Felipe Heusser — Founder and Director of Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente, a Latin American NGO based in Chile that uses information technology to promote transparency and active citizen participation, and a Berkman Fellow — gives an overview the spread of transparency policy through freedom of information regulation, and point out to the rise of 'Open Government Data' as the latest chapter of the transparency story, highlighting how it potentially may impact 'open accountability' and the rise of a new breed of online watchdogs.
This page features 15 years of conversations with leading cyber-scholars, entrepreneurs, activists, and policymakers as they explore topics such as: the factors that influence knowledge creation and dissemination in the digital age; the character of power as the worlds of governance, business, citizenship, and the media meet the Internet; and the opportunities, role, and limitations of new technologies in learning.
Most Berkman events, including conferences, luncheon series talks, and many meetings, are webcast then archived on this website. Starting in 2015, webcasts are now archived on specific events pages and are no longer listed here. Please consider this page an incomplete archive, while we transition how we display multimedia on our site. Many of these talks are also available on the Berkman Center's YouTube channel.
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Many commentators have debated whether the Internet is ultimately a force for freedom of expression and political liberation, or for alienation, and repression. Rebecca MacKinnon — Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, cofounder of Global Voices, and a former CNN Bureau Chief for Beijing and Tokyo — discusses her new book, Consent of the Network, and warns that a convergence of unchecked government actions and unaccountable company practices is threatening the future of democracy and human rights around the world.
The Scratch Online Community allows young people to share and remix their own video games and animations, as well as those of their peers. In four years, the community has grown to close to a million registered members and more than two million user-contributed projects. Andrés Monroy-Hernández — the developer of Scratch, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, and Berkman Fellow — presents a framework for the design and study of an online community of amateur creators, focusing on remixing as a lens to understand the social, cultural, and technical structures of a social computing system that supports creative expression.
How and why do nonexperts contribute to innovation? The conflict between expertise and innovation sits uneasily in academia, where the enterprise hinges on doling out official credentials. But a lack of expertise can in fact drive people to create the kind of disruptive technologies that really are game-changers. In this presentation Beth Kolko — Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington — connects the hacking and making/DIY communities at the point of disruptive technologies, demonstrating how the lack of institutional affiliation and formal credentials within each community opens up the space for creative problem-solving approaches.
We used to know how to know. Get some experts, maybe a methodology, add some criteria and credentials, publish the results, and you get knowledge we can all rely on. But as knowledge is absorbed by our new digital medium, it's becoming clear that the fundamentals of knowledge are not properties of knowledge but of its old paper medium. Skulls don't scale. But the Net does. Now networked knowledge is taking on the properties of its new medium: never being settled, including disagreement within itself, and becoming not a set of stopping points but a web of temptations. Networked knowledge, for all its strengths, has its own set of problems. But, in knowledge's new nature there is perhaps a hint about why the Net has such surprising transformative power.
David Weinberger — senior researcher at the Berkman Center and co-director of the Harvard Law School Library Lab — talks about some important take aways from his new book "Too Big to Know."
The explosion of open education content resources create unprecedented opportunities for teachers to design and personalize curriculum and to give students opportunities to collaborate, publish, and take responsibility for their own learning, free of charge. Is it possible, however, that because affluent schools and students have a greater capacity to take up new innovations, that new tools and resources that appear in the ecology of education could widen rather than ameliorate digital divides?
In this presentation Justin Reich — doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Fellow at the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society — examines evidence for both the "tech as equalizer" and "tech as accelerator of digital divides" hypotheses.
What is it like to be a college student in the digital age? Alison Head — lead researcher for the national study, Project Information Literacy, Berkman Fellow, and Research Scientist in University of Washington's Information School — presents a working typology of the undergraduate information-seeking process, including students’ reliance on and use of Web sources.
As the OMLN nears the end of its second year, it has helped over 160 clients with more than 330 separate legal matters, and has more than 225 firms, clinics and individual attorneys in its roster with coverage in all 50 U.S. states. Jeff Hermes, Andy Sellars, David Ardia, and others from the OMLN community discuss the history and growth of the project, the accumulated data regarding the nature and geographic distribution of clients and legal issues that have come to the OMLN, and the OMLN's efforts to meet those needs.
Thanks to the internet, we now live — more and more — in public. Yet change brings fear, and many people—nostalgic for a more homogeneous mass culture and provoked by well-meaning advocates for privacy—despair that the internet and how we share there is making us dumber, crasser, distracted, and vulnerable to threats of all kinds.
In this talk, Jeff Jarvis — blogger, professor of journalism, and author of the recent book "Public Parts" — argues persuasively and personally that the internet and our new sense of publicness are, in fact, doing the opposite. Jarvis travels back in time to show the amazing parallels of fear and resistance that met the advent of other innovations such as the camera and the printing press. The internet, he argues, will change business, society, and life as profoundly as Gutenberg’s invention, shifting power from old institutions to us all.
Civic education is the cultivation of knowledge and traits that sustain democratic self-governance. As the social networks of individuals become less based on geography and more based on friendships and common interests, consensus on shared civic values seems harder to achieve.
Charles Nesson joins Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, Peter Levine, Harry Lewis, Elizabeth Lynn, and Juan Carlos de Martin to probe the tensions that make civic education difficult.
With the support of a Knight News Challenge grant OpenCourt streams and archives live daily coverage of court sessions. The project seeks to make courts more accessible to the public through technology while respecting legitimate concerns about privacy.
John Davidow (Executive Producer), Joe Spurr (Director), and Val Wang (Producer) join the Berkman Center community to talk about this fascinating project.
In the context of multiple crises – ecological, political, financial and geopolitical restructuring – there are emerging forms of social cooperation.
In the Spanish case, we have seen some of the largest demonstrations since the country made its transition to democracy in the 70s with massive occupations of public squares, attempts to prevent parliaments’ functioning and citizen assemblies of thousands of people taking place in spring and autumn 2011.
Mayo Fuster Morell — a PhD candidate from the European University Institute in Florence — analyzes commonalities and differences between emerging forms of social cooperation that suggest a shift to a more active role of civic society in the network society.
Most entrepreneurs, corporate managers and nonprofit administrators leave intellectual property issues to the legal department, unaware that an organization’s intellectual property can help accomplish a range of management goals, from accessing new markets to improving existing products to generating new revenue streams.
John Palfrey — Henry N. Ess Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School — discusses his new book, Intellectual Property Strategy (MIT Press), which argues for strategies that go beyond the traditional highly restrictive “sword and shield” approach, suggesting that flexibility and creativity are essential to a profitable long-term intellectual property strategy — especially in an era of changing attitudes about media.
He is joined by a variety of guests, including Jonathan Zittrain, Lawrence Lessig, Phil Malone, Terry Fisher, and Eric von Hippel, and demonstrates an iPad app based on the book that offers interactive media features with leaders in the IP field.
How do organizations — both for-profit and not-for-profit — achieve strategic clarity, and why does it matter? How does one go about re-positioning an iconic product or organization when the market changes? What did it take to launch the first Webby Award-winning online travel business? How do the most sophisticated not-for-profits and philanthropists think about how to maximize their impact on society?
As an established entrepreneur and social innovator, John Williams offers a number of lessons learned over the course of his 32+ year career.
This event was co-sponsored by the Cyberlaw Clinic, Dean's Office at Harvard Law School, Office of Career Services, and Office of Public Interest Advising.
Despite the existing resources, knowledge, and regulations, many categories of web sites continue to be inaccessible for people with perceptual and motor disabilities. 90% of federal government web sites, many social media tools, many e-commerce web sites, and online employment applications are often inaccessible, denying people with disabilities access to the complete power of the web. In this presentation Dr. Jonathan Lazar — Professor of Computer and Information Sciences at Towson University — provides an overview of web accessibility for people with disabilities, including the technical standards and laws, as well as reporting on recent research projects documenting how inaccessible web sites lead to various forms of discrimination against people with disabilities.
Slides available here: http://wilkins.law.harvard.edu/events/luncheons/2011-11-08_lazar/2011-11...
Full transcript here: http://wilkins.law.harvard.edu/events/luncheons/2011-11-08_lazar/2011-11...
The growth of the global Internet is still determined, in large part, by local factors like geography, politics, and the economics of interconnection and competition. A lot is at stake, especially as the countries that emerge as Middle Eastern regional transit hubs play a significant role in the evolution of the region's post-oil information economy. In this talk James Cowie — Chief Technology Officer at Renesys Corporation — examines the paths along which Internet traffic flows, focusing on the emerging markets of the Middle East and Central Asia, discusses ways in which the evolution of these paths dictates the choices available to information consumers, and the costs they must pay to interconnect with global information markets.
Consider the Polymath Project, an ongoing experiment in "massively collaborative" mathematical problem solving. The idea is to use online tools like blogs and wikis to collaboratively attack difficult mathematical problems. Michael Nielsen — author of the book Reinventing Discovery and an advocate of open science — discusses how online tools like the Polymath Project can be used to transform the way we humans work together to make scientific discoveries, and how the normally conservative scientific culture can become more open.
Harvard Professor Yochai Benkler (The Wealth of Networks) is one of the world’s top thinkers on cooperative structures. In his new book, The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest, he uses evidence from neuroscience, economics, sociology, biology, and real-world examples to break down the myth of self-interest and replace it with a model of cooperation in our businesses, our government, and our lives.
Photo Courtesy Flickr user Nokton
Why did Wikipedia succeed in attracting contributors while other projects did so less effectively? Why are some attempts at online collective action successful while most never take off? In this talk Benjamin Mako Hill — a researcher and PhD Candidate in a joint program between the MIT Sloan School of Management and the MIT Media Lab, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and a Research Fellow at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media — presents preliminary findings from an analysis of 8 early projects to create online collaborative encyclopedias in the form of interviews of the projects' founders and extensive archival data.
Recent years have seen an uptick in coverage of Islamic law (sharīʿa) in American news media, policy, and academic circles. What are the rules that dictate how Muslims in America conduct themselves? How do or should our legal institutions respond? When reporting on issues involving Muslims, how can journalists or academics distinguish individual preference or culture from Islamic law? What available, authoritative resources can best inform interested readers, from the casual to the scholarly? islawmix aims to fill the information gap in this important area.
In this talk, Intisar A. Rabb — Berkman Fellow and faculty of Boston College Law School — and Umbreen Bhatti — co-founder of islawmix and a lawyer with experience in civil rights and constitutional law — walk through “why islawmix” and explore how islawmix aims to accomplish the rather ambitious task of providing accessible resources for parsing such complex information and developing resources for the aggregation and contextualization of significant trends in Islamic law.
What role did the new media ecology play in the ouster of long-standing dictators in Egypt and Tunisia as well as the continuing unrest across the region?
In this talk Zeynep Tufekci — assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill at the School of Information and Library Science — examines how the new media ecology, composed of satellite TVs, social media and cell phones, upsets the erstwhile stable dynamics of repression under “durable authoritarianism.”
Photo courtesy of Flickr user arselectronica
Although we email, blog, tweet, and text as if by instinct, too many of us toil in schools and workplaces designed for the last century, not the one in which we live. Using cutting-edge research on the brain and learning Cathy N. Davidson — former Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University and co-founder of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) — shows how the phenomenon of “attention blindness” shapes our lives, and how it has led to one of the greatest problems of our historical moment, and suggests ways we can take control, based on her book Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.
What if we consider that sharing a digitally published work in one's possession with other individuals is a fundamental right? What if we break away from the idea of compensating the entertainment right holders for supposed harms resulting from sharing? What is a reasonable reward and financing model for sustaining a many-to-all cultural society?
Philippe Aigrain — CEO of Sopinspace, which develops free software and provides commercial services for democratic processes and collaborative work over the Internet — discusses topics based on work conducted for "Sharing: Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age," forthcoming at Amsterdam Univ. Press in November 2011.
(CC-licensed flickr photo from tomislavmedak)