Monday, May 21, 2007

The Worst Part of Censorship

The Worst Part of Censorship
Originally uploaded by Lady, That's My Skull.

Okay so Censorship is probably too strong of a word in this instance. However, I do find the following highly frustrating at least:

We are asked in class to leave class and use the library computers, or to stay if we like and use our own laptops or take our laptops elsewhere in groups and 3 or 4 and find images for a particular project in my gender class. Immediately I think of an old 70's commercial as well as a video on the internet that will work well. So we go off in our little groups and try to find these things. But there is a big problem. The video is on you tube and BYU automatically blocks that site. You can't get there from campus. There's no way. It's also blocking the old 70's commercial which we've located on google video but it won't let us play it. In fact, when you use google video about 3/4 of the videos are blocked. We finally find a couple of things we can use and come back to the classroom with our measly finds. The other groups had similar problems. This is a class on gender and psychology - this problem happened earlier in the semester when trying to look up some relevant articles online. The BYU computers search everything for objectionable content. Since we were looking for things about gender the content was automatically blocked on most of the articles. These are scholarly journals but we can't pull them up. Now later I found that if you knew the website you were going to, you could pull it up, but by using a search engine to find it - that was getting automatically blocked by the strong filters. Is this a good thing?

Here is my thinking. Yes, it's BYU and perhaps we should expect a certain amount of this. You are going to a private church run school. WIFI is everywhere (almost) on campus. This means that any 18 year old with a laptop can be on the internet on campus 24/7. This perhaps makes BYU feel that they must be extra certain that inappropriate content is not able to be accessed on their watch. I can see the logic of this.

But here's the problem, we aren't trying to look up anything inappropriate. We are trying to learn something and we are actually not able to even complete a simple class assignment because of this blocking.

Example 2. Later in the afternoon in my other class a presentation is given. Inside the presentation the students doing a powerpoint had a link to a therapy session that showed exactly the type of therapy there were talking about. Guess what? Won't work. The video originated from you tube. No dice. There is no way to access anything from that site. Their presentation suffers quite a bit because they try to make up for this 7 minute loss on the fly and it doesn't quite work.

It starts to seem a little excessive to me. And maybe I'm totally wrong. I mean, I'm willing to re-think it.

But instead I've spent the greater part of the last few hours trying to test to see if there is a way around this. I've started a new blog on a different site. I've uploaded one of the videos we were discussing on to that site. I'm then going to test it out tomorrow when I am on campus to see if I go from here to there, can I watch it? Or because it still originates on you tube will the censor/filter catch that and block it?

And is it sad that this will seem like some kind of accomplishment to me if I have figured out a way around their block?

AND maybe more importantly, does someone with a personality like mine become more likely to try to find ways around these things because the barrier is there? I don't know the answers, these are just things I am thinking about.

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