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Today's word on journalism

Friday, January 20, 2006

Variations on "truthiness":

"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."

-- Mark Twain, author, newspaperman and humorist (1835-1910)

MENTORS WANTED: Media professionals in all fields wanted to serve as email mentors for journalism students. If interested, send email slugged "Mentors" to Ted Pease (

New technology connects us instantly but there's a flip side, speaker says

By Sarah Ali

December 9, 2005 | The key to protecting American freedoms as the development of new technology progresses lies in knowledge, according to Kyle Water.

The Free Software and Linux Club recently hosted a speech on freedom and technology, in which Water presented his views on what Americans should know about new technology and the laws that apply to them.

"Knowledge is power," Water said, and because of this American should make sure they are aware of as much as possible. Water compared the development of new technology, like the Internet, to Gutenberg's printing press.

"Gutenberg changed everything in his time -- today we have technology like the Internet, which I believe will have the same effect on communication and he did."

Water explained that with as little as $10 a month people today could have access to one of the greatest powers on earth today, instant global communication.

One of the things that Water wanted to educate the crowd about was Weblogs, "blogs" for short, which he believes are one of the greatest developments in respect to freedom of expression, one of America's unique rights. He advocated using blogs as a source of information because it offers people the choice of selective reading on topics that they are concerned about and also honesty that is often not present in mainstream media.

"When you watch TV you get a little bit of everything. I have to go do something for 10 minutes while they talk about the sports because I don't care about it, with blogs you can specify what you read," he said.

Water talked about how in the recent elections he was able to go and read exactly what the candidate's views and positions were without having to watch the debates or news channels.

"More and more technology will become part of politics and campaigning in the future. You can go directly to a [candidate's] site and read for yourself the views, rather than watch what CNN tells you they think," Water said.

According to Water, with the development of new technologies like telephones, camcorders, computers and other such electronics, come new problems as well benefits to American freedoms. "You didn't have to worry about the FBI tapping your phone because we didn't have phones, or you didn't have to worry about getting videotaped because we didn't have cameras," Water said.

When the American Constitution was written there were no concerns of this sort, Water said, but in today's world there are many times when, whether Americans like it or not they are being watched. It is because the Constitution has no limitations on these new technologies that Water believes these technologies poses a problem to American freedoms.

"How much [surveillance] is too much? You don't always want to have people watching you, even if you're not doing anything."

Waters believes new laws, such as the Patriot Act, have furthered the amount of surveillance that government can do, and this Water believes is due to the lack of focus by Americans to stop them. Water went on to explain to the crowd some of the details of the Patriot Act in respect to the developments in new technologies.

"At least before the [Patriot] Act the CIA had to have a warrant to search your home, now they can just sneak and peek without you even knowing they were there." Water said.

Some other topics Water brought up in his speech included the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or the DMCA, the introduction of a new National ID card including a radio transmitter, and bad patent laws.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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