Industry Analyst & Strategist

Internet Education

No, not talking about e-learning, e-courses, or learning management, talking about straight up public education of how the internet works. What a web page is. The basics.

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Ripped from the headlines, Interesting Engineering, A Reporter Is Under Investigation for Using the ‘View Source’ Function on a Website:

… the reporter took a look at the “view source” menu item that lets you see the HTML code of the web page on a web application that allowed the public to look up teacher certifications and credentials and discovered that the source code contained the Social Security numbers of educators.

Please read the article, and then the original, courtesy of the ABU (Ad Blocker Unfriendly) Union Bulletin, Parson says he believes prosecutor will bring charges in Post-Dispatch case, yup, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced a criminal investigation into the reporter and the Post-Dispatch.

When did ignorance become 9/10ths of the law? If I go to a website, and it sends me HTML. Well, it’s YOUR fault you sent me HTML with social security numbers. I’d love to harangue the technical mistakes made but really there is a bigger problem.

Education Matters

Knowing at least a little bit of how the internet works should be basic information. Like knowing how seasons work. I’m not an astrophysicist but I can go about my days generally knowing when and why it will be daylight or night time. I won’t opine upon legal issues about day and night because I’m not an expert – and that’s ok. The internet should be the same. Understand the basics, and defer to experts.

So, education matters, at one time we all needed to know how to farm or butcher just to stay alive. Now we don’t. At one time we all had to know how to change the oil, replace a motor. Now we don’t. Today, we do all need to know why information magic happens on our computers. Why? Because laws and governments are still trying to catch up. It seems to me that it takes at least one good generation of usage for the basics and the trust of a new technology to take hold. In the interim, everyone needs to have a basic idea of what is going on and why.

Open Source to the Rescue

Huh? If people don’t even understand how “view source” is not hacking, how does open source even get into the conversation??? Well, what I’m thinking is that open source, with communities and code and (now lots of) money, can make the impact to get more and more content out in sneaky and not-so sneaky ways about how the internet works.

So many volunteers, and educators, and social media folk should be able to start stating obvious facts about the internet, and pointing out the huge mistakes (like the governor of Missouri just made). Start small, make sure your family understands why the sun rises. The internet will become and safer and happier place.

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