Friday, July 05, 2013

National service, jury duty can raise questions about social media and "free content"

On July 4, I wrote on my “Bill Retires” blog about a proposal to introduce “voluntary national service” (Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s proposal) that would be “expected” of young adults 18-28, a minimum of one year.  I questioned whether a smiliar expectation could be made of fit retirees.
Certainly, such a development would cause issues for recent graduates, who need to work in paying jobs to pay off student loans.  It could even affect sports teams (it was reported that Washington Nationals sensation Bryce Harper, now 20, had thought about working as a volunteer fireman).  If it’s really expected, no one should be privileged enough to get out of it.  There's even an ego thing here, as some people used to being in the limelight (or in settings where egotism really works) find the tables turned on what is expected of them as members of a sustainable community or culture. 
It could also cause issues in social media and regular web hosting.  “National service” would probably lean leaving home and living in a quasi-military fashion, likely overseas, often without access to the Internet.  Social media use might have to be forbidden for security or public relations reasons in some settings .  So some real “sacrifice” of self-promotion (almost necessary these days) would occur.
There would also be issues in the “free content” world.  Since it’s not normally held to standards and doesn’t have regular support (from a media company), it could be left fallow when people serve.  Companies might have to adopt policies that “self-promoted” content be taken down (or made private, with limits on numbers of contacts) if the authors were going to be out of touch for more than 30 days or so and there were no other responsible or accountable party agreeing to maintain the site. 
Of course, the same problems come with hospitalizations, death.  Or here’s a good one: jury duty.  Can you imagine being an alternate on a jury for a controversial trial and being sequestered for months?  I;m not sure if the Zimmeran-Martin jurors in Flordia are forbidden all Internet and social media use, or only use related to the trial.  Residents in northern Virginia can get called for difficult terrorism or “espionage” (like Snowden) trials held in the federal court in Alexandria, VA. 

Picture: Capitol Fourth; the bandstand didn't resolve into focus. 

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