Team 5 Commentary

Megan and Stef please provide your commentary on any ideas raised, or neglected, in the question, response and discussion process during the preceding week. And if so inclined you may revisit and comment on previous questions, responses, discussions and commentaries.

Chapter 6
I presented on Chapter 6, Moral Disorder, and recapped the chapter’s moral and ethical issues involving Web 2.0 addictions, like gambling, pornography, second life, and the internet in general. Also raised was the issue of stealing and cheating online and how Web 2.0 is “corroding and corrupting the values we share as a nation.” I thought the discussions that stemmed from our questions were stimulating and relevant to the chapter. I believe everyone agreed that cheating and stealing work from others off the internet was immoral, but the line between right and wrong became blurred when overused paper topics, like Hamlet, came into question and the abundance of information on that topic available and the rights to that information. Another interesting point that was brought up that I completely agree with, and the class seemed to also, was the generational differences on idea of intellectual property—our Web 2.0 generation expects free distribution of information, even if illegal, because it’s what we’re used to. This also relates to our discussion about online gambling. Although Keen and Schwartz, part of an older generation, believe that gambling should be restricted to licensed casinos and establishments, like universities, be held responsible, our class agreed that it was not the school or anyone else fault, although schools should regulate their servers. Instead, most everyone decided that the blame rests with the addict gambling and agreed that extreme gambling addicts, as talked about in Chapter 6, would find another way to gamble because the problem lies within the individual gambling. Our discussion also touched on Keen’s idea that social networking is dangerously accelerating kids’ social and sexual development. From this idea came some interesting viewpoints on Facebook, what people will share online, and even generational differences (“when I was young…”) between us and middle school students now, who are laden with cell phones, make-up, barely-there clothing, and Facebook and MySpace accounts. However, some students pointed out that it is all media, not just social networking, that is accelerating kids’ development and that it is also partly the parents’ fault for not instilling and upholding “the values we share as a nation” in their children.
—Megan Quigley

Chapter 7

I felt the discussion went fairly well today. Privacy is an issue that concerns everyone, and it is an issue that will only continue to grow as the digital age progresses. I feel as though the discussion could have been better had there been more responses (there were 2 to question 4 and only 1 to question 3), but in-class discussion seemed fairly involved. My one regret is that I wish I could have made more of a connection between chapters 6 and 7. Web 2.0’s destruction of privacy really goes hand-in-hand with its depreciation of morality. We are taught at a young age that people value their privacy and that you should not intrude on that. The internet (technology) has no respect for privacy, or for traditional values, for that matter. It is a money-making machine, and it will use any means possible to achieve that end as other money-making sources die out, whether this involves posting illegal gambling sites or gathering intimate information about society. I was interested to see, however, how the class’s attitude toward privacy quickly changed when the more sinister secrets of the web’s agenda were brought up. Most people aren’t aware that web sites can track your every digital move. As Keen writes about AOL user #711391, I think that a lot of us invariably trust the internet: “She trusted her search engine absolutely…it was her sole confidante, the one certainty that could never let her down.” (165) Granted the majority of us are not that extreme in our dependence, but I feel like many people don’t realize how “un-private” the internet really is. Sure, you wouldn’t post your entire street address on facebook; but you’d give it out to who knows how many people that work the Victoria’s Secret web site accounts!
I also wish that we could have spent more time discussing the knowledge vs. information issue. I think we’ve all agreed at this point that knowledge requires some sort of analysis, while information is just data. What’s interesting to me, though, is how information now seems to be valued over knowledge, thanks to Web 2.0. Of course that statement doesn’t apply absolutely. I would definitely rather know the secret of life than Mrs. Soandso’s cell phone number and birth date. But I guess what really matters here is what you DO with the knowledge or information you have. It seems that if you want to accomplish some end (let’s say money), then the value is really placed on information.
Ultimately I think we accomplished what I hoped we would, namely the understanding that privacy IS being destroyed. Some of us might not mind, and that may be the best approach to take as we come closer to what Larry Page calls “the ultimate search engine,” because really at that point, what can you do but accept it? My question is: how much is TOO much? When will the invasion of privacy stop? As Keen writes on the last page of the chapter, “Everybody knows…”
—Stephanie Keymont

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