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Internet, So What? (responses)

I appreciated your article in computer paper; provides a sound forum on which student/educator/librarian must continue feeding reasoned goals

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Internet, So What?

Bill Kempthorne (billk@wimsey.com) was the author of this Opinion in the September 96 The Computer Paper (BC edition). As it asks for rebuttals in his end bio, here is my opinions on the article.

(1) One point in the article raises the issue of Bill’s cat having his own WWW page, and in that anyone can be sort of a producer of material on the Internet. Isn’t the ability for example of a small business to have a WWW page like a big corporation one of the good points? And with the ability for anyone to be a producer of material without owning a TV network or printing press while still reaching a large market.

(2) I also find that for a person fearing the hype of the Internet would fall into the “hype” of even suggesting the Internet is the Information Highway is amusing.

(3) Another point brought up in the article is that you are just dropped into the Internet and only get information by accident. While that might be true in some sense… I think that there are several facilities available for people to either get help and search out information specifically.

(4) The mention of “the fax is a more robost medium than the Internet” is unnerving. It mentions the ability of a fax to carry pictures and signatures. I’m not sure if he is referring to some sort of electronic signature, but I’ll assume it’s the old John Hancock. Anyways.. if I told him that you could send the things listed above on the Internet, would it still be more of a robust medium?

(5) I also find that the order in quality of writing to be Letter->Fax->Internet is wrong. When the letter doesn’t have a 47 cent stamp does it somehow lose value?

(6) I really like the “reliability” issue raised once again in the “Internet as Television” section. I find it a ridiculous arguement to hold producers of information on the Internet to some high standard… There is some thought to using your own brain and cross-referencing to ensure the information is correct. Just because there is some graffiti on the wall of some building, doesn’t mean I think it’s legitimate. The talk about how when someone mails from a university or company e-mail address that it makes it “tough to distinguish the organizational information from the individual opinion” is beyond me. The site address can be equated to letterhead… for example, I can go fake a copy of some big company and write a letter.. would you think, “OH, it’s GM’s position that Quebec should leave..” And whether this means people should have two seperate accounts, that’s not a bad idea. Company stationary, personal stationary.

(7) “The people on the fringes -university and high school students or some kid using his parent’s account…” I always thought mass media was stereotyping younger people… but all this time it’s the damn teachers.

(8) A point is raised in that you wouldn’t want talk shows or prime time real life dramas in the school classroom. While I agree that schools should take a look at their approach in respect to the Internet… this point is like saying you can’t have a telephone in the school because someone could possibly call a phone sex line. And you know anyone can get a telephone… well you say you can block out the 1-900 lines.. what if someone offered a free service from a local number? Well at least we have Net Nanny (bahaha) that can intercept specific words… to my knowledge nothing has been mass marketed to intercept specific words for a phone line.

I don’t have time to finish my little analysis… but anyhow, as a fringe of society I better not waste anymore bandwith. =)

I’ve posted my letter to can.infohighway to generate more discussion as I would like to become more informed on the subject… and hear other people’s opinions.

+——————————-+—————————————–+ | Lawrence D. Lee | Support the US citizens protesting CDA |
| lalee@freenet.vancouver.bc.ca | and make sure it doesn’t happen here! | | Full Time CST BCIT (Sept ’95) | One resource: read comp.org.eff.talk | | Vancouver FreeNet Volunteer +—————————————–+ | Vancouver, BC CANADA | #*# Oh Canada! Our home and native land |
+——————————-+—————————————–+
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This senior high school English teacher thoroughly enjoyed your article.

The question of whether the Internet should be used in the classroom reminds me of the question some decades ago about using TV in the classroom. TV has never been comfortable in the traditional classroom, mainly because its content refused the neat containment that books offered for centuries. TV not only made traditional book reading an unsatisfying experience for many, it challenged the very physical nature of what we call ‘classroom’. If TV had a psyche, it would be completely stressed out like so many teachers. We have yet to really come to create relevant space for education in the TV age. And now the internet. What has to happen to prod us into dealing seriously with the questions you raised in your article? There are many other points I’d love to make, but for now, suffice to say Many Thanks.
mrcCongratulations on your Computer Paper article on the intenet. It should be required reading for all B.C. teachers. I am asking my wife, who is a Surrey elementary teacher, to post it in her staff room. Please let me know when and where to find your upcoming publication that was cited in CP.
I am co-chair of the NDP Education Policy Committee and am on constant alert for people (especially teachers) who might be interested in participating. Should you ever be interested in such a possibility, please post me a note.

Jim Johnson
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Thank you for writing Internet, So What?

in the September Computer Paper. It’s right-on to my way of thinking. I teach grade 6-8 at Citadel Middle School in Port Coquitlam. I have been in the computer bus/industry since the late 1960’s. I am 43 years old and I think pretty progressive. However I recently commented to our teachers over our district E-mail that there seemed to be a lot of chatter about getting better access to the Internet NOW! NOW! NOW! if not yesterday. My suggestion was that for now, as Crawford Lilian, whom I disagree with for the most part, most often, is quite right when he says in his book “Visions 2020” “there is a tremendous amount of neat stuff out there however there is a mountain of garbage to sift through before you can get to it”.

I mentioned to our teachers-on-line that while I was working again down at Microsoft this summer I noticed one thing about the interest in development for the Internet there. That was, that it is something that will not really be a viable, useful market for at least 24 if not 36 months. My suggestion is, that instead of pumping our tech-monies at better access lines for WWW access, we continue to try to get as many kids exchanging inter-district E-mail ideas and discussions on current curricular topics. I tried to say that the Internet is somewhat faddish but you put it better and I will pass on your article to district staff with the high-lighted quote, “new is better, more is better, also your, TV broadcast analogy.

Thanks once again for this. Lance Read LREAD@schdist43.bc.ca
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Great job on the article! In it you say the media is a reasonably reliable source of information! I think that the media is no longer a reliable source of information because they rely to much on advertising for there source revenue and REVENUE is there game today NOT news.
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Dear TCP

I have just finished reading Bill Kempthorne’s “Internet, So What?” article. I agree with him about the irresponsibility of many of the people who use the Internet, and thought I would tell of an occurence that I was involved with recently.

I am the president of a national sports organization, the Canadian Powerlifting Union, and recently had the unfortunate duty of informing one of our members, who is a lower leg amputee, that he could no longer participate in “able-bodied” events. As an amputee he had been competing in the Bench Press competitions. Our parent international body had clarified a ruling to us, stating that a prosthesis is not legal equipment, according to the rules of the sport, and that with out it the athlete could not have two “shoes” on the floor, also required. A Catch 22, if you will, and certainly not in keeping with a modern societies wish to allow full access to the disabled. We protested this ruling, indicating that we wanted to see the disabled be allowed to compete on the same level as able bodied athletes, though for the present we knew we were obligated to enforce the ruling.

Now the athlete in question and myself are both subscribers to an Internet email list-serv mailing list, devoted to weightlifting. Similar to a newsgroup, a list-serv is a more direct service where letters are sent in to a central moderator, who assembles them all together and mails them all together back to all of the lists subscribers. The athlete decided to retaliate by posting a letter to the list-serv that was decidedly one-sided, and implied that this decision had been made by myself and the rest of the Canadian executive of the sport. The tone of the letter was that we were a bunch fascists, who cared little for the disabled, and would not lift a finger to help them. The reality, of course was much different. We have always encouraged the participation of the disabled, and all of our provincial groups have assisted disabled groups for many years. I myself have coached a team of blind weightlifters for the past 6 years. He closed this letter by telling everyone to send any comments to my email address.

Well I received many comments, some of them most unfriendly, from around the world. One from Israel indirectly compared me to Hitler, and all were from people “shocked, disgusted, embarrased” and so on by our “racist, discriminatory, and narrow-minded” attitude. A few days afterwards I posted my rebuttal, telling all of our real attitude, and that we were doing everything we could to see this rule changed. My inbox was very quiet. Just a couple of apologies.

But the point to be learned here surely goes back a long way. When people first started to read things in newspapers, they must have reasoned that a newspaper could not print something that was not true. If it is in print it must be true, right? This attitude is still very prevalent today. So does this mean that if it come across your desk on your computer screen rather than hard copy that it must be equally “true”? As Bill Kempthorne says, any one with a minimum of means can access and input information to the Internet, regardless of the value or truth of it, and now seemingly regardless of the potential damage to an individual or organization. I do not know how much of the sport community was able to learn of this, but it cannot have done anything but harm to our until now, unblemished international reputation. In the print and video media there are laws and regulations to prevent slanderous charges being made. Perhaps the time has come when this is also needed for the Internet.

Mike Armstrong
President, Canadian Powerlifting Union
armstcpu@oanet.com
http://www.tgx.com/cpu/cpu.htm

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As one who is just trying to get acquainted with the Internet and who is wondering what the hype is about, I found your article in COMPUTER PAPER, Toronto, September 1995, most interesting. I cannot say that I have learned to surf and can give a sound judgment on your opinions because I have not been willing to put in the vast amount of time to go through list upon list, in order to get to some morsel of information. Do you have any suggestions for shortcuts? I am a conservative college professor of English, interested in such mundane things as current events, social issues, health and environmental issues and the like.

Erma Collins

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