HEWN, No. 328

"Semi-automated luxury parenting" and other Halloween tricks

This week’s Columbidae is the tooth-billed pigeon. Critically endangered and a relative of the extinct Dodo, the tooth-billed pigeon is the national bird of Samoa. It appears on the country’s 20 tālā bills, but I couldn’t actually find an openly-licensed photo of the bird. A pity, because it’s tooth-billed, you know? Instead, here is an illustration by 19th century ornithologist John Gould. (Image credits)

There were a number of stories this week about surveillance and children — a trend that I’m happy to see getting more coverage. I think this is going to be the topic of my next book too. I often think about something my friend Jessy Irwin wrote several years ago: that ed-tech is “grooming students for a lifetime of surveillance.” But let’s be clear: this grooming is happening at school, and it’s also happening at home.

I’m particularly interested in the move between the third article in that list -- the one that claims parents are struggling to keep up -- and the fourth and fifth ones. That is, many parents may balk at the apps schools use to monitor and control students, but then they are happily equipping their own homes with all sorts of Internet-connected tracking devices. “Semi-automated luxury parenting,” as Ben Williamson has called the latter.

Yours in struggle,