A new website, YouTube, is now serving millions of Internet videos online every day to a global audience. A Google News search will provide more current articles on YouTube and the discussion it is raising as will a Technorati search for the same term. The marketing slogan of YouTube is:

Broadcast yourself. Watch and share your videos worldwide!

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that many of the videos making the dynamic “most viewed” pages are racey at best, offensive and obscene at worst.

In a nutshell, YouTube’s web 2.0 technology lets anyone with a camcorder, a computer and an Internet connection upload video of whatever they want for a global viewing audience. I am sure YouTube has already found itself on the blacklist of most school Internet filters. The ability to upload a web video is not really anything new, but as a web 2.0 social networking website enabling “tagging” and dynamically showing “most viewed” videos, it really does take global publication of digital, amateur video to another level. And that level is likely not somewhere many of us are going to want to go, or have our students go. I predict is just a matter of time before we see a headline about a school district taking action against a student for a contentious video posted to YouTube.

Interestingly, MySpace (the wildly popular digital native social networking site) tried to actually block member access (at least direct linking) to YouTube for awhile, but apparently those “issues” have been resolved.

Technology is a tool, it can be used for good or evil. Technology in our web 2.0 world also tends to be on the side of anarchy rather than control, as Robert Bork observed several years ago in his book, “Slouching Towards Gomorrah.” Apparently, visitors to YouTube will be seeing lots of examples supporting both these opinions in the months ahead.

I am a big fan of educational digital storytelling, but I have a strong suspicion that many of the video clips that will make the “most viewed” list on YouTube will not be ones we’ll want our students or children watching. :-(


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  • http://helpdesk.wordpress.com Michael

    So are you suggesting censorship in schools? Do you know any cases where a school has successfully done this? My senses tell me that schools aren’t equipped or educated to do this. My school certainly isn’t filtering webpages so I have no knowledge of this.

    I believe in some forms of censorship. Spam Assassin is a great tool and more people should be using it on their email servers these days. :)

    While there are certain measures one can take to prevent computer abuse , this problem isn’t going to be completely solved through censorship. Just like viruses and software cracks, there will always be a work around. If someone is smart enought to make an encryption, someone should be smart enought to do a sucessful decryption.

    The fact of the matter is that most schools aren’t going to be able to do such things. I believe we should trust the parents to educate their kids about such things and trust kids to follow those rules and in some cases censor themselves.

    Is that too much to ask? Hmmmm…the internet is indeed a powerful tool and unfortunately that power is too often given to the irresponsible.

    -Peace out.

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