Websense: Flying just under the radar of Outrage
Early one morn (more specifically the morning of June 30, 2005) I happened to be waiting in the lobby of Bloomington Acura Subaru (I'm going to abbreviate this as BAS from now on). Now while my problem lies somewhat with Bloomington Acura Subaru, my burning rage caused by the fire websense lit under my ass, shall for the most part be directed at Websense. For those of you unaware of what Websense is, Websense is a utility developed by the Websense Corporation, whose mission according to their website is "protecting productivity". The Websense utility enables corporations to block websites based on the category they are classified in by fine people at Websense For instance there are several categories such as "proxy-avoidance" (yeah I tried it), "Instant messenger", and my personal favorite "distasteful." Anyways, so I found myself bored out of my mind when I noticed they had several internet terminals for customer use. So I sat myself down at one and being so inclined decided to load up ebaumsworld. To my surprise I was greeted by a friendly message from my friends at Websense telling me that the website I was trying to access had been restricted by Websense because BAS had determined it didn't want people accessing sites classified as "distasteful" that could undermine their moral judgment.
Last time I checked, employers are allowed to ensure that they're employee's are getting their jobs done, not to make sure their employees have the same sense of humor, laugh at the same jokes, etc. Websense does help keep employees on task by enabling employers to deny access to messaging programs and in all fairness to BAS it's probably in their best interest to keep its employees on task and away from ebaumsworld while they're on the clock. However the idea of simply blocking it as "distasteful" is such a very flawed way of doing that has managed to go unchecked by flying under just under the radar of logic and public outrage.
Flawed you say? Well yeah, for every site Websense blocks, a bored employee will simply find something else to keep them occupied and as far from their actual work responsibilities. I mean hell they might even be so inclined even surf the hell outa CNN.com or something (though I hear there's a movement to get CNN branded as
distasteful too) like barneyandfriends.com (truly a website designed by Satan) that Websense hasn't managed to get offended by yet. And in should a company like BAS be using Websense to filter out ?distasteful material? to help keep its workforce ?pure,? what?s to stop any employee from going home and looking at it anyway. I mean it's like the Great Firewall the Chinese Government set up to keep their billion strong populace under control by denying them access to "objectionable internet content." For every loophole the Chinese Authorities close, the Chinese people just find a new way around the firewall. The human brain is probably the greatest unsolved mystery the world has ever known, and one way or another it will usually get what it wants or something damn close, and just like "the people's republic of China" (so much irony in that I can't even begin) has failed to eradicate content it finds counter-productive to China's future, Websense is doomed to fail as a means of ensuring Employees are on task. It might make it more difficult for them to "go astray" but it's sure as hell not going to stop them from getting off task.
Second what freaking right does Websense have to tell me what's distasteful. I'm the first person to admit America could sure as hell use a "do-over" for plenty of things in the past 226 years but one of things we got right was guaranteeing the right to freely develop one's opinions, and to me it seems very unfortunate that Websense. I am of the camp that believes it's a good thing for people to be exposed to things they might find "distasteful." All too often the things that make us uncomfortable are all too often times the very things that are most important to see. Being uncomfortable leads us to question our existing opinions and views, which in turn causes us to develop more educated opinions and beliefs.
Based on personal observations, there are three reasons any living thing exists. One, to have sex or (insert your favorite euphemism for reproduction here); two, to think about the first reason to exist; and three, to achieve a complete understanding of the world around us. If mankind ever achieves the third one the global population is going to up faster than the population of New York City did about nine months after the 1975 blackout. (For those of you not paying attention, a lot of people had sex? a lot)