Archive for December, 2009

Computer Literacy Program – Class 6 – Ethics

Ryan will do more thorough posts about the curriculum, the activities, and the effectiveness of the program when all the classes are complete on These are just my own personal recaps and memories.

The topic for the sixth class in the Computer Literacy Program was “Ethics”.

Seventeen hours before class, circa midnight, I was working in my living room when I heard a gunshot followed by an absolutely gut wrenching sound– a dog yelping. My heart still sinks when I think of the cries. Another blast went off. I called the police while Ryan stepped out to investigate.

It turned out my phone call was completely unnecessary. The police were already in the neighborhood. In fact, they were everywhere! Crime scene tape was raised and people in bathrobes and slippers shuffled out of their homes to watch. A policeman loudly asked my neighbor if he had any more dogs.

We would not learn more until the next morning. The police were on the scene so quickly, because they were doing a drug bust further down the street. One of the officers had a police dog with him. Four houses down from the suspicious residence, my neighbor’s dog, Demo, jumped off his porch. The police officer thought Demo was coming to attack him and his dog, so he fired. Demo was shot in the face.

He was taken to an animal hospital, but the treatment to save him was going to cost $3000 which was more than the family could afford. He had to be put to sleep.

On one hand, it is easy to see why the police officer felt threatened. Demo was a large and intimidating looking dog with a deep and hearty bark. The officer was in a tense, uncertain situation and by law dogs should be leashed or restrained. But at the same time, if the officer had any other reaction or if he had not had the luxury of a firearm, he would have discovered what I and other passersby on Hunter Street invariably had. Demo’s scary looking, but he’s not vicious. He’s curious.

Hunter Street - Khaliya and Demo
Demo During Happier Times

And so on the eve of our class on Ethics, where we planned to discuss complex situations with multiple perspectives and tough decisions, it was so unfortunate that we had one unfold right on our street.

Although four of the kids lost their dog that day and we had all lost a neighborhood icon, we still had full attendance for class. Demo’s demise was discussed, but not as part of our curriculum.

The lecture started with three different types of Code of Ethics, including the Hacker Code of Ethics. Next up, Ryan talked about Veracity, fact-checking and how to use The latter is a lesson I wish some of the adults in my life would absorb. 🙂

With my interest in nature, I was quite pleased with how Ryan introduced email/MySpace traps and scams. He started off with a picture of Chiloglottis diphylla, an orchid that tricks wasps into thinking it is another wasp.

Chiloglottis diphylla (Photo by photobitz)

Ryan quickly followed it up with a screenshot of a MySpace scam. If you think the wasp is gullible, you should see what we humans fall for! 🙂

Netiquette, forum behavior and emoticons were touched upon, then Ryan spoke on the permanence of the internet, a topic he covered in 2008’s MySpace is Forever.

Computer Literacy - Ethics - Three Auditors
The Internet is Forever

Next up on the agenda was Intellectual Property. Ryan talked about patents, copyrights, Public Domain, Creative Commons and Fair Use. This class had one hands-on activity. All the kids went into Flickr and learned how to search for Creative Commons images.

Computer Literacy - Ethics - Creative Commons
Creative Commons!

As I circulated the room to help, one kid demonstrated that he knew me well. He called me over to see an image he found.

Computer Literacy - Ethics - Dada with Creative Commons Beagle
Aww…Creative Commons Sleeping Beagle

Speaking of sleeping beagles, Henry the Class Auditor apparently found this class to be less interesting than the others.

Computer Literacy - Ethics - Henry Bored
Another Sleeping Beagle (Also Creative Commons)

We ended class discussing three ethical dilemmas. The Megan Meier MySpace case solicited conversation among the older kids and I was impressed that the opinions were not homogenized. Opposite points of views naturally surfaced and it was fun to listen.

After that, our discussions on “Google and Juvenile Records” and “Software Patents” were a bit anticlimactic. The main contributers were the much less lively Ryan and Vicky.

When class was over, the conversation returned to topics closer to home.

To Demo. To the police. To trust.

December 9, 2009 at 12:38 am 3 comments

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