Posted by: codecalla | January 14, 2013

Free Thoughts

I’ve been looking for a potential topic for my Research/Writing students to pursue this semester for a short assignment, to analyze readings, and I think freedom of information and the internet may be a distinct possibility.   The differences of worldviews, internet usage, and freedom of information are fascinating.  The policies of copyright protection, intellectual property laws, and personal/fair use can be intimidating.   Not to mention, people are concerned about the possibility of intrusion of privacy and their private use of the internet.

The recent push to legislate the internet by the world community, and by individual countries deserves further reflection and study.  What are the consequences of legislation?  Indirect and direct?  There are actually many related paper topics to this issue, as it is multi-faceted and far too complex.  It could develop to longer research papers quite easily.

How do we measure the impact of legislation anyway?  How often do we revisit those laws if they prove unsuccessful?  What about powerful interest groups who are holding the wallets and keys?

Should we make information free for all, regardless of consequence?  Does that depend on the type of information?  I think there are many different questions and approaches to this topic, so I think it is viable for discussion and reading.  How do we make decisions on this issue?  What information do we need to know?  Who are the stakeholders?

There are a few interesting changes with Internet and freedom of information, for example, Coursera and other platforms to bring a college education to anyone with a computer and internet connection for free.   That still limits it to people who have some means, but the idea of seeking and sharing knowledge for its own sake is inflammatory and revolutionary.  Historically, how have people tried to limit the spread of ideas or information?  How does information and how it’s shared affect a culture?    Too many routes and interesting possibilities…

Recent events in the news, as well as previous attempts at legislation are part of the inspiration for this discussion and potential topic.  I think it requires careful discussion and scrutiny, before leaping to judgments.


Responses

  1. Great topic for students to chew on. Here in England we are in the midst of savage financial cuts. One result of this is that libraries have been closing – including two in my area (Stoke on Trent). Does it matter if libraries close now we have the internet? After all books not only take up space but are expensive to look after. Or is a way for those in power to restrict information from getting to the masses?

    • The closing of libraries should become as important an issue as Internet freedom. Libraries are so important as free modes of sharing information and free community use. Here, so far we’ve kept our libraries thriving, but the subject of closing has come up in funding. I would be a serious activist for libraries to remain, regardless of cost. Just because the Internet has a wealth of information doesn’t mean that it’s in-depth information. Much of what I’ve researched cannot be done via Internet, certainly it makes it more ready to find and purchase, but so do libraries. Physical books, papers, and information must be preserved.

      This too is an excellent topic.


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