Internet Freedom
Jan 22, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Hillary Clinton has received wide acclaim for articulating and defending internet freedom. The full text of her speech is available here. "The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyber space. It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate in the name of progress. Once you're on the internet, you don't need to be a tycoon or a rock star to have a huge impact on society." I want to state clearly that we cannot simply leave these freedoms to the whims of the marketplace or the caprice of corporations. Our investment in this technology - for certainly, it have been a society-wide investment - should not come to be owned and managed by a select few. It is easy to focus on governments as the locus of oppression, but it is essential to understand that a declaration of internet freedoms applies not only to governments but to all agencies and stakeholders. Schools, corporations, societies, governments, religions - all need to respect the right of the members of humanity, as a whole, to interact with each other, without fear, without barriers, without oppression. In the meantime: Kudos to Hillary Clinton. Total: 10892
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Comments

Re: Internet Freedom

I especially appreciate your reminder that the value of the internet arise from the participation of all of us, both individually as users and contributors of content, and collectively through the publicly funded research which made it all possible [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Internet Freedom

Stephen:
I agree with your assertion that all people, not just governments, need to accept and promote the reality of internet 'connectivity' as a human right. As an educator I feel that connectivity of and to information, resources, and the multiplicity of opinion is not only essential for teachers and students but good for the development of freedom and national/global citizens.

I recently started using twitter in my classroom. I found a way to use 'lists' and was following "@Time/haiti" using Tweet Deck on a Smart-board. During class we were having a discussion on Haiti and people who were actually on the ground in Haiti (red cross, CARE, Time reporters, MSF, etc) started to post comments, links, and current pictures. As we discussed food supply, someone from CARE or The Toronto Star would post their view on food distribution. One reporter tweeted another quake/aftershock had happened. Twenty minutes later it was reported on CNN. We felt, as a class, that we knew before the world knew. Is that not the power Ms. Clinton was talking about when she said? "The spread of information networks is forming a new nervous system for our planet. When something happens in Haiti or Hunan the rest of us learn about it in real time - from real people."

I think as educators we need to promote the importance of critical thinking, analysis, and discussion in order to help students sift through and develop true learning and understanding of just what they are connected to. Students need someone to help them understand what knowledge has just travelled to their computer, cell phones, or newspapers. This, I think is the true freedom that Ms. Clinton was talking about.
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