Written by students of FC1750.06
at Founders College, York University
As for anyone who disseminates information on the Internet, the main question is one's sense of accountability to the readership. One must take responsibility for whatever one writes. A writer has to make sure that the information he/she puts on the internet is accurate and well researched. Also there should be supportive evidence to back up the statements. It would be the same as publishing facts as well as opinions in a newspaper, or reporting events for a news program on television.
When does the freedom of speech become an issue? Information should be exchanged without any type of restriction. One should be able to put anything on the Internet. The real powers come from those who look for the information. The material is out there, but we have the choice to read it or ignore it. If we disagree with a source, we won't read it anymore. It's easy as that, move on and forget about it. A writer should be able to write anything because it's the readers who decide if it's useful or not. If the writer is releasing offensive articles on to the internet, the readers have the power to boycott them. After a while that writer will disappear. The power is in the readership's fingertips.
A counter-argument is that some readers can be influenced very easily even by total falsehood. There are, for example, still those who believe and preach that the Holocaust never occurred. It is frightening that there are people who believe in those who preach it. One, therefore, has to practise self-regulation by the watching the words one writes. The information might offend, or could result in a legal suit as one is accountable to the whole world.
Information gathering is the fun part on the Internet. There are many tools at one's disposal to access a wide variety of topics. Name one and it is most likely in there! For example if you are interested in comic books and want to see what's up with Spider- Man*, first you would use a net finder; or if you had a net address it would be much quicker. Behold! Right before your eyes there is a whole journal on your favorite comic-book character.
There are no limits on the information one can find in the Internet. Countless organizations have released company profiles, and the available resources can rival those accommodated in any library. A person while using the net, which is kind of like a phone book, can pull data from any part of the world which has access to the net. It is pretty amazing to have the world at your fingertips. No one is left in the dark on the latest news. All the information one could ever want is ready to be surfed. Catch the wave! It could be a joy ride or an arduous adventure.
Surfing the super-highway to East Asia in search of Japan, I almost lost my footing. At first it appeared I had many interesting prospects pertaining to Japanese literature. The problem is that my ability in reading Japanese characters is next to nothing. Most of the items I looked up were written in Japanese with no English translation available. This could be a slight problem for anyone who is interested, but can't read the language. Moreover, what I have found out was that most of the items were from universities advertising their courses. I have no interest in these sites.
Despite all of this, my experience wasn't all bad. I found a homepage in English on Kenzaburo Oe, listing all the books he has written and paying him tribute on receiving the Nobel prize for literature. From the brief summary on his life, I have gained new insights into his milieu. Some other Japanese homepages, especially those listed by the Australian National University, describe what is going in East Asia. I have found information on another form of East Asian literature -- the comic book! It is an interesting discovery for me although my journey on the super-highway to East Asia can be a real pain at times.
Furthermore some companies are starting to list jobs on it. My major field of study is business, and I wish to become one day a Charted Accountant. When looking through the jobweb, I have found some accounting positions available, and I hope openings for chartered accountants will be listed by the time I graduate. My dream job, however, is to become a comic writer, and Wildstorm Studios on the Internet has positions for writers. The owner of Wildstorm Studios is Jim Lee, who has an East Asian background. Some day I may send him my resume.
Travelling in Cyberspace, I have experienced both the joy of discovery and the frustrations of getting lost. Sometimes there are false starts and other times there are road blocks, but the spirit of adventure prods me forever to seek a hidden reef or an unfamiliar domain awaiting exploration. I hope there will never be barriers erected in this new frontier, restricting access to its resources.
*Spider-Man is TM and copyright 1996 Marvel Characters, Inc. All
Copyright © 1996 by the authors. Information from this article should be attributed to the authors.