multiple backgrounds, discovered that the average amount of time children are exposed to screens is around 4 hours every weekday, with 3.6 of those hours coming from home. 

That number jumped up to 5.6 hours when combined with normal home time and home-based child care, with 87 percent of those children exceeding the two hour limit.

Children who are enrolled in a child care centre external to the home were exposed to less screen time, but it was still more than the recommended limit at 3.2 hours every weekday.

Children who did not have any child care at all also exceeded the limit, clocking up an average of 4.4 hours a day in front of the telly or PC.

Children enrolled in the Head Start programme, which caters for children in economically disadvantaged situations, tallied 4.2 hours a day, but only two percent of this time occurred during time spent at the Head Start Centre, with the the 98 percent happening at home.

“A majority of children under the age of 5 years in the United States spend almost 40 hours a week with caregivers other than their parents, and it’s important to understand what kind of screen time exposure children are getting with these other caregivers,” said Dr. Pooja Tandon, who helped conduct the study.

The report also linked excessive exposure to television among young children with speech delays, aggression and obesity, suggesting a worrying trend if such a high number of pre-schoolers are spending so much time watching television or on a computer.

“Parents can also play an important role by making sure all of their child’s caregivers are aware of the AAP’s advice regarding screen time,” Tandon suggested.

The full study can be found in the latest issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.

Local councils in UK to spend £4 billion on IT by 2016

Local councils throughout the UK will be spending as much as £4 billion on IT by 2016, according to a report by public sector research group Kable.

The study, entitled Local Government Forecast: Opportunities in Austerity, reveals the substantial increase in IT spending that Kable believes local councils will be forced to adopt, mainly due to outsourcing of projects, development of online channels, and a move to mobile working.

“Councils have had to draft contracts so that efficiency savings are stated and measurable by both them and their supplier,” said Michael Larner, senior analyst at Kable and the author of the report. “This shared risk and reward approach has meant that suppliers need to be confident of their ability to deliver, but also authorities need to be clear in articulating their requirements.”

The report found that since January 2007 outsourcing of projects has increased by 400 percent, which Kable believes will rise further over the next few years. This has led to an increase in costs, driving IT budgets upwards.

The report also revealed a trend towards putting more information and services online, citing the councils of Glasgow and East Renfrewshire, which allow benefit applications to be completed online and the website to be customised according to personal interests respectively. “In future, council web sites could mimic iGoogle,” Larner suggested.

The report highlighted the need for councils to become more efficient by buying remote network access, more portable computers like laptops, netbooks, and tablets, and accessible software applications for remote workers, since these workers are expected to increase from 265,000 to 700,000 over the next several years.

“The immediate future for local government ICT remains challenging, but innovative suppliers assisting in the delivery of tangible savings will still find a receptive audience among senior managers in local authorities,” said Larner.

Report finds 70 percent of netbook users unphased by iPad

70 percent of netbook users stayed with their trusted devices instead of going for an iPad, according to a new report by Retrevo.

The study found that 30 percent were completely unphased by the iPad’s launch, going straight for a netbook. A further 40 percent waited a bit, but eventually went for a netbook. Only 30 percent jumped ship for the Apple’s tablet.

Those who are still uncertain on which to purchase are mostly leaning towards an iPad at 78 percent. 22 percent are leaning towards a traditional netbook. With the media attention the iPad has received it’s not surprising that the undecided would be thusly inclined.

Retrevo report 2

Laptops are still the more popular choice, with 65 percent of people choosing them over netbooks over the past year. For those considering buying a new device similar numbers cropped up, with 65 percent wanting a laptop instead of a netbook. It seems the extra functionality of a proper laptop computer still trumps the less versatile netbook and tablet.

Retrevo report 3

For those who picked or are planning to pick a netbook, 54 percent found the small size and weight of a netbook the most attractive feature. 20 percent were enticed by the price. 19 percent liked the battery life. A further seven percent picked “other”. Portability seems to be the dominant trend here.

Retrevo report 4

While there is no doubt that the iPad has stolen some of the netbook’s customers, the majority have remained faithful.

Study claims IT makes you happier

A study by Trajectory Partnership for BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has found that information technology can make you happier.

The report, called ‘The Information Dividend: Can IT make you happier?’ is based on an in-depth analysis of the World Values Survey which contains responses from over 35,000 people around the world. The idea behind the title of the report is that there is a dividend or additional payout from information technology to people in the form of personal and social happiness.

“The ‘Information Society’, as we see it, should be a place where information technology is used to improve life satisfaction and support our individual and collective goals, not to erode or undermine them. The IT profession should be here to serve that purpose,” said Elizabeth Sparrow, President of BCS.

The study showed that information technology had a positive impact on life satisfaction even when controlling for income and other factors known to be important in determining well-being. “Put simply, people with IT access are more satisfied with life even when taking account of income,” said social scientist Michael Willmott, the study’s author.

The people who benefited most from this appeared to be women, those on low incomes, and those with few qualifications. The highest benefit went to women in undeveloped countries, which clearly show a combination of the above three. Those who are socially constrained seem to benefit most.

The report also showed that there was no increase or decrease on the basis of age, which is an interesting discovery since IT is often more geared towards younger people.

The effect this will have on IT depends greatly on how people view these findings. The challenge for BCS is to promote the rollout and correct usage of technology so that it continues to improve life for as many people as possible.

IT Survey 1

IT Survey 2

IT Survey 3