Letters to the Editor

A Clarification of Remarks at Last Week’s ASM on Technology

To the Andover Community:
It was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with the Andover community at last week’s All-School Meeting. You all are fortunate and wise to have preserved a custom, by coming together, in person, in the Cochran Chapel, that both symbolizes and reinforces your vibrant community. It is quite a sight to behold, as an outsider to your community. I hope I made clear my view that those of you Born Digital (I wish I were, in many ways) should be supported by your teachers, deans and others in making good decisions about your use of digital technologies, not constrained or overregulated. I think what is going on online, with many of you leading the way, is overall a wonderful thing, despite the challenges that come with changing environments. I also want to clarify one element of my presentation that referenced some recent cyber events at Andover, which I understand may have given rise to a misunderstanding. In preparing for my talk at ASM, I talked with your Associate Dean of Students, Carlos Hoyt, about some examples of challenges in this area at Andover. We reviewed an email, a Facebook and a YouTube example of things that provoked discussion on campus. I referred to the YouTube trailer of the “Catboner” video as an example of an aggressive use of cyber technology. By this I meant that acts in cyberspace very often provoke controversy, which can spill over into real-space and lead to calls to rescind, or to censor online material. I understand from subsequent conversations with Carlos that I misinterpreted the core thrust of the issue with this video. I’ve been told that this particular production aims to quell, not to provoke, hostility. I regret that my remarks may have misled some members of the Andover community. Again, thank you for the chance to have spent a morning with you last week. Sincerely, John Palfrey