Web’s Necessity

Call me Anansí.  I may get into a lot of trouble because of my fascination with the Internet, but I think that the World Wide Web (the Read-Write Web) is fast becoming an essential piece of technology.

Like a hammer.

Shelly Blake-Plock has a piece on his blog today, called “The Wave is Headed Our Way.” And he doesn’t mean “wave” like I do; he means Google Wave, the new semantic webtool that’s in β-testing now.  (Can you see that I used the Greek letter instead of the word ‘beta’? More on that in some other post).

There’s several students in my classes who have difficulty accessing the school’s website (and by extension my wiki) from their dormitories.  But only one parent has really been vocal and angry about it.  The head of our middle school program approached me today to ask how serious this issue really was. “How critical is it,” he asked, “that these kids be able to access the Internet from their rooms?”

I looked at him for a long while.  I then must admit that I babbled for a bit about how important it is, but finally I said the money line.  “How critical is it that our library has books?”

He rocked back on his heels a bit. “So we should get on this.”

I replied, “Either we need to decide that it doesn’t work in dorms, and drop it, or we need it working today, and always.”

A little while later, the parent called me to talk about his son’s inability to do his homework.  His son is getting a little frustrated by the problem, and has threatend to throw away his “PoS” computer, when in reality it’s likely our WiFi system that’s the problem.  Neither I nor my fellow dorm parent access the school ‘Net through the school’s WiFi — it’s slow, the service is problematic, and it’s filtered besides.  So we believe the students when they say it doesn’t work, our IT department’s protestations to the contrary.

I said that I thought we would get the WiFi problem resolved very shortly, because now it was a bottom-up and a top-down demand from the academic-side of the school administration.

The parent said, “Well, thank you.  It’s really important that my son be able to get online to do his homework.”

I said, “No.  It’s not important that he be able to get online to do his homework.  It’s important that your son be able to get online to learn whatever he wants to.”

The parent actually argued with me.  For him, the school’s curriculum was the big thing.

Neither my colleagues nor this parent really gets it yet.  But we’re getting there: A student today should have Internet.  Not just for games.  Not just for social media.  Not just for e-mail. Not just for homework.

Aristotle said,

All humans by nature desire to know, and the proof of this is the delight they take in sensation.

The Internet is the current fulfilment of the desire to know. Anyone who tries to hold back access to the ‘Web for students is attempting to cripple a generation of children.

Don’t we have a required national registry for people who abuse children?

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