Whited sepulchres


Filtering the internet to protect vulgar, pornographic, or inappropriate websites may be good, but when it is a government what is their motivation  Around the world the internet is filtered in varying degrees. Recently Russia began to block almost two hundred websites. These include Russian websites that  are vulgar or give suicide techniques. Is this ethical or is this leaving the weightier matters undone? The cost of filtering the internet in Russia alone is estimated to cost ten billion dollars. What about the poor in Russia?

Obessing over Video Games

I quit video games during high school—cold turkey . I do not play them even years later, and my wife believes that if I did not quit video gaming, she would not have married me. I believe that many video games become habit forming, even though I did not play massively mulitplayer online games. A fabricated world is not an alternate reality because once the game is turned off, it disappears. Playing video games with my brothers or by myself used to be the ultimate vacation. It was all that I wanted to do when I had free time. Even though I was playing with others, I felt like my family relationships were becoming weaker than when we had played together outside on the trampoline or went biking because physically you are not engaged in the virtual world. You grow no muscles playing all day long on Playstation, your thumbs may be sore, but there are certainly no muscles developed. New technologies may have changed that, but to me weaning myself from excessive video game playing has been a lifesaver, and helped me to become more social, and enjoy life so much more. I remember hearing Elder Bednar speak about the problems of excessive gaming. I felt grateful for my decision to stop.

Linking our Ancestors


What if your ancestors used Facebook? What would they say? Our ancestors hopefully would not be ashamed of our actions, but how many have been forgotten–even with all the many wonderful innovations in genealogy. Many of our ancestors are missing from the Familysearch Family Tree. Imagine how proud your ancestors would be when they see you have posted a copy of their marriage certificate from England onto the tree for all to see or collaborating with your cousins from France. There is no end to the amount of joy that we can find when we all work together to link our ancestors from all generations to us.

Consent of the Networked

In an increasingly connected world, corporations spheres of influence has expanded into the world’s social networks outside geopolitical boundaries. Facebookistan and Googledom are kingdoms of users with little representation. Rebecca MacKinnon, a former CNN Chinese Correspondent turned member of Global Voices, an international blogging community in her book Consent of the Networked explains the need for internet regulators to evolve from monarchies into democracies. A Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, “We will never have a real civil society, a democratic society, unless people take responsibility.” The Great Firewall of China is only one way the government exercises control, but the private sector also must filter and censure at risk of Chinese authorities blocking their websites. In many cases American companies such as Apple have complied by not letting Tibetan dissidents apps be published on the Chinese App Store. Even in the United States, a democracy, companies such as Amazon have bowed from pressure of government leaders to shut down Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks. Corporations should be liable not simply to the government, but also their global users.

Family History 2.0

Social media helps us extend our family trees. Regardless of location, Facebook or Twitter can connect you with relatives around the world. Web 2.0 and Social Media has given families a powerful tool to extend family lines. For example a Facebook Page could be used to share new discoveries and pool resources. As new relatives are found, distant cousins can be added to the group, and share new information.

Recently the 1940 census was released to the public in digital form and quickly indexed through crowdsourcing. Other records are still not indexed, but available online. For these records opensource tools exist to help sort through these images quickly such as FastFilm.  Instead of ordering a microfilm and waiting two weeks or going to a Family History Library, you can download the records for free.

File Sharing Justified?

Finding an excuse for downloading music or software illegally is too easy. Orson Scott Card points to corporations stealing profits from music writers. Regardless or not of dubious practices of hoarding royalties from artists you still break the law. If you travel to other countries you find piracy rampant. Walking down the open air markets I have seen this first hand in Brazil and Peru. You see computers that run pirated versions of Windows. Whether individual or by corporation you cannot break the commandment “thou shalt not steal,” you can only break yourself against the commandment. As a software developer with a music minor I believe that those who are justifying themselves with that excuse, are still stealing. Obedience brings forth blessings. By requiring labor to earn the money to pay for it. Children and teens who pay for music could spend more time working to earn the money while develop morals, discipline and work ethic.