Allison's Reflections

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Blog #1011: Final Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — allee at 12:01 am on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Today was the last seminar of the year. First off, I’d like to thank my wonderful professors and peers; without them, I wouldn’t have learned so much. Whether it was agreeing vehemently regarding the recent political circumstances or arguing about what constitutes what “singularity” really entails, every discussion was an opportunity for me to better understand the Internet and the future of technology.

Now…onto the seminar itself. I found that one of the most interesting parts of today’s discussion was about Facebook Basics. For those who don’t necessarily know, Basics is an initiative that would make certain websites accessible to many people across the globe. We had quite the heated discussion during our seminar today about whether it would be a good idea.

On one hand, there’s the argument that Basics goes directly against the philosophy of net neutrality. Because it would only allow people to access a limited variety of websites, it would be inherently restricting the knowledge that users could gain.

One the other hand, isn’t some information better than no information? One of my classmates made an analogy to sweatshops; if someone’s starving, then isn’t providing them with a factory job with harsh conditions still better? Unfortunately, this caused more controversy.

Personally, I think that Basics is a great idea. Unlike sweatshops, I don’t think that limited internet connectivity is inherently detrimental to one’s quality of life. If the websites were selected by the government, then brainwashing would be a viable threat. But Facebook is the one establishing what websites can be accessed. And I don’t think AccuWeather is about to be the next threat for brainwashing people.

BUT there are other concerns, as addressed in this article I found. It’s important to recognize that Basics is not a charity; as the article points out, there are obviously commercial interests. Thus, Basics could disrupt the market as we know it now. Thus, I think it’s imperative to examine the potential repercussions of Basics more before actually implementing it. In general, I think that thinking ahead in technology is so, so important, and I hope that as I try to join the innovating global community, I’ll keep that in mind. This seminar has really ingrained that in me, and I really appreciate that. 🙂

Again, thank you for a wonderful semester! 😀



Comment by profsmith

December 6, 2016 @ 2:16 am

You got it! Our work is done. Now go forth and convert others to this way of thinking. 🙂

Seriously, Allison, you were terrific in class this fall. Thank you for everything, and we wish you the best in the rest of your classes. Keep in touch!


Comment by Jim Waldo

December 18, 2016 @ 8:59 pm

One of the difficulties of “thinking ahead” is trying to get the various people who are responsible for technology and policy to even talk to each other. As we saw when we talked about governance, the technology moves a lot faster than the policy people are used to, and it is hard to find policy people who understand enough about the technology to have a useful conversation. There are some signs that this is changing, which would be good.

Thank you so much for all you added to the seminar– it was great having you in the class, and definitely drop by next semester. Have a great break, and see you when you get back…

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