Monday, June 12, 2006

Reflection (2) - Being Information Literate

Copy right & PlagiarismThough some classmates have already expressed that digital ethics are rather weak in HK, the general population’s awareness to digital piracy has been improved over the past 10 years. Many people now recognize that infringing copy right is a theft crime. However, many people may not necessarily know the exact nature of what constitutes an infringement of copy right. That is, people are likely to have broken copy right laws without either knowing about it or having the intent of doing so. The same can be said about plagiarism.

Daniel has mentioned that, “It is also not always appropriate to even place an image developed by others in your own image creation even with the acknowledgement (for educational purposes) and permission (in particular if you intent to publish and commercialized).” While many of us are aware that when dealing with text for academic purposes, as long as you cite the source, using/borrowing another person’s idea and presenting it as your own is generally accepted. However, if dealing with graphics is something else entirely, then most of us may already have plagiarized. For example, how many of us actually produced the graphics of the earth and sun for our previous task? Did we acknowledge their sources when we presented them in our blogs?

Though many of our classmates are information specialists who educate others on respecting intellectual property, the exact rules for dealing with information legally and ethically are sometimes unclear. For example, when or how is it OK if we copy and paste a graphic that becomes part of a larger display that is genuinely our own work, such as in the earth’s atmosphere task? We may understand the main principle of copy right and plagiarism. But we also need clearer guidelines to avoid stepping on potential minefields.

Digital story tellingThe technological advancement of the Internet has spawned new ways of communication that challenges mainstream news organisations. As shown in the previous class, a group of students can offer their side of the story towards the handling before and after the 9-11 incident in Loose Change on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/results?search=loose%20change&sort=relevance&page=2). These digital story tellers differentiate themselves from the mainstream media because they are seen to have the courage to upset important people that news organizations are reluctant to tell the same story.

When information on the Internet becomes abundant, the reader would need to possess information literate skills to filter out information that have credibility problems from those that are useful. Though what is said on Loose Change does offer an alternative opinion/fact on the US government’s handling of 9-11, one has to have a critical mind of how much is said is true. This critical and yet open mind is also required to what we read on mainstream news and not just digital stories on the Internet.

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