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Natasha Whiteman - MEDEAnet webinar: Digital Ethics
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Natasha Whiteman - MEDEAnet webinar: Digital Ethics


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This presentation was given by Natasha Whiteman as part of the MEDEAnet webinar: "Digital Ethics" on 10 April 2014. MEDEAnet aims to promote media-based learning to organisations and practitioners …

This presentation was given by Natasha Whiteman as part of the MEDEAnet webinar: "Digital Ethics" on 10 April 2014. MEDEAnet aims to promote media-based learning to organisations and practitioners through local training and networking events, online resources and knowledge sharing. MEDEAnet will also exploit best practices of the annual competition MEDEA Awards and extend its existing informal network and support the MEDEA Association, a membership organisation that ensures the sustainability of the MEDEA Awards. More info:

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  • 1. DIGITAL ETHICS ANDDIGITAL ETHICS AND IDENTITYIDENTITY Dr Natasha Whiteman Department of Media and Communication University of Leicester
  • 2. “Learning to use new information technologies (ICTs) such as computers is considered to be a fundamental aspect – even an obligation – of citizenship and employment in contemporary society.” (Selwyn, 2005, 122)
  • 3. The Internet and Ethical UncertaintyThe Internet and Ethical Uncertainty • Internet users enter into complex, ethically charged environments. • Some areas of concern: •Identity and deception •Property, ‘piracy,’ and plagiarism •Privacy •Respect •‘Cheating’
  • 4.
  • 5. •To what extent are ethical principles established in relation to offline environments relevant to participation in online settings? •What is the role/responsibility of individuals in these new environments? •What is the status of content sourced from these settings?
  • 6. Key ChallengesKey Challenges • Variance between digital environments in respect of: – the public/private distinction – modes of communication – visibility of participation – durability of content – sensitivity of topic and content – expectations of use and audience • Complexity of individual environments
  • 7. Mixed messages…Mixed messages… • Society sends off “ambivalent signals about downloading pirated material […] Even if copying is wrong, it’s not seen as a serious offence.” (Spinello, 2005, 35) – Jack Valenti (Motion Picture Association of America) on “file-stealers” “assaulting” movie industry, “infestation of p2p” – “It's the democratisation of music in a way. And music is a gift. That's what it should be, a gift.” (Shakira) – file-sharing involves skills that are important to the culture of teenagers (Livingstone and Bober, 2003). Spinello, Richard A (2005) “Beyond Copyright: A Moral Investigation of Intellectual Property Protection in Cyberspace” in Robert J. Cavalier (ed) The Impact of the Internet on our Moral Lives pp 27-48.
  • 8. Against this backdrop…Against this backdrop… • Rather than searching for ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs…’ • … need to encourage: – Reflexivity – Flexibility – Awareness of context • Four key points of reference.
  • 9. ‘‘Personal’ ethicsPersonal’ ethics • How do our personal commitments, affiliations and values inform our use of digital technologies? • Exploring a sense of personalised morality • Example: Conversations with media students regarding ethics of consumption vs. production.
  • 10. Ethics of ‘peer community’Ethics of ‘peer community’ •In what ways are our uses of digital technologies shaped by our peers? – real: friends, colleagues, family etc. – and imagined: eg. other internet users, ‘filesharers.’ •What responsibilities do we have to our peers?
  • 11. Institutional EthicsInstitutional Ethics • How are our uses of digital technologies shaped by institutional frameworks? • For example: – Ethical discourses of regulators and employers. – Professional Codes of Conduct. – Legal frameworks (eg 2010 UK Digital Economy Act).
  • 12. The ethics of the settingThe ethics of the setting • To what extent should our actions be informed by the ethics of online environments? • For example: – Formal codes of practice (for example Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities) – Negotiation of ethics by Internet users within day- to-day interactions.
  • 13. Personal ethics Ethics of Peer community Institutional Ethics Ethics of the setting
  • 14.