Photo by Meesta Chaddaboks

It’s a relief to be home today. Enjoying the last frontier of Internet freedom – I never want to step into a NSW classroom again!

Yesterday I was working with a bunch of kids we call BlacktownYoof. Like me they hate school, so we hang out and take and edit digital photos and load them to Flickr.

It took me 3 weeks to get IT support to approve the installation of the basic image editor Picasa, another week for GIMP, and I’m still waiting for OpenOffice and FreeAvid. I only got Picasa and GIMP because I called the IT Boss man myself telling him to come in and teach the BlacktownYoof himself he he wouldn’t let us have the software. Quick as a flash it was done, but I don’t think me and IT Boss man will ever be friends…

yesterday the BlacktownYoof and I unshackled the computer room, fired up the bolted to the floor computers (2 yoof to 1 computer), excitedly punched in flickr.com and got this!

accessDetnied

I’ve added the url text for graphical effect. Quick as a flash the Yoof where swearing at the system (as was I) but with noone to kill standing close by we proceeded to see what else was blocked. Blogger, bloglines, myspace – Access DETnied; Ourmedia, googleVideo, googleGroups – Access DETnied. Really flamed now, the boys started experimenting. Within 20 minutes they had found a bit of a way around this wall – they used Google Translate to get some of the blocked sites through. But with no one to blame for this outrage but a red DET logo on the screen (why red?), the nearest DET thing to f**k up are the stupid computers, and the stupid chairs, and the stupid building. It was all they needed to start acting up. I couldn’t blame them.

So I grabbed a couple of the boys and we went for a walk – in search of an open network. We found other people, wondering in the corridors looking for someone to kill, but we didn’t find an open network. The walk calmed them a bit, and me, and we resolved to edit some pictures at least.

By the end of the day however, I witnessed several games getting downloaded and installed, and several porn sites getting through. In particular hairyshit.com seemed to have no hassle with the wall at all.

Here I was with a bunch of KIDS agitated by this blockage and successfully downloading porn and crap anyway – the games I liked, but the porn was too much even for my sexual insensitivity…

Even with the tightest filter the world has ever seen, it took this group of 8 less than 2 hours to work it out! In fact, because of the filter, these guys were making a special effort to subvert it, devoting all their time and energy into finding all the dodgy stuff they could!

What’s that tell you about control?

This net filtering is a joke. It always has been a joke, its a waste of time and money, and not helping at all. ‘Protecting’ kids from the big bad world is not at all what true education is about! In fact, at the end of the day the badest boy in my class felt bad for the things he’d seen this day. He had been listening to the passing remarks I mad at him as he gleefully downloaded hard core carnage. “Porn does make you blind” and “At some stage we have to draw a line for ourselves” is what I kept saying to them. In the end, this fella – of his own accord – told me he’s not going to do it anymore. He’d had his day he said, he’d seen enough and now realised what he had to do for himself. He had drawn a line for himself.

When I found my way home that night, I kissed Sunshine and patted the dogs, cracked a beer (still left overs from the TALO swap/meet!) and glanced at my computer to find a more than usual volume of email. The TALO eGroup was cooking over this filter.

  • Jude wrote in to tell a similar tale to mine with her school group.
  • Tony Lorriman with his IT classes
  • Stephan and Sean’s R&D work in Sydney, Stephan labeling it “TAFE bans Web 2.0”
  • Jock is preparing a letter to the Bosses
  • Maria is doing similar

I think anyone half aware of the bigger picture and who was inside a NSW classroom or admin office yesterday (and those outside looking in) were flatly outraged by this ramping up of State control. It was bad enough a few months ago, but this has got to stop! Not just stop, gotten rid of all together!

Rose suggested:

maybe they should just give everyone (including students) a cheap laptop and
just focus on providing wifi services, tech support and access to “safe’
shared folders/systems for staff for any stuff that warrants existence
behind closed virtual doors. cos it’s eventually going to come to that
anyway.

I suggested:

Why can’t I, (a child protection cleared teacher) have a key to unlock what
is blocked so that my classes may go on uninterrupted. If I had a key, I
could help lock out sites like hairyshit.com that somehow still manage to slip under the wall…

and Alex had a witty go at it all with Digital laxatives… mr acting deputy speaker

I hope we can kill this fascist beast once and for all, and find better ways to teach our kids (and teachers) how to draw a line for themselves. Isn’t that a better form of protection?

Photo by Meesta Chaddaboks

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