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Get Up, Stand Up: Stand up for Your Rights!

Online privacy issues have dominated the news both nationally and internationally for the past few weeks. Coverage has ranged from Bill IP21C (Way to represent Matt!) to Iran’s chokehold on civilian Internet access. Since Papyrusnews.com hasn’t updated since May 24 (Seriously, guys, get with it!), I’ve decided to blog about what these issues mean for us as users. I’ve also thrown a light article in to the mix to help validate a few of my points.

So, as the story goes, the city of Bozeman, Mont., has invoked a human resources requirement that has job applicants forking over tons of personal information. The requirements include, but are not limited to, “…any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.” The etc. here includes email passwords by the way!

Bozeman Attorney Greg Sullivan defended the requirements in the media, stating that a number of the positions (Police, Fire, lifeguards) require people of “high integrity.” So, they conduct these types of investigations to “make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the city.”

While I admire the effort this city is going to ensure it has the finest town council possible, I feel that it’s a tad ludicrous. I mean, it’s a bit like allowing your employer to snoop around in your underwear drawer. Sure, the town would like upstanding citizens to serve the municipality, but where does it end in regards to background checks? It is really necessary to have access to personal email and websites? When did the disclaimer “this is not a reflection of XYZ organization“ expire? Did Bozeman miss the memo that grants civil liberties to ALL, and not just those outside of civil service?

For me, all of this dialogue around state officials demanding personal information and pushing bills that allow authorities to take personal information from ISPs is a blatant violation of the constitutional amendment. Are we shifting toward a communist type approach to Internet governance? Are we moving toward a state-run-media like China?

Just Friday, it was reported in the New York Times that the Chinese government had ordered Google to take down its Google Suggest application because it gave search results with “suggestive implications.” Alike their Iranian counterparts, Chinese computer users are also outraged by such government censorship. What’s more, the Chinese government has also announced plans to “force computer makers to install Internet censorship software on all computers sold in China after July 1.”

Again, I get that there are good intentions behind these outlandish requests, such as limiting pornography, but aren’t adults capable of making their own choices as to what they should or should not view?

My dear colleagues, it seems that sadly, our privacy is being threatened, and that the line between being secure and being invaded is incredibly blurred. My hope is that our friends in Iran and China continue to fight for their online rights, and that we Canadians blogg and tweet like nobodies business to have our online voice heard- we will NOT be silenced!

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June 20, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Online technologies:The good with the bad- we gonna work it out

It seems June has been a busy month all around. Papyrusnews.com has yet to post any new content for this month. So, in following a common trend, I went through some old contributions and found something that peaked my interest, and hopefully it will yours as well.

 

Back in April, Papryus blogger Sonja Lind commented on how discussions around online technologies seem to focus on the negative and what’s bad about electronic mediums. She referenced cyberbullying and the loss of human connection. Likewise, we, as a class, have also discussed whether or not the internet is making people antisocial or allowing individuals to hide behind their online persona. Lind acknowledges that these are valid arguments, but counters her statement with a link to a good news story about how an American teenager was able to save a British teenager’s life through the use of Facebook. Supposedly, the British male send a private message to American girl saying that he was going to hurt himself. The girl, not knowing his address, told her mother, who then called local authorities. The police called in a “special agent” from the British Embassy who then narrowed down the suicidal teens location. He was found after four attempts, haven already taken an overdose, but still conscious. 

 

This is truly an inspirational story.  It not only shows the power, reach and good qualities of such social media tools, but also reiterates some of the points Kim raised in her post “iTube, weTube, we all scream for YouTube,” specifically, that the internet does have a heart, compassion and humility.

 

It is so easy to disregard the fact that an actual living, breathing, feeling human beings on the other end of your electronic exchange. Computer generated messaging have become quite common and users have become pretty skilled at filtering out a lot of targeted messaging. Don’t get me wrong, this is a necessary skill to have to avoid information overload and media bombardment. Nonetheless, I think this article emphasizes the overlap between online and offline and the impact these relationships can have. In this case, it saved a young males life. Had the teenage girl dismissed the message, he might not be alive today. I think it also highlights the importance of good blogger etiquette and treating people with dignity and respect despite lacking the face to face exchange. As common sense as it may sound, we must not forget that behind these technologies are someone’s sons and daughters, real people with real problems, who just might need a virtual shoulder to cry on. 

 

I’d like to leave you all with a song I’m totally obsessed with lately, musical preferences aside, I think we can all appreciate the message: let love prevail. 🙂

 

 


June 14, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , | 3 Comments

“Laptops make a good school better, but they don’t make a bad school good.”

asus-eee-pc-901Since I started following papyrusnews.com, I’ve really had to work to expand my ICT vocabulary. Geez louise, techies really do speak in a whole other language. This week, the “collective site for news and commentary” focuses on the Asus EEE PC and its many benefits to grade school children in the United States. Within the post, Papyrus founder Mark Warschauer links to a primary research report he wrote for One Laptop Per Child News (OLPCN). The report details a case study in which all grade four students at a particular U.S school were each given the Asus EEE PC 901 to use during classroom hours. Over 150 interviews were conducted with students and teachers and more than 650 hours were spent observing classroom behavior with these notebooks. In a nut shell, Warschauer boils the finding down toLaptops make a good school better, but they don’t make a bad school good.” Ultimately, the study concluded that the notebooks enhance a good school by “facilitating more and higher quality writing, allowing the practice and development of 21st century learning skills, encouraging high student motivation and engagement, and assisting effective integration of technology in teaching and learning.” Conversely, it does not fix a bad school in the sense that time wasted surfing the net is time lost learning. Overall, I found the report interesting and was impressed with the positive commentary Warschauer and the OLPC project received.

Surprising however, was one comment that suggested that these notebooks are not conducive to the educational system in India. At first, I viewed these economical little notebooks as a solution to helping the developing nations advance their ICT skills. Yet, Atanu Dey believes that the notebooks are simply too expensive considering some schools in India do not even have blackboards. He believes it comes down to “sequence” and that the notebooks must be put on hold for now. While I can’t help but accept the harsh reality of educational funding in India, I do not believe that waiting is the answer. At the rapid rate new technologies are being invented and adapted, the children of India are sure to be left behind the times and the technologies that fuel the economy of their generation.

Have a read! What do you think?

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media and Social Divide

I was a little stumped by this week’s contribution on Papyrusnews.com, the assigned blog I’ve been monitoring for class. It’s a little elusive as the author Mark Warschauer doesn’t really offer his thoughts on Campbell’s Law or any new developments in relation to digital learning. However, the post is thought provoking and worth exploring a little further!  In fact, it’s so short I will share it within my post so you too can digest and provide your insights:

 

“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decisionmaking, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”
Campbell’s Law, put forth in 1976 by Donald Campbell, prominent American social scientist and president of the American Psychological Association”

 

For those of you unfamiliar with the term Social indicator, it’s basically a term used to describe various “measures of social conditions and change” within society. Examples of such social indicators used within Canada are social class or status and statistics on standards of living, education, welfare, and health- generally social issues that are recorded and measured over time to evaluate and analyze any societal changes. My initial reaction to Campbell’s Law is to agree with the notion because when you quantify social indicators such as social status you are pitting people against one another. Instead of providing data and measurement for positive changes in society like increased public funding to social services, the indicators put people on a scale and divide, thus distorting and corrupting the process as sited by founder Donald Campbell.

 

On the other hand, when I view this in relation to social media sites and online personalities Campbell’s Law sort of loses its persuasive strength. For example, with personal disclosure up to the individual blogger things like annual income and level of post secondary education are unknown unless the individual chooses to say so. Therefore, everyone is given the same social power. It is up to them to earn this power or enhance it based upon their insightful and relevant contributions to the online world. What’s more, as the mind(s) of the machine, implied in Elizabeth Barrette’s poem Meetspace, we have the opportunity to access this power and craft the reality we desire. Perhaps, one without societal divide, gender and sex biases or one focused on the physical body or first impressions. 

 

Hmmmm…what do you guys think?

 

Holly

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , | Leave a comment