Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fool's Gold: Banning Skype at SJSU

Kyle Hansen and Steve Sloan have already blogged about SJSU banning Skype as of tomorrow (pdf here), so I'd like to $imply and intellectually express why this development is an amazingly short-sighted move on the part of the University.

Web 2.0 and the technologies it employs are clearly the wave of the future, as aggregators grow and manufacturers consolidate while laying off employees to hold profit margins high.

This can be seen in the dwindling number of newspaper chains in the country, while companies like Digg, Google News, Skype and Myspace are flourishing.

It can also be seen in the number of actual reporters per news agency decreasing. (I am a print journalism major, hence the print spin)

Why is Web 2.0 the wave of the future?

Because the programs that make it up allow business and individuals to collaborate on a level unprecedented in human history - for free!

Content and value are created from places previously unimagineable, and education speeds up. Imagine a world where India never spoke to Silicon Valley, where San Francisco never created Craigslist, where China... hmm, I guess that one's still a work in progress.

"Wait a minute," says the University, "it's a different situation with programs like Skype, because of the cost to lay more fiberoptic cable needed to handle the increased traffic."

True. But here's what I like to call a long-term investment, kind of like, oh say, EDUCATION.

By creating opportunities for students to talk to countries they otherwise could not - by creating conversation between Universities and exposing everyone to the marketplace of ideas which schools are supposed to prize above all else - you create a more knowledgeable and profitable citizenry (and alumni base).So, yes, the University can save money now by prohibiting the use of programs like Skype, but it is a fool's gold they seek.

Technology innovation is the lifeblood of all modern economies, and communication the vein in which it flows.

Phew, that was a long one.

Someone call Milton, I think I may need some help here.

$20 Processing Fee

I just interviewed Marlene Trifilo, the cashiering services manager at the Bursar's Office, about the $20 processing fee for students who did not sign up for e-refund on their MySJSU Accounts.

Trifilo said the $20 fee was put into place because of the cost in labor to process and print checks sent to students not signed up for e-refund.
She added that the Bursar, Marlene Anderson, was, "instrumental in doing the study" to see how much paper checks cost the University. After the study was conducted, the decision was made to add the fee.

While Trifilo said that students are given internet access through the University to make it possible for them to sign up for e-refund, she acknowledged that students may have been unaware until actually going to Student Services that the processing fee even existed.

How Could This Be?

According to Trifilo, the fees are listed in the online schedule of classes put out by the University, which is no longer available in print for students to purchase.

Therefore, students without reliable internet access had to first go to the library or Student Services building and read the online schedule of classes to view the charges. This also means that students without internet access in their homes had to enter checking account information on a public terminal to sign up for e-refund.

Trifilo added that there are many advantages to having e-refund in place, including faster returns for students and not needing current addresses to deposit money - only students' account numbers.