High School Memories Go Digital

ByABC News

Nov. 11, 2005 &#151 -- In this week's "Cybershake," we note how some high school seniors are putting a high-tech twist to the traditional yearbook of memories. Plus, we take a look at a survey that proclaims instant messaging is taking over the online communications throne.

All over the country, high school students are busy putting together the yearbooks that'll be handed out in the spring before the senior class's graduation. But at some schools, the memories and pictures in the printed version are being made even more special -- by being put into digital form.

Jostens Inc., the Minneapolis-based producers of school-related memorabilia, has been helping high schools produce the high-tech yearbooks. In addition to accepting the images and texts used in a traditionally published book, the company takes digital videos and music clips from students and school officials and compiles it all on computer CD-ROMs.

Students at various high schools in Staten Island, N.Y., that have made the jump to the digitally enhanced yearbooks find them a much better way to keep and share those memories of youth.

"It's easier to see all your friends, it's got music … It's really great," says Genevieve Sinnott.

"What impresses me about it [the digital yearbook] is you can put it [music, photos, video, etc.] all into one thing and give it out to a lot of people," says John Iskaros.

What's more, using digital publishing techniques means kids will have much more freedom to add even more photos than a traditional printed yearbook could affordably hold. And because a tight publishing deadline doesn't apply to a digital yearbook, kids can preserve more of their high school memories than just pictures and words.

"So the things we miss, like the prom, which no pictures get into the [traditional] yearbook ... can be on this [the CD-ROM]," says Lindsey Greenfield.

Students aren't the only ones that have become enraptured with the high-tech additions to the standard yearbook.

"We've been doing them [the digital yearbooks] for three years actively," says Bonnine Blackman, a representative of Jostens. "And once schools do one, they expect them next year."

Maybe someday, the iPod yearbook?

— Bob Schmidt and Art McFarland, ABC News


Are you still relying on e-mail as your primary means of staying in touch with friends, family and co-workers? Then you're in a shrinking minority.

According to the latest survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. for online service provider AOL, the world of cyber-connectivity is rapidly moving toward instant messaging.

"IM usage, in general, was up 20 percent year over year," says Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president and general manager of AOL's AIM and ICQ instant messaging arms. "It's really become a part of everyday life, and now, not just for teens."

In the third annual Instant Messaging Trend Survey, 38 percent of respondents say they send as many or more IMs than e-mails. But among Net-savvy youngsters age 13 to 21 the figure is a whopping 66 percent -- a big jump from the 49 percent found in the pervious year's survey.

"The usage of IM by teens is now brought up to where they're introducing different IM features -- like mobile instant messaging and away [instant] messaging -- to their parents and to their older siblings," says Palihapitiya.

Indeed, one of the more surprising results of the survey was the rise of mobile instant messaging -- short text messages sent from cell phones and other portable wireless devices.

"Mobile instant messaging was up an astonishing 74 percent year over year," says Palihapitiya. "Now one in three IM users are now using mobile instant messaging."

And, instant messaging is finding its way into the workplace, as well. According to the survey, 28 percent of respondents say they use IMs to interact with clients or customers.

"It is a very quick and immediate way of getting efficient communications out to people," says Palihapitiya. "You no longer have to e-mail someone and wait, you know, hours or even days [for a response]."

Or, in some cases, IM is a way to evade troublesome workplace communications.

Twelve percent of survey respondents admit to using IMs at work to avoid a difficult in-person conversation.

— Richard Cantu, ABC News

Cybershake is produced for ABC News Radio by Andrea J. Smith.

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