(1) censorship only for extreme cases; (2) censorship itself uncensorable

Boud Roukema boud w astro.uni.torun.pl
Czw, 8 Kwi 2004, 23:06:46 CEST

Hi Andrzej Kus, Grzegorz, Bartek, everyone,

The purpose of a university is the collection and analysis of
empirical information, its analysis and integration into theory,
the development of theory, and the learning/teaching process between
researchers and students.

(1) IMHO, censorship is something that should not be taken lightly, and
IMHO the minimum that is reasonable in the internet era is that
(2) the ***process of censorship*** itself is public.
This is why i would be most comfortable
in discussing this on cosmo-torun rather than by private, secret emails.

***Please send any responses to   cosmo-torun at astro.uni.torun.pl   ***

i have violated netiquette in forwarding this private email to the list,
but i think this is acceptable since censorship is only something that
should done, IMHO, in very extreme circumstances.

Censorship was (AFAIK, i didn't live in Poland at the time) very
common during the PRL period, and IMHO a university should be one of
the places where academic freedom is most vigorously defended.

If information on a web page is uninteresting or irrelevant, that is
a very poor reason for censoring it.

However, a polite request to someone who has published uninteresting
or irrelevant information is surely sufficient if someone feels
that the information needs to be hidden. Let us respect each other
as intelligent adults!

On Wed, 7 Apr 2004, Grzegorz Hrynek wrote:

> Jako administrator serwisu internetowego Katedry Radioastronomii i z
> upowaznienia Kierownika Radioastronomii prof. A. Kusa informuje, ze
> odwolanie z glownej witryny serwisu KRa do strony internetowej o adresie
> http://adjani.astro.uni.torun.pl/~blew/
> zostalo zablokowane.
> Strona o powyzszym adresie zostala stworzona przez Bartosza Lwa.
> Powodem zablokowania strony jest umieszczenie informacji i zasobow
> prywatnych nie majacych zadnego zwiazku z dzialalnoscia wykonywana w KRa.

KRA is part of UMK. UMK is a university. Knowledge can only very
artificially be split between subjects. How can one study astronomy
without knowing physics? How can one study physics without
understanding mathematics?  How can one use efficient learning methods
without being aware of the research being done in psychology and
pedagogy at the university?

We have a research/teaching department in Pedagogy which investigates
the efficiency of using the internet for teaching, for creativity in
learning -

Would there be a problem in publishing useful pedagogical information
on KRA web pages?

In any case, there is talk of extending UMK by uniting with an
institute in Bydgoszcz - it would be rather inconsistent to claim that
we want a bigger university when at the same time we try to discourage
"cross-talk" and interdisciplinary discussion.

As for the expression "informacji i zasobow prywatnych", those pages
(which Bartek has chosen voluntarily to hide) concerned anecdotal
documentation of ethnological information.  Since he chose to publish
them, they are no longer private information - the term "private information"
refers to things like someone's private address, telephone number,
bank account number, etc.  In the case of publication of that sort of
private information, a request to censor the information would be much
more reasonable.

We have a department of Ethnology:

The fact that Bartek is a doctoral student in KRA rather than ethnology
is, IMHO, not a good reason to ask him to hide the pages.

A more valid point would be that the pages are only anecdotal rather
than systematic. They do not claim (AFAIR) to constitute a systematic
study of any given social group, and so are probably not terribly
useful for quality ethnological research.

However, whether this justifies requesting Bartek to hide the pages
is not obvious to me.

A more constructive suggestion would have been to propose to Bartek
that he contact the Ethnology department (URL above) and find out if
his documentation can be useful to them.

The argument of wasted resources is a different argument: the amount
of disk space and bandwidth used for the (now hidden) pages would IMHO
be negligible compared to what we do which is directly cosmo related.
On the contrary, sharing resources with resource-poor departments like
Ethnology makes sense - we're here to work together, not compete with
one another. (OK, OK, i know that among us we have divergent points of
view on the validity of competition in an E=mc^2 society living on
a planet with a climate system going into a non-linear warming phase.)

> Zobowiazuje Bartosza Lwa do jak najszybszego usuniecia informacji prywatnych
> z komputera adjani.astro.uni.torun.pl

Well, they are not private information, IMHO, but in any case, Bartek
seems to have chosen to hide them.

> Informuje ponadto, ze do prezentacji wlasnych prywatnych materialow i
> przekonan sluza serwisy platne swiadczace tego typu uslugi.

There is no need to use commercial web servers, i don't think we should
be encouraging people to commercialise information. We are a university,
not a hypermarket.

There are zero-cost servers like:


and probably on http://www.wp.pl,  http://www.onet.pl etc it is possible
to host quite a few images at no cost (apart from having to accept

> Ponadto zwracam sie z prosba do administratora komputera
> adjani.astro.uni.torun.pl - Bouda Roukema - o nadzor nad ta sprawa i jak
> najszybsze wyjasnienie zaistnialego problem z uzytkownikiem Bartoszem Lwem.

Well, i don't understand the urgency - in any case Bartek is a good
cosmologist and an intelligent adult and as i understand it, he
decided that fighting censorship in this case is probably not worth
it. That's his decision.

The important thing is that rumours do not start going around of
students' web pages being arbitrarily censored. Hopefully in this case
it is clear that a polite request has been made, and that any such
requests can be publicly discussed and we can trust each other to make
reasonable decisions based on constructive discussion - even if having
highly diverging viewpoints.

Please remember that creativity is an important part of the learning
process. Creativity is not just poetry: it is something that can be
measured (to some extent, e.g. see the recent PhD thesis (March 2004)
by D. Siemieniecka-Gogolin consisting of empirical measurements of
"creative attitudes" and "creative abilities" among Polish school
teachers regarding the use of computers and the internet in teaching,
in the Pedagogy Department of the University of Nicolas Copernicus
(URL above, no direct link to thesis, sorry)).

If a bunch of web pages showing a few photographs of personal travels
stimulates the creativity of a doctoral student doing excellent work
in trying to make a step forward in the problem of dark matter, i
really do not understand the problem.

The bubble chamber for detecting high energy particles is said to
have been inspired by physicists driking beer and looking at the bubbles.
Killing off creativity is appropriate for an army, not for a university.

Creativity is certainly *not sufficient* for good science, but
most scientists would agree that it is *necessary* for good science.

KRA is part of a university, just as that same university exists as
part of euro-asian-african-american-australasian civilisation, which
exists on the planet Earth over a time interval of a few kyears and
into an unknown, possibly very short time interval in the future
(relative to our local space-time position), which formed about 4.6
Myears ago around the Sun which formed in a molecular cloud according
to a process of star formation which is still poorly understood, in a
galaxy which formed inside of a dark matter halo which virialised from
a primordial density perturbation in a perturbed
Friedmann-Lemaitre-Robertson-Walker Universe.

Let's not forget the context. We are a university, not an army.



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