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Joshua Simon

Joshua Simon

Welcome, readers! As you strive to make sense of the Internet and the World Wide Web, these 10 terms are bound to be very helpful.


1. The Web vs. the Internet

The Internet is a vast 'interconnection of computer networks'. It is comprised of millions of computing devices that trade volumes of information. Desktop computers, mainframes, GPS units, cell phones, car alarms, video game consoles, and even soda pop machines are connected to the Net.


The Internet started in the late 1960's as an American military project, and has since evolved into a massive public spiderweb. No single organization owns or controls the Internet. The Net has grown into a spectacular mishmash of non-profit, private sector, government, and entrepreneurial broadcasters.


The Internet houses many layers of information, with each layer dedicated to a different kind of documentation. These different layers are called 'protocols'. The most popular protocols are the World Wide Web, FTP, Telnet, Gopherspace, instant messaging, and email.

The World Wide Web, or 'Web' for short, is the most popular portion of the Internet. The Web is viewed through web browser software.


Grammar and spelling note: Use capitalized 'Internet' and 'Web' when using either word as a noun. Use lowercase 'internet' or 'web' when using either word as an adjective. e.g. 'We were browsing the Internet on our television last night.' e.g. 'We found a really good web page about global warming.'


2. http and https

http is a technical acronym that means 'hypertext transfer protocol', the language of web pages. When a web page has this prefix, then your links, text, and pictures should work in your web browser.

https is 'hypertext transfer protocol SECURED'. This means that the web page has a special layer of encryption added to hide your personal information and passwords. Whenever you log into your online bank or your web email account, you should see https at the front of the page address.

:// is the strange expression for 'this is a computer protocol'. We add these 3 characters in a Web address to denote which set of computer lanaguage rules affect the document you are viewing.

3. Browser

A browser is a free software package that lets you view web pages, graphics, and most online content. Browser software is specifically designed to convert HTML and XML into readable documents.

The most popular web browsers in 2013 are: Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari.

Read more about web browsers here...
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The internet service provider
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4. HTML and XML

Hypertext Markup Language is the programmatic language that web pages are based on. HTML commands your web browser to display text and graphics in orderly fashion. HTML uses commands called 'HTML tags' that look like the following:


<a href="/www.about.com"></a>
XML is eXtensible Markup Language, a cousin to HTML. XML focuses on cataloging and databasing the text content of a web page. XML commands look like the following:

XHTML is a combination of HTML and XML.

5. URL

URL's, or 'uniform resource locators', are the web browser addresses of internet pages and files. A URL works together with IP addresses to help us name, locate, and bookmark specific pages and files for our web browsers.

URL's commonly use three parts to address a page or file: the protocol (which is the portion ending in '//:'); the host computer (which sometimes ends in .com); and the filename/pagename itself. For example:

Read more about URL's here...
Broadband Provisioner
DOCSIS® Network Management for Cable and VOIP

6. IP Address

Your computer's 'internet protocol' address is a four-part or eight-part electronic serial number. An IP address can look something like '' or like '21DA:D3:0:2F3B:2AA:FF:FE28:9C5A', complete with dot or colon separators. Every computer, cell phone, and device that accesses the Internet is assigned at least one IP address for tracking purposes. Wherever you browse, whenever you send an email or instant message, and whenever you download a file, your IP address acts like a type of automobile licence plate to enforce accountability and traceability.

7. Email

Email (formerly spelled e-mail with a hyphen) is electronic mail. It is the sending and receiving of typewritten messages from one screen to another. Email is usually handled by a webmail service (e.g. Gmail or Yahoomail), or an installed software package (e.g. Microsoft Outlook).

Email has many cousins: text messaging, instant messaging, live chat, videomail (v-mail), Google Waving.

Read more about email here...
8. Blogs and Blogging
A blog ('web log') is a modern online writer's column. Amateur and professional writers publish their blogs on most every kind of topic: their hobby interest in paintball and tennis, their opinions on health care, their commentaries on celebrity gossip, photo blogs of favorite pictures, tech tips on using Microsoft Office. Absolutely anyone can start a blog, and some people actually make reasonable incomes by selling advertising on their blog pages.

Web logs are usually arranged chronologically, and with less formality than a full website. Blogs vary in quality from very amateurish to very professional. It costs nothing to start your own personal blog.

9. Social Media and Social Bookmarking

Social media is the broad term for any online tool that enables users to interact with thousands of other users. Instant messaging and chatting are common forms of social media, as are blogs with comments, discussion forums, video-sharing and photo-sharing websites. Facebook.com and MySpace.com are very large social media sites, as are YouTube.com and Digg.com.

Social bookmarking is a the specific form of social media. Social bookmarking is where users interact by recommending websites to each other ('tagging sites').

10. ISP

ISP is Internet Service Provider. That is the private company or government organization that plugs you into the vast Internet around the world. Your ISP will offer varying services for varying prices: web page access, email, hosting your own web page, hosting your own blog, and so on. ISP's will also offer various Internet connection speeds for a monthly fee. (e.g. ultra high speed Internet vs economy Internet).

Today, you will also hear about WISP's, which are Wireless Internet Service Providers. They cater to laptop users who travel regularly.


Source:  http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/internetlanguage/tp/the-top-internet-terms-for-beginners.htm


Microsoft is forcing people to use its Bing search engine with the Cortana digital assistant in Windows 10.

Every search done this way will also be piped only through its recently released Edge browser.
In a blogpost, Microsoft said it was making people use Bing so they could get the most out of other search-related features in its products.

Many Cortana users have previously preferred to carry out searches with Google rather than Bing.
Windows users will still be able to install other web browsers and use other search engines outside Cortana, said Ryan Gavin, Microsoft's head of search and Cortana, in the blogpost.

However, he said, Microsoft was adding extras to Edge and Bing that meant it made sense to tie these programs to Cortana instead of other search engines and browsers.
Anything else would be a "compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable", he said.
The extra features will differ depending on what people search for, but if someone used Cortana to look for a restaurant the browser would take them to the relevant webpage and add in a map to show the closest locations, Mr Gavin said.

'Taking liberties'

On technical queries, these extras would return the usual list of potentially helpful pages but would return videos and other explainers, adding detail.
Mr Gavin said Microsoft was investing in these "end-to-end personal search experiences" and hoped they would prompt a series of actions after users carried out one search.
As an example of this, Mr Gavin said a future search for "tickets to a Rihanna show" would open up search results for seats tied to a user's preferences and complete every part of the buying process apart from the final click on the payment button.

Writing on the Search Engine Land news site, analyst Danny Sullivan said it was a mistake to limit "deliberate choices" users made.
"I think Microsoft is taking some big liberties here," he said.

Mr Sullivan went on to criticise the convoluted process Windows 10 users have to follow to change the default search engine used on Edge and Internet Explorer.
Although Microsoft has had some success getting people to use the Bing search engine, Google still dominates in this market.
Statistics gathered by Statcounter suggest that globally more than 90% of searches are carried out via Google. By contrast, Bing accounts for about 3% of searches.
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Source:  http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-36168857


Chrome is more than just a browser--it's an ecosystem that can help make your day a bit more productive. And with the help of these extensions, it can deliver an extra boost of efficiency to your daily grind.

If you're a Chrome user, you know well how the extension architecture can expand functionality and make Chrome more than just a browser. In fact, with the right collection of extensions, Chrome can become a means to a very productive end. Don't believe me? Just take a gander at the Productivity category on the Chrome Web Store. But which of the plethora of extensions are best suited for getting your life in order and your work done? Of course, this will depend upon what exactly you need to accomplish, but certain extensions can help just about anyone. Let's take a look at 10 of them and see if they appeal to your needs.


1: Buffer

Buffer is one of those tools you don't realize you need until you try it. Buffer is all about scheduled tweets, retweets, and Facebook posts. If you (or your company) works with either Twitter or Facebook to market a product or service, you owe it to yourself to give this a try. Not only can you schedule your tweets (or retweets), you can also get insight into what tweets are getting the most traction and even rebuffer those to keep them bubbling up to the top. You can sign up for a free account (which allows you 10 tweets in your buffer) or pay $10.00 USD/month for an "awesome" upgrade and get 100 tweets in your buffer.


2: QuickDrop

QuickDrop is one of the best tools for interacting with Dropbox from within Chrome. With this extension you can navigate through your Dropbox account (with a single click on the extension button), upload images directly to your Dropbox account (through a right-click context menu), and much more. You can also create a special upload folder from within the QuickDrop settings so all uploaded files can be found there.


3: StayFocused

StayFocused is the extension you need if you tend to waste too much time on websites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and want a third party to control your usage. If you restrict your Facebook usage to one hour a day, that's all you'll get. StayFocused can block specific pages, entire domains, and even apps and games. With the help of this extension, you'll stay more focused and get more work done.


4: Dayboard

 Dayboard replaces your new tab page with a daily to-do list. You can view these tasks in what's called Focus Mode, which displays the tasks in your to-do list one at a time. Dayboard will also give you a history of your completed tasks, allows you to connect teams to your lists, and keep your tasks in sync with all your devices. The developers are always working on new features (such as the coming-soon ability to archive tasks and turn off reminders when the workday is over).


5: Auto Text Expander

Auto Text Expander is an extension focused on saving you time on phrases you repetitively type. You simply add shortcuts for text snippets. Every time you type the shortcut, Auto Text Expander will automatically insert the text associated with it. Not only will you save time, but you'll save the extra work associated with typos. Auto Text Expander allows you to import and export your shortcuts (which you should always do, to be safe).


6: Save to Pocket

Save to Pocket offers an efficient way to save articles or bookmarks for later viewing. Instead of creating a Temp folder on your Bookmark bar, just add this extension and be done with it. Save to Pocket offers one-click saving from the toolbar, from a context menu, and from a keyboard shortcut. Everything you save will appear in your Pocket account and be synced across all of your devices.


7: OneTab

OneTab is the extension for anyone who keeps too many tabs open at one time. When this happens, those tabs can become so small, you have no idea which tab is associated with what page. OneTab provides a single tab that lists all your currently open pages. This will also help save memory on your PC (as all of those tabs have been reduced to a single instance). When you need access to a tab, you can either restore them individually or all at once.


8: Authy

 Authy is an extension for setting up two-factor authentication (which everyone should be using). With Authy, you won't have to constantly grab for your mobile device to retrieve a six-digit PIN (to gain entrance to those sites you have protected with two-factor authentication). This extension functions in the same way as the mobile app—which means it's very easy to use.



9: LastPass

LastPass is a free password manager that should be considered a must-have for anyone who needs to remember passwords across devices. If you are concerned about security (and you should be), those passwords shouldn't be easy to memorize. So you want a good password manager to take on the task. You can't go wrong with LastPass.

10: NoteBoard

Note Board is a corkboard for your computer screen. Yes, it's a bit cheesy. But if you prefer to work by visuals (as opposed to lists), this tool will help you keep your cluttered mind a bit less cluttered. With Note Board you can drag and drop content from other tabs or images from your local file manager onto a board. You can also create popups with notes and even have public boards.


Source: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-must-have-chrome-productivity-extensions/


Thursday, 28 May 2015 01:10


As an entrepreneur, you already know the Internet offers a wealth of information to assist you with business and strategic planning. But do you ever have that "needle-in-a-haystack" feeling when trying to locate a critical piece of information?

Despite powerful search engines like Google and Yahoo, it can be difficult to sort through the wealth of information available for the golden nugget you need. Plus, much of the good business information is hidden in "the invisible Web"—the 80 percent of the Internet not accessible to popular search engines. Often the really great information is under "cyber lock and key" and available only to large companies with budgets to pay for subscription databases.

The good news is there are free and low-cost ways to access business information online-if you know where and how to look. Following are some valuable Web sites to visit the next time you need information for your business or strategic planning.


CensusScope - Knowing the attributes of your buyers and their community can be critical during planning. Unfortunately, the official U.S. Census Bureau's site can be overwhelming. CensusScope takes census data and makes it easy. Click on the Maps tab and select a state. In the lower-left corner, choose a county and then the type of information you want. A chart will appear; now you can right mouse click and copy/paste directly into your own document or plan. Underlying data can also be copied.

Company Information

Manta - Locating information on private companies can be challenging. You can look at a company's Web site, but remember you're only going to see what the company wants you to see. Manta leverages the Dun and Bradstreet database to feature information on more than 45 million companies. Free registration is required. Type in the name of a company and learn things like revenue and employee figures, industry data, and contact information. You can also search for companies by geography or industry.

Industry Information

Alacra Wiki - The Alacra Wiki features a Spotlight section where site users contribute information and resources specific to a particular industry. To visit the Spotlight, click the Alacra Spotlights link on the left-side navigation, then choose an industry. Each Spotlight gives a description of the industry with direct links to information resources where you can learn everything from industry financials to trends and issues.

Inside Information

Technorati - A blog is a Web site or online diary written by an individual (usually the blog writer) about a topic of interest. However, some blogs are filled with industry market data and you can access them by using Technorati's Blog Directory. Type in a broad search term in the search box (e.g., pharmaceutical); and in the pull down menu next to the Search button, choose "in blog directory." Your results will contain blogs that feature industry news, commentary, and also links to other industry resource sites.

Industry Market Research

MarketResearch.com - MarketResearch.com features thousands of market research reports. Use the search engine to locate a relevant report, and purchase it if it is critical to your business. If money is tight, however, write down the report's name and the publisher's name. Then go to Google, type in the name of the report surrounded by quotation marks (so the name of the report is treated as a phrase) and then the publisher. On the search results, you'll most likely find other sites trying to sell you the same report. Sometimes, however, you can find an article that contains the "meat" of an expensive research report, and often all you need for planning are key statistics and data.

One Stop Biz Info Shop

BizToolkit - BizToolkit is a free program of the non-profit James J. Hill Reference Library, the nation's premier practical business information organization. BizToolkit features direct links to the best Web sites as they relate to planning, marketing, managing, and growing a business. The Marketing area in particular features excellent links to helpful market research sites, including the Special Issues Index under "Research and Industry" where you can order reports from the Hill Library's expansive trade journal collection. Also note the Biz Site Recommender on the left side navigation, featuring direct links to the best "Invisible Business Web." For $7.95, you can upgrade to a BizToolkit Premium membership, which features additional resources including expert, live help (just click a button and let a Hill Expert search for you) and the BizRewards program.

Power Research

HillSearch - HillSearch is considered the most powerful business research engine available to individuals. Use the OneSearch tool to instantly search the "open Web" plus virtually every company in North America, and every key newspaper, magazine, and industry trade journal. Or use the Custom Search area for specific databases to meet your research needs, including industry metrics and market research reports. HillSearch is just $59 per month for access to the same types of expert research tools that big companies have. You can get a HillSearch trial. HillResearch is the Hill Library's professional research service; for $100 per hour, the experts do all of the work for you. You can get a complimentary reference interview and discuss your project with an expert by sending an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can access expert market research information, without having to be a market research expert. You just have to know where to look, and what free and low-cost resources are available.

In today's globally competitive environment, those with the right information win. If you make use of resources like the ones highlighted in this article, you will not only save a tremendous amount of time versus searching with just popular search engines, you'll also access relevant and credible data that can make a big difference in ensuring that your plans succeed.

© 2007 Sam Richter. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, 09 June 2015 12:56


The Problem: "Cybersmut"

The Internet, including e-mail, Usenet, and the World Wide Web, provides those connected to it an unprecedented amount of information at one location: the home, office, library or school computer. The information available on the Internet is seemingly limitless-in quantity and variety-and this lack of boundaries is possible because anyone, from a schoolchild to a corporate CEO, can post anything in cyberpublic view.

As they have everywhere else, however, those interested in the "shadier" side of life-pornography, gambling, hate speech, and so on-have set up shop on the Internet. This has parents, who would otherwise love to grant their children access to this information resource, concerned. Many would like to put an end to "cybersmut," or at least a strong wall between it and children's eyes. And parents aren't the only ones worried about the Internet's boundlessness. Employers are starting to worry about their employees use of the Internet during business hours, and lawmakers-here and abroad-worry about Internet crimes, including gambling, child pornography, and the solicitation of minors for IRL ("in real-life") encounters with pedophiles and child molesters.

The problems generated by the existence and use of the Internet are in many ways similar to those that developed with the introduction of new technologies in the past. A system of values that had moral force pre-Internet is clashing with a new value system, established for and by a "cyberculture." The same thing happened with the invention of the printing press, the radio, the telephone, the television. And, as has happened in the past, we can expect to see ethical systems that ignore this new technology becoming incredibly particularized, or vanishing altogether. Yet the Internet is not just one more technological wonder in the history of technological wonders. More than any other device in the history of humanity, the Internet makes available information and global communication. Furthermore, through the use of hypertext linking, the user has a great deal of control over the information he or she gathers. Considering the ease with which one can "publish" something of one's own, in addition to the abundance of sites and hypertext links, the Internet is perhaps the most diverse user-controlled information and communication resource ever. According to Jerry Berman and Daniel J. Weitzner, such a resource offers "...a real possibility for a new, less-restrictive approach to achieving long-standing First Amendment diversity goals" (1635). For Berman and Weitzner, as well as many Internet activists, the Internet is the virtual embodiment of the democratic ideal of free speech. This previously unattained freedom, however, is in direct conflict with people who, for whatever reasons, desire limits on access to the medium-for children, employees, citizens, etc. While free speech activists and "Netizens" are the most vocal online, the tables are turned IRL.

Internet Blocking: The First Response

The initial response to this clashing of paradigms was a technological one. Concerned individuals demanded a means of controlling what the Internet brought into their homes, and, predictably, various businesses provided one: Internet blocking/filtering software. With names like "NetNanny," "CyberSitter," and "KinderGuard," these products marketed themselves as convenient ways to keep pornography, pedophiles, and other objectionables away from children. Such products also depict themselves as anti-censorship, and, in general they are viewed as such, leaving most free speech activists with little to criticize. Common descriptions of these products include:

"NetNanny's screening lists are completely user-defined...according to their particular values-not a developer's arbitrary selection or the Government's!" (NetNanny)

"CyberPatrol provides parents, teachers, day care professionals-anyone who is responsible for children's access to the Internet-with the tools they will need to get a handle on an area which can be very dangerous for kids." (CyberPatrol)
"SurfWatch Internet filtering products help you with the flood of inappropriate material on the Internet. An alternative to government censorship, SurfWatch provides a technical solution to the difficult issues created by the explosion of technology." (SurfWatch)

Yet Internet blocking is not all it claims to be-not that it's entirely their fault. What they are expected to do is nearly impossible. Although various surveys and reviews of the different blocking systems have been done, the results contradict one another, and very little conclusive evidence for or against particular systems has been found. What is evident from every review is that all Internet blocking mechanisms-even the very best-fail to block sites accurately at least some of the time.

The earlier blocking and filtering software fell (and some continue to fall) loosely into two groups: (a) services that blocked sites containing a word or words considered obscene or evidencing sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable content, and (b) services that had persons exploring and blocking sites individually. Although the former allows users to access far more sites than the latter (as it does not maintain a list of sites, but searches all sites for the "improper" words and word-strings), it rarely works very well. In one popular system, all sites containing the word "breast" were blocked, including those dealing with breast cancer (this has since been corrected). In a more recent experiment with SurfWatch, often reputed to be one of the best blocking software, one was able to view graphically-explicit sexual fetish sites, while a New York Times article on Internet gambling was blocked. Both blocking errors are presumably the result of word or word-string searches. The latter service type, employing actual persons to sort and review sites, can only get to a fraction of the sites on the Web. Some services, such as the aforementioned SurfWatch and KinderGuard, employ persons to review and block web sites individually (b), using words and word-strings to filter sites they have not reviewed (a). This combination of the two original blocking methods appears to be superior to either method alone. It does not resolve the problems with the two methods; it merely reduces the likelihood of access to objectionable sites while maintaining something of the boundlessness of the Internet. Many blocking software producers are willing to acknowledge this much. Jay Friendland, co-founder of SurfWatch, admits, "It's part of a solution. It's not the complete solution." (Nelson)

Legislation: The Second Response

A quick public response to the incompleteness of early blocking techniques was legislative. In the United States, there were municipal and state regulations on the local use of the Internet, including attempts at cyberspace decency laws in New York, Oklahoma, and Virginia (only the New York law has yet been challenged). Yet the greatest legislative breakthrough was the passage of the Telecommunications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA). The CDA mandates that anyone who, using a telecommunications device,

...makes, creates, or solicits, and initiates the transmission of...any... communication which is obscene or indecent, knowing that the recipient of the communication is under 18 years of age...shall be fined...or imprisoned not more than two years, or both... [Sec. 223, Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. LA. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996)]

The law was passed to keep cybersmut and its nasty electronic ilk from inadvertently making contact with children. Internet and free speech activists were immediately up in arms, and it did not take long for a three-judge federal court in Philadelphia to rule that portions of the CDA, such as the passage cited above, "...trampled on the First Amendment and amounted to illegal government censorship" (Brekke). This ruling successfully prevented the implementation of the CDA until the Supreme Court heard the case (Reno v. ACLU) in March 1997. On June 26, 1997, a date few free speech activists will forget, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the Philadelphia court's ruling, declaring important sections of the law unconstitutional. The Court wrote that, "...the many ambiguities concerning the scope of its coverage render it problematic for First Amendment purposes" ("Supreme Court CDA Ruling"). The Court further suggested that parents who wish to regulate their children's Internet access utilize Internet blocking software, implicitly affirming the belief in the functionality of a technical solution. Supporters of the fallen CDA have promised to draft a new version, with the hope of clearing up some of the ambiguities the Supreme Court found problematic. It does not seem, however, that even a revised CDA will be able to accomplish its goals through legislation without becoming some form of government censorship. In the United States, it does not look hopeful for legislated regulation of the Internet, but lawmakers continue to try. The White House Internet Decency Summit of July 16, 1997 made plans for a Families Online Summit in October 1997. Both summits were established to explore the role of government in solving the problem of cybersmut.

If the U.S. represents one extreme in the Internet regulation debate, countries such as China and Singapore represent the other. Both nations have established incredibly strict Internet content policies, and both attempt to restrict access to more than cybersmut, confirming the fears of many opponents of Internet censorship in the United States. China, in addition to pornography, blocks access to certain news, human rights, and politics sights to all of its users. Singapore's regulatory agency, the Singapore Broadcasting Authority, blocks access to "areas which may undermine public morals, political stability or religious harmony," registering and regulating all sites dealing with politics or religion ("Countries face..."). Commercial sites in France and Quebec are forbidden by law to advertise, promote and sell products in languages other than French, unless a French version is also available. And Germany recently passed the world's first cyberlaw, holding Internet service providers (ISPs) partially responsible for providing cyberpublic access to sites containing illegal content, such as pornography and hate speech ("Germany passes..."). In fact, the popular ISP Compuserve has been accused of knowlingly providing access to child pornography to German subscribers (Schwadron). Examples such as these seem to indicate the dangers of Internet censorship, creating a "slippery slope" down which even U.S. Legislation could fall. Other freedoms traditionally protected in the U.S., such as the freedom to express publicly one's political and religious views, could then be in danger on the Internet.

It is not yet clear how governments that elect to legislate Internet regulations will go about enforcing them. With the number of sites on the Internet growing every day, type (b) blocking systems are unable to keep up, and many of them incorporate at least some type (a) filtering strategies. Yet no existing type (a) technology is able to filter the Internet accurately and efficiently, forcing those still interested in regulating Internet content in their homes, offices or schools to turn to a different way of blocking the Internet.

The PICS Standard: The Third Response

In 1995, in response to the increasing drive for Internet legislation and the formation of the CDA, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) put into motion the development of a ratings system for the Internet. The goal was, as in earlier Internet blocking software, a non-governmental means of regulating Internet content, and the result was the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS). PICS is a computer language that enables Internet browsers and search engines to understand Internet rating systems. Sites are self-rated in this language, which is becoming the new industry standard, granting any system configured to read PICS access to the content ratings information. Furthermore, the PICS standard is not limited to particular existing browsers or blocking software, because the ratings information is not located within the product or service (as in other forms of Internet blocking) but encoded within the site itself. This leaves room for private organizations of all sorts to create their own products to block sites objectionable to those sharing their particular values. As one MSNBC article puts it, "The Simon Wiesenthal Center could set up a system to filter out anti-Semitic sites; Islamic groups could rate sites according to their appropriateness for Muslims; the Christian Coalition or People for the American Way could rank Web sites by their own visions of family values" (Boyle, "Internet watchdogs..."). To many people trying to walk the narrow line between censorship and child safety on the Internet, PICS seems like a miracle.

Almost everyone sees PICS as the system with the greatest potential for actually keeping objectionable material out of one's Internet adventures. Yet relatively few sites are presently rated through PICS, and for those that are, relatively few products presently recognize PICS. At the time of this writing, only a handful of products and servicesÑMicrosoft's Internet Explorer, Compuserve and the blocking software CyberPatrol, SafeSearch, SurfWatch and SafeSurf incorporate the W3C PICS standard. Netscape promises to incorporate PICS in a later version, but does not use it now.

It is still unclear exactly how many sites presently rate themselves with PICS, and there is no way of telling how many sites intend to do so. Less than nine of every thousand Internet documents (.87%) are believed to be rated ("PICS Scoreboard"). It is questionable whether certain sites-particularly those that people interested in Internet blocking wish to see blocked-will encode ratings at all. PICS ratings are not mandated by law, and this causes some parents and child advocates concern about the implementation of PICS as the industry standard. Proponents of PICS argue, however, that Internet ratings will follow the same path as film ratings. While the film rating system is voluntary-a film is not required to have a rating-most theaters will not show unrated films, and most film makers want their films shown in most theaters; thus they rate. Internet site designers and webmasters, the argument concludes, will follow suit in order to be accessible to most browsers and blocking software. Although a few Internet search engines-Yahoo!, Excite, and Lycos-have pledged to seek content ratings from all of the sites they register, most Internet filters do not presently block access to unrated sites, and probably cannot be expected to do so until there are a fair number of sites that incorporate PICS ratings. It is a circle the way out of which cannot be foreseen.

The Solution: Neither Netiquette Nor Nethics

Internet blocking software and cyberlegislation are attempts to ebb the flow of cybersmut by making it impossible for such material to be accessed. One method tries to make it literally impossible to access objectionable information; the other tries to make its distribution a punishable crime. Neither has demonstrated its effectiveness to date. Recognizing this, some Netizens have taken it upon themselves to try a different route. Rather than forcibly removing material from Internet access, some wish to develop and adopt codes of Internet etiquette ("Netiquette") or ethics ("Nethics"). Such codes would, presumably, encourage more responsible behavior with regards to the availability of cybersmut to children, the use of the Internet for personal reasons on corporate time, and so on. Cyberspace, under this view, is understood as a community separate from the communities in which users actually live. Just as actual communities have different standards and ethical codes, so should the virtual community.

And, in fact, some sort of code of Netiquette does exist, at least within various cybersubcultures. Some of these systems of behavior have been codified, and some interesting sociological work has been done on the development of communities in cyberspace (Jones). When examined, however, few Netiquette codes deal explicitly with ethical issues, and those that do deal primarily with issues of privacy and plagiarism. Yet were they to deal more explicitly with issues of children's access to objectionable material, and were they to establish standards of behavior that forbade the intentional display of such materials in children's view, the problem would not stop. Just as there are those who choose to deviate from actual codes of etiquette and ethics, there are those who choose to deviate from virtual codes. In short, given that technical and legislative methods do not work, and Netiquette and Nethics, like etiquette and ethics, will continue to be transgressed, the problem will not go away. For the foreseeable future, cybersmut, and children's access to it, is here to stay.

In response to this fact, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers to parents, "The fact that crimes are being committed online...is not a reason to avoid using these services" (Child Safety...). Rather, the NCMEC maintains that, fundamentally, parenting a child in cyberspace requires much of the same technique, time, and involvement that parenting a child IRL does. They recommend that parents meet their children's virtual friends, just as they would meet their actual friends. They encourage open dialogue between parents and children about objectionable material accidentally encountered on the Internet. They also recommend use of Internet blocking software, but only as a technical safeguard-not the solution to the problem.

Although it seems simple enough, what the NCMEC has done is somewhat out of place in the current Internet debate. Rather than treating the Internet as an entirely different, nearly mythical realm of existence, in which completely new and different codes of behavior are necessary, the NCMEC (and the few others who share their outlook) identifies cyberspace as another, technologically sophisticated area of the actual world. If an ethical system functions IRL, then it should also function in virtual life. The Internet does not necessitate the creation of new ethical codes, but new applications of ethical codes. Legislation and Internet blocking software, insofar as they are functional and constitutional, could provide strong additional safeguards, but the best way to prevent the harmful effects of objectionable material is to demythologize cyberspace. 

Written By: Joseph Westfall


Saturday, 27 June 2015 10:00


The pedagogical contribution of such sources can be more than aesthetic. In some cases, the medium is where the message lies: Art history, music, and film courses all rely on “owned” or copyrighted works. Unfortunately, even in small and private class settings, securing permissions for those materials (or using them appropriately in the grab-and-go Internet age) can prove difficult.

College students are all too familiar with expensive, awkwardly copied course packs or books that cost them hundreds of dollars because of licensing issues. Open-access materials, in contrast, provide faculty and students with relatively hassle-free sources, but are in painfully short supply. More often than not, universities are in the unenviable position of negotiating the use of jealously guarded intellectual property.

Imagine, however, what happens when a “classroom” has thousands or tens of thousands of students rather than 30. Some MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) may enroll as many as 200,000 students, as in the case of theHarvardX course CS50x, “Introduction to Computer Science,” available on theedX learning platform.

As a result, copyright has become a central consideration in the HarvardX course-development process, a necessary consideration for any institution engaged in new forms of online pedagogy. Not only does the availability of critical source materials shape what and how subjects can be taught, but the potential licensing and sale of courses, parts of courses, or modules poses further challenges.

Peter Suber, an authority on open-access issues and director of the Harvard Open Access Project, notes that this is not a new problem.

“It was a big issue in the pre-digital world, and it’s big now,” he said. “Copyright law limits the freedom of teachers to use the works of their choice in their courses. Sometimes they can’t afford the fees. Sometimes they only decide to use a work in mid-semester, in response to class discussions, and they don’t have time to secure permission.”

When the world is your classroom, the law gets even murkier. And, as has been seen with YouTube (students have been sued for sharing music, videos have been forcibly taken down), rights owners are on the lookout.

With the creation of HarvardX, the University-wide effort to improve teaching and learning on campus and online that launched in tandem with edX, faculty from all Schools have begun learning lessons more familiar to their colleagues in law and business.

Those lessons are ones that Kyle Courtney, the newly minted copyright adviser at Harvard, finds familiar. Operating out of the Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication, an endeavor promoting open access of faculty research, he is among a set of new experts, drawn from libraries, information technology units, and offices of general counsel, wrestling with how to best support faculty in the digital age.

For example, the Copyright Act and its accompanying legal guidelines has long provided those in higher education with a right of exception, letting educators reproduce copyrighted works as long as the material does not exceed fair use and is, in recent decisions, “transformative to the educational experience.”

“The concept of ‘transformative fair use’ allows the use of copyrighted material in a manner, or for a purpose, that differs from the original use in such a way that the expression, meaning, or message is essentially new,” Courtney said.

Yet with drag-and-drop technologies and the ability to cut and paste entire books or images, there are an increasing number of caveats. Faculty members are not just grappling with the fair-use question by reinterpreting “transformative use” in their lectures, they are also pioneering new kinds of collaborations with publishers for their traditional syllabus materials. Moreover, the explosion of online learning, experimental by nature, has proven a natural breeding ground for such test cases.

Take Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature at Harvard and instructor of the HarvardX course “The Ancient Greek Hero.” Nagy collaborated with Harvard University Press (HUP) to provide a free, reduced-function version of course’s text, “The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours,” for online learners.

In a first for both Nagy and HUP, a contract was created that allowed Nagy to forgo all his revenue from the sale of the print version of the book to gain an open and free copy of the textbook. The contract gave him the right to make an open-access copy, in addition to an HTML version for use with his open-online course.

The HTML copy was then enhanced with multimedia to enrich the experience for online students, while the open-access version was posted to the website of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, where Nagy serves as director.

“Such collaborations may be the future,” said Courtney. “They provide unique monetization strategies for publishers by giving them access to larger audiences than they have previously enjoyed.”

Despite the content being offered for free, HUP still benefited, gaining exposure in the form of nearly 30,000 registered enrollees, for the traditional print and formatted e-copy of the book. Many students, after all, still prefer ink and paper and are willing to pay for high-quality publications.

Not surprisingly, online leaning platforms such as edX and Coursera are developing novel partnerships with rights holders that respect copyright and preserve publisher profitability, while still fulfilling their mandate to transmit knowledge broadly to global students.

“A publisher today can, of course, still sell a work to the bookstores of, maybe, the top 10 major universities in the United States,” explained Courtney. “Or it can say, ‘We own this textbook. It’s open access and available for you in this course. Once the course is complete, you may wish to purchase it; here’s a discount code and some sales.’ All of a sudden, the publisher is reaching 50,000 or 80,000 people, depending on the class.”

As educational offerings get more enmeshed with new delivery models for both on-campus and online use, copyright is expected to become even more complicated for universities. Faculty at Harvard and elsewhere are often the individuals who own or control the desired materials. Both to preserve academic integrity as well as to benefit from their work, academics are not merely sitting on the sidelines.

“The new complexities will come from faculty demanding rights to their coursework and to the revenues it generates,” explained Suber.

Some open-access advocates hope for a still more radical possibility: the complete de-commodification of intellectual property. Suber believes it is highly unlikely, however, that the mega-audiences of online education and a newly broadened interpretation of fair use will combine to create such an outcome.

“The boundary between what fair use permits and what it doesn’t will remain fuzzy and contestable, and fair use itself will continue to evolve. But these facts do not suggest the ‘de-commodification of intellectual property entirely,’ even when we add in the fact that some people are calling for that de-commodification.”

Although scholars are increasingly pursuing clauses in publishing contracts that allow them to include their work in online repositories and open-source education platforms, the profitability of mass culture products such as movies appears to be more rigidly tied to current distribution models.

Suber added, “Careful observers may be reluctant to predict the future of fair use. But I think they’re safe to predict the continuing existence of copyright and patent law.”

For now, the fair-use doctrine continues to protect the ability of faculty to enrich learning with copyrighted material through a variety of current and emerging digital platforms, as well as to allow for continued innovations from ed-tech start-ups such as edX, Coursera, and Udacity.

“The rights holders that have been shopping lawsuits around the country the last 10 years or so are defending their very way of business, their very way of life,” said Courtney. “That’s why I think collaboration is a much better way of doing it.

For faculty and students who wish to delve into the particulars of copyright law, well, there’s a HarvardX course for that. William Fisher, WilmerHale Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Faculty Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, is offering the second version of his copyright course, available here.

In addition, the Office for Scholarly Communications notes that this is Fair-Use Week. The original guidelines for fair use, codified in 1841, came thanks to another Harvard professor, Joseph Story. 



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