Friday, June 08, 2007

Beyond Defending Wikipedia

I second the tone and content of Doug Johnson's Defending Wikipedia - its our job post, but I've got a few things to add.

First, I'd like to understand how librarians failed to get control of school and district web filters when they arrived five to 10 years ago. This was a major strategic disaster for everyone involved, and both our schools and the profession of "school librarian" may simply never recover.

If we are going to recover some semblance of freedom and sanity in web filtering, librarians need to go on the offensive. They need to choose their ground carefully, and attack where they are strongest and the brainless blockers are weakest. Wikipedia is not that point. We need to push back where our Constitutional protections are strongest: political speech. Right now, I know that the Providence School Department systematically blocks political blogs. I'm sure that is not the only district doing that. We need a campaign to show we can successfully push back in a nationwide, coordinated fashion. Once that happens, we can think more about what is reasonable on the margins, like the "Dirty Sanchez" entry in Wikipedia.


Unknown said...

Inspired by the freed presidential debates?

I almost wish that had gotten drawn out a little longer. The case was too good.

Tom Hoffman said...

Uh... no?

Unknown said...

Sorry, I should have been more explicit.

As you may have heard, the cable networks were restricting access to the footage from "their" presidential debates. Lessig and a bunch of other notables, including the candidates, pushed to get the restrictions lifted and have recently succeeded.

The dominoes fell pretty quickly, since there's a long tradition (legally, but also rhetorically and in people's intuitions) that this sort of political speech is public territory. It struck me as illustrating something similar to your point. But perhaps I'm overinterpreting b/c they were next to each other in my feed reader.