Thursday, November 13, 2014

Smart students and smart TV

I'm in Seoul to participate in today's Smart TV Global Summit, an annual industry gathering (click on the screen capture of the conference's English web page to see a full size version).  In preparing my presentation for this meeting, I've been thinking about what "smart" really means and how it may be understood in various ways across different cultures.  Coincidentally, today is also the occasion for Korea's annual College Scholastic Ability Test.  In this country, a high score on this exam is a sure indicator that a student is "smart" and can be the ticket to admission to one of the top universities.  As reported by The Korea Times, 640,000 students will take the exam at 1,216 venues. The article goes on to explain that "Tens of thousands of police officers, police vehicles and taxis will be on stand-by near test venues to help students arrive on time. The government also plans to increase the number of subway trains and buses running in the morning.Civil servants and employees of major companies in most cities will be allowed to report to work at 10 a.m., one hour later than usual, in order to relieve traffic congestion.Banks and the stock markets also decided to delay their opening times by an hour, to 10 a.m."
Having lived in Korea continuously since 1996, I was aware of these special arrangements on the day of the CSAT, and also knew that all the major news media devote a great deal of attention to it. However, I was not as cognizant of the commercial bonanza that the annual CSAT offers to retail establishments here. According to The Joongang Ilbo, "Today’s dreaded college entrance exam may be the most important day of the year for students, but it’s the days after the test that matter to retailers.Preparing for the College Scholastic Ability Test throughout high school can be so grueling that parents of 12th graders are willing to spend generously to please their stressed-out children after the test.Plastic surgery clinics, online gaming websites, retail outlets and restaurants are ready to capitalize, launching special offers for test-takers."

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