“I don’t really understand what a website is”
This story about a UK judge who doesn’t understand the web has been everywhere today. The catch is that he is presiding over a trial involving inciting terrorism over the internet. From the article:
Prosecutor Mark Ellison briefly set aside his questioning to explain the terms “Web site” and “forum.” An exchange followed in which the 59-year-old judge acknowledged: “I haven’t quite grasped the concepts.”
I don’t think the story here is really about the case in his courtroom. I have had to testify about the software development process before and attempt to explain things that, although are basic to me, are extremely foreign to someone with no experience in the field. Judges learn the basic concepts and figure out how apply the law, which is something they should know very well. I give kudos to this judge for admitting that he doesn’t know the lingo and for taking time to understand it. Still, it scares me a little to think about a digital copyright case coming before a luddite one day.
I think the real story is more about the digital divide that still exists. For most of us, certainly for all of us who read blogs, the web is an indispensable tool and hearing that someone doesn’t use it is like someone telling us they don’t use the phone or the postal service. How much longer will it be viable to not have any knowledge of the web? How do you convince people who have ignored the internet revolution that it is time to get on board?