Rarely does a great teachable moment like today come up in technology class. Today, in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, several websites—many of them cornerstones of the internet, such as Google, Reddit, WordPress, and Wikipedia—have “gone dark.” Google blacked out its name, and Wikipedia stopped working completely.
The act itself is a little vague. In fact, it’s vagueness that makes so many people angry; it can be interpreted in any number of ways. But it did lead to a discussion in my classroom about the concerns of the media over the theft of songs and movies and the concerns of many on the internet that the proposed legislation will lead to censorship.
It also was a case study on how dependent we are on the internet. What would we do if these sites were to shut down? I am old enough to remember card catalogs and actual, bound encyclopedias, written by experts who did not spend dozens of pages highlighting every Star Trek episode. But these kids don’t remember that. For them, the internet is like running water—it’s always been there and they expect it to always be there.
Whatever your stance on the bills, if you even have one, it does make for a great discussion in your classroom.