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Larry Sanger asked me about my opinion on Wikipedia now. Interestingly, David Hoffman recently sent me a link to an article I wrote in 2003 about filtering. <http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools/oct03/dcon1003.shtml> Wherein I stated: > Above all, schools should not simply think that the filtering system is > working effectively without collecting and reviewing data related to blocking > and the override process. The unfortunate impact of the news stories of the > Supreme Court ruling is the continued public misrepresentation that filtering > will protect younger children and prevent teens from accessing inappropriate > material. > > This decision is "a crushing defeat for the nation's 16-year-old boys," > stated the editorial of The Wall Street Journal in response to the ruling. > Well, this nation's 16-year-old boys are ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing) > at adults who think that filtering software will prevent them from accessing > Internet pornography. > > Unfortunately, while the vast majority of schools have installed filtering, > far fewer have a comprehensive educational program to prepare students with > the knowledge and skills necessary for them to make safe and responsible > choices when using the Internet. I have been consistent in my view of filtering for many years. Another early document is here: <http://csriu.org/documents/nwnas.php> This was my testimony for the National Research Council - for their report on filtering - 2000. So at the risk of repeating myself: > Regardless of issues related to the use, effectiveness, and appropriateness > of technology tools, laws, and labeling systems, the simple and plain truth > is that virtually every young person in this country will, at one time or > another, have unsupervised access to the Internet through an unfiltered and > unmonitored system. Any young person who desires to access the ""darkside" of > the Internet will be able to find a way to do so. Technology tools, laws, and > labeling systems are insufficient means to prevent such access. > > The more important question, therefore, is how can we help young people gain > the knowledge, decision-making skills, and motivation to make safe and > responsible choices when they are using the Internet. Lastly, I would point out this article: <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/11/AR2010051105154.html?wpisrc=nl_cuzhead> > The State Department has decided to fund a group run mainly by practitioners > of Falun Gong, a Buddhist-like sect long considered Enemy No. 1 by the > Chinese government, to provide software to skirt Internet censorship across > the globe. Larry, I do appreciate your work in raising these concerns and pushing the Wikipedia folks into a more appropriate level of responsible behavior. I was involved in a similar battle in the early 90's - but lost. I had started an effort to launch a community network that would provide Internet access. This was before such access was readily available. I started a non-profit, filed a 501C3, brought a bunch of people on the board, wrote a business plan, and raised $30,000. My vision was using these technologies in ways to support our community. Some guys on the board already had an under-the-cover UUCP connection to the Internet through the U of O. They wanted to use the money I raised to buy a larger server so they could better host the newsgroups - including the very data intensive alt.sex newsgroups. I protested - and was kicked out of the project because I support "censorship." So my views in a nutshell: Filtering is not effective in preventing access to objectionable material. Students can easily make mistakes and end up accidentally accessing the wrong kinds of sites. Every teen can easily find out how to bypass the filter. Do a search for "bypass Internet filter." There are even YouTube instruction videos. Filtering can provide an effective warning - that is, if the filter blocks a site there may be a reason not to access this site. But filters also overblock or can block based on unconstitutional bias. So it is essential, based on the US Supreme Court decision in CIPA, to have an effective and rapid process to provide an override process. Most districts do not have an effective override process. The false security that comes from overreliance on filtering has resulted in many inappropriate outcomes: Schools think that filters are preventing misuse and do have clear policies that insist on instructional use of the Internet and do not regularly assess traffic - if they did they would see that many students and teachers are simply using the Internet for "Internet recess." Schools have not set up safer places for younger students - elementary schools should have more focus on "whitelisting" appropriate sites. Schools have not set up effective supervision and technical monitoring approaches to ensure that secondary students (and staff) are engaging in appropriate online activities. Schools are not teaching students how to avoid accidentally accessing inappropriate material. On this last point, the Crimes Against Children Research Center reported, based on 2006 data, that 42% of youth Internet users had been exposed to online pornography in the past year. Of those, 66% reported only unwanted exposure. And if you look closely at how the unwanted exposure occurred it is clear that if they had been taught how to avoid accidental access, many of these incidents could have been avoided through more effective instruction. So as for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a microcosm of the Internet - lots of good stuff, unfortunately some bad stuff. Just like the Internet, if you exercise care in searching you can easily avoid most of the bad stuff. Just like the Internet, accidental access will happen even if you are careful. Just like the Internet, you can intentionally find the bad stuff. So if you want to make the argument that schools should ban Wikipedia because there is material that a student could find on Wikipedia that is inappropriate, then the exact same argument should hold for all of the Internet. Because, just like Wikipedia, if you let students search on the Internet, they can accidentally or intentionally access material you do not want them to access. I rather suspect the opinions of some who are involved in Wikipedia were similar to those on the board of the community network I started - censorship is bad. The more mature approach, which appears to be where Wikipedia is headed now thanks to your actions, is a recognition that more civilized and enlightened thinking does indeed draw the lines around what is "appropriate" and "inappropriate" in certain environments more closely. And in fact, there is no such thing as total free speech - even under our constitution. There have always been two rationales for restricting speech - that the speech is entirely contrary to the public good and thus should be restricted based on time and place or banned outright - and that the speech of one could harm another. On the whole, I think Wikipedia provides a wealth of excellent resources and has set in motion the collaborative information generation process that is actually the essence of the new digital world. Yes, that information can be wrong or biased. Just like the textbooks that will be developed for Texas. So it is essential that all teachers and students gain much greater skills in assessing the credibility of information found online - with teacher librarians leading the way. But I actually believe that through the collaborative information generation process, more accurate information will eventually be presented - because the collaborative process can more effectively undermine the efforts of those who seek to exert editorial control based on bias and other objectives. So basically, my opinion is that anyone who argues that students should be prevented from accessing Wikipedia in school is essentially arguing that students should not gain the skills and understanding necessary to be successful in the 21st century. All best. Nancy -- Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D. Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use http://csriu.org email@example.com --- Edtech Archives, posting guidelines and other information are at: http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~edweb Please include your name, email address, and school or professional affiliation in each posting. To unsubscribe send the following command to: LISTSERV@H-NET.MSU.EDU SIGNOFF EDTECH