Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Archive for September 2010

The dire menace of child porn—and other sex-related myths

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A regular occurrence nowadays is hysteria over child porn—often coupled with cries for increased policing, reduced civil rights, Internet blocks, or similar. A disturbing case was the FAQ of the Cologne policee, which dealt at length and almost exclusively with child porn when I visited it about a year ago—at the moment, the contents are far more appropriate and helpful (just possibly because of the email I sent to complain). Even everyday citizens without agendas are obviously influenced by the bogeyman-propaganda. (Cf. e.g. a post where I recently commentede.) This entry is written partially to have an easy link to give to these people.

The scope of the problem is often exaggerated by several orders of magnitude. A previous article of mine puts the absurd claim that there would be 14 million (!) child-porn sites under the loupe of basic reasoning—I have later seen numbers that indicate a true figure somewhere between one and two thousand. (That article discusses several other issues, including the dangers of counting IP addresses as individual people, and the problems caused by an ever expanding definition of what is considered “evil”.)

A highly illuminating external sourcee investigates and debunks a number of common claims, including a 200,000-websites (let alone 14 million…), a 20,000-images-per-week, and a $3-billion-a-year claim. (A number of other interesting articles are linked to from there.) In particular, it makes the very important point that a “hit” is not the same thing as an access attempt or a page view: Each image (including those used in the page design), JavaScript file, CSS file, whatnot, on a page causes a separate hit; for a page with pornographic contents, several dozen hits per page is on the low side. This fundamental distinction is rarely made in the discourse (be it out of ignorance or out of a deliberate wish to use exaggerated numbers), resulting in claims that are dozens, possibly even hundreds of times too large.

A very disturbing tale is that of Operation Orew. (For more information on the miscarriage-of-justice/witch-hunt issues see e.g. [1]e, [2]e, [3]e, [4]e, [5]e)

(As an aside, looking at Operation Ore, digital evidence is not only so easy for the layman to misinterpret, but so exceedingly easy to plant that I would personally recommend strong limitations to its use in courts—including entirely disallowing computers/hard-drives that have been confiscated by the police.)

An issue recurring repeatedly (at least in Sweden and Germany) in recent times is that of Internet blocks, e.g. that ISPs become legally obliged to filter out pages on a governmental blacklist—this despite expert statements and practical experiences indicating that this is an inefficient and intrusive approach. (Source in Germane.)

Generally, there is a lot of FUDw, exaggeration, and fear-mongering going on in the area of sex and sex-related crimes. Consider e.g. traffickinge, pimpse, satanistic child-abusee, and campus rapese.

Say no to abuse of children—and to exaggerated, unfounded, and destructive claims around child-porn.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Comment censorship and comment policies VII: An interesting discussion on another blog

with 4 comments

A very interesting discussion on this topic has arisen on another bloge.

A few issues of note:

  1. A number of commenters feel that it is in order to delete comments that are too rude, lacking in constructiveness, or fall in e.g. the category of racism.

    To a part they are correct; however, great caution must be taken to avoid over-interpretation and highly subjective deletes. Deleting based on opinion (e.g. alleged racism) is something that I emphatically advice against (see previous entries); in particular, as this is a highly subjective area and an area where many systematically abuse accusations of e.g. racism or sexism to distort the debate.

    As one commenter succinctly expressed it:

    (enleuk)

    Nobody knows the truth. Therefore it’s wrong to disallow any opinions at all. You should debate to reach constructive insights instead of making subjective assumptions about what is right and wrong.

  2. An illustrating quote that shows the common sentiment of “my blog; my rules”:

    (thomaschalfant)

    I delete absolutely any comment that I feel like deleting, and I allow absolutely any comment I feel like allowing, and I don’t feel even slightly, remotely, even a tiny little bit inclined to justify or defend it anytime in any way.

    Conversely, I don’t feel that anyone is in any way obligated to post any of my comments to their blogs (including this one). In the same way that you can walk up to me in a bar and start talking to me but I don’t have to listen, and vice versa.

    What this overlooks: A comment on a blog is not (generally) a statement made to another person, but to the public. It is, in particular, not something that must be directed at the blog author—often the target is the readers of the blog. By restricting the opportunity others have to express their opinions on the matter, the public suffers. A better analogy would be a speech in a public place: The speaker has his say (the blog entry), invites the world to voice its opinions (the comments)—and when someone has an opinion that is unsuitable, poorly expressed, or similar, a “The world, but not you!” comes from the mouth of the speaker. (Other reasons why this attitude is problematic is discussed through-out this article series.)

    As a general rule of life: That one has the formal right to do something does not automatically mean that one has an ethical right to do so—let alone should do so. A blogger should feel free to consider himself an aboslute ruler; however, he should make sure to be a benevolent dictatorw—not an arbitrary tyrant.

  3. The topic of spam comments comes up repeatedly. The need to delete spam, however, is a different issue from deleting “real” comments—sufficiently different that they are likely best off being discussed separately. Consider, in the above analogy, that the speech is ended and someone stands up to say “Beautiful speech! Now that you all are here, I would like to invite you to my store where you can buy glass figurines for only $199.99!”—just a different beast.

I made a few comments myself, including two points that I likely have failed to emphasize enough in this series:

  1. I have spent much time reading various discussions on various topics, including the talk pages on Wikipedia. I have found that it is often the back-and-forth, the contrast between different ideas and opinions, arguments and counter-arguments that best help me build a better understanding of the topic.

    This does require a receptive reader and it does require reasoning and knowledgeable debaters; however, when it works, it works extremely well—far better than a one-man pulpit.

  2. We should, as bloggers, have the humility to recognize that we have something to learn from our commenters. Disabling comments increases the risk (emails notwithstanding) that we miss what they have to teach.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 26, 2010 at 7:20 pm

What an eBook is and is not

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The topic of eBooks is common in the blogosphere—often as a discussion of whether eBooks are better or worse than regular books, which has the better future, or similar. (An examplee.)

This is all fine and dandy. What disturbs me, however, are the many incorrect assumptions made about eBooks. Typical mistakes include believing that eBooks are read on a Kindle (or a similar device), have a particular format, or are DRM infected.

If Amazon and its likes had their way, this might be the case; however, an eBook is simply a book in an electronic format—no more, no less. An HTML or plain-text file can also be an eBook, eBooks are regularly read on normal computers, and there are many, many eBooks that are free from DRM restrictions. Notably, a very sizable part of the classic literature is available free-of-charge on websites like Project Gutenberge.

My advice:

  1. Make sure to not confuse eBooks in general with the heavily restricted and user-unfriendly eBooks that make out a sizable part of the commercial volume.

  2. Take advantage of the many user-friendly, DRM-free, and free-of-charge eBooks that are available. Yes, if you want to (legally) read the latest Stephenie Meyer, you may have to shell out money; but, as a counter-weight, everything up to and including (most of) the Victorian era is in the public domain—as are many works of the 20th century and even a few of the 21st. (Including works dealing with vampires, fairies, and romance—and works that have stood the passage of time, where Meyer may be a mayfly.)

  3. When you do buy eBooks try to stay away from those that are DRM-infested or in non-standard formats (safe alternatives: plain-text, HTML, PDF) to the degree possible. If sufficiently many do so, there is a chance that the industry will see the light.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 26, 2010 at 10:44 am

The “77 cents on the dollar” fraud

with 24 comments

One of the most common propaganda tricks from feminists is the claim that women only earn x cents/öre/pence/whatnot for every dollar/krona/pound/whatnot a man earns—in a US context, 77 cents is the most common number. (See also my article on the infamous Anna Ardin for a related example.) This highly misleading claim is either given alone, without context, or made into a direct lie by adding claims about equal pay for equal work. The hitch is that the measurement used compares apples and oranges—it shows unequal pay for unequal work: Women already have equal pay for equal work. (In many advanced countries, including Sweden, the US, and Germany. Indeed, I have heard some claim that women earn more than men in Sweden.)

If we were to alter things so that women, by this twisted measurement, earned a dollar on the dollar, then men would be severely discriminated against. The claim for equal pay amounts to “All employees are equal, but some are more equal than others.” and wanting to eat the cake and keep it too.

The 77 cents arise from a misleading comparison, ignoring factors like hours worked per week, educational level, area of work (including factors such as physical dangers and qualifications needed), and time with the company.

For two very good articles on the subject, see Do Women and Men Earn Equal Pay in 2007?e and 77 cents on the dollar? The truth about the gender wage gape.

A particular interesting partial explanation is simply prioritisations and risk-taking when choosing jobs and negotiating salaries: Men have a higher unemployment than women (incidentally, something which does not bring the feminists to the barricades…) and it is quite possible that men are simply more prone to pick unemployment over a low-paid job, to go through temporary unemployment while looking for the right position with the right company for the right pay, or to make a negotiating gambit for a higher pay (with the risk of not getting the position). Any individual woman could chose to take the same risk for the same chance at the same gain, and those who do not have to live with their choice—just like the men who make the gamble and lose…

For that matter, making a comparison of pay without factoring in involuntary unemployment is inherently misleading.

“But discrimination is real! I have seen it myself!”

That may be. However, individual cases mean comparatively little for numbers like these and, while individual cases need correction, they are not a support for claims of a systematic problem of this alleged size. Further, many cases that are called discrimination are, in fact, not: Different people, be they men or women, earn differently based on a number of factors, including education, experience, dedication to the employer, self-presentation skills, etc., and any one individual woman earning less than any one individual man (or vice versa) is not an indication of discrimination—no matter what propagandists may want us believe. Further yet, unfair pay is nowhere near being the reserve of women, and it is quite possible that even an objectively unfair pay to a woman is not discrimination: A man in the same position in the same company, likely the one in the cubicle next to hers, stands a high risk of being equally unfairly paid.

For a good example of how not to do it, see e.g. the blog entry which prompted this article to be writtene. (If visiting it, also note the flawed reasoning and ad hominem take by the blog author in the comments, and beware that she kept my first two comments unpublished—including my pointing out that the “women are not worthless” slogan is a straw-man attack: The implicit claim that even a sizable part of the population would consider women worthless is grossly incorrect.)


Addendum:

I note that she has subsequently deleted all comments and also “closed” the comments. Unethical and cowardly, if you ask me.


Written by michaeleriksson

September 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm

More on the aftermath of the Swedish election

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As was easy to predict, the politically correct in Sweden have been outraged over Sverigedemokraterna’s (SD) gaining a representation, including many bloggers making “I am ashamed […]” statements similar to those heard from the US after the re-election of Bush. (Annoyingly, these statements often come from the more hypocritical, unreasoned or uninformed, and intellectually dishonest bloggers—the kettles calling the pot black.)

There have been four particularly egregious cases, however:

  1. Someone has broken into a database kept by the SD containing data on people who have requested information on the party—and published this list on the Internet as a list of supporters of SD.

    Not only is this a gross violation of the rights of the involved individuals and SD, but also, in very many cases, direct libel: To request information does not imply support. Indeed, when I was politically active in my youth, I read more material from the political opponents (including the communist party) than I did from “my own”. (This for two reasons: Firstly, it is a good idea to know the enemy. Secondly, it pays to know other perspectives—in particular, before presuming to criticize those perspectives. Sadly, the latter reason is something that appears lost on most politically active, who attack perspectives and opinions that they mostly know in a distorted version told by their own party.) Unsurprisingly, this list contains many entries that have nothing to do with support, including people wanting to learn SD’s perspective, find out how to fairly criticize them, or similar—and a fair number of fake entries of a joking or insulting character (presumably, the data was originally gathered through a form on the Internet).

    The message (be it intended or not): Have anything to do with SD and you will be publicly denounced. Similarly, I have, myself, repeatedly been called an SD supporter/voter, a xenophobe, or similar—just because I stand up for SD’s right to a fair debate.

  2. There is currently a discussion among the established parties to change the procedure for creating (common and influential) parliamentary committees in order to exclude SD from them—while allowing the other parties to be represented. This may be within the realms of what they can legally do, but it is certainly contrary to democratic principles.

  3. News sources have seen it fit to complain that SD (as a result of local elections in parallel to the parliamentary) will be able to supply more lay-judgesw. Apparently, SD’s stance on immigration issues will increase the danger that biased judgements are made—while the same risk is not present when e.g. communists are involved.

    (As pointed out by others, the real problem is not SD, but the highly disputable system of politically appointed lay-judges [1]e, [2]e.)

  4. A large-scale Facebook campaign is under way, where users post the explicit message that anyone who voted for SD has to “unfriend” them. Apart from being a disproportionate reaction based on a lack of thought of what can have moved someone to vote for SD, this is also a violation of the spirit behind the secret ballot.

Some related earlier discussions:

The results of the Swedish election

The Swedish election, equality, and Sverigedemokraterna

Unfair treatment of Sverigedemokraterna

Written by michaeleriksson

September 23, 2010 at 11:41 am

The Swedish election, equality, and Sverigedemokraterna

with 2 comments

The news reporting after the election showed the many typical and predictable articles, including one that is typically Swedish: As the second headline at Sweden’s largest morning paper (DN), I found an article highlighting that the proportion of women in parliament had sunke—and that this was caused by Sverigedemokraterna/SD (cf. the two previous entries).

We have an election that brought potentially very far-going changes to the political landscape (cf. the previous entry; in addition, some speculate on an end to Sweden as a leftist nation), and what is put in the spotlight? A minor change in the proportion of women…

One quote of the article well summarized the one-sided attitude of Swedish media:

Att skapa en jämnare fördelning mellan könen i Sverige riksdag har varit en långsam process under de sista hundra åren och först under sista 15 åren har kvinnornas andel av antalet riksdagsledamöter hamnat på en någorlunda jämn fördelning.

(To create a more equal distribution between the sexes in Sweden [sic] parliament has been a slow process during the last hundred years and only in the last 15 years has the women’s share of the number of MPs landed on a relatively even distribution.)

Apart from further support for the observation that Swedish journalists are poor writers:

  1. The quote presupposes that an even distribution is better or fairer than an uneven one. There is, however, not one shred of evidence for this being so. On the contrary, there are strong signs that equal numbers only arise when women are given a leg up. (Reasons include typical priorities of men and women, e.g. career vs. family; the distribution of ability in the high-end of the spectrum; and who is at all interested in doing what.)

  2. It creates the impression that a deliberate attempt at change has taken a full century. In truth, deliberate attempts have only been present in the last two decades (or so)—which corresponds conspicuously to the 15 years of near sameness.

Among the more factual claims of the article, we have that Sweden is currently the nation with the second highest proportion of women in parliament, after Rwanda (!)—but will now fall to fifth or sixth roughly on par with Iceland and Cuba. (As can be seen, a high proportion of women is not the same as success and enlightenment…) In numbers, the drop is from 46.4 % to 43–44 %—which I would consider worthy of a single line of text together with other information about the overall numbers.

I note that the high number of women is largely due to the left, which has brought women to the top even when they were entirely unsuitable, including disasters like the Social-Democratic PM candidate, Mona Sahlinw (abuse of government expense accounts, tax evasion, parking tickets galore, failure as a business woman, low “confidence ratings” even among the party’s supporters), and the former leader of the once-communist party, Gudrun Schymanw (severe drinking problems, tax fraud, out-of-touch-with-reality feminism).

The change is ascribed to SD in a neutral manner (far from a given), but it should be noted that there have been attempts to focus on them as a party of angry young men, with common allegations of sexism and misogynism—indeed, that the typical voter is a young man, low in education, and often unemployed, is explicitly mentioned). As a counter-point, a few numbers taken from a Swedish blog on similar topicse: 5 % of the men and 3 % of the women voted for SD, leaving plenty of room for angry young women. Further, there were almost three times as many women who voted for SD as for Feministiskt Initiativ (a radical feminist party led by the aforementioned Schyman)—so much for misogynism.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 21, 2010 at 7:07 am

The results of the Swedish election

with 2 comments

The preliminary numbers are in (finals will be available in a few days time). There are several interesting observations to make:

  1. The centre-right alliance increased its percentage of the vote from 48.2 in the last election (2006) to 49.3—but loses its majority in parliament, because …

  2. … Sverigedemokraterna received 5.7 %, which is above the 4 % limit for representation. (To be compared with 2.9 % in the previous election.) This is the first new entry since 1991—and they actually moved ahead of Kristdemokraterna and the former Communist Party, which both landed at 5.6.

    While not myself a supporter, I am mildly positive to the result for three reasons: Firstly, this is the one party that clearly distances itself from the evils and irrationality of gender-feminism. Secondly, there are issues concerning themes like immigration where pre-conceived opinions rule and no room for discussion is present. Irrespective of who is ultimately right or wrong (and I do not say that Sverigedemokraterna are right), their mere presence will challenge the orthodoxy—which is positive. Thirdly, it proves that undemocratic methods (including throwing eggs, threatening candidates, media refusing to publish election commercials, and similar) need not prevent democracy.

    The controversy around Sverigedemokraterna has been discussed earlier.

  3. There will now be eight (!) parties with parliamentary representation, which starts to seem excessive. Notably, six of the eight are at or below 7.2 %, making most of them satellites to the two major parties:

  4. Socialdemokraterna reached a “mere” 30.9 % in their worst election since 1914. At the all-time high (in 1940), they reached 53.8 %; and had 45.3 % as late as 1994. They, just barely, remain the largest party, however.

  5. Moderaterna reached an all-time high of 30.0 %—the highest non-Socialdemokraterna percentage since 1914. (Notably, the numbers from the first three elections, in 1911 and the spring and autumn of 1914, have a different character from 1917 and onwards, gradual later changes notwithstanding.)

Overall, the alliance will likely remain in government, but with the vågmästare scenario of the previous entry. (As for me: I did not vote, but feel that the lesser, by a considerable margin, of two evils won. A majority victory would have been preferable, obviously.)

All numbers are taken from the Swedish Wikipediaw:sv.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 20, 2010 at 1:34 am

Reflections on the blogosphere and the Swedish election

with 2 comments

Today, the Swedish parliamentary election takes place. Unsurprisingly, this has affected the contents of the local blogosphere.

Looking back over what I have read today, the last week, and the last month, there is a clear tendency for individual bloggers to have very partial and biased views of events, persons, and parties. At the same time, various party supporters use more-or-less the same arguments against each other.

A few examples:

  1. Whenever there was a television debate, the proponents of both parties talked about how their hero had torn his opponent to pieces.

  2. The argument has been raised both that a vote on the incumbent centre-right alliance and a vote on the historically dominating left would also be a vote for the much hated Sverigedemokraterna.

    The pro-incumbent argued that a vote on the left diminishes the chance for a majority victory for the poll-leading centre-right, which would allow Sverigedemokraterna to act as “vågmästare” (lit. “scale master”, a minor, unpledged party that can manipulate the political balance for its own gain by making its support a matter of tit-for-tat). Unfortunately, in Sweden’s multi-party system and its obsession with coalitions (as opposed to issues), this is a recurring, actual problem—but one that would be easy to avoid with more sensible politicians. Effectively, he reasoned that voters should vote against their own convictions to prevent this minor party from gaining influence…

    The pro-left argued with even less reason, claiming that because the left had unequivocally ruled out a cooperation with Sverigedemokraterna, while the centre-right had not, it would be safer to vote left. In my impression, this was just a second-rate excuse for not having to apply the same reasoning to the left (resp. avoiding the conclusion that a centre-right vote was called for, following the pro-incumbent’s reasoning).

    In addition, one supporter of the even smaller Piratpartiet argued (jokingly?) that it was safest to vote for Piratpartiet, so that it could become the vågmästare—relieving the main competitors from reliance on Sverigedemokraterna.

  3. The opposing parties are regularly accused of the same things or ascribed the same motives or feelings, including being opportunistic, lying, getting desperate (when trailing in the polls), and using unfair methods.

Silly, narrow-minded, and self-righteous people? Probably. However, also quite ordinary and normal people who often genuinely believe that it is the rest of the world which consists of silly, narrow-minded, and self-righteous people—which raises the question how many of us, without realizing it, are also one them… (Be it in general or with regard to specific pet issues.)

My recommendation (and what I, myself, do) is to regularly put ones own opinions and behaviours under scrutiny. In particular, when seeing something that appears really silly, it pays to stop and ask questions like “Is this something that I, myself, have done on other occasions?”, “Is this a behaviour that I would be less hostile too, if it came from the party/ideology/religion that I support?”, and similar. Among the benefits is a better self-knowledge and a more nuanced view of right and wrong, who does what, and so on.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 19, 2010 at 10:25 am

The great IT fiasco of Stockholm city

with one comment

Earlier this year, there was a lot of attention given to a deal that Stockholm city made with Volvo-IT: Basically, the city’s entire IT would be outsourced in a project called GS-IT, including the local schools. Here I will give some background and opinions of others, and then turn to a recent article on the failed implementatione.

Notably, there was a storm of protests from the schools themselves, who claimed that GS-IT would cause a lot of extra costs, reduce the service quality, and otherwise be more trouble than it was worth; in particular, as the services provided and the underlying concepts were intended for an office environment, but unsuitable for schools. A common sentiment could be paraphrased with “We have things under control. If it already works do not try to fix it.”—combined with the feeling that the fix would break something.

A particular complaint was that GS-IT would make it harder to use (often superior and almost always cheaper) open-source alternatives to e.g Microsoft, with the installation of any piece of software requiring a one-time fee of SEK 8,000 (EUR 800–900) to Volvo-IT—in addition to any license fees. Now, if someone wants to install a few thousand MS-Office packages, this fee will be a drop of water in an ocean of license costs; however, for the teacher or individual school who wants to evaluate a free-of-charge software on a small scale or install it for use during two weeks of one class, this fee can be preventative. Schools are on a budget— often a tight budget.

A particularly scary quote from an earlier article by the same papere:

Hon var särskilt glad över att staden nu helt kommer att gå över i Microsofts värld. Alla får Officepaket av senaste snitt och samtliga elever får [tillgång till Microsofts Live@edu]

([Annette Holm, in charge of IT for Stockholm City] was particularly pleased that the city would now move entirely into Microsoft’s world. Everyone receives Office packages of the latest edition [lit. “cut”] and all students [are given access to Microsoft’s Live@edu].

Well, those who know about more about the IT business than Annette will know that moving into the world of Microsoft is costly and that it is hard to leave it at a later date—and that Microsoft is interested in grabbing money by whatever means possible, while not giving a second thought to quality or customer service for any other purpose. Notably, there seems to be an increasing tendency elsewhere in education and public service to move away from Microsoft and towards open-source alternatives. As for Live@edu, I am not personally familiar with it, but have repeatedly heard claimed that it is much-ado-about-nothing, just a Microsoft-branded variation of things freely available elsewhere, and/or an attempt to bring children into the Microsoft fold under a pretense of charity.

The blog of Lotta Edholme, the “minister of education” for Stockholm city shows the great difference in opinion between the politicians and those actually involved with the schools. To quote for some of Lotta’s statements and then some of the dissenting comments:

Lotta:

Jag är övertygad om att GS-IT är bra för Stockholms elever, lärare och skolledare.

(I am convinced that GS-IT is good for Stockholm’s students, teachers, and school administrators.)

[They seem to disagree, both then and now…]

För det första skapar GS-IT en garanterad grundnivå när det gäller datorutrustning på alla skolor.

(Firstly, GS-IT creates a guaranteed base level for the computer equipment of all schools.)

[While this may be true in that a few lagging schools see an improvement, it also implies that other schools will be forced into the same one-size-fits-all. Notably, all the existing computer equipment is, apparently, given over to Volvo-IT for second-hand sale or to be thrown away, with the result that schools who have already invested in computers will find themselves with the same computers as those who did not invest—but with no reimbursement. Further, some of the schools not-up-to-date may have had legitimate reasons to give computers a lower priority. Indeed, I am myself somewhat skeptical to the number of computers and the computing power needed in good education.]

För det andra innebär GS-IT att stadens skolor får en gemensam struktur.

(Secondly, GS-IT implies a common [IT] structure for the city’s schools.)

[This is only positive in as far as it ensure abilities (and does so at a reasonable cost); however, a great part of this is simply limiting those who want to do something different.]

För det tredje innebär GS-IT en rejäl modernisering och utökning av datorparken på stadens skolor.

(Thirdly, GS-IT implies a considerable modernization and increase of the computer park of the cities schools.)

[Some considerable doubts has been raised as to whether this is true. Further, this does not take the question of cost-effectiveness into consideration. The reader may also note that there is a considerable overlap between these three given reasons—another author may have chosen to make them one single reason.]

Others:

(Mikael)

Du är helt verklighetsfrånvänd! Besök vilken skola som helst i stan som bedriver någon form av mer avancerad IKT än att skriva Word-dokument och surfa, så kan de berätta för dig att GS-IT är inget annat än en ren katastrof för och en enorm fördyring (och därmed begränsning) av verksamheten.

Och snacket om ”nya” datorer är rent nys. De datorer vi kommer att prackas på (eller ha råd att köpa) av Volvo-IT kommer att vara från ett tre år gammalt restlager som Volvo-IT nu ser sin chans att bli av med.

(Your are really out of touch with reality! Visit any school in town that has a more advanced form of ICT that writing Word documents and surfing, and they can tell you that GS-IT is nothing but a pure disaster for and an enormous expense increase (and therefore limitation) of the running. [I am grateful for a better suggestion for “verksamhet”, effectively what an institution does, than “running”.]

And the talk about “new” computers is pure BS. The computers that are dumped on us by (or we can afford to buy from) Volvo-IT will be from a three year old surplus depot that Volvo-IT sees its chance to get rid of.

(Seth Norberg – RTG)

Jag är ledsen Lotta, du har bara helt fel! Inga skolor har råd med en fördubblad IT-kostnad utslagen på 8 år. Vi larmade om detta redan från början och när förvaltningens controller kom fram till att det till och med var värre än vad vi befarade blev alla chockade.

(I am sorry, Lotta, but you are entirely wrong! No schools can afford a doubled IT cost over 8 years. We raised alarms about this from the very beginning, and when the controller of the administration found that it was even worse than we feared, everyone was chocked.)

[…]

GS-IT är mycket dåligt för lärare och elever!
Ett exempel från RTG: som du helt säkert vet använder vi oss av ett 1 till 1 koncept som det nu blir svårt att behålla pga fördyringen. Vi har idag ca 70-80 support ärenden varje dag. GS-IT har tänkt att lärare ska ringa när elever har tekniska problem. Det är inte måttligt arrogant mot lärarnas yrkesutövning. När läraren startar lektionen så är han/hon i princip alltid uppkopplade eftersom man arbetar med tidsenliga och motiverande resurser. Om då ett par elever har något tekniskt problem kan de snabbt få hjälp i vår helpdesk. Läraren kan fortsätta lektionen och eleverna kan komma in igen när problemet är avlöst, vilket kan ta 5-10 minuter. Som du själv delvis såg igår kan vi på RTG med stolthet säga att vi har världsklass 2010. Det finns det säkert andra som kan säga också, men nu tar GS-IT oss tillbaka till 1995.

(GS-IT is very bad for teachers and students!
[RTG has 70–80 support issues per day that can be handled in a timely and competent manner internally, without disturbing education, in 5–10 minutes time—with the implication that using the new support will take longer, which seems plausible to me (Michael) comparing with other support hotlines.] As you partially saw yourself yesterday, we at RTG can with pride say that we are world class 2010. There are definitely others who can say the same, but now GS-IT takes us back to 1995.)

Fördyringar
RTG kommer att tvingas att betala stora kostnader för elevkonton. 50 kr x 12 mån x 700 elever = 420 000.- per år. Vi skapar idag dessa konton själva på några få dagar, och har då dessutom en vuxen kunnig levande människa på plats som deltar i det pedagogiska arbetet som ger en digital kompetens till både lärare och elever.

(Higher expenses
RTG will now be forced to pay high costs for student accounts. 50 kr x 12 mon[ths] X 700 students = 420,000 per year. Today, we create these accounts ourselves in just a few days, and additionaly have an adult, knowledgeable, living human on the premises, who participates in the pedagogical work and provides a digital competence to both teachers and students.)

(Peter Lissenko)

Jag har arbetat som Data- och medielärare sedan -97 på en av Stockholms största skola för vuxenutbildning. Sedan den första dagen har jag tillsammans med IT-teknikerna kunnat utforma den arbetsmiljö som passar bäst för att svara mot de krav en modern arbetsmiljö kräver vad gäller programvaror och maskiner. Detta inbegriper även Öppna programstandarder eftersom jag tycker att det är viktigt att visa kursdeltagarna alternativ till de proprietära lösningar som finns.
Det som erbjuds i höst är låsta maskiner med förinstallerade program. Vill vi visa alternativ får vi lärare släpa dit egna datorer och projektorer….eller be Volvo IT att peta in de önskade applikationerna till det facila priset av 8500!! per styck även om programmen är fria att ladda ned och installera

(I have worked as computer and media teacher since 1997 on one of Stockholm’s largest schools for adult education. Since the first day, I and the IT techs have been able to shape the working environment that best fits the demands that a modern working environment raises regarding software and machines. This includes open programming standards, because I think that is important to show the course participants alternatives to the proprietary solutions.
What will be offered this autumn are locked machines with pre-installed programs. If we want to show alternatives, we teachers have to drag our own computers and projectors there…or ask Volvo IT to add the wished-for applications at the simple price of 8500!! per item, even when the programs are free to download and install.)

(With another one or two dozen critical comments not included here.)

To turn to the recent articlee (some more negative and some positive material is present in the article—I try to cut down to the core to avoid a copyright issue):

Billigare och bättre skulle det bli. Men för många av användarna, 80 000 elever, är det fortfarande precis tvärtom: dyrare och sämre.

( Cheaper and better was the idea. But for many users, 80,000 students, it is still the exact opposite: more expensive and worse.)

Den trådlösa uppkopplingen fungerar inte. Inloggningsuppgifterna stämmer inte. Batteritiden på de bärbara datorerna är knappt tre timmar[…]

(The wire-less connection does not work. Log-in data are not correct. The battery duration on the portable computers is just short of three hours, […])

På Spånga gymnasium står därför de nya, bärbara Delldatorerna i princip orörda i ett bokförråd.

(In Spånga high school, the new portable Dell computers, therefore, stand basically untouched in a storage area for books.)

Sedan höstterminen startade har många av lärarna ägnat en stor del av sin arbetstid åt att agera datasupport åt eleverna. Skolans IT-tekniker fick gå redan i våras, [pga merkostnader för GS-IT och besked från stadsledningskontoret att han inte skulle behövas].

(Since the fall semester started, many teachers spend a large part of their working hours doing computer support for the students. The schools IT technician was let go already in the spring, [due to increased cost through GS-IT and claims from city administrators that he would not be needed].)

– Katastrof. Dels för att tekniken inte fungerar, men också för att avtalet gör oss bakbundna och försämrar våra möjligheter att jobba pedagogiskt med IT, suckar Olof Linton, lärare på skolan som fick en merkostnad på en halv miljon kronor per år trots att man sparkade IT-teknikern.

(- Disaster. Partially, because the technology does not work, but also because the agreement binds our hands and reduces our possibilities to work pedagogically with IT, sighs Olof Linton, teacher at the school, which received additional costs of half a million crowns per year, despite firing the IT technician.)

Men Spånga är inte ensamt om problemen. […]

(But Spånga is not alone in having these problems. [Discussion of derogative formulations like “the emperor’s new clothes” being used and that the goal of one computer per student is unrealistic, because the schools can no longer afford it.])

Written by michaeleriksson

September 16, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Comment censorship and comment policies VI: Distortive editing of comments

with 5 comments

Today, I encountered what I had long feared: Distortive editing of comments to entirely misrepresent what the commenter (me) actually said. The perpetrator of this inexcusable act is one Emvie Martine. I note that several comments by others on the same page have been edited too, which is an indication that Emvie is a repeat offender; however, obviously, I cannot categorically rule out that these edits had a valid reason or that they were non-distortive.

Seeing that this was a Swedish blog (and the topic not close to my heart), I will not go into details about my statements. However, my first comment (for no discernible reason, including length, topic, or anything else discussed in previous entries as potential comment-policy pit-falls) saw half its contents cut away, part of the remainder distorted, and the rest filled with remarks by emvie that further distorted the message of the comment.

I wrote a second comment protesting this behaviour and addressing the one actual point that emvie actually seemed to make in her editing: Whether the German and Swedish Christian-Democrats should be considered the same. I agreed that there were similarities, and then continued to explain that there were also differences. This comment was reduced to a seven word version—containing only the part were I agreed to similarities…

(Later a thoroughly misleading moderator’s note was added, claiming that “silliness”/“trams” had been removed, and that I should be “factual”/“saklig”—despite the fact that I was.)

The first occurrence could have been explained simply by Emvie being highly incompetent or lacking in judgement (Hanlon’s Razor), including being unaware of the standard rules for quoting that are an obvious analogue; however, by so blatantly repeating her crime in direct response to a protest against that crime—that is not merely incompetence but actual and deliberate malice. Further, it is malice of a very childish and spiteful kind.

A third comment demanding the immediate re-instatement of the original version has lead only to the addition of the aforementioned moderator’s note on the previous comment. As a consequence, I am writing this post. In addition, I am filing a formal complaint with WordPress requesting a stern warning. (I sincerely doubt that they will consider this within their jurisdiction; however, there is no harm in asking, and there are behaviours that are simply so outrageously wrong that they must be brought to the attention of whomever could correct them.)

In the big picture, the obvious conclusion is that is impossible to trust what various persons appear to say in blog comments—something which is particularly important to bear in mind in situations like Sweden’s around Sverigedemokraterna or on many feminist blogs, where attempts to severely distort opinions are quite common: What better way for an intellectually dishonest blog owner than to simply edit the comments made? After all, if they already “know” that a certain commenter has a certain opinion, despite claiming something different, then a “clarifying” edit would be a good way to convince those who actually apply critical thinking, listen to what people themselves (not just their opponents) say, and so on.

It would be highly beneficial if there were technical aides to reduce the risks involved, e.g. an non-deletable indicator specifying how many characters of a comment were changed when by whom. In the second case above, for instance, other readers could then at least see that the original version was more than ten times as long and that the edited version was highly unlikely to correspond to my actual statements. Further, an extended notification system, where subscribers (or, at a minimum, the comment author) were notified about post-publishing edits, would be highly useful. This way, the author would at least know about misleading edits.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 15, 2010 at 11:41 am