Ramblings. Musings. Required coursework.

Month: August 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Making Sense of (Convoluted) Copyright

As part of my Masters program, I took a course on the preservation of sound recordings. Although I loved working with older audio formats, what I really found fascinating was the extent to which copyright law convoluted the practice of preserving records of our cultural heritage. Throughout our course readings and discussions, archivists expressed frustration at the lengths to which archival staff had to go to determine copyright on works with both clear provenance and orphan works…even so far as to understanding that the state in which a work was created would have equal (and sometimes greater) influence than more commonly known federal laws (pray it isn’t New York). It is this interest, in many ways, that drove the creation of my timeline.

Rather than focusing on copyright broadly (because, let’s be honest, that could take months to cover), I opted to look specifically at the rights conferred and the extensions to the time offered for protections. I made this decision because I believe it is important for those who preserve the cultural record to know the whys and hows of the laws to which they are held accountable. Further, for archivists to make real progress in affecting change to copyright, they must understand the background and foundations of current laws.

To make the timeline, I tried a new software, Tiki-Toki, which allows you to create one timeline with their free account. I am not, however, able to embed with the free account, so it is linked below. While it may not be explicitly stated in the timeline, be sure to click the “Find out more” buttons as they will redirect you to other sites of interest.

Making Sense of (Convoluted) Copyright

Trolls and Cyberbullies as Digital Terrorists?

As part of my Digital Citizenship post, I asked readers to consider “who or what governs the standards and expected behaviors on the internet.” To further the argument, I asked “where we place spammers, flamers, cyber stalkers, and trolls? Are they the digital equivalent of the modern terrorist?” Rachel responded by questioning my consideration of trolls as terrorists, stating, “I think that comparing terrorists with people who troll on the internet really downgrades the severity of what terrorists are. Terrorists strike fear, trolls make rude but slightly humorous comments out of boredom. I don’t think that trolls are terrorists, that is an extreme. Trolls are bullies or pranksters. Maybe hackers or virus writers would be a better comparison?” I’ve been thinking about these questions for a bit and wanted to take the time to address them in a more formal post.

I think, much like any of the topics we’ve discussed in class, how we frame this understanding relies heavily on the context and use. Merriam-Webster defines “terrorism” as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion,” while Dictionary.com’s definition includes “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes” and “the state of fear and submissions produced by terrorism or terrorization.” At its simplest, terror is understood to be “a state of [extreme] or intense fear” (Merriam-Webster). Taking these two definitions at their most literal, then, we can assume that terrorism is the “systematic use of extreme or intense fear (or violence) as a means of coercion.”

At this point, I hesitate to connect trolls to political terrorism equivalent to that of 9/11 (as an example) and think Rachel’s suggestion that hackers might be a better comparison bears merit. In line with this, it’s good to consider a recent example where the relationship of trolling and terrorism came to light. in 2015, Joshua Goldberg was arrested for “providing bomb schematics to an FBI informant pretending to be a jihadist” (Hayes). An active online contributor, Goldberg trolled under his name and the pseudonym Tanya Cohen, as well as others. Although he was charged with plotting to plant a bomb at a 9/11 event, as Tech Dirt argues, Goldberg was “a one-man internet trolling army pretending to be ISIS trying to troll someone else he thought was a wanna-be ISIS supporter in the US, but who actually turned out to the working for the FBI.” So perhaps the link between troll and political terrorism lacks real, concrete examples at this time.

That said, when I initially posted my definition of digital citizenship, I was thinking more about the fear experienced by an individual facing extreme cyberbullying or trolling than politically motivated terrorism. Cyberbullying, which shares characteristics with trolling, particularly as relates to the emotional distress of the victim, is “bullying that takes place using electronic technology” (Stop Bullying). More specifically, it is the “use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person” – generally youth (Kids Health). According to recent studies, cyberbullying rates indicate that approximately “1 in 4 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying” while “1 in 6 admit to having cyberbullied someone;” in other studies, “approximately half of the teens surveyed said they’ve experienced abuse through social and digital media” (Kids Health). While these are extreme cases, I think you would be hard pressed to argue that individuals such as Charlotte Dawson, Hannah Smith, and Jessica Laney — each cyberbullied to the point of suicide, were not in states of extreme fear or duress at the time of their death.

Regardless of where you stand on the concept of trolls or cyberbullies as terrorists, I think it becomes clear that each represents an important area for education when teaching digital literacy.

Additional Resources to Share with Students

Fire Away

My three Fire Away questions are as follows:

  1. I’m having trouble determining how to precisely word this question because it sounds as if I do not support accessibility and I absolutely do. Given this, I think some background will help. I was recently in a meeting with an Instructional Designer working for a for-profit university who informed me that her university was working to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Level AAA. As part of their work to meet WCAG and Section 504 and ensure accessibility in all things, they are now requiring all course content, including the work being presented by students, include closed captioning or transcripts. As such, many faculty have stopped assigning video and audio projects to students. Knowing this, where do we draw the line?
  2. How do we, as teachers or faculty, deal with students who have a documented disability but refuse services, particularly when we believe they would be more successful and their learning experience would be better with their allowed accommodations? Has anyone had a conversation like that before?
  3. What options are available to instructors in higher education who believe students may have a learning disability? While I know Disability Student Services (DSS) is there to help students, can we refer them as we might in K-12? Does the referral go to DSS or to the student?
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