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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

When Did My Luddite Parents Become Skypers and Texters?

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer


(photo: Lars Ploughmann/Flickr)

A few weeks ago, my dad crafted his first-ever text message. He was with my sister, who was on the brink of becoming a mother. His text is classic Dad, a singular mixture of humor, complaint, and anxiety:

"Well we’re here in the hospital waiting for [your sister’s] turn. She’s very calm, which I am not. I don’t think I’ll be able to have lunch until it’s over, which is OK since the soup in the coffee shop doesn’t look too good anyhow. I think it’s kale and it doesn’t look very hot. We’ll keep you apprised about the soup situation and about the baby too. Love, Dad"

Since my baby niece’s entry into the world, I’ve received scores of digital pictures — more than were ever taken of me or my sister during our first week of life. I’ve been experiencing aunt-hood from a geographical distance. But with technology in the mix, I’ve been able to interact with my niece as a pixelated being in ways that weren’t possible when I was a kid.

Now my parents are eager to learn how to Skype! To my amazement, a digital revolution is unfolding in the suburbs of New Jersey as monumental life changes inspire my parents to use technology in new ways.

Has this kind of thing happened to you? What changed in your life that inspired — or forced — you to turn a corner with technology?

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Are Babies Moral?

Colleen Scheck, senior producer

"To have a genuinely moral system, in other words, some things first have to matter, and what we see in babies is the development of mattering.

I’m in the midst of another parenting transition where my son’s development from infant to toddler has me focusing less on basics and more on behavior. Screen Grab for "Can Babies Tell Right from Wrong""Hitting and biting are common during this time" (so true!) is a sentence included in the welcome packet I received recently from his new toddler-room teachers. So this week’s New York Times Magazine story on "The Moral Lives of Babies" caught my eye.

Contrary to historic theories that babies are a moral “blank slate,” the article describes new research out of Yale University that indicates babies may have a “rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life.” This five-minute video demonstrates some of the research experiments behind these findings of whether babies can tell right from wrong. It’s a helpful way in to this lengthy article on behavioral testing and our ongoing fascination with the question of nature or nurture and human development.

[updated May 16, 2010: added the embed video]

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