As I type this post, I have Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" playing on one side of my computer screen.
After hearing so much about the video -- and countless arguments on both sides of the political and environmental aisle -- I have begun to feel that it is my responsibility as a citizen of this world to watch the video presentation finally. I'll save opinion for later. But watch it I finally need to do.
Party to be 'in the know', partly because nobody wants to be the 'one guy' at the Oscars party who hasn't seen the top choices. Okay, more the former than the later.
So, I found a site on the Internet that streams great versions of great films for free (I'm no lawyer, but I suspect that they're based in a foreign country with 'different' views of video piracy). Sure, you can choose to watch "Borat" or "The Princess Bride" for free. Or you could watch "An Inconvenient Truth" instead.
What struck me about seeing this video -- and having read several educators and major educational magazines talk about the recent controversies with regards to copies of this film being given to schools for free -- is that everyone needs to watch it. Watch, think, argue, think some more. Agree or disagree with the film's arguments, matters little to me on the front, although I suspect that in the years to come that 'global warming' or the latest semantic-spin that those who dislike such a description will be more and more on the tip of all of our tongues. And short sound bytes from the news simply do not teach us (or challenge us) enough.
Today I caught sight of Miguel Guhlin's post ("Copywrite Question") on what teachers/students can fairly/legally do when it comes to 'copying' music for classroom use or academic projects. He does a terrific job of detailing the distinctions between common sense and law. A great tutorial that doesn't pretend to be the end of the conversation, but it does offer a fine entry point.
Makes me wonder how many times in the pre-Web 2.0 world I stepped over the legal line with my students when we did projects that included using copied CDs of music that was meant to accompany student presentations/assignments. It wasn't superpowered by Kaaza or the other digital downloading services that are so well bantered about these days, but with a cassette tape (remember those, sportsfans?) or even a burned CD we were able to bring a multi-media experience into the room (without necessarily requiring a computer 'back in the day).
I think about how quaint that seems now. And I also think about the access vs. law issue that lies ahead for so many that seek to teach powerfully full of good intention in the years ahead.
And also what it'd be like to be a teacher in this day and age with access to endless 'content' on the Net. Access to Google, as well as a library -- if you can get a free period to take the kids down there. Access to endless and shuffled MP3's from all corners of the media empire, as well as the ability to bring in a stack of outdated CDs -- if you have also bought a CD player for your classroom or have something relevant enough that your kids will respond to. Access to streaming free video of the latest-greatest, as well as renting the DVD -- if its in stock that day and you don't mind paying out of your own pocket -- at Blockbuster.
And then my questions just begin picking up steam...