Berkman in the News
Watching such developments from his office in Boston, Harvard University law professor Jonathan Zittrain began thinking about the need for smarter weapons: weapons that could be disabled remotely if and when required. His inspiration was right in front of him.‘I was reflecting on the fact that companies like Apple have implemented kill switches for iPhones,’ says Zittrain, the director of the prestigious Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Most Cubans who access the worldwide web do so only through work or school, and usually then using shared computers. A small number of internet cafes opened by the Cuban government in 2013 ostensibly broaden connectivity, but these charge exorbitant usage rates—$5 USD an hour, and 70 cents per hour for the country’s intranet—according to a 2013 report by Internet Monitor, a project of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Several Harvard faculty members and other affiliates said the ruling largely benefited consumers and their access to the internet.“Over the long term, these actions may help to ensure that there will be choices for connectivity, and that when you’re connected, you don’t see that access being cajoled in one direction or another depending on the ISPs’ business deals,” wrote Jonathan L. Zittrain, faculty director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, in an email.
But gleaning meaningful insights from large data sets is itself a challenge, according to Justin Reich, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society who wrote a paper on how to reboot research on MOOCs.
For data on MOOCs to be useful, there is a need to shift the focus from “studies of engagement to research about learning, from investigations of individual courses to comparisons across contexts, and from a reliance on post-hoc analyses to greater use of multidisciplinary, experimental design,” Reich wrote.
A few of my colleagues offer us their thoughts on the new frontier that YouTube is opening up. Some stem from an old school listserv where such conversations get batted around. Urs Gasser, Executive Director at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and co-author of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives, says, “I’m quite excited about the non-login, mobile-only YouTube Kids app, especially for younger kids–say age 3-6. I do see it as part of a larger, evolving ecosystem of platforms that can be used by parents to let kids watch videos. As such, it makes a contribution by increasing our options.
“What the FCC is doing is saying for the very first time, ‘We’re going to be looking hard’ at what broadband providers are doing to squeeze the connection between their own networks and outside networks,” says Susan Crawford, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard.In other words: “There’s a cop on the beat now.”
“If the FCC had not taken this step, then the Internet was headed down a path in which it becomes unrecognizable … an Internet in which the people who provide access to the Internet make decisions based on their commercial interest,” said David Weinberger, a senior researcher at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
“The strength of the Internet has always been that it’s not designed for any particular service — users get to decide what matters to them, what they think the Internet is for. The access providers were turning the Internet into a type of cable TV.”
“For the moment, cable has won the high-speed Internet market,” said Susan Crawford, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, and a former adviser to the Obama administration.Continue reading the main storyRelated Coverage Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, said that Democrats were lining up with President Obama in favor of the F.C.C. position on net neutrality. F.C.C. Net Neutrality Rules Clear Hurdle as Republicans Concede to ObamaFEB. 24, 2015 Internet Taxes, Another Window Into the Net Neutrality DebateFEB. 20, 2015The new rules will not ensure competition from new entrants, ranging from next-generation wireless technology to ultrahigh-speed networks built by municipalities. Instead, strong regulation is intended to prevent the dominant broadband suppliers from abusing their market power.
Here’s how Rob Faris, research director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, breaks it down.”The basic idea is that all bits are treated equally as they’re passed on to computers,” Faris said.Online, everything’s made of bits — every email, high-resolution photo, or YouTube video. In a world of net neutrality, whether those bits add up to The New York Times home page or your cousin’s cat blog, they are treated equally and delivered at the same speed. Faris says it’s that level playing field that has made the Internet the Internet.”I think most of the innovations we’ve seen on the Internet, people have attributed to the ability for entrepreneurs to get on the Internet and deliver packets and bits unimpeded to consumers on basically equal grounds,” he said.
In response to that proposal, Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of internet law at Harvard University, wrote an open letter to Cameron, explaining why he thinks it’s a “very bad idea.”
It’s one thing to try and regulate WhastApp, says Zittrain, because the government knows where Facebook “lives,” and the Silicon Valley company has assets that could be seized.
But what happens when someone produces the next wildly popular messaging app? What if that someone happens to be, as Zittrain wrote in his letter, “two caffeine-fueled university sophomores?” They would be pretty hard to regulate, or even find, according to him.