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.