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May 20, 2004
Penn State v. Education II
Responding to the news that Penn State won't let students set up servers without a faculty member's express permission, Robert Heverly asks an important question (emphasis, mine):
[It] seems to me that this affects not only computer science students, but all students at Penn State. Why is it that we think that only computer science students ought to be able to experiment with what is one of the most pervasive technologies in university life? I don't get this, and I don't agree with it. The idea that education comes only in formal programs or courses is contrary to my way of thinking about education. Forget "holistic" approaches, that's not what I'm talking about. It's practical, not principle. Here we have a chance to let students, while they're in a place designed to feed their thirst for knowledge, actually experiment on their own, even if it's not their "major." Considering this, we need to broaden the field of our objection here.
Indeed. And I'd like to broaden the objection further still.
I was homeschooled for several years. Universities may be designed to feed the thirst for knowledge, but real learning happens everywhere -- even to people who aren't officially "students" or "researchers." In light of the restrictions imposed by the DMCA, Heverly's question becomes: "Why is it that we think that only
computer science students people the Copyright Office deems worthy/appropriate/officially sanctioned ought to be able to experiment with what is one of the most pervasive technologies in university modern life?"
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