South-west winds strong enough to generate ridable surf are very rare in Toronto, but today we had just enough for a nice small and clean session. Felt good. Nice weekend of family time along with some work and a little reading otherwise. Here are some links I picked up that you may enjoy.
- Princeton University, The Future of News. This a list of podcasts from a Princeton Centre for Information Technology Policy workshop that took place in May 2008. I commend David Robinson’s talk, “Attention, Distraction and Information Glut.” It’s just excellent – optimistic and insightful. Frankly, I listened to one of the other panels and found it annoying and deleted the rest. Gotta like learning on-demand!
- BBC Radio, The Right to Know. A two part podcast on global trends in FOI policy, with a focus on some of the growing pains being felt in newer regimes. From August 2008.
- Philip Gordon, First Federal Court Decision to Uphold ‘Termination’ Based on Myspace Content Rejects First Amendment Claim of the ‘Drunken Pirate.’ The title says it all. A good case summary of Snyder v. Millersville University, issued December 3rd. (Littler Mendelson)
- Ralph Losey, Why E-Discovery is Ruining Litigation and America and What Can Be Done About It. A bold thesis to go along with this bold title: litigators who are feigning competence in e-discovery are ruining litigation. Ralph says the “protodigitals” need to step aside and let the “geek-counsel” take control of discovery to save the American civil justice system.
- Citizen Media Law Project, Federal Appeals Court Examines Two MySpace Student Speech Cases and Florida Student Sues Overs Suspension for Facebook Postings. The CMLP is doing a very good job of covering recent American “student speech” cases, of which it has eight in its caselaw database. The first article above is about appeals in two cases that have received discussion amongst Canadian school administrators – Layshock v. Hermitage District and J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District. The latter is about a new case from Florida – Pembroke Pines Charter High School v. Evans. These captivated me enough to warrant recording a few thoughts below.
Evans is about a student who created a web page where she said her teacher was the worst she had ever met and encouraged her classmates to express their “feelings of hatred.” The site generated a number of responsive comments in the two days it was live. Three of the comments supported the teacher.
Despite a fact pattern that might cause one to immediately question the school’s actions, I think Evans has significant potential to provide guidance. Unlike in Layshock and Blue Mountain, it’s hard to say the student’s harsh, emotion-driven and perhaps unfair criticism is objectively offensive, so the case could lead to some very good discussion about what types of harms individuals ought to tolerate in assuming the special duties of a teacher. There’s a high level of sensitivity to “cyberbullying” right now, an issue taken-up strongly by our local secondary and post-secondary teacher associations and unions. This concern is legitimate in my view, but what are the proper boundaries? In this regard, Evans seems like it has good potential to be a boundary-setting case.
Furthermore, and to be fair to Pembroke Pines Charter High School, Evans could also be an opportunity to invite a discussion on the link between incivility in the school environment and the risk of physical violence. Many would say that there’s a greater interest at stake in responding to uncivil conduct than hurt feelings alone.