Information Ethics 679

Monday, March 20, 2006

Meet the Maker

I currently work as a receptionist in a nursing home, although I also do medical data entry and a LOT of typing. I have a BA in Psychology from Rutgers. Once I get my Masters Degree I would like to work in either a children's library or a medical library. My dream, however, would be to work as an archivist in the entertainment sector. I don't know if this is possible, but I love music and movies, and I'm an insanely organized person. If this job exists... I will find it! About me: I'm 24 (as of Jan 15th), I like comedy, playing sports, snowboarding, Philly teams, music, and movies. I have a dog named Freckles (beagle) and a rabbit named Sir Psycho Stinky. My favorite movies are Wet Hot American Summer, The Big Lebowski, and Fight Club. My favorite bands are The Ramones, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, The Grateful Dead, REM, Duran Duran, and, well, I could go on all night, so I'll just leave it at that. I'll read anything that looks even remotely interesting, and I can't help reading books in one sitting. My favorite tv shows are The Simpons, Family Guy, The Daily Show, South Park, Scrubs, and classic SNL (1975-1995).

Public Policy: Protecting Children From Inappropriate Material

Part 1
I feel that all librarians have some level of responsibility in protecting children. It is unfortunate that so many people in the world feel the need to corrupt children, but it is now a fact of life. People place incorrect descriptors on their websites so that a child trying to research whales might get several results with sexual content. Pop-up advertisements are an even bigger problem because they come up without anyone even clicking them. Many pop-ups advertise pornography.
The first thing all libraries need to do is invest in heavy filters. This is especially important now that everyone uses broadband connections. Worms and ad ware are prevalent in networks. According to most Codes of Ethics, librarians are not supposed to censor people, so this is the first paradox. How do libraries filter out adult content when they are not supposed to be censoring? After all, it should be fine for adults to view these websites. One possibility is to limit access to computers in the adult section of the library. That way, the filter can be left off of theses computers for the adults, and the children won’t be allowed to use them without an adult present. There should be different levels of responsibility for each type of librarian, but content filters are a good idea for any library. Most people are not coming to research pornography sites, and pop-up killers keep the computer safer from worms and spyware.
The librarians with the highest level of responsibility are elementary school librarians. Their only focus is on children, so they need to take every measure of safety possible. No computer should be left unfiltered because teachers shouldn’t be viewing inappropriate material on school grounds either. There are several websites which offer free and cheap filters for children. These will keep the children from seeing things by accident and from researching subjects they shouldn’t see. For example, no one in elementary school should need to see a website about building home-made bombs or the Kama Sutra.
School librarians probably only get involved in public policy on the school board level. They should have a say in what the school board purchases, but they are not allowed to censor books. If they feel a child is checking out a book which is too mature, they need to check with the parents.
And always remember, nothing takes the place of good, old-fashioned parental supervision!



Part 2
I think that members of the ALA and its related organizations need to voice their opinion on public policy according to whichever code of ethics they adhere. “Public ethics committees also do not substitute the social debate that takes place, for instance, in civic face-to-face meetings or in the mass-media [Düwell 2002]. They are, in other words, instruments for public awareness. They do not owe per se a specific moral authority. Their members should be qualified by their ethical and not only by their scientific or legal expertise.” (Capurro, 2004) So even if a librarian involved in public policy has his own opinion on a subject, he should publicly voice the opinion according to his company’s ethical code. That is his ethical expertise. Each organization has a slightly different code, so a librarian should choose his career partly based on with which code he most agrees. That way, expressing the opinion of his organization won’t differ so much from how he really feels. One example is within the subject of my pathfinder: protecting children from inappropriate material. Elementary school librarians are required by public policy to censor what children see. If a person is truly anti-censorship, he should probably work in an adult library.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

MySpace as a resume??

I just recently stumbled upon an article about MySpace. The writer talks about how employers are now getting extra information about potential employees from sites like Myspace and Facebook. Employers will look to see if applicants talk too much about drinking, partying, and sex before considering them. Does anyone else think this is unethical? What people do at home and on the weekends should remain their business. It worries me that employers can also use this site to base their decision on religion, sexual preference, or looks. The honest way to get information on how someone will perform on the job is to get references. Employers should be worrying about work ethic and responsibility... not if someone likes to get drunk on the weekends! Granted, party animals do not always have the best work ethic, but that is what probationary hiring is meant for.
Employers should also keep in mind that anything written on these websites should be taken with a grain of salt. College students may exaggerate to impress their friends, and some things they write are meant to be taken as a joke. My friends and I often write messages on each others' facebook profiles which refer to inside jokes or events which happened a long time ago.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

ALA Code of Ethics

I chose to work with the ALA’s code of ethics from their website.

I. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
II. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
III. We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
IV. We recognize and respect intellectual property rights.
V. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
VI. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
VII. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
VIII. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.




1) Does the code reflect a foundation in utilitarianism or deontology? Other ethical traditions? Describe.
–I feel that this code reflects the theory of deontology. All 8 sections of the code clearly show the ALA’s need to work for the fair rights of all its members and patrons. Anyone working for the ALA is sworn to respect the privacy of all patrons. Number 7 also shows that ALA members know to respect the opinions of others and help find information even if they, themselves, disagree with what is being studied.
• Does the code address individual members, the profession at large, and/or the public? Are there enforcement provisions?
-- The code specifically addresses ALA members, but it is clear to me that this code is universal to anyone working with information and the public. Whether or not a provider of information is a member of the ALA, he/she should respect others and their opinions and share anything they know which might prove to be useful. Indeed, despite the use of the word library throughout, many professions would do well to employ such a code. Teachers, though probably rarely ALA members, are responsible for sharing information with their students. It is also their duty to share information honestly and without bias. The ALA states, however, that this code is meant to be a broad generalization. There are no guidelines for more specific issues. It is for this reason, I imagine, that the code excludes any enforcement provisions. Enforcement most likely is dependent on the severity of code misconduct and the environment in which it takes place. Surely a librarian who subconsciously inserts his/her opinion while helping a patron with research is less guilty than a librarian who purposefully censors research materials to match his/her beliefs. I will again use the Human Genome Project as an example. A librarian who is against the HGP may let that slip in conversation with someone searching for HGP materials. This is less severe code misconduct than another librarian who is against the HGP and excludes pro-HGP articles from the materials he/she is providing.
• Is the code a useful document to present the profession to a national or international audience?
-Yes, this code is almost universally useful. The ideas of privacy and respect translate well into most other cultures. Unfortunately, some cultures are still very censored and their citizens are not as able as others to freely express opinions and search for information.
• What current public policy issues are noted or implied?
- Privacy, in the face of the ever-expanding internet, is a current public policy noted in the code. ALA members are instructed not to share the research or interests of patrons. The issue remains, however, of what to do if a patron seems suspicious. Because libraries are supposed to avoid censorship, books on possibly dangerous topics are widely available. If a patron comes weekly to check out books and photocopy articles on making incendiary devices from household materials, can a librarian report this behavior? The code says no, but the code also makes clear the fact that every situation is different and calls for different rules.
• If you were to update the code, what would you include? For example, does the code discuss the Internet or electronic resources? What about workplace surveillance of employees? Ethnic diversity? Civil liberties? Other topics?
- If I had to update the code, I would include protocol for sharing aberrant behavior with the appropriate authorities. Just like a priest is held to sharing information that could help solve or prevent a crime, people in other professions should be held to similar standards. This code mentions nothing about workplace surveillance, and I agree with that. This appears to be a code of honor, and I think it should stay that way. This code mentions nothing specific about internet resources, but everything it says about information could be held to written or electronic sources. I might add one line stating this, however, so there would be no question about it.

The Potter Box and Just Consequentialism

I chose to work with scenario #3 as it is what will be happening to me within a year.
You are planning to make a job change in the next two years. Although you are happy enough with where you are working, you are now in school and expect to look for something better when you graduate. How can just consequentialism and the Potter Box inform your decision-making? Are you received time-off or tuition assistance from your workplace? When should you inform your employers that you are looking for other opportunities? What else should you consider?

According to “just consequentialism”, I need to consider the benefits and possible injustices (harms) of what would happen. Possible harm that comes to me is a bad referral if I leave my current company in the lurch. If I leave them without enough warning, they will not have sufficient time to hire a new person and train them to take my place. If I am receiving benefits (tuition reimbursement, paid time off), and I leave after being there only a short time, they will have wasted a lot of money on me. I cannot expect them to give me a good referral after that, and it will be harder for me to find a new job. If, however, I give substantial notice to be fair to the company, they could fire me before I am ready to leave.
Possible benefits to me are getting my tuition paid off and getting a higher paying job in a short period of time. Most companies are inured to employees taking advantage of their resources. If they didn’t want that to happen, they would force employees to sign a contract at the beginning of employment. Some doctors are educated for free in exchange for working in unsavory locations. Lengthy contracts are required so that the educators and employers involved get their money’s worth.
With this information in mind, I will now complete the steps of the Potter box to make my decision.


Define the situation:
I am currently working a job having nothing to do with my career. I will soon have my degree, and I want to find a job related to my career. I need to let my company know when I will be leaving early enough so that they can find and train someone to replace me.

Identify the values:
My values are good work ethic, honesty, and loyalty to a company which has treated me well. (If my company has not treated me well, I would have little or no loyalty)
My company is more concerned with its clients and profit than me. (Some smaller companies are loyal to their employees but most are not, so I’ll go with the latter.)


Identify the principles:
Do the ends justify the means? Will leaving this job really improve my station in life? The ends must be more money, better job for me, and/or more possibility for advance. If there is a way to make more money or advance within my current company, I should take it.
Will I be helping or harming more people? As long as I take the necessary steps, I feel I would be helping more people. An unemployed person would get my job, and I would get a better job. Both companies would have vacancies filled.

Choose your loyalties:
My loyalties lie mostly with myself at the moment. Just about anyone who will soon be graduating from school is short on money and in need of benefits. I am no exception. Until I reach career mode (jobs only within my field), a job is just a job. While I may like my employers and the company for which I work, I would not expect them to take it personally if I left; just as I would not take it personally is they had to let me go due to budget cuts.

Based on everything discussed so far, this is my decision. I am not receiving tuition reimbursement, and my time-off is negligible. No job in the company is relevant to my career. I feel that more people would be helped than harmed. My job is not complex or hard to learn, so I will give only the average three weeks notice. If my job were more complex, I would give anywhere from 4-8 weeks notice. I do not, however, find it necessary to inform my bosses that I am looking elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

E-Pathfinder

Title of the Topic: Protecting elementary school students from inappropriate material.

Scope: The E-Pathfinder is designed to help to parents and teachers of elementary school students keep their children from viewing inappropriate content. Through scholarly articles and links to helpful companies, the E-Pathfinder should be a great source to the target audience. It will cover the topics of spyware, pop-ups, spam, and search filters.

Targeted Audience: Parents and teachers of students in K-5th grade.

WEBSITES
This site describes spyware and how it gets on computers.
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/kidsspyware1.mspx

This site is a great resource which describes the dangers of the net, safety guidelines, and safety tools.
http://www.protectkids.com/

This is another site which describes the dangers to children and ways to protect them.
http://www.kidshield.com/

This site describes a non-profit organization which offers free filters and teaches webmasters how to design and rate their sites.
http://www.icra.org/

This site, based out of the UK is an internet safety program teachers can use in classrooms. It has a section for the kids, a section for teachers, and a section for parents. There are games, quizzes, tips, and lesson plans.
www.kidsmart.org.uk/

This site describes specific ways children can accidentally find inappropriate materials on the web and ways for adults to prevent them. There are links to other resources and related articles.
http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/net_safety.html

Articles
This is an article which discussed how filters work and some problems with them.
http://www.prospect.org/print/V12/1/nunberg-g.html

This is a scholarly article written about the history of media and its influence on children. It begins with radio, and ends up on the internet. In talking about the internet, the author discusses how it can influence children and what can be done to protect them.
http://www.teacherlib.org/articles/wartella.pdf

Article from InfoTrac OneFile. Useful article on protecting children while on MySpace.
Making myspace safe for kids: Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal talks about efforts to protect users of the networking site from sex newsmaker. by:Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
Excerpt:
"How should MySpace change to become a safe environment for children? "
"MySpace has to provide greater protection against pornography and child predators that pose continuing dangers on this Web site and very possibly other social-networking sites similar to MySpace. "
"What are your specific proposed changes? "
"We're going to be suggesting some very specific measures that MySpace can take based on our conversations with MySpace as well as with other law enforcement authorities at the state and local levels. We've received hundreds of complaints from parents who are concerned about these issues, and we want to be sure that the measures we propose are technologically feasible and financially viable. "

Article from InfoTrac OneFile on safety tips for parents.
Your child and internet tips to keep them safe on the information parenting
by:Ebony James
Excerpt: The Internet can be a valuable educational tool with limitless benefits. But anyone and everyone can publish material as well as access the information superhighway. Sexual predators, pornographic material and sites promoting racial hatred are just a few of the dangers that children can encounter when surfing the Net. Preteens and teens are particularly vulnerable because they are more likely to go online unsupervised. Despite the dangers, there are steps that parents can take to make sure their child is surfing the Web safely.

Article from InfoTrac OneFile about an organization helping stop children from seeking porn.
Which? calls for action to stop kids accessing porn via brief article.
by:New Media Age
Excerpt: Consumer champion Which? has released a report today highlighting the issue of children accessing hardcore pornography online through passcodes sent via text message.
This could impact on mobile aggregators as operators examine the provision of such billing mechanisms. Media owners, including adult content providers, are increasingly using premium rate SMS to bill for online content. Consumers text to a shortcode to receive a unique code to unlock premium content online. Which?, the publication from the Consumers Association, today announced its investigation into the issue, hyped as 'Kids' mobile porn loophole'.

Article From HW Wilson giving parents information on Blogs.
What Parents Need to Know About Internet Blogs
by: Jet Magazine (no author listed)
Excerpt: Indeed, a youth Internet safety survey conducted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children found that, during a one-year-period, one in five regular Internet users aged between 10 and 17 have received sexual solicitations or approaches. Everett says that parents should teach themselves about blogs so that they can take the necessary steps to prevent their children from placing sensitive information on the Internet.


This article describes the possibility of filtering web pages with labels, and it gives an illustration of what the labels would look like.http://www.sciamdigital.com/gsp_qpdf.cfm?ISSUEID_CHAR=00B8E369-1805-4A27-A331-9D727FEAC21&ARTICLEID_CHAR=34B20C7B-C187-4AB1-A66F-3606FFF0E36

This article tells parents that they need to talk to their children about talking to strangers on the internet and the possible dangers. Provides a link to the full text article. http://www.jaacap.com/pt/re/jaacap/abstract.00004583-199805000-00020.htm;jsessionid=Ee6SdVaLZVioQtcn6p42Hicgw5JTqr29lFU07139b1H7nbym6aVA!169259080!-949856144!9001!-1



Books


The Internet Playground: Children's Access, Entertainment, And Mis-education by:Ellen Seiter.
Based on four years of experience teaching computers to 8-12 year olds, media scholar Ellen Seiter offers parents and educators practical advice on what children need to know about the Internet and when they need to know it. The Internet Playground argues that, contrary to the promises of technology boosters, teaching with computers is very difficult. Seiter points out that the Internet today resembles a mall more than it does a library. While children love to play online games, join fan communities, and use online chat and instant messaging, the Internet is also an appallingly aggressive marketer to children and, as this book passionately argues, an educational boondoggle.


Nontechnical Strategies to Reduce Children's Exposure to Inappropriate Material on the Internet by:Board on Children, Youth and Families, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council
Summary of a workshop from the Committee to study tools and strategies for protecting kids from pornography and their applicability to other inappropriate internet content.

Protecting Our Children on the Internet; Towards a New Culture of Responsibility by: Bertelsmann Stiftung (Editor), et al
The Internet offers many new possibilities in communications, business, and entertainment. At the same time, the cross-cultural flow of data requires new responsibilities for media providers, users, and law enforcement authorities (in the case of criminal content). The Bertelsmann Foundation and renowned experts have developed a set of recommendations to effectively secure responsibility, and to protect children from illegal and harmful content. This self-regulatory system is based on four pillars: self-regulation, self-rating and filtering, hotlines, and law enforcement as supplement to self-regulation.

The publication also presents the results of a representative, tri-national (Australia, Germany, USA) Internet-user survey on self-regulation and protection of minors. In addition, it contains a detailed bibliography of important publications on Internet regulation, youth protection, and self-regulation.

Safety first : children and the internet: An easy to use guide for parents & teachers
by Merle Marsh
Brief and Straightforward Guide: How to Keep Kids Safe when Online

Questions and answers on library law: Children's Internet Protection Act
by Scott F Uhler


Youth, Pornography and the Internet: Can We Provide Sound Choices in a Safe Environment by: National Academy Press
http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309082749?OpenDocument
This book is a national report on providing a safe environment on the internet for children. The link is to an article about the book. Excerpt from the article: "No Single Solution for Protecting Kids From Internet Pornography WASHINGTON -- No single approach -- technical, legal, economic, or educational -- will be sufficient to protect children from online pornography, says a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council. It describes social and educational strategies, technology-based tools, and legal and regulatory approaches that can be mixed and adapted to fit different communities' circumstances."

Safety Monitor: How to Protect Your Kids Online by: Detective Mike Sullivan
Synopsis
Safety Monitor provides hands-on, step-by-step, practical instruction for parents to protect their children from exploitation, sexual predators, adult-only content, pornography, and other harmful content that comes with computer and Internet access.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A graduate deserves a new job.

I chose to work with scenario #3 as it is what will be happening to me within a year.
You are planning to make a job change in the next two years. Although you are happy enough with where you are working, you are now in school and expect to look for something better when you graduate. How can just consequentialism and the Potter Box inform your decision-making? Are you received time-off or tuition assistance from your workplace? When should you inform your employers that you are looking for other opportunities? What else should you consider?

According to “just consequentialism”, I need to consider the benefits and possible injustices (harms) of what would happen. Possible harm that comes to me is a bad referral if I leave my current company in the lurch. If I leave them without enough warning, they will not have sufficient time to hire a new person and train them to take my place. If I am receiving benefits (tuition reimbursement, paid time off), and I leave after being there only a short time, they will have wasted a lot of money on me. I cannot expect them to give me a good referral after that, and it will be harder for me to find a new job. If, however, I give substantial notice to be fair to the company, they could fire me before I am ready to leave.
Possible benefits to me are getting my tuition paid off and getting a higher paying job in a short period of time. Most companies are inured to employees taking advantage of their resources. If they didn’t want that to happen, they would force employees to sign a contract at the beginning of employment. Some doctors are educated for free in exchange for working in unsavory locations. Lengthy contracts are required so that the educators and employers involved get their money’s worth.
With this information in mind, I will now complete the steps of the Potter box to make my decision.


Define the situation:
I am currently working a job having nothing to do with my career. I will soon have my degree, and I want to find a job related to my career. I need to let my company know when I will be leaving early enough so that they can find and train someone to replace me.

Identify the values:
My values are good work ethic, honesty, and loyalty to a company which has treated me well. (If my company has not treated me well, I would have little or no loyalty)
My company is more concerned with its clients and profit than me. (Some smaller companies are loyal to their employees but most are not, so I’ll go with the latter.)


Identify the principles:
Do the ends justify the means? Will leaving this job really improve my station in life? The ends must be more money, better job for me, and/or more possibility for advance. If there is a way to make more money or advance within my current company, I should take it.
Will I be helping or harming more people? As long as I take the necessary steps, I feel I would be helping more people. An unemployed person would get my job, and I would get a better job. Both companies would have vacancies filled.

Choose your loyalties:
My loyalties lie mostly with myself at the moment. Just about anyone who will soon be graduating from school is short on money and in need of benefits. I am no exception. Until I reach career mode (jobs only within my field), a job is just a job. While I may like my employers and the company for which I work, I would not expect them to take it personally if I left; just as I would not take it personally is they had to let me go due to budget cuts.

Based on everything discussed so far, this is my decision. I am not receiving tuition reimbursement, and my time-off is negligible. No job in the company is relevant to my career. I feel that more people would be helped than harmed. My job is not complex or hard to learn, so I will give only the average three weeks notice. If my job were more complex, I would give anywhere from 4-8 weeks notice. I do not, however, find it necessary to inform my bosses that I am looking elsewhere.
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Blog 1The politics and social influence behind technology

Part I:
I agree with some of the points in Winner’s article about how technology has a strong basis in politics, but I disagree with any suggestion that the technological items, themselves, are political. Winner appears ambivalent on this issue at first. Whether or not an item may seem evil or innocuous is really the fault of whoever wields the item. After all, nobody thinks a gun is evil when it is used to defend a policeman or hunt for dinner. Guns are only evil when being used in crimes, and it is the criminals (i.e. the social power) behind them who make it so.
Another point made in Winner’s article, though not necessarily by Winner, is that the politics behind technology are strongly democratic in nature. I think they are now that the majority of people can afford technology. When a new technology is first introduced, only the rich can afford to buy it, and the rich are generally Republicans. Because social powers influence the politics of technology, I feel that many of the earliest technologies were republican. Television may be one exception. Television did not start getting political until the early 60’s, by which time most people had a T.V. who wanted one. The first presidential debate was between Nixon and JFK. This was the first chance the general public had to really see the debate and make a decision based on what they could both see and hear. Democracy is all about the public getting all the information available to make an informed decision. No doubt, Nixon may have had a shot if people could not see how uncomfortable and unprofessional he looked on camera.
Not all of technology remains democratic however. Cable is practically a tyranny. I say practically because you can choose not to have it. Most people, however, want cable, and satellite is still seen as volatile since the dish is so vulnerable to weather and other adverse conditions outside. Your cable company is chosen for you depending on where you live. The cable company has the power to decide what channels you can or can’t have, and they can raise the price at will. Currently in South Jersey, there is a small war going on over Comcast. Comcast’s dastardly plan is to raise rates all over the state even though they will only be offering the new services in North Jersey and small parts of South Jersey. That doesn’t seem democratic to me.
Another part of Winner’s article that struck me was where he pointed out how the technical aspects of city planning can be used to exclude certain social groups. “Poor people and blacks, who normally used public transit, were kept off the roads because the twelve-foot tall buses could not handle the overpasses.” (Winner, 1986) Unfortunately, I feel that my town, along with many other suburbs, is guilty of the same thing. Most suburbs do not provide very good public transportation, the main mode of transportation for those with little money. Our bus system only takes riders of public transportation to the smallest malls with the smallest choice of stores. The buses go nowhere near the nicer malls and strip malls. Whether or not people with low incomes can afford these stores does not mean they should be kept away. They have as much right to be there as anyone.

Part II:
As for what influenced me to go into information systems, it was mostly social. When I was small, my mother was friendly with librarian of my school. From Kindergarten until I moved schools in 5th grade, I had the privilege of working closely with this wonderful woman. Every summer, my mother, my siblings, and I would go to the school with the librarian and her daughters to set up the library for the next school year. I found out then how much I loved working with books. Although it was actually in Kindergarten when I told my parents I wanted to be a librarian. When it came time to apply to graduate schools, I had the choice of taking the basic program to be a school librarian or taking this kind of program. I chose this because it leaves me with more options when I graduate and because I became very interested in medicine in college. This kind of program will leave me better equipped to work in a medical library or another medical setting where my skills could be useful.