torsdag 30 augusti 2012

Internet Censorship at KTH

The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), where I am prof em of applied mathematics, has made it clear that a link to the ebook Mathematical Simulation Technology (MST), on the course page of a third year course on the finite element method given by one of the authors of the ebook, the link being intended as a service to interested students,  is not allowed. Any such link will be deleted, by KTH.

The event in the Fall 2010 described as KTH-gate, when the same link was deleted, is now repeating itself in a new round described as KTH-gate2. In 2010 the censorship was motivated by the presence of some examples of mathematical climate modeling in MST doomed by KTH as unacceptable, however without any form of specification. Now in 2012 no motivation is given.

We have here an example of Internet censorship:
  • Internet censorship is the control or suppression of the publishing of, or access to information on the Internet. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations at the behest of government, regulators, or on their own initiative.
The reason for the suppression of MST by KTH is that MST presents an alternative to the traditional teaching of mathematics and physics, where modern computational techniques are combined with traditional analytical techniques. The alternative is viewed as a threat to the traditional mathematics education by mathematicians in charge of mathematics education, and the reaction is to censor the alternative by deleting any link to MST. 

That the censorship is against the very essence of an education based on principles of science, is clear. What is not is not so clear is the legal aspect of the censorship. Is it possible for a university to delete a link to an ebook written by a professor at the university against the will of the professor? With  motivation? Without motivation?

PS1 MST has a website at Wordpress outside the control of KTH, at least as of now.

PS2 It is ironic the the required text in the finite element course in question, is another book by myself: CDE. One book is applauded, another is censored, while they represent different steps in the evolution of the same material. As you can see, FEniCS as another of my initiatives, is allowed, but not MST. As is mostly the case, censorship is dumb and blind.

PS3 One way of understanding why CDE is applauded as course literature and MST is censored, while they represent essentially the same ideas only expressed at different times (CDE 1996 and MST 2010), is the following: Mathematics education is put into a squeeze between an outside demand of modernization and an inside tradition of preservation, which results in an unstable oscillation between acceptance (CDE) and rejection (MST), an instability which can only result in break-down.  

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