Guest post by Sarah Shaw, Project Manager
What would we do without the Web? Ask most kids and they’d say “die!”, a bit extreme, but an indicator of how much we value the Web. We do everything on there: shopping, socialising, homework, and paying bills – you name it, you can do it. The Web has opened our eyes to far away cities, cultures we would never have known about and a million cat videos. But what about the dark side? The bullying, crime, censorship and dangers that we can be exposed to online. How do we manage this? Where is the balance between overprotection and privacy, censorship and freedom speech and who should have a say in this?
At the British Library we believe that it’s vitally important that young people appreciate the highs and lows of life online and have a say in how we manage the Web in years to come. In January 2015 we provided a platform for 11-18 year olds to do just that using Magna Carta: My Digital Rights.
The project was borne out of a discussion that has been going on for a few years now – do we need a Magna Carta for the internet? Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web, certainly thinks that we do and his World Wide Web Foundation is campaigning for a bill of rights to protect the Web. Here at the British Library we’re also joining this conversation and celebrating the anniversary of not only the Web, aged 25 in 2014, but also Magna Carta (800 years young this year).
To make this happen we’ve provided 15 scenario videos on our website that are used as springboards for debates in the classroom. Each film dramatises real situations that affect young people every day and will encourage students to debate their rights and responsibilities online. For the teachers, we’ve provided supporting lesson plans complete with links to similar cases, legal considerations and further activities that can be undertaken. The best resource of all though is our videos. We’ve made three films that act as an introduction to our key themes of access, privacy and freedom online and include some impressive and high profile speakers. Shami Chakrabarti CBE of Liberty; Rachel Logan of Amnesty International UK; and Simon Phipps of the Open Source Initiative are just a few of the fantastic people that have contributed to the site.
So far we’ve had hundreds of students taking part and have reached thousands of others through our collaboration with BBC Radio One's The Surgery. In June 2015, we'll unveil our Magna Carta for the digital age – made up entirely of the clauses that young people have submitted. We’ll then invite people from across the world to vote for their top 10 clauses – producing a Magna Carta for the digital age curated by young people and voted for by you.
Clause submission closes on 1st June so you still have time to make students and teachers aware of the project. Get debating, have your say and make a difference.