Sunday, January 29, 2006

North Korea and South Australia agree on censorship: Web 2 banned

Bill Kerr (that's him on the left), a high school teacher and all round good bloke from South Australia is alerting us to some unbelievable censorship going on down there at the moment. A one size fits all filter that has effectively ruled out everything Web 2.

Now I've been reading Bill's blog for a few months now and all I can say is it's a darn shame that such an innovative and progressive teacher like Bill has had to put real work on hold and fight a very backward system indeed.

Some might say, "take it to the media Bill, blow the lid off it" - but from what I've seen and heard on the mainstream media toilet papers, teleblindness and radio monotony, they're buying into the fear frenzy and are not interested in representing a range of views on Internet censorship in schools.

What to do... Bill is aiming for alternative filtering software to start with. One that can differentiate between different users, so adults and children can work with different levels of "risk".

Jason Plunket has come in on Bill's post with a great comment pointing out the filtering is in fact increasing the risk to students and unsavvy teachers.

I have suggested before for a more democratic system of content management, where teachers (and maybe even some students) can participate in training filters by flagging inappropriate content, and having the ability to unblock other content. Or a system a lot like some of Flickr's approach to managing content on their servers. Sure! some stuff may get through, its not like extreme filters work any better, but at least the liability is shared by the community, not taken on by the few.

Or perhaps schools should consider releasing their liability all together! They offer an Internet connection and that's it. Laptops are given out to the needy (and yes, with the money I've seen wasted on admin projects, we could afford to do that) and its up to the parents and community to decide what measures they will take to protect their kids. I know I'd prefer my kid to learn how to manage in the real world quite frankly, not some artificial world full of taboo and fear at every corner.

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