Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Starting 2012 with a thought freedom of expression on the Internet

Open by tribalicious
Is this a new year's resolution or just a considered way forward for 2012. I lost my way with blogging last year what with the Doctorate and one thing and another. So I have decided to post a blog about something at least once per week or whenever a item of interest - even if vaguely connected to education - comes up. So here is my response to the discussion facilitated by Hazel Owen about Wikipedia blacked out protest. She has lit my blogging fire so to speak after I discovered her blog at Ascilite 2011.

I have also signed the petition for a free and open Internet , and reject the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which would destroy it. This is open to anyone to sign via Avaaz.org

My response re an open Internet and freedom of expression
The idea of removing information because it is offensive for whatever reason is a tricky one. Well we already do it in society all the time - offensive human beings are removed to prison. This happens when the authorities get involved. When people act without involving the authorities people who offend also get removed, in one way or another. Vigilante behaviour is not favoured when it is against the law. Freedom of expression is important but offensive material and bullying behaviour via the Internet is not. I also don't agree with one group controlling the masses. 

To be effective people can learn to be assertive, ethical and responsible - and also may need to 'harden up' if others don't agree with them or challenge them. I believe that we learn appropriate behaviour best from our peers and by observing others. I believe that the Wikipedia model has shown us the power of networks in keeping things open and 'safe', and has done a great job in showing us how to 'share our toys' without throwing them out of the cot when things get sticky. Copyright does nothing in reality, but line the pockets of those who are probably already rich (in majority world terms) or have the money to sue - in contrast copyleft opens up a whole world of possibilities for anyone....if everyone plays fair and gives attribution where it is due. The question is how can we make enough money to live if we share our creativity freely with the world - or does this actually more likely our creative works will be seen, and we will make money anyway?

This is certainly a concern for educational institutions. Surprisingly enough sharing content and ideas can actually attract money. If an organisation is open and willing tio share, more people are given the opportunity to hear about what they offer. This can lead to more enrolments and opportunities for research and collaborative projects. My teaching materials are open on WikiEducator because it is important for me to model this to other teaching staff. Occasionally, someone comes along and contributes and adds to my work, and for me this adds richness to my work. I would love people to contribute to the Flexible Learning Guidebook, and this year I am going to use a student-generated model with the staff who take my course - this will be an interesting year.

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