Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mock The Ethicist: 3/11/2007

After reading this week's column I unmderstand why Randy's advice always seems so off-base: he's filing these columns from Bizarro World. Just look at the evidence:

Given recent trends I suspect that next week he'll have a column dealing with the ethical implications of your neighbor's barking cat.

Seriously, though, his whole answer this week is predicated on the assumption that high school students don't know that people can Google them. That's a load of crap... its nothing more than adults projecting their own ignorance onto the students. A high school senior with a blog knows very well that ey can be Googled; ey're just gambling that people won't bother to search or that the "needle in a haystack" effect will protect them. Yeah, sure, students who get caught writing something the probably shouldn't have will say "But I didn't know...", but they're just trying to cover their asses.

So I say go ahead and call eir bluff; its public information, do with it what you will. However, and this is where Randy really falls down, you should treat material found online in the same fashion as any other material. If students are allowed to comment on their transcripts, or their portfolios, or any other part of the application package then they should be allowed to comment on information excavated from the Web as well. Just putting the URL into a report without comment is about the worst thing you can do; it robs whatever material might be at that URL of its context. I needn't remind the reader that decontextualizing documents just leads to badness all around.

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