Friday, January 09, 2009

Filter Failure, and Not To Find the Good Stuff

I was looking at the Modified Librarian page and did a little backtracking to see just what BME World is all about. That's when I made the mistake of seeing if our library's filter was any good. Now, I can't get to my favorite radio stations or Perez Hilton, which is probably good for productivity, and I'm pretty far on the open minded side of sexuality, but if a filter is going to shield my eyes from MS Paint ejaculate on celebrity faces I sure expect it to guard me against anything naughty at "dogslut's homepage: cock torture and self castration". I'm not linking there, you can go to the BME World homepage and see if it's blocked at your library on your own, and I don't reccomend testing it out while you're on the public desk or if "I was looking at librarian tattoos and went too far back on the server" isn't an excuse you can use (which, since it is my excuse, you really can't).

Which brings me to my typical rant about filters. Filters only filter what they know about. Filters don't filter email. Filters often don't filter chat rooms. Here is a ten year old web page that is not filtered.

It reminds me of a time a librarian friend was visiting my house from Portland. She had dial up at home, so her toddler was allowed to smash the keys on her computer as much as he liked. At my house, he happily climbed into the office chair and did the same. Except we had DSL and left a browser window open. He got "PPP" into Google and hit enter, bringing him one step away from the Polyamorous People's Party. Now, I'm sure they're nice folks, the page probably isn't even strange. Even if the kid hit "XXX" he was probably too young to be traumatized by whatever he saw.

Kids are smart. Filters are dumb. Librarians are curious. People put everything up on the web. You have to think to avoid stuff, and to find what you're looking for. I honestly advocate that parents should supervise their children online all the time. Should my parents read this they'll probably say "oh but you were so secretive!"...well yes, because as a teenager I was doing things I shouldn't have. This was before photos and webcams, but also before screen names. Yesterday was just one more incident in my history, and if I'd known I'd grow up to be a tattooed librarian, it could have happened a long time ago.

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