9.3 Internet Issues: Ethical and Political Dilemmas

The Freqonomics podcast explores “the hidden side of everything.” This particular episode does a masterful job of charting the Internet’s trajectory from its inception (and before) to the present. Without being overly technical, it outlines some key trends that may threaten the original vision of the net as an open communication platform for everybody—and may also have profound impact on our greater society.

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Shaming and bullying existed long before the Internet age. But social networks have the power to magnify the negative impact of those activities, sometimes wrecking the lives of innocent people in the process. In this fascinating TED talk, Jon Ronson graphically illustrates this phenomenon with a true story and talks about what we need to do to minimize the consequences of Internet shaming.

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Shining a Light on the Dark Net

June 10, 2015

There are huge chunks of the Internet that can’t be found with your standard web browser. Criminals, anarchists, and trolls use encryption-enabled browsers to conduct their business anonymously in these dark corners of the net. In this fascinating Fresh Air interview, author Jamie Bartlett talks about his experiences in the dark net.

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Two Faces of Facebook’s Social Engineering

March 1, 2015

Facebook made lots of headlines a few months ago when people discovered that their news feeds had been manipulated for research purposes. Many people were shocked that they’d been unwitting participants in massive social science studies. But similar research at Facebook has also been used to help the company to determine how to best help customers deal with unwanted posts. This Radiolab program explores the light and dark sides of Facebook’s gigantic social engineering projects.

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Net Neutrality and You

February 28, 2015

Net neutrality has been a core principle of the Internet since the beginning, but it’s been making lots of headlines lately. The FCC has ruled that net neutrality is the law of the land—at least for now. But what does that mean for you? This Huffington Post article focuses on that question and gives clear answers.

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How Are Computers Changing Us?

February 17, 2015

This is a big question with a multitude of answers. NPR’s new program/podcast Invisibilia answers with three stories. The first one looks at the big picture with questions about artificial intelligence, wearable computers, and the possibilities for human/computer co-evolution. The other two stories look at specific, personal, right-now examples of human character changes as a result of digital technology.

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US Internet Service: Why Is It So Bad?

February 10, 2014

The Internet was created in the US, but you’d never know it based on the quality and price of service US Internet users get. In this NPR Fresh Air interview, author and professor Susan Crawford explains why US service is so slow, so expensive, and so inadequate for building future prosperity.

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Helping Technology Addicts Return to Reality

October 29, 2013

For most of us, the word “addiction” evokes images of people whose lives are controlled by drugs. But for many people—especially younger men—addictions aren’t about chemicals; they’re about technology.

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Are You Listening to the Internet?

September 19, 2013

Every day millions of people share text, photos, music, and video on the Internet. But until recently, there hasn’t been much interest in sharing non-musical sound. According to Wired contributor Clive Davis, we may be entering a new age of Internet audio. How does that sound to you?

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The Activist in Your Pocket

May 16, 2013

Did you ever wonder who gets your money when you go shopping? You may, without knowing it, be donating your hard-earned cash to people and corporations who use it to fund campaigns that go against your beliefs and values.

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