Sunday, August 13, 2006

Blog Post #6

Link to my Freedom Middle School library webpage:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blog Post #5 - DOPA - Deleting Online Predators Act

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read about DOPA in several blogs and listservs and decided I should find out more about it.

DOPA is the Deleting Online Predators Act, and it passed the House of Representative on July 27, 2006, and now moves on to the Senate for a vote. The American Library Association (ALA) website explains what DOPA is:

"DOPA is short for the Deleting Online Predators Act, the name given to H.R. 5319, which requires schools and libraries to block access to a broad selection of web content including "commercial Web sites that let users create Web pages or profiles or offer communication with other users via forums, chat rooms, e-mail or instant messaging." The bill blocks users from accessing sites like MySpace from schools or libraries, as well as access to a wide array of other content and technologies such as instant messaging, online email, wikis, and blogs."

According to’s Larry Magid, DOPA is ”a well-meaning but ill-conceived piece of Internet safety legislation that could actually make the Internet a more dangerous place for children and teens”. In his report, "House Misfires On Internet Safety," Mr. Magid does an excellent job of explaining why this is not the best piece of legislation. He has been working on Internet Safety issues since 1993. He wrote "Child Safety on the Information Highway" for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and is on the board. He also runs and, and is co-director of Because of Mr. Magid’s background, he is highly qualified to analyze the effectiveness of DOPA. The following are a few of the reasons why Mr. Magid does not like the DOPA legislation:
1. Rather than “‘deleting’ online predators, it deletes the ability of schools and libraries to determine whether kids can constructively take advantage of social networking and other interactive services that are extremely popular among teens.”
2. It "lumps social networking sites and chat rooms with previously blocked sites that are obscene or contain child pornography, as if social networking was somehow the same as those horrendous sites."
3. The bill does not address “deleting” predators. It does nothing to increase the penalties of the criminals who prey on children, but rather punishes the potential victims and libraries and other institutions by denying access to social networking programs.
  • I love this comparison, “It would be like trying to protect children from being injured or killed by drunk drivers by ruling that kids can no longer walk, ride a bike or even ride in a car or bus to school.”
4. The bill does not address where these Internet sites are potentially the most dangerous and used the most, at home and on cell phones. Libraries and schools provide Internet service that is in a public place and supervised.

DOPA does not address the real need to educate children, teens and adults about the safe use of the Internet. Librarians should take great interest in this legislation because they could be greatly hampered by it.

To read more about the pitfalls of DOPA and the advantages of social networking, read Larry Magid’s report at

To read more about the American Library Association’s position on DOPA and its five key points, visit the ALA website at:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Blog Post #4 - Dateline NBC reports on

On Sunday, April 9, Dateline NBC aired a report on I did not see the report, but heard about it through the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA) listserv. One of the members provided a link to the report online. The report involved a 30-year old police detective, Detective Dannahey, who created a fake MySpace profile as 19-year old “Matt,” and entered into conversations with three teenage (14-16 years old) girls. The girls thought they were using MySpace safely and their parents were fairly involved, and yet, all three invited “Matt” to be on their “friends” list. This was a very eye-opening report. Information that is revealed by some young people on this site is exactly what a sexual predator could use to gain a young person’s trust and friendship. Regarding a 377- question survey that one of the girls posted to her account, Detective Dannahey said, “if I really was a predator, that would be just the kind of information that could, maybe years ago, take me months talking to you to get that kind of information.” After reading this report, it is apparent that young people can easily reveal personal information without realizing it, and they may not be diligent enough in their screening of people who they invite to be “friends.” As librarians, it is important for us to understand MySpace, how it works, and to educate parents and teenagers on how to use it safely. The report gave the following safety advise: “Whatever social network your child uses there are easy steps you can take to reduce risks: Monitor your child’s profile regularly, keep photos and personal details off, and put your child’s computer in an open area.” It may not be appropriate for everyone, especially young people under the age of 18, to put it all “out there.”
This report and other information on MySpace can be found at .

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Blog Post #3 - Using Wikis in the School Library

I read the article, "Using Wikis to Support Online Collaboration in Libraries," by Darlene Fichter. I love this idea. It is very important for school librarians to collaborate with teachers and this is a way to do it. Teachers often know excellent websites and books for the subjects they teach. Or they've been to a conference and come back with all sorts of good resources. I get emails all the time from teachers highlighting useful resources for fellow teachers and librarians. So instead of me creating a list of resources I know about, I could create a wiki and have various teachers contribute their resources, too. If we create a math wiki, for example, anyone with math resources could add to it. This is a way to take advantage of the collective knowledge of the teachers and school staff.
Wikis also provide a place for collaborative writing, editing and storing of reports, letters, meeting notes, etc. I belong to a parent group that often writes letters to the newspaper, school board members, school staff, and others. We email each other back and forth making corrections and suggestions, and sometimes it’s hard to follow the changes. A wiki could facilitate our writing efforts and make it a much easier process.
Another plus for wikis - there are several sites that will host wikis so wiki software is not necessary. This is good for those libraries on a tight budget.
So I plan to give it a try. I’ll find some other teacher who’s not afraid of technology and give it a go.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Webinar on the Invisible Web

I participated in a one-hour webinar today on searching the Invisible Web or the Deep Web. It was my first webinar and it was prettry fun. I'm not exactly sure how to define a webinar, but it is a lesson offered via a website that you register for and log into. There were 135 participants from around the world on today's webinar. The presenters spoke to the participants and presented their materials on the computer screen. It was very interactive. Participants answered questions, displayed their feelings (like clicking on the applause sign or the confusion sign), sent text messages to the participants or presenters, spoke to the audience and wrote on the white board using the tools displayed on the web site. It was free and I found out about it from the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMANET) listserv. One of the sponsors was the Illinois Math and Science Academy.
The subject, the Invisible Web or the Deep Web as the presenters preferred to call it, is that part of the web that most search engines don't reach - both free and fee based web sites and databases. After this webinar, I know I really need to learn how to search the web better. Does anyone have any suggestions - a class, a Dom class, websites, tutorials?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Blog Post #2 - History of the Internet - Al Gore and the Internet

I wanted to find out the real story of Al Gore and the Internet. When you think about the history of the Internet this is not a traditional topic, but it is very interesting, and to my surprise the article I read, “Al Gore and the Creation of the Internet” by Richard Wiggins, gave an overview of the entire history of the Internet. So what exactly did Al Gore say? It has been repeated by politicians, comedians, and the press, over and over, that he said he invented the Internet. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer of Cable News Network, on March 9, 1999 during the ‘Late Edition’ show Gore actually said, “I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” He also said, “I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protections, improvements in our educational system.” After reading the real quote and the article, it is clear that Vice President Gore was taken by surprise by the question and stumbled a little in his answer. He did not choose the best wording for what he was trying to express; that he was instrumental in promoting the development of the Internet through his understanding of its potential and through his proposal and support of necessary legislation.

The Internet Society hosts a written account called “A Brief History of the Internet,”, authored by some of the designers of the Internet. According to the brief history a paper written in 1988 by Kahn et al., “Toward a National Research Network,” “was influential on then Senator Al Gore, and ushered in high speed networks that laid the networking foundation for the future information superhighway.”

On September 28, 2000, Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf, key persons in the development of the Internet, released a statement to several “key Internet mailing lists stating their unequivocal belief that Gore played an important role during his congressional years in supporting the Internet.” Below is the beginning of that statement.
"Al Gore and the Internet
By Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf
Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development. No one person or even small group of persons exclusively "invented" the Internet. It is the result of many years of ongoing collaboration among people in government and the university community. But as the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time."

Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role. He said: ‘During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet.’ We don't think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he ‘invented’ the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening.”

There is not a great difference between the words invent and create, but considering the context of the interview and Al Gore’s history with and interest in the Internet, Mr. Gore did have a key role in its development. It also seems he did not get a fair chance with the public, because as the author states “repetition becomes reality.”

So did Carl Sagan really say “billions and billions?”

Wiggins, Richard. "Al Gore and the Creation of the Internet." First Monday 5 (2000). 6 July 2006
This is a very interesting article that discusses responsible journalism and reporting, political implications of “repetition becomes reality,” and provides Internet history and good sources for Internet history,

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blog Post #1 - Trading Card

Okay, I got this thing to work again and a little better!