Erstwhile Muse

Aug 12, 2004

The Stupidity of Filtering.

Real Life Adventures of pseudo-porn at the library.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate not administering my own network connection? Perhaps not, but rest assured, it drives me absolutely batty at times.

Let's use today as a perfect example of why this is the case, shall we? It began with my trip to the coffee shop to abuse their internet connection yet again. Unfortunately for me, the connection was down, more than likely simply at the cable modem. At some point the wireless access as a whole disappeared, so I am guessing that the management assumed it was a router issue, and tried to reset their hardware in a quick attempt to remedy the problem. This gave me momentary hope that perhaps, if I suggested that they power cycled the modem as well, this might alleviate the bottleneck—then visions of blank stares began swimming before my eyes, and I just said to hell with it, time to head to the library.

Now, I already knew that the library had some sort of filtering mechanisms in place, being part of a federal funding mandate and all. I didn't think this would have any effect on my internet time today—it's not like I was looking for any more research materials. I'd already spent several hours recently—over the course of several days mind you, I'm not that erm...dedicated—sorting, organizing and reaquainting myself with what was already on my hard drive(s). A little emailing, some Ruth taunting, and a little odd news reading was all I was looking forward to, really.

What I end up with as a bonus is a perfect example of the fallacy that is internet filtering. During my daily BoingBoing read, I tried to check out a link they had to a series of photoshopped remixes blending the current political race with the ass of a movie otherwise known as Aliens V. Predator. What I got instead was a nicely customized error message screen leaving me with two options:

  1. I could temporarily view the webpage by asking a library staff member to bypass the filtering for me, or
  2. I could hit the back button and browse the non-naughty parts of the internet.
Naturally, curiosity made me click the bypass link even if I had no intention of getting off my butt and asking someone to unlock the internet for me—a concept that galls me to merely type, let alone actually perform. In doing so I was at least able to find out that their filtering service is being provided by Sentian, so at least I know what to research in the future for further mockery. Taking a stab in the dark though, I am going to guess that the Sentian product in question performs it's filtering through blacklisting, not any sort of actual, shall we say, content recognition. I can only assume that's why Mr. Bonner's main page is also blocked, while I can quite easily get to another BoingBoing linked site that caught my eye, the one selling the bondage beanbag chair—now that one was strictly for academic purposes mind you.

That's right kids, you can't go and look at certain forms of political satire at the library, but you can certainly bring up very large images of scantily clad females astride rather largish sex toys. I am almost considering leaving the site for the bean bag chair up when I leave, just as my own little bit of Discordian preaching for the day.



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