In the spirit of open

The post below may not relate specifically to our learning goals in ETMOOC, but it does deal with the concept of “open” and so I thought I would share it with you all.

I have just submitted a letter to the editor of the Times and Transcript a newspaper produced in Moncton, N.B.  I was disheartened to read a column by Norbert Cunningham in today’s edition that was titled “Internet freedom’s just another word for anarchy“.

I am unable to link to column as it is behind a paywall.  Most of it is Cunningham’s reflection on the “wrong-headed” belief of “poor deluded souls” such as Aaron Swartz and the “the dark side” of internet freedom activists:

“However smart these people are, they’ve either bought their own inflated hype about what the net is or bought their own unrealistic ideals about what it should be.”

I personally disagree with much of what Cunningham wrote and his judgement that the evidence against Aaron Swartz might not have been good enough to convict, but it “was good enough to prosecute”, but my distaste for the column stems from the bigger picture he creates.  By linking our desire for internet freedom to anarchy rather than democracy, and for insisting we are a deluded buch who relish information over thinking I decided to respond.

To equate the fight for open information to anarchy as your columnist Norbert Cunningham did is to do a disservice to a great number of people, including some of us who read this newspaper. A free and open Internet is not an article of faith of ‘Silicon Valley’, au contraire, it is the belief of many ordinary citizens who believe that the Internet should not be locked or controlled by corporate or political interests. We are not deluded, we believe open media, an open internet, and open information are essential to a healthy democracy.  I invite you to learn more about grassroots work on protecting freedom and democracy by visiting http://www.openmedia.ca 

It is ironic that you end the piece with the quote by De Bono who decries elevating information over thinking. Many of us who support a free and open Internet do so for the very same reason.  Swallowing information in the form of content produced by corporate interests is no longer the only means of creating knowledge.  We are fighting to maintain access to thought, opinion, information and wisdom from all corners of the globe, from all citizens and for the right to think for ourselves.

Addendum

In the hour that has passed since I pressed “publish” it has bothered me that I have not tied this post back to my reasons for enrolling in ETMOOC.  One of my passions is enabling voice – parent voice, student voice, teacher voice, community voice. I believe that technology has amplified our ability to speak our voices and to hear the voices of others.  “In the spirit of open” is me using my voice to advocate for a society that values the  sharing of information and ideas. Something New Brunswick needs more of and something our public schools should be fostering.

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One thought on “In the spirit of open

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful piece and comments. It totally floors me that a fellow Canadian, I am from Ontario though live in Guatemala, would not understand the importance of freedom and even invoke the word “anarchy” in regards to the freedom of the internet. Maybe I am pushing it a bit here but is that not how so many corrupt governments and political situations have come into being by taking away the freedom of expression and making it criminal to have a mind of your own.

    I have just spent eight years working in China and while I loved my time there I spent that time living behind China’s Great Information Firewall. Slowly we lost access to You Tube, Twitter, blogs of any sort and most Google applications except for Gmail plus many more things because those things were deemed to be harmful. The freedom to now be able to go online and research anything I want and to be part of a conversation is exciting to me.

    Information and then thinking critically about the information is how we change the world but if we don’t have access to the information or only the information that someone else deems necessary is a scary thought and leads to unbelievable consequences. It is absolutely imperative that we teach this to students otherwise what hope do we have if we are not educating the next generations to think for themselves, analyse, look for truth in the written and spoken word.

    I am of the age that remembers October Crisis of 1970 when then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act and all Canadians for all intents and purposes lost our freedom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Crisis
    While there will always be discussion about whether he went to far against the terrorism threatening Canada by the FLQ as I teenager I remember the constant fear of not having rights and the incredible relief when the Act was revoked.

    Information must be kept free and the internet is the vehicle we have for this. Thank you for your response. As for me: writing this response is my “ski jump” moment that Alec shared.

    I realize as I re read what I just wrote I may have gotten off track a bit but freedom of information is a “hot button” for me and what you wrote certainly ignited that spark again. Thanks

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