Current Berkman People and Projects

Keep track of Berkman-related news and conversations by subscribing to this page using your RSS feed reader. This aggregation of blogs relating to the Berkman Center does not necessarily represent the views of the Berkman Center or Harvard University but is provided as a convenient starting point for those who wish to explore the people and projects in Berkman's orbit. As this is a global exercise, times are in UTC.

The list of blogs being aggregated here can be found at the bottom of this page.

March 25, 2017

David Weinberger
How a little bit of data ruined my morning run

Since I was 21 years old, I’ve gone through long stretches where I have “run” outside for exercise — in quotation marks because I am passed by people who are running so slowly that I feel bad for them until I remember that they passed me. I’ve gone years running infrequently, and then other years I’ll run 3-6 days a week. But three things have been consistent throughout this: I don’t like running, I always run the same set route, and I have always run for distance, not for time: I set a course and don’t care how quickly I complete it.

That’s almost true. I care enough that I time my runs, but I don’t try to run faster in order to beat yesterday’s time. It’s just a little bit of long-term quantified knowledge that gives me a rough indication of what sort of shape I’m in as a jogger.

Beyond that smidge of data, I have gone out of my way to be data-free about my route. I don’t know how long it is. I therefore don’t know how long it takes me to run a mile. I therefore don’t know where the halfway point is, or the quarter markers. (My route’s a loop, so the halfway point is not obvious.)

Until today.

My Pebble smartwatch is declining, so I looked for a running app on my phone. The one I rather randomly chose gathers info beyond the duration of the run, but I just wasn’t thinking well about it when I plugged in my my headset, picked some upbeat music, and set off this morning.

“You’ve run one mile,” said the woman’s voice in my ear when I was a block away from the pond. I cannot unhear where the first mile marker is. And because I didn’t want to stop to fiddle with the app, I also know where the second mile marker is. And I know my home is 0.03 miles short of being the third mile marker. I also know how fast I run.

I don’t want to know any of this, although the distance and my speed are both a little better than I would have guessed. So, yay for being marginally less pathetic than I’d thought?

The real problem is knowing where those mile markers are.

I’ve tried lots of other sorts of exercise, and I haven’t stuck with any of them. They’re too boring, they take too long to get to, or — this is the crucial one — they involve counting. How many laps? How many reps? Am I at the twenty minute mark yet? It’s not the numbers that bother me. It’s knowing that there’s some knowable quantity I have to complete in order to be done. Doing a countable exercise is like watching a clock tick. You want to slow down time? Pay attention to it.

Running wasn’t like that. Now it will be. I’ll know when I’m at the one-third mark, and, more to the point, I’ll know when I haven’t even reached the one-third part. This little bit of data turns the entire run into a set of tasks that must be accomplished in sequence — a set of tasks that at any moment during the run I know have not yet fully accomplished.

For the past forty-five years, I’ve managed to run with some regularity by running through space. Now I’m running through time, and that takes much longer.

The post How a little bit of data ruined my morning run appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at March 25, 2017 05:19 PM

Jeffrey Schnapp
FuturPiaggio (film+gif)

A celebration of the Piaggio Group’s 130 years of history was held on March 23rd in Milan’s Teatro Vetra with an emphasis on its present and future plans. Speakers included Roberto Colaninno, president and CEO of the IMMSI holding company, to which the Piaggio Group belongs, and Stefano Belisari (“Elio” of the Italian band Elio e le Storie Tese). The centerpiece of the celebration was the limited edition volume FuturPiaggio (though the tantalizing presence of some first-rate historical machinery–the Guzzi V8 racer and the very first Vespa–made for some serious competition). One of the highlights of the event was a film, produced for the occasion, developed by 72andSunny.

The book is now available via Rizzoli International.

Want to read the book fast? No… really fast? Here’s something for the speed readers among you (thank you Daniele Ledda).

by jeffrey at March 25, 2017 11:06 AM

March 23, 2017

Five Local Podcasts to Try for #TryPod

We’re big fans of the simple idea behind the #TryPod campaign: share a podcast you love with someone you love.

At PRX, we work with talented indie producers all over the world, but this month we want to share five podcasts made in our own Boston backyard. Each show tells stories in a unique way and belongs to our growing PRX Podcast Garage community.

In this blog, Podcast Garage Community Manager Alex Braunstein gives you her take on each show and asks their hosts about an episode you should try.

Show: Hiding in the Bathroom, a show for those of us in business who want to embrace our introverted selves.

Episode to Try: How to Do Powerful Work

Alex says: I’m insanely jealous of how at home Morra looks in front of a microphone. As a host, she oozes warmth and a desire to take on the world. It’s no surprise that by day, she runs digital campaigns for mission-driven clients like Planned Parenthood. Her Forbes podcast engages women in frank conversations about introversion, self-care, and feminism in the workplace. Count me in.

Host Morra Aarons-Mele says: “Meighan is humble in the face of a really big life, and she has incredible advice to give those of us who want our work to have meaning. She took Malala Fund from an organization with no logo to a globally-recognized leader in helping educate the world’s girls. And I’ve felt her sacrifices, and admired her fortitude even as she made some really hard decisions and missed her son greatly. Meighan believes she doesn’t choose her work; it chooses her. She wants to serve, she has great skills, and the job finds her. I think this episode is essential listening to anyone who feels like the work they want to do eludes them.”

Show: Soonish, a show about our technological future, and how our choices today will shape that future, though often in ways we can’t predict.

Episode to Try: Meat Without the Moo

Alex says: Wade’s storytelling is so precise and thoughtful that you can just tell the guy has a PhD from MIT. I love his ambitious approach to the show, which is remarkably produced by a team of one. It truly feels like he’s on an epic quest to discover the future and I’m along for the ride. You will literally be smarter just by listening!

Host Wade Roush says: “One of the places this episode ends up is an old automobile factory in San Leandro, CA where a startup called Tiny Farms has built a huge cricket farm. So as the CEO is walking me around the place, I’m trying not to step on any loose crickets, and then I’m trying to stick my mic into their nest to get some cricket-song on tape without scaring them. I’m being so careful! And then the CEO explains that pretty soon they’ll knock out these crickets with carbon dioxide and freeze them and grind them up for cricket flour. And I realize I’m totally okay with that. It’s funny, because I’m vegetarian, so I’m largely against eating animals. But I’d eat crickets all day if it would save a few cows and chickens. I guess we all have our own moral thresholds – and our own choices to make about the future.”

Show: One in a Billion, a show about China, through the voices of Chinese millennials in America.

Episode to Try: Finding Love in America: Reality Bites

Alex says: Being in Mable’s presence is electrifying. She talks fast and dreams big. It’s no wonder she’s put the word “billion” into her show’s title and is personally chasing down the untold stories of Chinese millennials living in America. A former producer for Good Morning America and Dateline, Mable is a seasoned pro exploring a new medium. She’s currently searching for other producers to join her and I can’t wait to hear what they do next.

Host Mable Chan says: “I love Qinghua’s character – adventurous, dutiful and defiant. I find it intriguing that a young woman from the middle of China came alone to America to get her PhD in Engineering. She quickly earned her degree by age 25 and landed her dream job as a data scientist at Silicon Valley! But just as everything seemed to be going well, she was getting bored at work while her 7-year relationship with her boyfriend was suddenly over. How did she turn things around – not only for herself but also for thousands other Chinese looking for love in America? You gotta listen.”

Show: Caught Up, a show with the latest and greatest scoop about South Boston and beyond.

Episode to Try: Losing My Religion

Alex says: The makers of the magazine Caught in Southie have captured my heart with a show about all-things-South-Boston. Even though I’ve never been to Southie (gimme a break, I just moved here), I love eavesdropping on Heather and Maureen’s local take on their neighborhood. They claim to know nothing about podcasting, but they’re clearly naturals when it comes to something pretty unteachable: chemistry. I laugh out loud when they’re recording in our studio and somehow feel nostalgia for a place I’ve never lived.

Hosts Maureen Dahill and Heather Foley say: “In this episode, you get a sense of how we grew up in South Boston. The majority of the kids growing up in Southie went to Catholic School which was taught by nuns. Needless to say, those nuns shaped who we are today – good, bad or otherwise i.e. our love of wine lightening the load of Catholic guilt.”

Show: The Courage to Listen, a show that explores issues of police community relationships, gang violence and race in America.

Episode to Try: Commissioner Ed Davis

Alex says: I crave compassionate leaders like Reverend Brown who know how to listen. It’s a privilege just to be a fly on the wall for his conversations about violence prevention, community mobilization, and policing. He’s credited as “an architect of The Boston Miracle,” in which a group of local preachers cut youth violence in the city by 79%… by listening. I find this show’s straightforward interview style totally gripping.

Host Reverend Jeffrey Brown says: “Ed led the police department for the city of Boston, and was featured in Mark Wahlberg’s film ‘Patriot’s Day.’ We had a fascinating discussion about the Marathon bombing, his personal transformation from traditional to community-oriented policing, and his thoughts on the future of police reform today. Oh, and we asked him how he felt about John Goodman playing him in the movie!”

Learn more about our membership at the Podcast Garage, schedule a session in the studio, or swing by during our open hours for a tour of the space.

The post Five Local Podcasts to Try for #TryPod appeared first on PRX.

by Alex Braunstein at March 23, 2017 08:50 PM

Berkman Center front page
Fake News, Concrete Responses: At the Nexus of Law, Technology, and Social Narratives


A special Harvard Law School-Berkman Klein Center panel moderated Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School


Join us for a special Harvard Law School-Berkman Klein Fake News Lunch Panel moderated by Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School

Event Date

Mar 23 2017 12:00pm to Mar 23 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 
Photo provided by [Josh Koonce]

Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Harvard Law School and the 
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Full video available soon 

Join panelists Sandra Cortesi, Nathan Matias, An Xiao Mina, and Jonathan Zittrain with moderation by Martha Minow.

The propagation of misinformation, “fake news,” or propaganda has sparked much investigation into its causes and a thorough mapping of the surrounding problem space. Solutions, however, have been in short supply. The human predilection towards conspiratorial thinking, the “stickiness” of rumors, and the largely ineffective efforts to educate or debunk due to the fact that repetition engenders familiarity and confidence in accuracy, which ultimately foment more extreme views, indicate that a purely technological “silver bullet” solution is unlikely.

Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University are pleased to convene a lunch panel that draws from our interdisciplinary ecosystem of experts to discuss the ways in which we might craft tools and solutions at the nexus of law, technology, and the social sciences. Panelists will explore issues such as the normative roles of platforms in the dissemination of “fake news,” the role of law in regulating or influencing policies and practices to mitigate this phenomenon, and tools that may chip away at certain challenges within the broader context of problems within the media ecosystem and broader trends in digital media.

About Dean Minow

Martha Minow, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, has taught at Harvard Law School since 1981, where her courses include civil procedure, constitutional law, family law, international criminal justice, jurisprudence, law and education, nonprofit organizations, and the public law workshop. An expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities and for women, children, and persons with disabilities, she also writes and teaches about privatization, military justice, and ethnic and religious conflict.

Besides her many scholarly articles published in journals of law, history, and philosophy, her books include The First Global Prosecutor: Promise and Constraints (co-edited, 2015); In Brown’s Wake: Legacies of America’s Constitutional Landmark(2010); Government by Contract (co-edited, 2009); Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference (co-edited, 2008); Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law and Repair (edited by Nancy Rosenblum with commentary by other authors, 2003); Partners, Not Rivals: Privatization and the Public Good (2002); Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies (co-edited 2002); Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence(1998); Not Only for Myself: Identity, Politics and Law (1997); Law Stories (co-edited 1996); Narrative, Violence and the Law: The Essays of Robert M. Cover (co-edited 1992); and Making All the Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Law (1990). She is the co-editor of two law school casebooks, Civil Procedure: Doctrine, Practice and Context (3rd. edition 2008) and Women and the Law (4th edition 2007), and a reader, Family Matters: Readings in Family Lives and the Law (1993).

Minow serves on the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Countering Violent Extremism.  She served on the Independent International Commission Kosovo and helped to launch Imagine Co-existence, a program of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, to promote peaceful development in post-conflict societies. Her five-year partnership with the federal Department of Education and the Center for Applied Special Technology worked to increase access to the curriculum for students with disabilities and resulted in both legislative initiatives and a voluntary national standard opening access to curricular materials for individuals with disabilities.   Her honors include: the Sargent Shriver Equal Justice Award (2016), Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize, Brandeis University (2016); nine honorary degrees (in law, education, and humane letters) from schools on three continents; the Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse, awarded by the College Historical Society of Trinity College, Dublin, in recognition of efforts to promote discourse and intellectualism on a world stage; the Holocaust Center Award; and the Sacks-Freund Teaching Award, awarded by the Harvard Law School graduating class.

In August 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Minow to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, a bi-partisan, government-sponsored organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment on March 19, 2010 and she now serves as Vice-Chair. She co-chaired its Pro Bono Task Force. She also served as the inaugural chair of the Deans Steering Committee of the Association of American Law Schools and as a member of the American Bar Association Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission.  She previously chaired the board of directors for the Revson Foundation (New York) and now serves on the boards of the MacArthur Foundation and other nonprofit organizations. She is a former member of the board of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center, and former chair of the Scholar’s Board of Facing History and Ourselves. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences since 1992, Minow has also been a senior fellow of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, a member of Harvard University Press Board of Syndics, a senior fellow and twice acting director of what is now Harvard’s Safra Foundation Center on Ethics, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society. She has delivered more than 70 named or endowed lectures and keynote addresses, including most recently the 2016 George W. Gay Lecture at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics.

Minow co-chaired the Law School’s curricular reform committee from 2003 to 2006, an effort that led to significant innovation in the first-year curriculum as well as new programs of study for second- and third-year J.D. students.

After completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, Minow received a master’s degree in education from Harvard and her law degree from Yale. She clerked for Judge David Bazelon of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States. She joined the Harvard Law faculty as an assistant professor in 1981, was promoted to professor in 1986, was named the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law in 2003, became the Jeremiah Smith Jr., Professor of Law in 2005, and became the inaugural Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor in 2013. She is also a lecturer in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her husband, Joseph W. Singer, is the Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and their daughter, Mira Singer, is a writer and artist.  Minow enjoys watching and discussing movies and keeping in touch with current and former students.

About Sandra Cortesi

Sandra Cortesi is a Fellow at the Berkman Center and the Director of Youth and Media. She is responsible for coordinating the Youth and Media’s policy, research, and educational initiatives, and is leading the collaboration between the Berkman Center and UNICEF. At Youth and Media Sandra works closely with talented young people and lead researchers in the field as they look into innovative ways to approach social challenges in the digital world. Together with Berkman Center’s Executive Director Urs Gasser and the Youth and Media team, she focuses on topics such as inequitable access, information quality, risks to safety and privacy, skills and digital literacy, and spaces for participation, civic engagement, and innovation.

See publications here.

Sandra supports the following Berkman projects and initiatives: Youth and MediaStudent Privacy InitiativeDigital Problem-Solving Initiative, and Coding for All.

About Nathan Matias

Nathan Matias, a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, designs and researches civic technologies for cooperation across diversity. At the Berkman Center, he will be applying data analysis and design to the topics of peer-based social technologies, creative learning, civic engagement, journalism, gender diversity, and creative learning.

Nathan's current projects include Open Gender TrackerThanks.fmNewsPad, and Sambyuki Watts. A full project list is at

At Texperts, Nathan was on the startup team that scaled microwork systems to reach customers and workers on four continents. At SwiftKey, he helped develop one of the premier text entry systems for mobile, currently used by millions of people. At Microsoft Fuse Labs, he developed novel systems for collaborative neighborhood journalism. Nathan was also the founding Chief Technical Advisor of the Ministry of Stories, a creative writing center in London.

Nathan regularly liveblogs talks and events. He also publishes data journalism with the Guardian Datablog and PBS IdeaLab. He also facilitates #1book140, The Atlantic's Twitter book club, and frequently hosts live Twitter Q&As with prominent writers. He coordinated the Media Lab Festival of Learning in 2012 and 2013.

Before MIT, Nathan completed an MA in English literature at the University of Cambridge, where he was a Davies Jackson scholar and wrote two theses on African literature and the psychology of interactive fiction. In earlier years, he was Riddick Scholar and Hugh Cannon Memorial Scholar at the American Institute of Parliamentarians. He won the Ted Nelson award at ACM Hypertext 2005 with a work of tangible scholarly hypermedia. He was made a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Manufacturing in 2013.

About An Xiao Mina


An Xiao” Mina is a technologist and writer who looks at issues of the global internet and networked creativity. As a Berkman Klein Fellow, she has been studying the impact of language barriers in our technology stack as the internet extends into diverse communities around the world, and she is building on her ongoing research on global internet meme culture and its role in politics and culture.

Mina serves as director of product at Meedan, who are building Check, a platform for collaborative verification of digital media. Check has been used by organizations like ProPublica, First Draft News, Amnesty International and the University of Hong Kong to verify, analyze and debunk content on online videos, social media reports and private messaging apps. The tool played a key role in Electionland, a 600-person project that covered access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercising their right to vote during the 2016 election. Meedan is also a founding member of First Draft News, an organization dedicated to improving skills and standards in the reporting and sharing of information that emerges online.

She has spoken at venues like the Personal Democracy Forum, ACM SIGCHI, Creative Mornings, the Aspen Institute, the International Journalism Festival, RightsCon and the Institute for the Future, and she has contributed writing to publications like the Los Angeles Review of Books, Fusion, the New Inquiry, Nieman Journalism Lab, the Atlantic and others.

Recently a 2016 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow, where she studied online language barriers and their impact on journalism, Mina is currently working on a book about internet memes and global social movements  titled “From Memes to Movements,” publishing in 2018 with Beacon Press.

About Jonathan Zittrain

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at the Harvard Law School Library, and co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.  His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, human computing, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.

He performed the first large-scale tests of Internet filtering in China and Saudi Arabia, and as part of the OpenNet Initiative co-edited a series of studies of Internet filtering by national governments: Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet FilteringAccess Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace; and Access Contested: Security, Identity, and Resistance in Asian Cyberspace.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Board of Advisors for Scientific American.  He has served as a Trustee of the Internet Society and as a Forum Fellow of the World Economic Forum, which named him a Young Global Leader. He was a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the Federal Communications Commission, and previously chaired the FCC’s Open Internet Advisory Committee. His book The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It predicted the end of general purpose client computing and the corresponding rise of new gatekeepers.  That and other works may be found at <>.


Photo provided by [Josh Koonce]

by candersen at March 23, 2017 06:00 PM

March 22, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Organization & Structure of Open Source Software Development Initiatives


Challenges & Opportunities Concerning Corporate Formation, Nonprofit Status, & Governance for Open Source Projects


A collection of case studies and organizational models for those who manage and participate in open source development initiatives to actively think about the communities they hope to create.

Publication Date

22 Mar 2017


Thumbnail Image: 

Freely available and open to anyone to contribute to or use, open source software is regularly at the heart of exciting and impactful innovation. Much of this innovation is a result of the ethos of the open source community and its dispersed structure. At the same time, some of the attributes that give open source projects their flexibility and spark passion in open source development communities can hinder a project’s success in the long term.

To help open source projects navigate these foundational questions, this report addresses a number of key considerations that those managing open source software development initiatives should take into account when thinking about structure, organization, and governance. The guide elucidates reasons why institutional structure and internal governance processes are important and walks the reader through several models of each, explaining how they might benefit or impact the open source development initiative, and is also replete with case studies and diagrams to illustrate these ideas in practice.

More than prescribing one solution to answer open source projects’ questions or treating the “open source community” as a monolithic whole, the authors seek to offer a range of possibilities and encourage those who manage and participate in open source development initiatives to actively think about available models and consciously adopt approaches that support the work they aim to do and the communities they hope to create.

Producer Intro

Authored by

by djones at March 22, 2017 02:00 PM

David Weinberger
Four-pound fountain pen?

I’m thinking that this Lamy 2000 pen on Amazon

lamy 2000 pen

isn’t really a one-inch cube…

pen details

…that weighs 4.2lbs.

The post Four-pound fountain pen? appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at March 22, 2017 04:41 AM

Joseph Reagle
FOMO Interview

I was recently interviewed by Luciana Lima for an story about FOMO in Brazil's Você S/A ("Tudo ao mesmo tempo agora," March 2017). The story is print only, and in Portuguese, so I asked to include the original interview here; we are discussing my article "Following the Joneses: FOMO and Conspicuous Sociality."

In your article you say that the FOMO is a new word for an old concept and that the media has an important role in the construction of this terminology. Why does it happen?

"Social comparison" is a core feature of human behavior: we look to others to discern how we are doing and what we should do. Popular media changed the scope of our social comparison from our neighborhood to images on pages and screens. It's hard to compare yourself to the polished images seen in ads and among celebrities. Social media amplifies this.

You also state that FOMO and FOBO are opposing forces that can drive the person into a state called FODA. Could you explain a little more about what this third stage would be?

Patrick McGinnis coined all these terms in 2004 in response to the intense social and professional networking scene at Harvard Business School. Whereas FOMO ("Fear of Missing Out") leads to anxiety about missing something, FOBO ("Fear of Better Options") is the fear of committing to something in case something better came along. McGinnis lamented that all of this ultimately leads to FODA ("Fear of Doing Anything").

You claim that people mistakenly associate FOMO exclusively with social networks. Could we say that there is a human predisposition to blame technology for their bad behavior?

Social comparison is innate to being human; media and technology can lead to distortions, but FOMO is a very human phenomenon.

You also affirm that in the contemporary eye wanting what we see and being seen has fused. Would that not be pure vanity? And are they not two things that have always completed each other?

I believe the term FOMO conflates two distinct feelings: missed experiences (fear of missing out) and belonging (fear of being left out): to want what we see and to be seen have fused. Lone envy and social exclusion are both facilitated by ubiquitous screens.

Don't you believe that having more access to the other's daily life (trips, parties, restaurants, relationships) intensifies the envy we already felt? And that maybe this was a new modality, different from the one our parents could feel, for example?

I think the feeling is the same, media simply changes its circumstances, like its intensity and how often it occurs.

Is FOMO also just related to envy? Or is there a correlation with low self-esteem, for example?

You are right, social comparison, the behavior that drives envy, is also a factor in self-esteem.

Finally you say that the FOMO is related to a fear of "disappearing" and that it should be understood as a continuation of centenary issues. What would this "disappear" be and what are the issues that are closely related to it?

Here I was speaking about the term "FOMO" itself. Fear and envy have always been around; but, in the past two centuries, things like the telegraph and television led to people to speak about the malady of neurasthenia and the anxiety of "keeping up with the Joneses." So I wonder how long "FOMO" will stick around, or will it one day disappear and be replaced by a new term or expression?

by Joseph Reagle at March 22, 2017 04:00 AM

March 21, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Digital Health @ Harvard, March 2017 – Using Mobile Phone Data to Map Migration and Disease: Politics, Privacy, and Public Health


featuring Dr. Caroline Buckee


Mobile phone data are providing unprecedented insights into human migration and behavior with relevance for containment of epidemics and response to natural disasters, but what are the implications for individual privacy and the prospects for routine use of this data in public health?

Parent Event

Digital Health @ Harvard | Brown Bag Lunch Series

Event Date

Mar 30 2017 12:00pm to Mar 30 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

This is a talk in the monthly Digital Health @ Harvard Brown Bag Lunch Series, which is co-hosted by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
23 Everett Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room

RSVP required to attend in person.
Event will be live webcast at 12:00 pm.

Mobile phone data is passively collected in real-time by operators, producing enormous data sets that can be used to map human populations and migration accurately. These data hold enormous promise for infectious disease control and other public health interventions, as well as for response to emergencies. However, the privacy implications and complex political and regulatory environment surrounding their use have yet to be addressed systematically. Here, I will discuss the work we have been doing to use these records to model and forecast disease outbreaks, as well as the potential pitfalls and ethical issues associated with the increasingly routine use of these data in the public realm.

About Dr. Buckee

Dr. Caroline Buckee joined Harvard School of Public Health in the summer of 2010 as an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology. In 2013, Dr. Buckee was named the Associate Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Her focus is on elucidating the mechanisms driving the dynamics and evolution of the malaria parasite and other genetically diverse pathogens. After receiving a D.Phil from the University of Oxford, Caroline worked at the Kenya Medical Research Institute to analyze clinical and epidemiological aspects of malaria as a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow. Her work led to an Omidyar Fellowship at the Santa Fe Institute, where she developed theoretical approaches to understanding malaria parasite evolution and ecology.

Dr. Buckee’s work at Harvard extends these approaches using mathematical models to bridge the biological scales underlying malaria epidemiology; she works with experimental researchers to understand the molecular mechanisms within the host that underlie disease and infection, and uses genomic and mobile phone data to link these individual-level processes to understand population level patterns of transmission. Her work has appeared in high profile scientific journals such as Science and PNAS, as well as being featured in the popular press, including CNN, The New Scientist, Voice of America, NPR, and ABC.


by ahancock at March 21, 2017 06:37 PM

The Things of the Internet


with Berkman Klein Fellow, An Xiao” Mina


What sorts of objects do new forms of hardware culture enable, and what role does the internet now play in all steps along the way, from ideation to sales to manufacturing to shipping? How might we now incorporate physical objects into our notions of internet memes? And what does this suggest about the future of object culture more generally?

Parent Event

Berkman Klein Luncheon Series

Event Date

Mar 21 2017 12:00pm to Mar 21 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus, Wasserstein Hall

As the internet connects makers, manufacturers and shippers across supply chains, a new form of producing and distributing global objects is arising, one that relies more on bottom up networks than top down oversight. When you look carefully, you see the signs of them: in the US, they might be t-shirts with hashtags on them, pussyhats at marches, and creative protest signs, and in Shenzhen, China, we see a plethora of hardware objects, such as selfie sticks, hoverboards and e-cigarettes, that rapidly reach global markets. What sorts of objects do new forms of hardware culture enable, and what role does the internet now play in all steps along the way, from ideation to sales to manufacturing to shipping? How might we now incorporate physical objects into our notions of internet memes? And what does this suggest about the future of object culture more generally?

About An

An Xiao” Mina is a technologist and writer who looks at issues of the global internet and networked creativity. As a Berkman Klein Fellow, she has been studying the impact of language barriers in our technology stack as the internet extends into diverse communities around the world, and she is building on her ongoing research on global internet meme culture and its role in politics and culture.

Mina leads the product team at Meedan, where they are building digital tools for journalists and translators, and she is co-founder of The Civic Beat, a research collective focused on the creative side of civic technology. She serves as a contributing editor to Civicist, an advisory editor to Hyperallergic, and a governing board member at China Residencies.

She has spoken at venues like the Personal Democracy Forum, ACM SIGCHI, Creative Mornings, the Aspen Institute, the International Journalism Festival, RightsCon and the Institute for the Future, and she has contributed writing to publications like the Los Angeles Review of Books, Fusion, the New Inquiry, Nieman Journalism Lab, the Atlantic and others.

Recently a 2016 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow, where she studied online language barriers and their impact on journalism, Mina is currently working on a book about internet memes and global social movements  titled “From Memes to Movements,” publishing in 2018 with Beacon Press.

by candersen at March 21, 2017 05:00 PM

March 18, 2017

David Weinberger
How a thirteen-year-old interprets what's been given

“Of course what I’ve just said may not be right,” concluded the thirteen year old girl, “but what’s important is to engage in the interpretation and to participate in the discussion that has been going on for thousands of years.”

So said the bas mitzvah girl at an orthodox Jewish synagogue this afternoon. She is the daughter of friends, so I went. And because it is an orthodox synagogue, I didn’t violate the Sabbath by taking notes. Thus that quote isn’t even close enough to count as a paraphrase. But that is the thought that she ended her D’var Torah with. (I’m sure as heck violating the Sabbath now by writing this, but I am not an observant Jew.)

The D’var Torah is a talk on that week’s portion of the Torah. Presenting one before the congregation is a mark of one’s coming of age. The bas mitzvah girl (or bar mitzvah boy) labors for months on the talk, which at least in the orthodox world is a work of scholarship that shows command of the Hebrew sources, that interprets the words of the Torah to find some relevant meaning and frequently some surprising insight, and that follows the carefully worked out rules that guide this interpretation as a fundamental practice of the religion.

While the Torah’s words themselves are taken as sacred and as given by G-d, they are understood to have been given to us human beings to be interpreted and applied. Further, that interpretation requires one to consult the most revered teachers (rabbis) in the tradition. An interpretation that does not present the interpretations of revered rabbis who disagree about the topic is likely to be flawed. An interpretation that writes off prior interpretations with which one disagrees is not listening carefully enough and is likely to be flawed. An interpretation that declares that it is unequivocally the correct interpretation is wrong in that certainty and is likely to be flawed in its stance.

It seems to me — and of course I’m biased — that these principles could be very helpful regardless of one’s religion or discipline. Jewish interpretation takes the Word as the given. Secular fields take facts as the given. The given is not given unless it is taken, and taking is an act of interpretation. Always.

If that taking is assumed to be subjective and without boundaries, then we end up living in fantasy worlds, shouting at those bastards who believe different fantasies. But if there are established principles that guide the interpretations, then we can talk and learn from one another.

If we interpret without consulting prior interpretations, then we’re missing the chance to reflect on the history that has shaped our ideas. This is not just arrogance but stupidity.

If we fail to consult interpretations that disagree with one another, we not only will likely miss the truth, but we will emerge from the darkness certain that we are right.

If we consult prior interpretations that disagree but insist that we must declare one right and the other wrong, we are being so arrogant that we think we can stand in unequivocal judgment of the greatest minds in our history.

If we come out of the interpretation certain that we are right, then we are far more foolish than the thirteen year old I heard speak this morning.

The post How a thirteen-year-old interprets what's been given appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at March 18, 2017 09:44 PM

March 16, 2017

Pictures Unpack 20,669 Words


That’s a small sample of some great work by the artist R. Siskoryak, who (Wikipedia tells us), usually “specializes in making comic adaptations of literature classics”, but has now graphically adapted the complete text of what Joe Coscarelli (@JoeCoscarelli) of The New York Times (in Artist Helps iTunes’ User Agreement Go Down Easy), calls “the complete text of Apple’s mind-numbing corporate boilerplate” one must agree to before using iTunes.

The adaptation has its own Tumblr site, where it says, “@rsikoryak is on tour to promote the new color edition of Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel, out now from @drawnandquarterly.” Hence the image above. His  well-illustrated bio there is fun too. You can also read the original Tumblr version from the beginning here.

He’ll be appearing (and, presumably speaking and showing) at the Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway, 10003, with Kenneth Goldsmith, at 7pm this evening (Thursday, March 9). He’s already been in Baltimore. Next up:

  • Pittsburgh, PA, Friday, March 17, 2017 – 6:00pm, ToonSeum with Copacetic Comics. 945 Liberty Ave, 15222
  • Cincinnati, OH, Tuesday, March 21, 2017 – 7:00pm, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Ave., 45208 with Carol Tyler
  • New York, NY, Friday, March 24, 2017 – 4:00pm, Spring Symposium, Cardozo Law Journal, moderated by Brett Frischmann
  • Rochester, NY, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – 4:00pm, Rochester Institute of Technology, Bamboo Room in the Student Alumni Union, 1 Lomb Memorial Dr, 14623
  • Toronto, ON, Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Friday, May 12, 2017 – 9:00am to Sunday, May 14, 2017 – 5:00pm, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge

Meanwhile, here are a few things we’ve been doing (both through ProjectVRM and CustomerCommons, which is working with the Consent & Information Sharing Working Group at Kantara) on terms and conditions you, the individual formerly known as “the user” (as if you’re on drugs) can assert as the first party. In other words, ways companies such as Apple can click “agree” to what you bring to the level table between you both. Four reasons they would do that:

  1. We have the Internet now. It’s a flat place. We don’t need to drag industrial age defaults that give companies scale across many customers, but don’t give individuals scale across many companies.
  2. Ours can have scale too. This is what Cluetrain promised in 1999 when it said we are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. we are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. deal with it. Sure, companies haven’t heard of customer boilerplate before; but they do like consistency, simplicity, predictability, standardization and saving money and time. Customers’ scalable terms will bring them all.
  3. Our terms can be as friendly online as they are off. First example: #NoStalking, which can save the asses of publishers and advertisers, and maybe save journalism too.
  4. GDPR compliance. No need to worry about Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation and its scary penalties when agreeing to friendly GDPR-compliant terms proffered by individuals obviates the whole thing.

Bonus links:

We will also be visiting all of these—on both the first and second party sides—at VRM Day, and then at the 24th Internet Identity Workshop, which happen together the first week of May at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.

by Doc Searls at March 16, 2017 11:47 PM

Harry Lewis
I know it's a dumb question, but
… what does it mean when it says that USGSOs seeking to be recognized are expected to maintain “in both policy and practice … Publication of the demographic breakdown of the organization’s membership”? (2(d) on page 16 of the Report.)

At a minimum, “demographic breakdown” must mean by gender, in which case this is a way of walking back from the promisepreviously made to the Seneca that it would suffice to change the club’s bylaws without changing its actual membership.

But “demographic breakdown” must mean more than that, or else the demand would simply have been for the gender breakdown.

 It must include ethnic breakdown, since the parallel between gender discrimination and racial discrimination is cited so often. No all-white clubs need apply for recognition. Fair enough.

But that raises an interesting question. There is a Harvard chapter of the Jewish fraternity, A E Pi. I imagine it has a negligible number of Christian members. Suppose it decided to go co-ed and applied for recognition.

Would someone in University Hall check the “demographic breakdown” of the newly reformed A E Pi to make sure there weren’t too many Jewish members? 

Perhaps some descendant of President Lowell could be found for that unsavory job.

by Harry Lewis ( at March 16, 2017 02:11 AM

March 14, 2017

Berkman Center front page
[POSTPONED] An Introduction to Media Cloud: Mapping the attention and influence of news


with Natalie Gyenes and Anushka Shah


The recent US election, and related conversations about misinformation, have brought questions about media influence to the forefront of internet research and communications agendas. We use the Media Cloud suite of tools to ask the following question: How can we deconstruct the topic of media influence to reconstruct better narratives?

Parent Event

Berkman Klein Luncheon Series

Event Date

Mar 14 2017 12:00pm to Mar 14 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
[POSTPONED] new date information forthcoming
RSVP required to attend in person

Media Cloud is a web-based, open-source tool that tracks media conversations across the globe. A project hosted by the MIT Center for Civic Media and the Harvard Berkman Klein Center, the platform uses big data to aggregate and analyze news content from over 50,000 digital sources. The Media Cloud research team has used this suite of tools to explore a number of issues, from how gender based violence is covered in different media ecosystems, and the presence of public health echo chambers online, to understanding coverage around free basics in India. This conversation will begin with an introduction to Media Cloud and an overview of some of our research findings. We will then move into a use-case demonstration and workshop to explore how Media Cloud may be useful for your own research. 

About Natalie

Natalie is a researcher working at the intersection of health and human rights, and will conduct research with the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab Center for Civic Media. She will focus on how digital media portrays and influences issues of global health equity and access, human rights and social norms, and will explore how Media Cloud can be more useful for non-profits and intergovernmental organizations.

About Anushka

Anushka has a background in data science and media research, and is currently based in Cambridge at the Media Lab. Her primary focus at Civic Media is applying these disciplines to Indian and African media as part of the Media Cloud project.
Anushka's interest is understanding how the news covers specific topics and the effect of different narratives on civic engagement. The long term objective of such analysis is to aid the reverse engineering of both non-fiction and fiction media content to better affect citizen knowledge and participation.
Anushka grew up in India and has previously worked with various non-profits, development agencies, and political parties on ground in rural and urban India.


Media Cloud blog for more information about their research projects:



by candersen at March 14, 2017 10:06 PM

Justin Reich
The Future of Education Reform - Lessons Learned at SXSWedu
To prepare students for the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the system of education needs to undergo a revolution and at lightening speed.

by Beth Holland at March 14, 2017 07:56 PM

Harry Lewis
More about the Implementation
I hadn’t noticed Section 2 of Appendix H of the Implementation Committee Report until a student asked me about it. This section makes various recommendations about how Harvard space could be repurposed for undergraduate social life. Some of these ideas seem good, but I wonder how much thought has gone into them since they all seem to have problems.

Renew the Queen’s Head Pub. Great idea, but will Harvard really do a third major renovation of this space in barely twenty years? The original, very expensive Loker Commons was overbuilt architecturally, indeterminate socially, and a failure operationally. Then (after some more modest tweaks) the space was turned into a pub—an odd choice for a space close to freshman housing. The Report dismissively says it’s popular mainly with graduate students, as though graduate students are, if anything, overprovisioned and it wouldn’t hurt to give their space to undergraduates. Really? (What happened to One Harvard?) And with the FAS budget under pressure from the costs of renovating the Houses, would it make sense to undertake another renovation of the Memorial Hall basement?

Loeb House as event space. This is a fabulous idea. Loeb House has a beautiful, stately ballroom, often empty but occasionally used, at very high cost, for receptions after funerals. When I was dean I tried to get it for the Ballroom Dance Club and Team (not a hard-partying group). No, was the answer—they would scratch the floor. This is a great proposal, not just because it is a natural use for this space, but because it presents an opportunity for the Corporation (whose offices occupy the building) to address in deed as well as in word the problem of undergraduate social life.

The Smith Campus center.  Couldn’t this have been thought through just a few years ago when the Center was being planned? Or shall we embark on an immediate renovation to make it an “Agora” for undergraduates, to use the Report’s term, instead of whatever it is actually going to be?

Phillips Brooks House.A seductive idea which is never going to happen. First, it would surprise me greatly if the public service groups went along with it. But more importantly, that building has not just a history but a deed of gift. It was built thanks to a gift from the Randall Charities Corporation. As the 1896-97 Harvard President’s Report states, the gift was applied “to the construction of the Phillips Brooks House to insure in that building suitable accommodations for the charitable work of the organization known as the Student Volunteer Committee so long as the said organization retain the approval of the President and Fellows, or in case this work should be given up, for kindred work at the discretion of said President and Fellows ….” IANAL, but I wonder if this idea was checked out before it was put in the Report.

SOCH as party central. That is Hilles Library, for earlier generations of readers. Might work great for students in the Quad. It’s never worked as planned as the complex for student offices and extracurricular clubs since it was decommissioned as a library. (Was that even a good idea, in retrospect?)

Transition administrative offices into student space. Send offices like the Office of International Education and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships from their “impressive frame wood houses on Dunster Street” to somewhere less central. Repurpose these buildings as “a quasi-student union, with accessible study and hang-out spaces during the day and bookable space for student organizations and perhaps the dining societies to book for meetings and social gatherings in the evenings and/or on weekends.” This seems at odds with what we have heard at other times about the need to restore the centrality of the academic experience. It seems a little odd in particular to send fellowship applicants, who would have sworn not to be members of the nearby final clubs, off to some more distant location for conversations about fellowships, so that the fellowships office building could be used as a Harvard-banded club.

These are all details, of course. The biggest question, the one about the policy itself that lay behind the motion I made about nine months ago and then withdrew after the new committee was promised, remains on the table, awaiting the work of that committee.

But another big question remains after reading the Implementation Committee report in full. One of the complaints about off-campus social clubs has always been that they draw social life out of the Houses. Making them go co-ed would do nothing to change that, or to make them less exclusive, or elitist. (Vide The Hasty Pudding Club— the social club, not the Theatricals.) Won’t all these efforts to create social space outside the Houses compete with House social life rather than enhance it? The other two sections of Appendix H describe House-based activities. Does the whole picture really hold together—better social life in the Houses, and also better social life on campus outside the Houses?

by Harry Lewis ( at March 14, 2017 06:16 PM

March 12, 2017

David Weinberger
The wheels on the watch

1. This is an awesome immersion in craft knowledge.

2. It is incomprehensible without that craft knowledge.

3. It is mesmerizing, in part because of its incomprehensibility.

4. The tools — many of which he makes for this task — are as beautiful as their results.

5. How much we must have loved clocks to have done this without these tools!

6. What sort of creatures are we that our flourishing requires doing hard things?

The post The wheels on the watch appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at March 12, 2017 06:51 PM

Harry Lewis
Professor Haig's motion against compelled oaths
This is a guest post by Professor David Haig of the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.

At the meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of November 1, 2016 I spoke in favor of the Lewis motion in these words.

“There is good will on both sides of this debate. I have three concerns about the current policy.
First is the issue of consistency. If we sanction students for membership in groups of which we disapprove, we can less credibly defend the rights of students to belong to groups of which we approve but are disapproved of by others in authority in other times and other places.
Second is the issue of guilt by association and collective punishment. Racial and religious profiling are commonly justified by statistical associations with crime. Are we justified in sanctioning all members of female-only and male-only groups because of statistical associations and the criminal behaviors of some members of some groups?
Third is the issue of student autonomy. All our students are members of the College community whether or not we approve of their choices or opinions. If we believe in the transformative power of a liberal arts education, and desire the intellectual, social, and personal transformation of our students, then our desire should be to achieve these ends by intellectual argument to transform their hearts and their minds. The current policy attempts to coerce the choices of students, by changing their self interest, without a fundamental change in their values. We risk changing the choice without changing the chooser.”

The second of these concerns referred to a common claim at the time that the policy of sanctioning members of ‘unrecognized single-gender social organizations’ was directed at the problem of sexual assault on campus. We now hear less of this justification for the sanctions policy. I consider my first and third points to be my principal objections to the policy, particularly the third. The phrases ‘transformative power of a liberal arts education’ and ‘intellectual, social, and personal transformation’ come from the mission statement of Harvard College as frequently articulated by Dean Rakesh Khurana. My use of his words was an attempt to speak to him directly, to beseech him consider that he might be mistaken.

One of my unspoken concerns was the question of how the policy would be implemented. My fear of ‘mission creep’ has been fully justified by the report of the Implementation Committee that has been accepted by Dean Khurana. The laudable aim of gender-inclusivity has metamorphosed into a proposal that students seeking certain awards or offices are required to affirm that they are in compliance with “the College’s policy regarding the principle of non-discrimination, particularly with regard to membership in unrecognized single-gender social organizations.” What happens if a student refuses to take this affirmation on the principle that they are opposed to such oaths? Would they be in contempt of the College’s policy and thereby ineligible for the aforementioned awards and offices? What happens if a student cannot in conscience affirm they are in compliance with the College’s policy because the student sincerely believes in a different principle of non-discrimination? Where is the space for dissent? Who determines the policy and what are the mechanisms of revision? Are there constraints on unilateral changes (by self-appointed arbiters of student virtue) of the policy to be affirmed?

I consider the requirement for such an affirmation to be a dangerous precedent. What if some future government declared particular kinds of organizations illegal and demanded oaths of non-membership from all college students. The faculty would be on firmer ground to resist such demands if it did not require similar oaths from our students. For these reasons, I have presented a motion to the Faculty that

“This faculty does not approve of Harvard College requiring a student to make an oath, pledge or affirmation about whether the student belongs to a particular organization or category of organizations.”

The motion is deliberately worded as disapprobation of oaths rather than prohibition of oaths because I did not want the motion to be complicated by the disputed question of whether the faculty or the administration has ultimate jurisdiction in this matter. In a similar vein, the motion does not address the disputed sanctions policy itself but rather its implementation in the requirement for an affirmation. It might also be argued that the motion is premature and should be postponed until after the recently announced committee of review makes its recommendations. I believe that that committee would benefit from knowing the sense of the faculty on the question of affirmations before making its recommendations.

by Harry Lewis ( at March 12, 2017 03:58 PM

March 10, 2017

Berkman Center front page
#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media


with author Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School


In this revealing book, Cass Sunstein, the New York Times bestselling author of Nudge and The World According to Star Wars, shows how today's Internet is driving political fragmentation, polarization, and even extremism—and what can be done about it.

Event Date

Mar 10 2017 4:00pm to Mar 10 2017 4:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

As the Internet grows more sophisticated, it is creating new threats to democracy. Social media companies such as Facebook can sort us ever more efficiently into groups of the like-minded, creating echo chambers that amplify our views. It's no accident that on some occasions, people of different political views cannot even understand each other. It's also no surprise that terrorist groups have been able to exploit social media to deadly effect.

Welcome to the age of #Republic.

In this revealing book, Cass Sunstein, the New York Times bestselling author of Nudge and The World According to Star Wars, shows how today's Internet is driving political fragmentation, polarization, and even extremism—and what can be done about it.

Thoroughly rethinking the critical relationship between democracy and the Internet, Sunstein describes how the online world creates "cybercascades," exploits "confirmation bias," and assists "polarization entrepreneurs." And he explains why online fragmentation endangers the shared conversations, experiences, and understandings that are the lifeblood of democracy.

In response, Sunstein proposes practical and legal changes to make the Internet friendlier to democratic deliberation. These changes would get us out of our information cocoons by increasing the frequency of unchosen, unplanned encounters and exposing us to people, places, things, and ideas that we would never have picked for our Twitter feed.

#Republic need not be an ironic term. As Sunstein shows, it can be a rallying cry for the kind of democracy that citizens of diverse societies most need.

About Professor Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School. His many books include the New York Times bestsellers Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler) and The World According to Star Wars. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

by candersen at March 10, 2017 09:00 PM

Harry Lewis
How it would probably work in practice
The USGSO Implementation Committee, recognizing that only fellow students would actually know who was in a prohibited organization, tried to get students out of the policing and reporting business by using a protocol of oath-taking. Students wanting scholarship nominations or leadership positions would swear they were not in a prohibited organization. The crime against the College would then be lying, went the idea, and we know how to deal with lying. We already have an Honor Council that handles lies about the Academic Integrity oath, so just make the Honor Council deal with this new class of lies also. The crime is not belonging to an organization, it's lying about not being in one, in an oath you're compelled to take if you want to be eligible for certain distinctions.

I yesterday pointed out one problem with this idea--the legislation that created the Honor Council doesn't authorize it to deal with anything except academic integrity issues, and by no stretch of the imagination is lying about being a member of the Kappa a matter of academic integrity. And, according to the Crimson, some student members of the Honor Council aren't so keen about taking on this new role either.

But a little thought about how this would play out in practice suggests that unless the student body is largely united in support of the policy--which it pretty clearly isn't now--this way of proceeding would create an unhealthy atmosphere of suspicion, backbiting, and collusion in the student body. Let's review what the Implementation Committee Report proposes:
This document [the student's affirmation of non-membership in any prohibited organization] should be regarded as an agreement between the individual student and the College, as represented by the relevant office. We consider compliance with the policy to be a matter between the individual student and the College. Other parties—faculty, faculty deans and tutors, athletic coaches, fellow organization members, teammates—should not be responsible for policing the policy or ensuring that it is complied with. It is up to the student to meet the College’s expectations in this area. 
Now what will happen when two students are vying for the role as captain of the softball team, and one is in a sorority?  Probably depends on a lot of variables--who else on the team is in a similar organization, the degree of consensus about whether the policy is appropriate, etc. Same thing if two students are competing for Rhodes endorsements, etc. Their peers will have to decide whether to turn them in.

This would create all the tensions the Honor Code legislation wisely avoided. Students are not expected to turn in their peers for violation of the academic integrity code, as they are at some other colleges. But in that situation there are other ways to know who is breaking the rules, and without a requirement, peers have no particular incentive to rat out the cheaters among them. In this situation, students are competing for valued, limited honors. The Implementation Committee's proposal, which Dean Khurana has already accepted, incentivizes them to turn on each other, and to turn each other in to the administration.

Was this intentional? If so, I wish the report had explained why it was a good thing.

by Harry Lewis ( at March 10, 2017 04:35 PM

March 09, 2017

Harry Lewis
Where the rubber meets the road
The Implementation Committee reportis out, and Dean Khurana has acceptedits recommendations. The issuance of the report was followed quickly by the appointmentof the committee to consider alternatives, chaired, oddly, by Dean Khurana himself along with another faculty member. (One wonders if he might have delayed accepting the Committee’s recommendations until he had listened to other ideas from his new committee. Oh well.)

The report includes an elaborate set of definitions and categories of social organizations. As far as I can tell, the Index of Prohibited Organizations hasn’t changed. A sorority such as Lambda Upsilon of Alpha Kappa Alphastill isn’t on the Index, even though it is homogeneous in both ethnicity and gender, because it includes Wellesley and MIT students as well as Harvard students. So it’s nondiscriminatory!

The Report makes a number of rhetorical and historical leaps. It suggests that the newer organizations sprang up to serve students who couldn’t get into Final Clubs. That’s doubtless true for some clubs, but not for most of them. Most of the students in most of the single gender organizations are exactly the opposite—they have no use for the Final Clubs, and wouldn’t even have been at Harvard fifty years ago. Take Ali Partovi, for example, who spoke to the Globe.
“There’s a lot of people who share a distaste of the final clubs not just because of sexism but also because of the elitism, yet this policy punishes the guilty and the innocent indiscriminately,” said Ali Partovi, a 1994 graduate who was a member of the local chapter of Sigma Chi. He emphasized he was speaking personally and not for the fraternity. Partovi, a prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor, said that as a nerdy, immigrant student on financial aid, he found Harvard lonely and exclusionary. In Sigma Chi, he said, he found a “ragtag group of misfits” and comforting camaraderie more welcoming than the final clubs.
The Report’s mischaracterization of the origins of the fraternities and sororities does not create confidence that the College has attempted to understand the sociology of these organizations.

The Report expresses some annoyance that the USGSO policy had been tied to the problem of sexual assault—which just might be because the two were mentioned in the same breath both by Dean Khurana when he announcedthe policy last May and by President Faust when she acceptedit. The report also expresses annoyance at the use of the term “sanctions,” as though disqualification from eligibility for a variety of distinctions were not punitive.

It is almost too easy to ridicule the report’s patronizing rhetoric. I had particular fun imagining the scenario of Appendix H, where we are asked to envision readings of Chaucer in the dining halls as a welcoming, gender-inclusive form of social life, unlike, I suppose, the bad, discriminatory stuff that happens in meetings of the Kappa Kappa Gamma. I’d suggest the Implementation Committee be the first dining-hall performers, and that they work their way through The Miller’s Tale, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, and The Reeve’s Tale and see what happens. They would probably have a Middlebury College moment.

But here I want to focus on the serious issue the report raises, which I have been wondering all along. What’s the enforcement mechanism? This is important because it’s the point Jim Engell was hitting in his remarks at the FAS meeting. The Statutes assign to the Faculty the job of disciplining students; the Faculty votes and publishes the rules it makes and the sanctions it imposes; and yet the proposal is for the College to punish membership in those clubs on the Index without faculty authorization to do this.

The Implementation Committee Report explains how this circle is to be squared. Students assuming these various roles will have to take an oath that they are not members of organizations on the Index.
I affirm my awareness of the College’s policy regarding the principle of non-discrimination, particularly with regard to membership in unrecognized single-gender social organizations. In taking a leadership position in a student organization/applying for a sponsored grant or fellowship/becoming a varsity athletic team captain, I affirm my compliance with that policy.
The Report continues,
This document should be regarded as an agreement between the individual student and the College, as represented by the relevant office. We consider compliance with the policy to be a matter between the individual student and the College. Other parties—faculty, faculty deans and tutors, athletic coaches, fellow organization members, teammates—should not be responsible for policing the policy or ensuring that it is complied with. It is up to the student to meet the College’s expectations in this area.
In the case of fellowships and awards: the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships will require a signed document as part of all applications for the awards specified in the policy.

We recommend that violations of the policy—to wit, falsely affirming compliance—be considered a violation of the Honor Code and fall under the jurisdiction of the Honor Council. In recommending that the Honor Council be the administrative body to deal with violations of the policy, we are aware that the Council’s mandate concerns issues of academic integrity. We recommend either that the mandate be expanded to include violations of this policy or that the policy be defined in such a way that violations fall within the category of academic integrity. Our thinking is that a false affirmation is a violation of the expectation of honesty, and should be adjudicated as any other such violation would be.

So students would be punished not for being a member of a club on the Index, but for dishonesty in their oath-making. And the Honor Council would do the punishing.

Now there are a few problems with this.

First, I find the recourse to oaths to be quite repellent. I thought that when the Kindness Pledge was proposed (an idea Ben Carson has brought back, by the way). At the FAS meeting of May 6, 2014, I spoke against the affirmation associated with the honor code, anticipating that once we started making students swear to things, we might not be able to stop:
Let me go straight to the core of my worries. We have a long and, if I may, honorable tradition in this institution of not asking members of the community to make oaths, pledges, or quasi-sacred affirmations. Now I recognize that this makes us different from other places. In fact, Samuel Eliot Morison, in one of his Harvard histories, observed that it was a distinctive characteristic of the place, that the founders did not expect students to take any oaths. Morison concluded that by avoiding oaths, the founders were putting the emphasis instead on personal autonomy and responsibility. As he put it, “Our founders knew from their English experience that oaths are powerless to bind conscience. … Accordingly this academic vessel was provided with the barest possible code of statutes, and her master and crew, unhampered by oaths and religious tests, were left to exercise their best judgment, as God gave it to them.”

Do we know better now? Equipped with psychological research, perhaps we have discovered that oaths really do have the “power to bind conscience.” So it would seem, since two proposals for solemn pledges have surfaced in the past year, first for a kindness pledge and now for an integrity affirmation. Who knows what may be next.
It all seems so retrograde. We are moving from treating our students as adults, as autonomous souls endowed with free will, to treating our students as children. We should not do so, however willing students may be to take these oaths.

In today’s world, pledges and oaths are for scout troops and fraternities and military schools, places where the high values are obedience and regimentation. … No one would propose that members of this faculty make such an affirmation. Many of us would refuse to take it. We value academic integrity even more for ourselves than we do for our students. But for all the talk about shared student and faculty buy-in, voting this would be to go on the record as believing that a ritual affirmation of integrity is good for students, even though we would not be willing to take it ourselves.

Would refusing to make the affirmation be a separate crime, also to be punished by the Honor Council? As I have said elsewhere, Harvard is full of ornery students. It’s hard for me to imagine Ralph Waldo Emerson agreeing to make such an affirmation. Would we really deny such a student a Rhodes nomination for stubbornly refusing to say whether or not he was a member of a single gender club?

But let’s stipulate that the FAS now has no problem with compulsory affirmations, and has its ways of making students sign them.

The requirement for the affirmation needs to go into the Handbook for Students, which is voted by the Faculty—just as the Honor Code affirmation is in the Handbook. But even that is not enough. Adjudication and punishment of a false affirmation of the nondiscrimination affirmation CANNOT be assigned to the Honor Council without amending the legislation that created that Council. As the Report notes, the vote of May 6, 2014, that created the Honor Code and the Honor Council specifically limited its purview to academic matters:
1. Beginning in the fall of 2015, Harvard College adopt an honor code for undergraduates to strengthen the dedication to academic integrity in the College, as follows:
a. Members of the Harvard College community commit themselves to producing academic work of integrity – that is, work that adheres to the scholarly and intellectual standards of accurate attribution of sources, appropriate collection and use of data, and transparent acknowledgement of the contribution of others to their ideas, discoveries, interpretations, and conclusions. Cheating on exams or problem sets, plagiarizing or misrepresenting the ideas or language of someone else as one’s own, falsifying data, or any other instance of academic dishonesty violates the standards of our community, as well as the standards of the wider world of learning and affairs.
b. Commitment to the honor code will be demonstrated through an “Affirmation of Integrity.” The Dean of Harvard College will bring to Faculty Councila recommendation regarding the nature and frequency of this affirmation, and subsequently the full Faculty will consider it for inclusion in the Harvard College Handbook for Student
2. Harvard College create an Honor Board to adjudicate cases of violations of the undergraduate honor code. …
So the College cannot, without a Faculty vote, punish students for lying about their club memberships on the basis of an affirmation it requires students to make in order to be eligible for fellowships and other roles. If I were a student who was punished on the basis of an illegitimate assumption of authority by the Honor Council, I would hire a lawyer.

by Harry Lewis ( at March 09, 2017 03:33 AM

March 08, 2017

Justin Reich
The Creative Learning Spiral: Starting with Your Imagination in Design Thinking
MIT's Prof. Mitch Resnick explains the central role of imagination in driving design thinking.

by Justin Reich at March 08, 2017 09:40 PM

March 07, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Embedded Dangers: Revisiting the Year 2000 Problem and the Politics of Technological Repair


with Dylan Mulvin, Postdoctoral Researcher at MSR New England


What really happened in the Y2K crisis and did it matter? With a growing consensus that the United States is in a state of infrastructural crisis, the Y2K bug and its aftermath appears as a key moment of imagined collapse. What lessons might this recent crisis provide for demystifying technology and helping populations who are made vulnerable through interdependent technologies?

Parent Event

Berkman Klein Luncheon Series

Event Date

Mar 7 2017 12:00pm to Mar 7 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

More than any other recent event, the Year 2000 problem (better known as the Y2K bug) established the public awareness of the temporal and calendrical contingencies of computer systems. This talk revisits the Y2K bug to see what lessons can be drawn from this (non) event. Using archival research conducted at the Charles Babbage Institute, this talk undertakes an analysis of the Year 2000 Problem and the large-scale practices of technological repair and management that addressed it.
By recovering the organized response to the perceived threat of the Y2K bug, this project treats the crisis as one of the greatest, public-facing attempts to educate and train individuals and organizations to manage the unforeseen and potentially devastating effects old code can have on contemporary computerized infrastructures.


About Dylan

Dylan Mulvin is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a member of the Social Media Collective. He joined the collective after completing his PhD at McGill University. Dylan is a historian of technology, media, and computing whose work investigates the design and maintenance of new technologies.  He examines how engineers, scientists, technicians, and bureaucrats make decisions about how to develop shared understandings of the world.

He has published on  the history of video technology, television, and standards, and his work appears in Television & New Media, The Journal of Visual Culture, and The International Journal of Communication. He is co-editor, with Jonathan Sterne, of a special section of the IJOC on temperature and media studies. At MSRNE he is working on a history of the Year 2000 Problem, better known as the Y2K bug. This history attempts to recuperate the Y2K bug as a major repair event, an often overlooked milestone in public computer pedagogy, and one of the greatest recent efforts to train individuals, community groups, and policy makers in the management of precarious technological systems. A second project considers the history of light mitigation technologies—blue-blocking glasses and “night modes” for electronic devices—and the ethics and political implications of accounting for pain and harm in interface design.

Dylan’s research program combines methods from media studies, the history of technology, and infrastructure studies to show how technologies are made to appear seamless. His work shows how large-scale systems are built on decisions about micro-scale materials and protocols by drawing on archival methods to reveal how those who make new technologies model the world in usable ways. Infrastructures and standards shape what can be said and what can be represented and these systems are built on assumptions about the kinds of worlds we want to represent. To uncover these assumptions, this research studies the backstage negotiations that are necessary to make arbitrary decisions appear objective.

by candersen at March 07, 2017 05:00 PM

Harry Lewis
Guest Post on Nondiscrimination
My colleague Margo Seltzer, after reading the newly released report of the USGSO Implementation Committee, found it so admirable that she offered a modest proposal, reproduced here with permission, about how it could be adopted ever so slightly for faculty use. Red is text deleted from the committee recommendations, bold is the suggested replacement. (Yes, I will have something to say about all this in due course--I am waiting for the "faculty committee to assess whether the USGSO policy can be improved, either by changing aspects of its existing structure or through some broader revision.")

Each social organization FAS department seeking to transition to an inclusive status should submit a written request to the Harvard College Office of Student Life FAS Faculty Affairs and Planning office providing details in the following areas:

• Plans to achieve diversity, particularly gender inclusion across a full spectrum of gender identities, in membership and governance of the organization department;
• Processes for open new member selection inclusive hiring practices
• Removal of financial barriers to membership and participation;
• Detailed standards of behavior for all who participate in the organization’s activities departmental interviews, faculty review, and votes on promotion.

Following acceptance of the transition plan, the organization department must implement the plan and publicly affirm Harvard values of non-discrimination, noting the changes in organizational policy on their websites, Facebook pages, and other promotional materials. Following the model of Harvard College’s Honor Code, the head of the organization department chair must also sign the following document on its behalf: “On behalf of __________, I affirm my organization’s department’s awareness of the College’s policy regarding the principle of non-discrimination in our policies, practices, governance, and membership and our compliance with that policy in all its aspects. 

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s make faculty sign an oath as suggested for students:

I affirm my awareness of the College’s policy regarding the principle of non-discrimination, particularly with regard to membership in unrecognized single-gender social organizations inclusivity in faculty hiring. In taking a leadership faculty position in a department student organization/applying for a sponsored grant or fellowship/becoming a varsity athletic team captain, I affirm my compliance with that policy.

by Harry Lewis ( at March 07, 2017 02:37 PM

March 06, 2017

The 13th Annual Zeitfunk Awards


We wear a lot of hats here at PRX, from distributing podcasts of all stripes, to running our Podcast Garage training facility in Boston, to managing our open audio marketplace at

Since our founding in 2003, our marketplace has grown to house over 100,000 audio pieces—uploaded from around the world—from short, artsy works to hour-long music specials. Creators post their work on our site, and public radio stations and digital networks shop there for new work for their local audiences. The goal is to give great audio a second home online, and ideally a third home on broadcast and digital, where it can reach even more ears.

To celebrate our marketplace, we host our annual Zeitfunk awards. Below you’ll find the list of producers, programs and stations who sold the most in the PRX marketplace in 2016. These numbers are calculated from individual licenses of audio pieces on PRX. (Subscription-only shows like This American Life and The Moth are not included in these results.)

Most Licensed Pieces
1. Best of the Best: The 2016 Third Coast Festival Broadcast
2. The Rose Ensemble: Christmas in Baroque Malta from The WFMT Radio Network
3. Ten From David: A David Bowie Appreciation from Paul Ingles
4. A Bow To Prince: An Appreciation of The Artist from Paul Ingles
5. The Pioneers of Punk – Please Kill Me: Voices from the Archives from Creative PR

Most Licensed Series
(This list does not include subscription-only series, like This American Life and The Moth)
1. Global Village with Chris Heim
2. Classical Guitar Alive!
3. The International Americana Music Show
4. Travelers In The Night
5. Blue Dimensions
6. The Bluegrass Review
7. Stuck in the Psychedelic Era
8. Strange Currency
9. The Stone Age
10. The Latin Alternative

Most Licensed Producers
These are individual creators on PRX who sold the most.
1. Tony Morris
2. Daniel Wargo
3. Michael Park
4. Al Grauer
5. Philip Nusbaum
6. Stephen R Webb
7. Vic Muenzer
8. Mat Kaplan
9. Chris Kuborn
10. Jamie Hoover

Most Licensed Groups
Teams of producers who sold the most.
1. With Good Reason
2. Deutsche Welle
3. Bluesnet Radio
4. BackStory with the American History Guys
5. Science Update
6. NPR Music
7. L.A. Theatre Works
8. The Steve Pomeranz Show
9. Great Lakes Today
10. Footlight Parade

Most Licensed Stations
Stations are huge creators of work, too. These are the ones that sold the most in 2016.
2. The WFMT Radio Network
7. South Carolina ETV Radio
9. Kansas Public Radio
10. Louisville Public Media

Most Licensed Debut Producers
Producers who were new to PRX in 2016 who sold the most.
1. Brooke Halpin
2. Matt Davenport
3. Ryan Sweikert
4. Reade Levinson

Most Licensed Debut Groups

Teams of producers who were new to PRX in 2016 who sold the most.
1. Great Lakes Today
2. The World According to Sound
3. On Being with Krista Tippett
4. Safe Space Radio
5. Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio
6. Outside Magazine

Most Licensed Producers by PRX Remix
PRX Remix is our XM Station, app, and broadcast show that purchases work directly from These are individual producers from which Remix purchased the most.
1. Nate DiMeo
2. Eric Molinsky
3. (tie) Erica Heilman and David Green

Most Licensed Groups by PRX Remix
PRX Remix is our Sirius XM station, app, and broadcast show that purchases work directly from These are teams of producers from which Remix purchased the most.
1. The World According to Sound
2. RadioArt
3. Criminal
4. (three-way tie) KCRW’s Independent Producer Project, HowSound, and Out of the Blocks

Stations That Licensed the Most
We like to honor the stations that license (download for air) the most from PRX as well.
6. KCMJ Community Radio
8. RadioFreePalmer
10. KKWE Niijii Radio

Most Licensed Piece Lengths
Producers, these are the lengths of pieces on PRX that sell the most. You can see that hour-long and 5-min. or shorter pieces are the most popular.
1. 55-60 min. (20,275 individual licenses on PRX in 2016)
2. 5 min. or less (6,883 licenses)
3. 50-55 min. (4,735 licenses)
4. 25-30 min. (2,746 licenses)
5. 5-10 min. (2,416 licenses)
6. 30-35 min. (982 licenses)
7. 10-15 min. (466 licenses)
8. 40-45 min. (356 licenses)
9. 60-65 min. (350 licenses)
10. 15-20 min. (213 licenses)
11. 35-40 min. (182 licenses)
12. 10-25 min. (176 licenses)
13. 45-50 min. (84 licenses)

The post The 13th Annual Zeitfunk Awards appeared first on PRX.

by Genevieve at March 06, 2017 07:34 PM

March 04, 2017

“Disruption” isn’t the whole VRM story


The vast oeuvre of Marshall McLuhan contains a wonderful approach to understanding media called the tetrad (i.e. foursome) of media effects.  You can apply it to anything, from stone tools to robots. McLuhan unpacks it with four questions:

  1. What does the medium enhance?
  2. What does the medium make obsolete?
  3. What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier?
  4. What does the medium reverse or flip into when pushed to extremes?

I suggest that VRM—

  1. Enhances CRM
  2. Obsoletes marketing guesswork, especially adtech
  3. Retrieves conversation
  4. Reverses or flips into the bazaar

Note that many answers are possible. That’s why McLuhan poses the tetrad as questions. Very clever and useful.

I bring this up for three reasons:

  1. The tetrad is also helpful for understanding every topic that starts with “disruption.” Because a new medium (or technology) does much more than just disrupt or obsolete an old one—yet not so much more that it can’t be understood inside a framework.
  2. The idea from the start with VRM has never been to disrupt or obsolete CRM, but rather to give it a hand to shake—and a way customers can pull it out of the morass of market-makers (especially adtech) that waste its time, talents and energies.
  3. After ten years of ProjectVRM, we still don’t have a single standardized base VRM medium (e.g. a protocol), even though we have by now hundreds of developers we call VRM in one way or another. Think of this missing medium as a single way, or set of ways, that VRM demand can interact with CRM supply, and give every customer scale across all the companies they deal with. We’ve needed that from the start. But perhaps, with this handy pedagogical tool, we can look thorugh one framework toward both the causes and effects of what we want to make happen.

I expect this framework to be useful at VRM Day (May 1 at the Computer History Museum) and at IIW on the three days that follow there.


by Doc Searls at March 04, 2017 06:24 PM

March 03, 2017

danah boyd
Failing to See, Fueling Hatred.

I was 19 years old when a some configuration of anonymous people came after me. They got access to my email and shared some of the most sensitive messages on an anonymous forum. This was after some of my girl friends received anonymous voice messages describing how they would be raped. And after the black and Latinx high school students I was mentoring were subject to targeted racist messages whenever they logged into the computer cluster we were all using. I was ostracized for raising all of this to the computer science department’s administration. A year later, when I applied for an internship at Sun Microsystems, an alum known for his connection to the anonymous server that was used actually said to me, “I thought that they managed to force you out of CS by now.”

Needless to say, this experience hurt like hell. But in trying to process it, I became obsessed not with my own feelings but with the logics that underpinned why some individual or group of white male students privileged enough to be at Brown University would do this. (In investigations, the abusers were narrowed down to a small group of white men in the department but it was never going to be clear who exactly did it and so I chose not to pursue the case even though law enforcement wanted me to.)

My first breakthrough came when I started studying bullying, when I started reading studies about why punitive approaches to meanness and cruelty backfire. It’s so easy to hate those who are hateful, so hard to be empathetic to where they’re coming from. This made me double down on an ethnographic mindset that requires that you step away from your assumptions and try to understand the perspective of people who think and act differently than you do. I’m realizing more and more how desperately this perspective is needed as I watch researchers and advocates, politicians and everyday people judge others from their vantage point without taking a moment to understand why a particular logic might unfold.

The Local Nature of Wealth

A few days ago, my networks were on fire with condescending comments referencing an article in The Guardian titled “Scraping by on six figures? Tech workers feel poor in Silicon Valley’s wealth bubble.” I watched as all sorts of reasonably educated, modestly but sustainably paid people mocked tech folks for expressing frustration about how their well-paid jobs did not allow them to have the sustainable lifestyle that they wanted. For most, Silicon Valley is at a distance, a far off land of imagination brought to you by the likes of David Fincher and HBO. Progressive values demand empathy for the poor and this often manifests as hatred for the rich. But what’s missing from this mindset is an understanding of the local perception of wealth, poverty, and status. And, more importantly, the political consequences of that local perception.

Think about it this way. I live in NYC where the median household income is somewhere around $55K. My network primarily makes above the median and yet they all complain that they don’t have enough money to achieve what they want in NYC, whether they’re making $55K, $70K, or $150K. Complaining about being not having enough money is ritualized alongside complaining about the rents. No one I know really groks that they’re making above the median income for the city (and, thus, that most people are much poorer than they are), let alone how absurd their complaints might sound to someone from a poorer country where a median income might be $1500 (e.g., India).

The reason for this is not simply that people living in NYC are spoiled, but that people’s understanding of prosperity is shaped by what they see around them. Historically, this has been understood through word-of-mouth and status markers. In modern times, those status markers are often connected to conspicuous consumption. “How could HE afford a new pair of Nikes!?!?”

The dynamics of comparison are made trickier by media. Even before yellow journalism, there has always been some version of Page Six or “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Stories of gluttonous and extravagant behaviors abound in ancient literature. Today, with Instagram and reality TV, the idea of haves and havenots is pervasive, shaping cultural ideas of privilege and suffering. Everyday people perform for the camera and read each other’s performances critically. And still, even as we watch rich people suffer depression or celebrities experience mental breakdowns, we don’t know how to walk in each other’s shoes. We collectively mock them for their privilege as a way to feel better for our own comparative struggles.

In other words, in a neoliberal society, we consistently compare ourselves to others in ways that make us feel as though we are less well off than we’d like. And we mock others who are more privileged who do the same. (And, horribly, we often blame others who are not for making bad decisions.)

The Messiness of Privilege

I grew up with identity politics, striving to make sense of intersectional politics and confused about what it meant to face oppression as a woman and privilege as a white person. I now live in a world of tech wealth while my family does not. I live with contradictions and I work on issues that make those contradictions visible to me on a regular basis. These days, I am surrounded by civil rights advocates and activists of all stripes. Folks who remind me to take my privilege seriously. And still, I struggle to be a good ally, to respond effectively to challenges to my actions. Because of my politics and ideals, I wake up each day determined to do better.

Yet, with my ethnographer’s hat on, I’m increasingly uncomfortable with how this dynamic is playing out. Not for me personally, but for affecting change. I’m nervous that the way that privilege is being framed and politicized is doing damage to progressive goals and ideals. In listening to white men who see themselves as “betas” or identify as NEETs (“Not in Education, Employment, or Training”) describe their hatred of feminists or social justice warriors, I hear the cost of this frame. They don’t see themselves as empowered or privileged and they rally against these frames. And they respond antagonistically in ways that further the divide, as progressives feel justified in calling them out as racist and misogynist. Hatred emerges on both sides and the disconnect produces condescension as everyone fails to hear where each other comes from, each holding onto their worldview that they are the disenfranchised, they are the oppressed. Power and wealth become othered and agency becomes understood through the lens of challenging what each believes to be the status quo.

It took me years to understand that the boys who tormented me in college didn’t feel powerful, didn’t see their antagonism as oppression. I was even louder and more brash back then than I am now. I walked into any given room performing confidence in ways that completely obscured my insecurities. I took up space, used my sexuality as a tool, and demanded attention. These were the survival skills that I had learned to harness as a ticket out. And these are the very same skills that have allowed me to succeed professionally and get access to tremendous privilege. I have paid a price for some of the games that I have played, but I can’t deny that I’ve gained a lot in the process. I have also come to understand that my survival strategies were completely infuriating to many geeky white boys that I encountered in tech. Many guys saw me as getting ahead because I was a token woman. I was accused of sleeping my way to the top on plenty of occasions. I wasn’t simply seen as an alpha — I was seen as the kind of girl that screwed boys over. And because I was working on diversity and inclusion projects in computer science to attract more women and minorities as the field, I was seen as being the architect of excluding white men. For so many geeky guys I met, CS was the place where they felt powerful and I stood for taking that away. I represented an oppressor to them even though I felt like it was they who were oppressing me.

Privilege is complicated. There is no static hierarchical structure of oppression. Intersectionality provides one tool for grappling with the interplay between different identity politics, but there’s no narrative for why beta white male geeks might feel excluded from these frames. There’s no framework for why white Christians might feel oppressed by rights-oriented activists. When we think about privilege, we talk about the historical nature of oppression, but we don’t account for the ways in which people’s experiences of privilege are local. We don’t account for the confounding nature of perception, except to argue that people need to wake up.

Grappling with Perception

We live in a complex interwoven society. In some ways, that’s intentional. After WWII, many politicians and activists wanted to make the world more interdependent, to enable globalization to prevent another world war. The stark reality is that we all depend on social, economic, and technical infrastructures that we can’t see and don’t appreciate. Sure, we can talk about how our food is affordable because we’re dependent on underpaid undocumented labor. We can take our medicine for granted because we fail to appreciate all of the regulatory processes that go into making sure that what we consume is safe. But we take lots of things for granted; it’s the only way to move through the day without constantly panicking about whether or not the building we’re in will collapse.

Without understanding the complex interplay of things, it’s hard not to feel resentful about certain things that we do see. But at the same time, it’s not possible to hold onto the complexity. I can appreciate why individuals are indignant when they feel as though they pay taxes for that money to be given away to foreigners through foreign aid and immigration programs. These people feel like they’re struggling, feel like they’re working hard, feel like they’re facing injustice. Still, it makes sense to me that people’s sense of prosperity is only as good as their feeling that they’re getting ahead. And when you’ve been earning $40/hour doing union work only to lose that job and feel like the only other option is a $25/hr job, the feeling is bad, no matter that this is more than most people make. There’s a reason that Silicon Valley engineers feel as though they’re struggling and it’s not because they’re comparing themselves to everyone in the world. It’s because the standard of living keeps dropping in front of them. It’s all relative.

It’s easy to say “tough shit” or “boo hoo hoo” or to point out that most people have it much worse. And, at some levels, this is true. But if we don’t account for how people feel, we’re not going to achieve a more just world — we’re going to stoke the fires of a new cultural war as society becomes increasingly polarized.

The disconnect between statistical data and perception is astounding. I can’t help but shake my head when I listen to folks talk about how life is better today than it ever has been in history. They point to increased lifespan, new types of medicine, decline in infant mortality, and decline in poverty around the world. And they shake their heads in dismay about how people don’t seem to get it, don’t seem to get that today is better than yesterday. But perception isn’t about statistics. It’s about a feeling of security, a confidence in one’s ecosystem, a belief that through personal effort and God’s will, each day will be better than the last. That’s not where the vast majority of people are at right now. To the contrary, they’re feeling massively insecure, as though their world is very precarious.

I am deeply concerned that the people whose values and ideals I share are achieving solidarity through righteous rhetoric that also produces condescending and antagonistic norms. I don’t fully understand my discomfort, but I’m scared that what I’m seeing around me is making things worse. And so I went back to some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches for a bit of inspiration today and I started reflecting on his words. Let me leave this reflection with this quote:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image from Flickr: Andy Doyle

by zephoria at March 03, 2017 09:19 PM

Juan Carlos De Martin
Recensione sul Manifesto
Andrea Capocci ha recensito "Università futura" sul Manifesto del 3 marzo 2017 (registrazione gratuita).

by Juan Carlos De Martin at March 03, 2017 04:54 PM

"Come sta l’università italiana?"
La testata "Che fare" ha pubblicato un ampio estratto dal mio libro "Università futura" (Codice Edizioni).

by Juan Carlos De Martin at March 03, 2017 04:51 PM

March 02, 2017

Juan Carlos De Martin
Mons. Nunzio Galantino e "Università futura"
Mons. Nunzio Galantino, segretario generale della Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, legge un passaggio di "Università futura" (intorno al minuto 43) durante la sua lectio magistralis in occasione dell'inaugurazione dell'anno accademico dell'Università Europea di Roma (2 marzo 2017). Qui il testo della sua lectio.

by Juan Carlos De Martin at March 02, 2017 11:37 PM

La presentazione di "Università futura" a Harvard
Martedì 28 febbraio ho avuto il piacere di presentare alcuni dei punti principali di "Università futura" a Harvard, nel contesto dei "luncheon talk" del Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Il titolo dell'incontro era "Five Global Challenges and the Role of University". Al mio fianco, il prof. Charles Nesson, fondatore del Berkman Center; "Università futura" è dedicato a lui (oltre che al prof. Angelo Raffaele Meo).

by Juan Carlos De Martin at March 02, 2017 11:34 PM

March 01, 2017

Justin Reich
Helping Teachers Surface and Address Bias with Online Practice Spaces
With support from Google, the MIT Teaching Systems Lab is developing practice spaces where teachers rehearse for challenging scenarios in teaching where unconscious biases can affect teacher's decisions.

by Justin Reich at March 01, 2017 11:22 PM

Media Cloud
Fighting for, not fighting against: Media Coverage and the Dakota Access Pipeline
A Media Cloud & Global Voices NewsFrames Collaboration NATALIE GYENES, CONNIE MOON SEHAT, SANDS FISH, ANUSHKA SHAH, JONAS KAISER, PAOLA VILLARREAL, SIMIN KARGAR, CINDY BISHOP, RAHUL BHARGAVA, ROB FARIS & ETHAN ZUCKERMAN The deadline for Standing Rock campsite residents to depart their campsites along the Missouri River occurred last Wednesday. The evacuation deadline passed at 2 pm MST, coincidently marking a two year effort to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a...

by ngyenes at March 01, 2017 09:54 PM

Justin Reich
From Technology to Learning - Time to Shift the Conversation
Instead of always talking about technology, we need to shift the conversation such that we start to better define student learning.

by Beth Holland at March 01, 2017 09:02 PM

Harry Lewis
An odd fact about my teaching career
The Crimson picked up the news that I will be teaching half time for the next two years and then officially retiring on July 1, 2020 (after taking some banked sabbatical). Long way off, and I have no intention of going anywhere anyway.

My colleagues are organizing a Celebration of Computer Science in my honor, which should be a lot of fun. I have been privileged to have amazing students over the years and I am hoping to see many of them there. By my count, nine Harvard professors took courses from me, and six were my teaching assistants as undergraduates.

Thinking about this, I noticed something that is probably unique about my career, and will be hard for anyone ever to replicate. When I retire after 46 years of teaching at Harvard, I will, with only a couple of exceptions, never have taught a course I didn't create. The exceptions are CS51, originally called AM110, which I taught nine times and took over from Tom Cheatham, and Nat Sci 110, which I took over from Bill Bossert and Chuck Prenner for three years in the 1970s. (My second, third, and fourth years on the faculty, so I pretty much started as an assistant professor teaching classes that filled Science Center B.) Everything else I have taught -- CS121, CS20, CS50, CS124, Bits, my new Classics course, my Amateur Athletics seminar, and a few others -- I created, not always under those names. (And frankly, I did a lot of redesign on AM110 and Nat Sci 110 too!)

Of course, I had an unfair advantage in setting that record, if it is one. I started teaching in a field that barely existed, and was teaching at a university that offered almost no undergraduate courses in the field! So I could teach almost anything and be offering it for the first time. In that sense, the miracle is not how many courses I started, but the fact that most of them have proved durable.

And by the way, even though my undergraduate and graduate degrees are all from Harvard, I have never taught a course that I took.

by Harry Lewis ( at March 01, 2017 07:12 PM

David Weinberger
[liveblog] Five global challenges and the role of the university

Juan Carlos De Martin is giving a lunchtime talk called “Five global challenges and the role of the university,” with Charles Nesson. These are two of my favorite people. Juan Carlos is here to talk about his new book (in Italian), Università Futura – Tra Democrazia e Bit.

Charlie introduces Juan Carlos by describing his first meeting with him at a conference in Torino at which the idea of the Nexa Center of Internet and Society
, which is now a reality.

Juan Carlos begins by tracing the book’s traIn the book and here he will talk about five global challenges. Why five? Because that’s how we he sees it, but it’s subjective.

  1. Democracy. It’s in crisis.

  2. Environment. For example, you may have heard about this global warming thing. It’s hard for us to think about such large systems.

  3. Technology. E.g., bio tech, AI, nanotech, neuro-cognition. The benefits of these are important, but the problems they raise are very difficult.

  4. Economy. Growth is slowing. Trade is slowing. How do we ensure a decent livelihood to all?

  5. Geopolitics. The world order seems to be undergoing constant change. How do we preserve the peace?

We are in uncharted waters, he says: high risk and high unpredictability. ““I don’t want to sound apocalyptic, because I’m not, but we have to face the dangers”I don’t want to sound apocalyptic, because I’m not, but we have to face the dangers.”
Juan Carlos makes three observations:

First, we are going to need lots of knowledge, more than ever before.

Second, we’ll need people capable of interpreting, using, and producing such knowledge, more than ever before.

Third, in democracies we need the knowledge to get to as many people as possible, and as many people as possible have to become better critical thinkers. “There’s a clear rejection of experts which we, as people in universities, need to take seriously…What did we do wrong to lose the trust of people?”

These three observations lead to the idea that universities should play an important role. So, what is the current state of the university?

First, for the past forty years, universities have pursued knowledge useful to the economy.

Second, there has been an emphasis on training workers, which makes sense, but has meant less emphasis on educating people as full humans and citizens.

Third, the university has been a normative organization (like non-profits and churches) that has been pushed to become more of a utilitarian organization (like businesses). This shows itself in, for example, the excessive use of quantitative metrics for promotion, an insane emphasis on publishing for its own sake, and a hyper-disciplinarity because it’s easier to publish within a smaller slice.

These mean that the historically multi-dimensional mission of the university has been flattened, and the spirit has gone from normative to utilitarian. “All of this represents a problem if we want the university to help society face … 21st century problems.” (Juan Carlos says that he wrote the book in Italian [his English is perfect] because when he began in 2008, Italian universities were beginning a seven year contraction of 20%.)

We need all kinds of knowledge — not just what looks useful right now — because we don’t know what will be useful. We need interdisciplinarity because so many societal challenges — including all the ones he began the talk with — are interdisciplinary. But the incentives are not currently in that direction. And we need “effective interaction with the general public.” This is not just about communicating or transferring knowledge; it has to be genuinely interactive.

We need, he says, the university to speak the truth.

His proposal is that we “rediscover the roots of the university” and update them to present times. There is a solution in those roots, he says.

At the root, education is a personal relationship among human beings. ““Education is not mere information transfer”Education is not mere information transfer.” This means educating human beings and citizens, not just workers.

Everyone agrees we need critical thinking, but we need to work on how to teach it and what it means. We need critical thinkers because we need people who can handle unexpected situations.

We need universities to be institutions that can take the long view, can go slowly, value silence, that enable concentration. These were characteristics of universities for a thousand years.
What universities can do:

1. To achieve inter-disciplinarity, we cannot abolish disciplines; they play an important role. But we need to avoid walls between them. “Maybe a little short fence” that people can easily cross.

2. We need to strongly encourage heterodox thinking. Some disciplines need this urgently; Juan Carlos calls out economics as an example.

3. The university should itself be a “trustee of the unborn,” i.e., of the generation to come. “The university has always had the role of bridging the dead and the unborn.” In Europe this has been a role of the state, but they’re doing it less and less.

A side effect is that the university should be the conscience and critic of society. He quotes Pres. Drew Faust on whether universities are doing this enough.

4. Universities need to engage with the public, listening to their concerns. That doesn’t mean pandering to them. Only dialogue will help people learn.

5. Universities need to actively employ the Internet to achieve its objectives. Juan Carlos’ research on this topic began with the Internet, but it flipped, focusing first on the university.

Overall, he says, “we need new ideas, critical thinking, and character”we need new ideas, critical thinking, and character. By that last he means moral commitment. Universities can move in that direction by rediscovering their roots, and updating them.

Charlie now leads a session in which we begin by posting questions to . I cannot keep up with the conversation. The session is being webcast and the recording will be posted. (Charlie is a celebrated teacher with a special skill in engaging groups like this.)

I agree with everything Juan Carlos says, and especially am heartened by the idea that the university as an institution can help to re-moor us. But I then find myself thinking that it took enormous forces to knock universities off their 1,000 year mission. Those same forces are implacable. Can universities deny the fusion of powers that put them in this position in the first place?

The post [liveblog] Five global challenges and the role of the university appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at March 01, 2017 05:03 AM

February 28, 2017

Radiotopia Live: Announcing Our West Coast Tour!

Radiotopia Live

Radiotopia is headed out on our first West Coast tour! Radiotopia Live brings extraordinary, cutting-edge podcasts out of your headphones and onto the stage.

Join us in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and LA for live radio, conversations, stories and music from your favorite Radiotopia podcasts including 99% Invisible with Jon Mooallem and the Brink Players, Criminal, The Allusionist, The Memory Palace, Mortified and more. Plus a performance of The West Wing Weekly in LA only.

Full tour schedule:

Monday, May 8 – Aladdin Theater in Portland, OR

Tuesday, May 9 – Moore Theatre in Seattle

Thursday, May 11 – Nourse Theater in San Francisco

Friday, May 12 – Theatre at the Ace Hotel in LA

Get all the info, including tickets, at Enter code “RTLIVE” to get the best seats before the public; our exclusive pre-sale runs through 11:59 p.m. on March 2rd. Hope to see you there!

The post Radiotopia Live: Announcing Our West Coast Tour! appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at February 28, 2017 06:19 PM

Berkman Center front page
Five Global Challenges and the Role of University


Berkman Faculty Associate, Juan Carlos De Martin with Berkman Klein founder, Charlie Nesson


Five global, complex, interrelated and to some extent unprecedented challenges: in the coming years what can universities do to support society in addressing them?

Parent Event

Berkman Klein Luncheon Series

Event Date

Feb 28 2017 12:00pm to Feb 28 2017 12:00pm
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus, Wasserstein Hall

The talk is introduced and facilitated by Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson, who has been thinking for many years about the role of University in cyberspace and who has inspired Juan Carlos to study the role of University in society.

The world is facing five global challenges: democratic, environmental, technological, economical, and geopolitical. Challenges that will require both enormous amount of knowledge and citizens capable of using such knowledge in scenarios that today are hard to predict. The University is clearly the main institution that could help society on both counts. However, if University truly wants to maximize its social utility, it needs--as argued by De Martin in his book 'Università Futura' (Codice Edizioni, Italy, 2017)--to critically question the last 30 years of its development and re-discover its roots, updating them for the 21st century. 

About Juan Carlos De Martin

Juan Carlos De Martin is a Berkman Klein Faculty Associate and Founder and Faculty co-director of the NEXA Center for Internet & Society at the Politecnico of Torino, Italy.

Juan Carlos De Martin is a computer engineering professor specialized on multimedia who is now focusing on the general theme of the interaction between digital technologies and society. His most recent main research interest is the future of university in the Internet age.

Since Spring 2012 Juan Carlos has been teaching "Digital Revolution", a digital culture course offered to first-year students at the Politecnico di Torino.

In 2012 he edited, together with Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, "The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture" (OpenBookPublishers, UK), with forward by Charles Nesson.

In 2003 he led, together with prof. Marco Ricolfi, the Creative Commons Italy team. Between 2007 and 2011 Juan Carlos De Martin was the coordinator of COMMUNIA, the European thematic network on the digital public domain. Between 2007 and 2015 he was the president of the libraries of the Politecnico di Torino.

Before returning to Italy in 1998, Juan Carlos De Martin was a visiting researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara for two years and, after receiving his Ph.D. in Telecommunications at the Politecnico di Torino, he worked for two years in the research laboratories of Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas.

Juan Carlos De Martin also serves as member of the Scientific Board of the Institute of the Italian Encyclopedia Treccani and of the Biennale Democrazia. He is a frequent op-ed contributor to "la Repubblica" and he often acts as a commentator in Italian media.

Juan Carlos De Martin is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and is the author, or co-author, of over 100 peer-reviewed conference papers, journal papers and book chapters. 

About Charles Nesson

Professor Nesson charted the early field of Internet law in 1997 when he founded the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

by ahancock at February 28, 2017 04:59 PM

February 27, 2017

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
Clinic Files Amicus Brief Supporting Family’s Right to Access Dead Relative’s Emails

ajemian-coverOn February 21, 2017, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief on behalf of several trusts and estates law scholars and practitioners in Ajemian v. Yahoo!, Inc., Mass. Supreme Judicial Court No. SJC-11917. The brief supports the plaintiffs-appellants in the case. The Ajemian case arises out of a dispute between Yahoo and the family of John Ajemian, who died unexpectedly in 2006. After Mr. Ajemian’s death, the administrators of his estate contacted Yahoo about gaining access to his email account. Yahoo refused, claiming that the Stored Communications Act (SCA), 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., prevented it from doing so.

Among other things, Yahoo argued that the “lawful consent” exception found in § 2702(b)(3)—authorizing providers to disclose stored communications “with the lawful consent of the originator or an addressee or [the] intended recipient”—requires the express consent of the user. Since Mr. Ajemian died intestate and did not otherwise authorize the post-mortem disclosure of his email, Yahoo contents his estate is forever barred from accessing it. This appeal focuses solely on the question of how to interpret the SCA’s lawful consent provision, and we believe that it is a case of first impression in the United States.

The amicus brief argues that Yahoo’s proposed interpretation of the SCA would frustrate the efficient administration of estates and prevent families from accessing troves of data with financial and sentimental value that are increasingly stored only on the servers of private companies like Yahoo. While acknowledging that the SCA protects important privacy interests, the brief suggests that the court need not read the SCA as dogmatically as Yahoo suggests, especially since the statute was written over 30 years ago and is silent on this particular issue. Yahoo’s reading would create a default rule that anyone who dies “digitally intestate”—that is, without leaving express instructions about what to do with their electronic accounts—wishes their data to forever remain beyond the reach of their relatives. But given the tremendous value of the data we now store with companies like Yahoo, and the fact that all of our other property automatically becomes part of our estate even if it contains sensitive personal information, amici invite the court to hold that the power to “lawfully consent” in life should be entrusted to the decedent’s personal representative after their death. This analysis is based on the legislative history of the SCA and statutory construction of the term “consent,” and it supports the public policy goal of preserving the value of an estate for a decedent’s heirs.

The amicus brief also addresses Yahoo’s alternative argument that its Terms of Service give the company sole discretion to deny access to user accounts or delete content. Given the undeveloped record on this point and the potentially significant ramifications of such a finding, amici urge the court to leave this question for another day.

Special thanks go to HLS Cyberlaw Clinic students Danielle Kehl (HLS JD ’18), Vinitra Rangan (HLS JD ’18), and Xinshu (Sylvia) Sui (HLS JD ’18), who worked closely with Clinical Fellow Mason Kortz and the amici to prepare and file the brief.

by Clinic Staff at February 27, 2017 02:28 PM

February 24, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Open Data Privacy Playbook


Effective data governance is a prerequisite for successful open data programs. This report codifies responsible privacy-protective approaches and processes that could be adopted by cities and other government organizations that are publicly releasing data.

Publication Date

27 Feb 2017

Thumbnail Image: 

A data privacy playbook by Ben Green, Gabe Cunningham, Ariel Ekblaw, Paul Kominers, Andrew Linzer, and Susan Crawford.

Cities today collect and store a wide range of data that may contain sensitive or identifiable information about residents. As cities embrace open data initiatives, more of this information is available to the public. While releasing data has many important benefits, sharing data comes with inherent risks to individual privacy: released data can reveal information about individuals that would otherwise not be public knowledge. In recent years, open data such as taxi trips, voter registration files, and police records have revealed information that many believe should not be released.

Effective data governance is a prerequisite for successful open data programs. The goal of this document is to codify responsible privacy-protective approaches and processes that could be adopted by cities and other government organizations that are publicly releasing data. Our report is organized around four recommendations:

  • Conduct risk-benefit analyses to inform the design and implementation of open data programs. 
  • Consider privacy at each stage of the data lifecycle: collect, maintain, release, delete. 
  • Develop operational structures and processes that codify privacy management widely throughout the City. 
  • Emphasize public engagement and public priorities as essential aspects of data management programs. 

Each chapter of this report is dedicated to one of these four recommendations, and provides fundamental context along with specific suggestions to carry them out. In particular, we provide case studies of best practices from numerous cities and a set of forms and tactics for cities to implement our recommendations. The Appendix synthesizes key elements of the report into an Open Data Privacy Toolkit that cities can use to manage privacy when releasing data.

A Publication of Responsive Communities

Producer Intro

Authored by

by djones at February 24, 2017 09:14 PM

Miriam Meckel
Rückwärts, Genossen

Die Agenda 2010 zu reformieren ist sinnvoll – Martin Schulz sollte das aber der Zukunft zugewandt machen, nicht der Vergangenheit.

An ihren Früchten sollt ihr sie erkennen: So beginnt ein Artikel in der ersten Ausgabe des „Vorwärts“, Parteiorgan der SPD, vom 1. Oktober 1876. Es geht darin natürlich nicht um die Agenda 2010, aber auch die trägt Früchte, an denen man einiges erkennen könnte.

Es sind die Früchte einer mutigen Reform, in denen der derzeitige Glanz der deutschen Wirtschaft gereift ist. Die Arbeitslosigkeit? Auf dem tiefsten Stand seit der Wiedervereinigung. Wachstum? 2016 das höchste seit fünf Jahren. Exportleistung? So gut, dass sie zunehmend Frust und Wut aus anderen Teilen Europas und den USA auf sich zieht. Das Ausland erkennt mit Respekt und Missgunst an, wie aus dem „kranken Mann Europas“ wieder eine wirtschaftliche Kraftzentrale der Welt geworden ist. Mensch, da hat der Gerhard was gerissen, könnte man sagen. Sagt in der SPD aber kaum einer. Die Partei hat immer so getan, als seien die Reformerfolge Fallobst, von dem sie erschlagen würde.

Martin Schulz, amtierender Kanzlerkandidat und Hoffnungsträger der Sozialdemokraten, führt den Wahlkampf nun zurück in die Vergangenheit. Für Nostalgiker und Gestrige mag das eine Option sein. Alle anderen müssen sich Sorgen um die Klarsicht einer Partei machen, die angetreten ist, den nächsten Bundeskanzler zu stellen.

Es war einmal die Regel, dass man eine Lebenszeitstelle hatte. Das ist längst nicht mehr so. Menschen und Arbeitsplätze sind mobiler geworden. Damit müssen die Arbeitnehmer ebenso umgehen wie die Unternehmen. Flexibel auf Veränderungen am Markt und in der Geschäftsstrategie reagieren zu können ist ein Hauptgrund für befristete Arbeitsverhältnisse, die Schulz nun beschneiden will.

Ein Riesenerfolg der Agenda 2010 liegt darin, Arbeitslose schneller wieder in Jobs zu vermitteln. Längeres Arbeitslosengeld bedeutet längere Arbeitslosigkeit zeigen viele Studien. Der geplante Rückdreh bewirkt also das Gegenteil dessen, was die SPD erreichen möchte. Er beflügelt womöglich gar die Vorstellung, man könne sich mit entsprechendem Sicherheitsnetz immer früher vom Arbeitsmarkt zurückziehen. Angesicht der demografischen Entwicklung in Deutschland ein gefährlicher Fehlanreiz.

Im Jahr 2017 gibt es durchaus Spielraum für Veränderung. Aber doch nicht so. Martin Schulz hat gesagt, es sei nicht ehrenrührig, Fehler zu machen. Recht hat er. Immer wieder denselben Fehler zu machen ist aber mindestens mal wenig überzeugend. Wer Menschen durch Arbeit absichern und gleichzeitig die deutsche Wirtschaft voranbringen will, muss da investieren, wo die Zukunft liegt: in die Köpfe der Deutschen. Die Agenda in diese Richtung zu erweitern wäre nach vorne gerichtete Arbeitsmarktpolitik und übrigens eine echte Investition in soziale Gerechtigkeit. Die SPD geht ihre Wirtschaftspolitik an nach dem Motto „Rückwärts, Genossen!“. An ihren Früchten will sie nicht erkannt werden.

by Miriam Meckel at February 24, 2017 11:08 AM

February 23, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Public Health Echo Chambers in a Time of Mistrust & Misinformation - Digital Health @ Harvard, February 2017


with Berkman Klein fellows Natalie Gyenes and Brittany Seymour


Research shows that public health information networks online have been largely unsuccessful in driving an evidence-based information network narrative around key health topics. This may be attributed to digital echo chambers - where audiences form homophilic digital information networks, reinforcing opportunities for selecting information that conforms to pre-existing beliefs, and making it difficult to disseminate evidence-based health information. We invite you to take part in a round table discussion, brainstorming together how we can support innovation and new online communication strategies for public health.

Parent Event

Digital Health @ Harvard | Brown Bag Lunch Series

Event Date

Feb 23 2017 12:00pm to Feb 23 2017 12:00pm
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This is a talk in the monthly Digital Health @ Harvard Brown Bag Lunch Series, which is co-hosted by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University


With digitization and simultaneous democratization of the global information landscape, plus declining trust in media and health institutions, misinformation is pervasive. Audiences are forming homophilic social networks, reinforcing opportunities for selecting information that conforms to pre-existing beliefs, a phenomenon known as the creation of echo chambers. Echo chambers are not only problematic when misinformation reinforces certain beliefs, but they also make it difficult to disseminate evidence-based information broadly. In order to understand how public health echo chambers manifest themselves online, we used the Media Cloud suite of tools, an open access global archive of 5+ billion sentences from a set of 25,000 online information sources to conduct three mass media case studies on Ebola, Zika, and Vaccination. Our findings show that public health information networks are largely unsuccessful in driving an evidence-based information network narrative around any of our case study topics.

Based on these results, we invite participants to take part in a round table discussion, assessing the role that the online media ecosystem plays in creating, spreading, and reinforcing health information and misinformation. We hope to analyze together how communication theory and network science can support innovation and new online communication strategies for public health.

About Natalie Gyenes

Natalie is a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and a Research Affiliate at the MIT Media Lab.  Her work draws on experience in the fields of human rights, applied epidemiology, and behavioral science. Natalie's research focuses on how digital media portrays and influences issues of health equity and access, human rights and social norms. Natalie works to assess media influence - investigating the effects that different narratives and news frames have on public sentiment for global issues, and highlighting opportunities for impacting broader media dialogues. Before joining Berkman Klein, Natalie worked with the UN Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, developed guidelines for health professionals working with trauma-affected refugees, and, at the Harvard School of Public Health, created frameworks for co-designing health and rights programs.

About Brittany Seymour

Brittany Seymour is an Assistant Professor of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine with a research focus in interdisciplinary collaborations for health through innovative information dissemination and curriculum development.  She was the Inaugural Harvard Global Health Institute Fellow, where she launched the Harvard Health and Media collaborative and the Social Media and Health Fellowship program for students; fellows have worked on projects in the US, Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa. Her work has explored digital communication around water fluoridation, childhood vaccinations, the Ebola epidemic with fellow Berkman colleagues, and adolescent HIV/AIDS.  As a Berkman Fellow this year, she will explore online health information/misinformation and patient behaviors in the context of networked media theory and social network analysis. Her long term goals are to develop communication bundling strategies for whole health promotion and prevention.

by ahancock at February 23, 2017 05:00 PM

February 21, 2017

Justin Reich
Improving Life and Learning with Design Thinking
Blade Kotelli, Senior Experience Designer at Sonos, describes how design is a lens for understanding how to shape the world around us.

by Justin Reich at February 21, 2017 09:48 PM

Berkman Center front page
Internet Designers as Policy-Makers


Sandra Braman, Abbott Professor of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University

Parent Event

Berkman Klein Luncheon Series

Event Date

Feb 21 2017 12:00pm to Feb 21 2017 12:00pm
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Those responsible for technical design of the Internet are essential among the policy-makers for this large-scale sociotechnical infrastructure.  Based on analysis of the RFCs (1969-1999), this talk looks at how these policy-makers thought and think about policy issues while addressing technical problems.  Findings include basic design criteria that serve as constitutional principles; interactions between human and non-human users; tensions between geo- and network-political citizenship; early internationalization; and what Internet designers can teach us about decision-making under conditions of instability in everything from the design subject on.

About Sandra

Sandra Braman’s research has been supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Soros Foundation, and the First Amendment Fund.  Braman’s book Change of State:  Information, Policy, and Power, currently undergoing revision for a second edition, is in use around the world and is widely viewed as having defined the field of information policy.  Other publications include the edited volumes Communication Researchers and Policy-MakingThe Emergent Global Information Policy Regime, and Biotechnology and Communication:  The Meta-Technologies of Information and over 100 refereed journal articles and book chapters.  Braman created and launched the first graduate (postgraduate) program in telecommunications and information policy on the African continent while serving as Director and Visiting Professor at the University of South Africa.  She has also served in the invited positions of Freedom of Expression Professor at the University of Bergen (Norway), Fulbright Senior Scholar at Södertörn University (Sweden), and Visiting Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).  She conceived and edits the Information Policy Book Series at MIT Press, and is former Chair of the Communication Law and Policy Division of the International Communication Association and former Chair of the Law Section of the International Association of Media and Communication Research.  In 2014 Braman was inducted as a Fellow of the International Communication Association.


by candersen at February 21, 2017 05:00 PM

February 20, 2017

Berkman Center front page
The KINGS of Africa’s Digital Economy


Eric Osiakwan, Managing Partner of Chanzo Capital


Join Eric Osiakwan, Managing Partner of Chanzo Capital, for a discussion about the KINGS of Africa’s Digital Economy.

Event Date

Feb 20 2017 12:00pm to Feb 20 2017 12:00pm
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Monday, February 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm Eastern Standard Time
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Eric Osiakwan is an Entrepreneur and Investor with 15 years of ICT industry leadership across Africa and the world. He has worked in 32 African countries setting up ISPs, ISPAs, IXPs and high-tech startups. Some of these companies and organizations are Angel AfricaAngel Fair Africa , Ghana Cyber CityPenPlusBytesAfrican Elections PortalFOSSFAWABcoGISPA, AfrISPA, GNVC, Internet Research, InHand, Ghana Connect. He serves on the board of FarmerlineForheyTeranga SolutionsSiqueriesAmp.itSameLogiceCampusBisa App and Wanjo Foods, - some of which are his investments.
He was part of the team that built the TEAMS submarine cable in East Africa and an ICT Consultant for the WorldBank, Soros Foundations, UNDP, USAID, USDoJ, USDoS as well as African governments and private firms. 
He authored "The KINGS of Africa Digital Economy", co-authored the “Open Access Model”, “Negotiating the Net” – the politics of Internet Diffusion in Africa and “The Internet in Ghana” with the Mosaic Group. He was invited to contribute ideas to Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa. 
Eric is a Poptech, TED, Stanford, and MIT Fellow. He was previously a Berkman Klein Fellow at Harvard University.

by candersen at February 20, 2017 05:00 PM

danah boyd
Heads Up: Upcoming Parental Leave

There’s a joke out there that when you’re having your first child, you tell everyone personally and update your family and friends about every detail throughout the pregnancy. With Baby #2, there’s an abbreviated notice that goes out about the new addition, all focused on how Baby #1 is excited to have a new sibling. And with Baby #3, you forget to tell people.

I’m a living instantiation of that. If all goes well, I will have my third child in early March and I’ve apparently forgotten to tell anyone since folks are increasingly shocked when I indicate that I can’t help out with XYZ because of an upcoming parental leave. Oops. Sorry!

As noted when I gave a heads up with Baby #1 and Baby #2, I plan on taking parental leave in stride. I don’t know what I’m in for. Each child is different and each recovery is different. What I know for certain is that I don’t want to screw over collaborators or my other baby – Data & Society. As a result, I will be not taking on new commitments and I will be actively working to prioritize my collaborators and team over the next six months.

In the weeks following birth, my response rates may get sporadic and I will probably not respond to non-mission-critical email. I also won’t be scheduling meetings. Although I won’t go completely offline in March (mostly for my own sanity), but I am fairly certain that I will take an email sabbatical in July when my family takes some serious time off** to be with one another and travel.

A change in family configuration is fundamentally walking into the abyss. For as much as our culture around maternity leave focuses on planning, so much is unknown. After my first was born, I got a lot of work done in the first few weeks afterwards because he was sleeping all the time and then things got crazy just as I was supposedly going back to work. That was less true with #2, but with #2 I was going seriously stir crazy being home in the cold winter and so all I wanted was to go to lectures with him to get out of bed and soak up random ideas. Who knows what’s coming down the pike. I’m fortunate enough to have the flexibility to roll with it and I intend to do precisely that.

What’s tricky about being a parent in this ecosystem is that you’re kinda damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Women are pushed to go back to work immediately to prove that they’re serious about their work – or to take serious time off to prove that they’re serious about their kids. Male executives are increasingly publicly talking about taking time off, while they work from home.  The stark reality is that I love what I do. And I love my children. Life is always about balancing different commitments and passions within the constraints of reality (time, money, etc.).  And there’s nothing like a new child to make that balancing act visible.

So if you need something from me, let me know ASAP!  And please understand and respect that I will be navigating a lot of unknown and doing my best to achieve a state of balance in the upcoming months of uncertainty.


** July 2017 vacation. After a baby is born, the entire focus of a family is on adjustment. For the birthing parent, it’s also on recovery because babies kinda wreck your body no matter how they come out. Finding rhythms for sleep and food become key for survival. Folks talk about this time as precious because it can enable bonding. That hasn’t been my experience and so I’ve relished the opportunity with each new addition to schedule some full-family bonding time a few months after birth where we can do what our family likes best – travel and explore as a family. If all goes well in March, we hope to take a long vacation in mid-July where I intend to be completely offline and focused on family. More on that once we meet the new addition.

by zephoria at February 20, 2017 01:45 PM

Juan Carlos De Martin
L'ex Presidente CRUI Guido Trombetti commenta "Università Futura"
L'ex Presidente dei Rettori italiani (CRUI), Guido Trombetti, interviene su "la Repubblica" per commentare, con un articolo dal titolo: "Perché difendo il pensiero inutile", il mio libro "Università futura".

by Juan Carlos De Martin at February 20, 2017 01:10 PM

February 19, 2017

Ethan Zuckerman
Seeing Haiti: a photo essay

Imagine a nation with a noble and proud history, but a rough last century. It was occupied by a massive, powerful neighbor to the north, who undermined its political system and land ownership to benefit its national commercial interests. Soon after those occupiers desisted, looted the treasury, slaughtered the opposition and chased away almost everyone with a university degree. Then the advent of AIDS destroyed a burgeoning tourism industry. After the younger madman was forced into exile, a few years of democratic reform were halted when the northern occupier intervened to exile a leftist leader and handed control of the country over to an occupying UN force. That force did little to stabilize the country, and managed to make things significantly worse, bringing a cholera epidemic to the nation. To round out the picture, throw in a massive earthquake that decimated the capital and top it off with a category four hurricane.

That’s Haiti. You wouldn’t wish that string of bad luck on Donald Trump. (Pick your own worst enemy if that doesn’t work for you.)

Now let’s imagine an impoverished neighborhood wracked by gang violence, where gunfire is a common, if not daily event. In the middle of the neighborhood, surrounded on all sides by high-density housing, is a quiet park. It includes a brightly painted truck filled with newspapers and books, a mobile library that can bring reading to communities where few books are found. An elegant waterfall runs down the steps of a garden path past plots of medicinal herbs and community gardens, resplendent in colorfully painted tires. At the base of the garden is an architecturally ambitious library, carefully constructed of geometric bamboo pods, every seat packed with uniformed schoolchildren devouring books in Kreyol, French and English.

That’s Haiti, too. Specifically, that’s Parc de Martissant, the project of FOKAL (The Fondation Connaissance et Liberté), a Haitian foundation that’s part of the Open Society Foundations. Its founder Michèle Pierre Louise (Prime Minister during President Preval’s term) and executive director Lorraine Mangones have offered an unconventional solution to Haiti’s many ills. While they work on combatting cholera, rebuilding the legal system, strengthening agriculture and protecting human rights, they do something most of our foundations don’t do. They build and restore beautiful public spaces, creating sources of neighborhood and national pride. While many international organizations are focused on helping Haitians access the bare minimum of healthcare and education, FOKAL dares to imagine what Haiti could be. And then they go ahead and build it.

Don’t get too comfortable. Because just above the library is a concrete path lined with shards of tile from a factory destroyed in the earthquake. Dark outlines represent the bodies of the fallen. The path leads to a broad, spreading tree. Below neon pink flowers, it bears fruit – heavy, mirrored skulls turning slowly in the breeze. The skulls are cast from the faces of the people in the neighborhood and made of concrete and rebar, the materials that killed tens of thousands of city residents when buildings collapsed in the earthquake of January 2010.

And that’s Haiti as well. Because there’s darkness in the beauty, and beauty in the darkness.

A week in Haiti, spent almost entirely in Port au Prince (and too much of it in the back seat of a bulletproof SUV), is not long enough to get meaningful impression of a nation. What I have are glimpses and fragments, some hopeful, some haunting.

I’m honored to serve on the Global Board of Open Society Foundations, and with our Vice President, Haitian-American Patrick Gaspard (former US ambassador to South Africa) and three fellow board members, I spent a week in Haiti touring FOKAL projects in Port au Prince and in Les Cayes, an agricultural community hit hard by Hurricane Matthew. On my last day in the city, I toured the downtown with a brilliant FOKAL architect, Farah Hyppolite, who has dedicated herself to restoring Port au Prince’s “gingerbread houses”, elegant hybrids of European and tropical architecture built for the city’s wealthy merchants at the beginning of Haiti’s dismal century.

Farah tells me that she had wanted to build the future of Haiti, ambitious structures that reflected the nation’s aspirations. But the earthquake destroyed her landmarks: the small gingerbread house she grew up in, the school she attended, the landmark buildings downtown that oriented her on the Rue Grand. “What will I show my children of where I grew up? Without my city, where is my past?”

For almost two decades, all I knew of Haiti was its art, in a watered-down and derivative form, paintings hawked on the streets of Santo Domingo and hanging in endless airport gift shops throughout the Caribbean. Too bright for New England, the paintings I found beautiful in the tropical sun looked gaudy on my white walls.

That explosion of color is everywhere in Haiti, from the paint on the side of goat-skinned drums, to the fruits in the market and most of all, the tap taps, elaborately painted pickup trucks that make up the capitol’s mass transit system. The ironwork, the cut, painted plywood, the explosive paint job and loud slogans compete to be heard over a visual environment that buzzes and pops at deafening volume.

I wasn’t expecting the color in vodou. In the Bureau D’Ethnologie, Erol Josué, a celebrated dancer and musician who serves as the museum’s curator, shows us bright, elegant dresses donned for rituals, embodying the colors and characteristics of the different spirits. Over lunch, I learn that during a ceremony, men may be taken over by female spirits, and vice versa, a fact that’s helped make vodou a welcoming place for the gay and lesbian community at a moment when charismatic churches are condemning and ostracizing queer Hatians.

I find the darkness I’d anticipated in a different sort of museum downtown. Lodged between a tire shop and an iron fabricator on Rue Dessalines is “Atis Rezistans”, the workshop and gallery of Andre Eugene, an internationally celebrated sculptor. Through a rusted arch and down an alleyway is a warren of courtyards and buildings, packed to the gills with wooden idols, ordained with nails, the guts of discarded computers, auto parts and tin cans. One wall is covered with the dark shapes of animals, serpents and spirits, cut from tires by the students in the neighborhood who Eugene teaches.

Vodou is a syncretic faith, build by slaves who combined elements of worship from Fon, Yoruba and other traditions in west Africa with Catholic rituals learned from the colonizers in the Caribbean: Ogun, orisha of war and metal in Nigera, meets St. George, patron saint of soldiers, and they become a loa. Eugene’s work syncretizes the detritus of post-Aristede Haiti with these ancient spirits into a new pantheon.

Eugene leads me through a curtain of bottle caps into his office, and I nearly trip over a human skull. I ask the artist where he obtained these dark materials. “Oh, skulls were easy after the earthquake. You could find them everywhere.” I ask him why his art is so morbid, expecting reflections on Haiti’s recent slew of tragedies. “It’s good to be different,” he tells me. “I like the dark.”

Indeed, Eugene’s art was dark before the earthquake and the hurricane. One of my companions grew up in the neighborhood and tells me that he always thought Eugene was crazy, a strange man who roamed the streets picking through garbage. Now that strange man shows art around the world and sells pieces for thousands of dollars. Eugene leads me to the unfinished second floor of his gallery and shows me the neighborhoods. He points out the workshops of fellow artists in the neighborhood, but my eye is drawn to the rooftops where scrap metal weighs down roofing sheets, rusting metal that holds the neighborhood together.

The shock of some of Eugene’s pieces wears off as I spent time with them. The gaping skulls with marble eyes begin to remind me of Eddie, Iron Maiden’s macabre, smiling, icon. Other pieces give me a deep sense of dread the longer I spend with them, in particular, those that feature baby dolls, disfigured, in bondage and crucified.

The Centre d’Art, a leafy and green space up the hill from Rue Dessalines, feels like it’s miles away from Atiz Rezistanse, but Haiti’s recent past is present here as well. On the site of a former gingerbread house, collapsed in the 2010 earthquake, are a set of shipping containers and pavillions, now the site for Haiti’s most important art collection. One 40′ box contains the archives of the Centre’s 70 year history. Another is filled with metal sculpture, a third with shelves of paintings and drawings, ornamental boxes and painted screens.

In a shady corner of the garden, a long wall serves as a blackboard, covered with elegant illustrations of the human form, the remnants of a workshop by Lionel St. Eloi, a sculptor and painter whose work includes richly colored canvasses and life-sized figures assembled from scrap metal. I fall in love with his owls, and St. Eloi has to be coaxed down from a nearby rooftop, where he’s wielding a power saw and working on carnival preparations, to sell me the piece.

I’m home from Haiti now, St. Eloi’s owl sits on my kitchen table, as lovely and wise in my snowbound New England home as in its tropical home. This afternoon, I plan to put it on the mantle over my fireplace where it can watch over myself and my guests, and perhaps scare the mice that enjoy the heat from the chimney.

A mask from Eugene’s studio came home with me as well. It’s by one of Eugene’s students, and while it’s as twisted and gruesome as the master’s work, it reminds me of something more comfortable, the unfamiliarity of the shapes of west African masks when I first came to Ghana two decades ago. I’m not sure what corner of the house I want it peering at me from, but I want it near me, to become part of my space over the years, the way things that are dark or broken can become comfortable and familiar.

Haiti is beautiful. Haiti is broken. Haiti is hopeful. Haiti is darkness. Haiti is color. You don’t always get to choose.

Love and respect to my friends at FOKAL, and to everyone who is working to share Haiti’s beauty and hope with the world, and more importantly, with all Haitian people.

All text and images are creative commons licensed, attribution only – please feel free to share, remix and reuse them, but please credit me. Profound thanks to Michèle, Lorraine, Farah, Dmitri and all the staff at FOKAL and OSF who made this visit possible.

by Ethan at February 19, 2017 06:41 PM

February 18, 2017

David Weinberger
The Keynesian Marketplace of Ideas

The awesome Tim Hwang (disclosure: I am a complete fanboy) has posted an essay
arguing that we should take something like a Keynesian approach to the “marketplace of ideas” that we were promised with the Internet. I think there’s something really helpful about this, but that ultimately the metaphor gets in the way of itself.

The really helpful piece:

…our mental model of the marketplace of ideas has stayed roughly fixed even as the markets themselves have changed dramatically.

…I wonder if we might take a more Keynesian approach to the marketplace of ideas: holding that free economies of ideas are frequently efficient, and functional. But, like economic marketplaces, they are susceptible to persistent recessions and bad, self-reinforcing equilibria that require systemic intervention at critical junctures.

This gives us a way to think about intervening when necessary, rather than continually bemoaning the failure of idea markets or, worse, fleeing from them entirely.

The analogy leads Tim to two major suggestions:

…major, present day idea marketplaces like Facebook are not laissez-faire. They feature deep, constant interventionism on the part of the platform to mediate and shape idea market outcomes through automation and algorithm. Digital Keynesians would resist these designs: marketplaces of ideas are typically functional without heavy mediation and platform involvement, and doing so creates perverse distortions. Roll back algorithmic content curation, roll back friend suggestions, and so on.

Second, we should develop a

clearer definition of the circumstances under which platforms and governments would intervene to right the ship more extensively during a crisis in the marketplace.

There’s no arguing with the desirability of the second suggestion. In fact, we can ask why we haven’t developed these criteria and box of tools already.

“ a way to think about intervening, rather than bemoaning the failure of idea markets”The answer I think is in Tim’s observation that “marketplaces of ideas are typically functional without heavy mediation and platform involvement.” I think that misses the mark both in old-fashioned and new-fangled marketplaces of ideas. All of them assume a particular embodiment of those ideas, and thus those ideas are always mediated by the affordances of their media — one-to-many newspapers, a Republic of Letters that moves at the speed of wind, even backyard fences over which neighbors chat — and by norms and regulations (or architecture, law, markets, and norms, as Larry Lessig says). Facebook and Twitter cannot exist except as interventions. What else can you call Facebook’s decisions about which options to offer about who gets to see your posts, and Twitter’s insistence on a 140 character limit? It seems artificial to me to insist on a difference between those interventions and the algorithmic filtering that Facebook does in order to address its scale issues (as well as to make a buck or two).

As a result, in the Age of the Internet, we have something closer to a marketplace of idea marketplaces “we have something closer to a marketplace of idea marketplaces” that span a spectrum of how laissez their faire is.[note.] These marketplaces usually can’t “trade” across their boundaries except in quite primitive ways, such as pasting a tweet link into Facebook. And they don’t agree about the most basic analogic elements of an economy: who gets to participate and under what circumstances, what counts as currency, what counts as a transaction, how to measure the equivalence of an exchange, the role of intermediaries, the mechanisms of trust and the recourses for when trust is broken.

So, Twitter, Facebook, and the comments section of Medium are all mediated marketplaces and thus cannot adopt Tim’s first suggestion — that they cease intervening — because they are their policies and mechanisms of intervention.

That’s why I appreciate that towards the end Tim wonders, “Should we accept a transactional market frame in the first place?” Even though I think the disanalogies are strong, I will repeat Tim’s main point because I think it is indeed a very useful framing:

…free economies of ideas are frequently efficient, and functional. But, like economic marketplaces, they are susceptible to persistent recessions and bad, self-reinforcing equilibria that require systemic intervention at critical junctures.

I like this because it places responsibility — and agency — on those providing a marketplace of ideas. If your conversational space isn’t working, it’s your fault. Fix it.

And, yes, it’d be so worth the effort for us to better understand how.

The post The Keynesian Marketplace of Ideas appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at February 18, 2017 04:14 PM

February 17, 2017

Justin Reich
To Ensure Success, First Define the Black Box of Innovation
To ensure the success of any new program or initiative, educators and administrators first need to define the "black box" of innovation.

by Beth Holland at February 17, 2017 11:26 PM

February 16, 2017

Justin Reich
School is a Game: Can We Make It a Good Game?
Viewing school through the lens of games helps us understand the shortcomings of schools and the paths to make schools more engaging and effective.

by Justin Reich at February 16, 2017 11:17 PM

Miriam Meckel
Rückkehr des politischen Wettbewerbs

Widerspruch ist Lebensgeist der Demokratie. Brexit, Trump und die Rechten haben ihn geweckt. Das ist gut gegen die große Erstarrung.

Die Rede des soeben gewählten Bundespräsidenten Frank-Walter Steinmeier hat bei mir eine Antireaktion ausgelöst. Ich möchte nicht zusammenhalten, sondern mich auseinandersetzen, nicht Ruhe bewahren, sondern laut und deutlich für meine Überzeugungen eintreten. Ich möchte auch nicht mit Kitt an der Gesellschaft herumwerkeln, sondern lieber darüber nachdenken, wie man die Bodenkacheln so verlegt, dass sie tragen. Diejenigen, die leichtfüßig darüber gehen, aber auch die, die mal stolpern.
Am Ende sagte Steinmeier: „Lasst uns mutig sein! Dann jedenfalls ist mir um die Zukunft nicht bange.“ Er hätte auch sagen können: Lasst uns etwas trinken. Dann haben wir in Zukunft keinen Durst.

Das ist – zugegeben – etwas gemein. Und doch auch nicht. Seit Jahren wird 
in der westlichen Welt, Deutschland voran, das Desinteresse am Politischen beklagt. Und jetzt, wo sich endlich wieder unterschiedliche Positionen und Konfrontationslinien zeigen, will man sie schnell zuschmieren. Warum denn eigentlich? Ich kann das ewige Gerede von der Geschlossenheit nicht mehr hören. Geschlossenheit ist ein demokratisches Missverständnis. Eine Ausrede für autoritäre Erwartung an Folgsamkeit. Seit Ende des Kalten Krieges, durch den die Abgrenzungsmöglichkeit der Deutschen gegenüber den undemokratischen Systemen des früheren Ostblocks entfallen ist, hat sich ein Übermaß 
an Geschlossenheit angestaut. Bis vor Kurzem war überall die Mitte, sie hatte unterschiedliche Namen und meinte doch immer dasselbe. 

Das hat unserer Demokratie und Gesellschaft nicht gutgetan. Wenn alle in der Mitte abhängen, ist an den Rändern viel Platz. Und es wird jemand kommen, der sich diesen Platz nimmt. Das geschieht nun in vielen europäischen Ländern, und schon wieder gibt es viel Gejammer. Dabei war das absehbar. Einstimmigkeit war Normalfall. Die Konsensdemokratie hatte das Monopol auf staatliche Organisation. Das treibt den Wert des Widerstands nach oben und macht ihn attraktiv. Entfallen die politischen Unterschiede, so ist das kein Zeichen demokratischer Reife, sondern erstes Anzeichen für Verfall. 
Donald Trump beschädigt die amerikanische Demokratie? Warten wir doch mal ab. Im Moment kommt Amerika in Bewegung, Richter sprechen Recht auf Basis der Verfassung, und Hunderttausende demonstrieren auf den Straßen. Der Brexit schadet der EU und dem Binnenmarkt? Abwarten. Er könnte ihr auch neuen Schwung im Angesicht des Abgrunds verleihen. 

Es kehrt der politische Wettbewerb zurück, den wir dringend brauchen. Bei allen drei Landtagswahlen 2016 ist die Wahlbeteiligung kräftig angestiegen. Im Büro, in der Familie und beim Sport wird wieder über Politik diskutiert. Das ist großartig. Und die so sichtbaren Differenzen müssen ausgefochten und bloß nicht mit sozialem Kitt zugekleistert werden. Mutig ist es, zuzulassen, dass eine Gesellschaft den Wettbewerb der Positionen aushält. Mutig und selbstbewusst.

by Miriam Meckel at February 16, 2017 06:24 PM

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
Clinic Supports Reporters Committee, Other Media Entities, w/Amicus Filing on MA Anti-SLAPP Statute

federal-courthouse-boston-maOn January 24, 2017, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief (pdf)  on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in the case, Steinmetz v. Coyle & Caron Inc., First Circuit No. 16-1996. The brief supports defendant-appellee in the case, and the Court granted leave to file the brief this week (over the objections of plaintiff-appellant). RCFP was joined on the brief by The Associated Press, Gannett Co., Inc., the New England First Amendment Coalition, and the New England Newspaper & Press Association, Inc. RCFP has summarized the brief on its website.

The Steinmetz case arises out of a public debate over the plaintiffs’ plan to build a house in Cohasset, MA. After a local agency rejected the plan, the plaintiffs sued the defendant architectural firm for allegedly furnishing inaccurate renderings of the proposed structure. The defendant successfully moved to dismiss under the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute, Mass. Gen. Laws c. 231, § 59H. On appeal, the plaintiffs challenge, inter alia, the constitutionality of this provision, arguing that it represents a violation of their Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.

The amicus brief focuses on the animating policies behind Section 59H. Massachusetts, like many other states, passed anti-SLAPP legislation in response to the increased use of litigation to silence constitutionally protected speech and petitioning activities—hence the moniker “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” Section 59H provides for the expedited dismissal of claims arising out of protected petitioning activities unless the plaintiff can show that the defendant’s petitioning “was devoid of any reasonable factual support or any arguable basis in law” and “caused actual injury to the responding party.” Relying on case law, legislative history, and academic analysis, RCFP’s amicus brief explains that Section 59H narrowly and properly protects the First Amendment interests of Massachusetts’ citizens. Striking it down, RCFP writes, would “harm freedom of the press and freedom of speech, at a time when the need for protection is great.”

Winter 2017 Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic student Hannah Clark contributed significantly to the brief.

Image – Federal Courthouse, Bosoton, MA – courtesy of Flickr user NNECAPA Photo Library, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

by Clinic Staff at February 16, 2017 02:48 PM

February 15, 2017

danah boyd
When Good Intentions Backfire

… And Why We Need a Hacker Mindset

I am surrounded by people who are driven by good intentions. Educators who want to inform students, who passionately believe that people can be empowered through knowledge. Activists who have committed their lives to addressing inequities, who believe that they have a moral responsibility to shine a spotlight on injustice. Journalists who believe their mission is to inform the public, who believe that objectivity is the cornerstone of their profession. I am in awe of their passion and commitment, their dedication and persistence.

Yet, I’m existentially struggling as I watch them fight for what is right. I havelearned that people who view themselves through the lens of good intentions cannot imagine that they could be a pawn in someone else’s game. They cannot imagine that the values and frames that they’ve dedicated their lives towards — free speech, media literacy, truth — could be manipulated or repurposed by others in ways that undermine their good intentions.

I find it frustrating to bear witness to good intentions getting manipulated,but it’s even harder to watch how those who are wedded to good intentions are often unwilling to acknowledge this, let alone start imagining how to develop the appropriate antibodies. Too many folks that I love dearly just want to double down on the approaches they’ve taken and the commitments they’ve made. On one hand, I get it — folks’ life-work and identities are caught up in these issues.

But this is where I think we’re going to get ourselves into loads of trouble.

The world is full of people with all sorts of intentions. Their practices and values, ideologies and belief systems collide in all sorts of complex way. Sometimes, the fight is about combating horrible intentions, but often it is not. In college, my roommate used to pound a mantra into my head whenever I would get spun up about something: Do not attribute to maliciousness what you can attribute to stupidity. I return to this statement a lot when I think about how to build resilience and challenge injustices, especially when things look so corrupt and horribly intended — or when people who should be allies see each other as combatants. But as I think about how we should resist manipulation and fight prejudice, I also think that it’s imperative to move away from simply relying on “good intentions.”

I don’t want to undermine those with good intentions, but I also don’t want good intentions to be a tool that can be used against people. So I want to think about how good intentions get embedded in various practices and the implications of how we view the different actors involved.

The Good Intentions of Media Literacy

When I penned my essay “Did Media Literacy Backfire?”, I wanted to ask those who were committed to media literacy to think about how their good intentions — situated in a broader cultural context — might not play out as they would like. Folks who critiqued my essay on media literacy pushed back in all sorts of ways, both online and off. Many made me think, but some also reminded me that my way of writing was off-putting. I was accused of using the question “Did media literacy backfire?” to stoke clicks.Some snarkily challenged my suggestion that media literacy was even meaningfully in existence, asked me to be specific about which instantiations I meant (because I used the phrase “standard implementations”), and otherwise pushed for the need to double down on “good” or “high quality” media literacy. The reality is that I’m a huge proponent of their good intentions — and have long shared them, but I wrote this piece because I’m worried that good intentions can backfire.

While I was researching youth culture, I never set out to understand what curricula teachers used in the classroom. I wasn’t there to assess the quality of the teachers or the efficacy of their formal educational approaches. I simply wanted to understand what students heard and how they incorporated the lessons they received into their lives. Although the teens that I met had a lot of choice words to offer about their teachers, I’ve always assumed that most teachers entered the profession with the best of intentions, even if their students couldn’t see that. But I spent my days listening to students’ frustrations and misperceptions of the messages teachers offered.

I’ve never met an educator who thinks that the process of educating is easy or formulaic. (Heck, this is why most educators roll their eyes when they hear talk of computerized systems that can educate better than teachers.) So why do we assume that well-intended classroom lessons — or even well-designed curricula — might not play out as we imagine? This isn’t simply about the efficacy of the lesson or the skill of the teacher, but the cultural context in which these conversations occur.

In many communities in which I’ve done research, the authority of teachers is often questioned. Nowhere is this more painfully visible than when well-intended highly educated (often white) teachers come to teach in poorer communities of color. Yet, how often are pedagogical interventions designed by researchers really taking into account the doubt that students and their parents have of these teachers? And how do we as educators and scholars grapple with how we might have made mistakes?

I’m not asking “Did Media Literacy Backfire?” to be a pain in the toosh, but to genuinely highlight how the ripple effects of good intentions may not play out as imagined on the ground for all sorts of reasons.

The Good Intentions of Engineers

From the outside, companies like Facebook and Google seem pretty evil to many people. They’re situated in a capitalist logic that many advocates and progressives despise. They’re opaque and they don’t engage the public in their decision-making processes, even when those decisions have huge implications for what people read and think. They’re extremely powerful and they’ve made a lot of people rich in an environment where financial inequality and instability is front and center. Primarily located in one small part of the country, they also seem like a monolithic beast.

As a result, it’s not surprising to me that many people assume that engineers and product designers have evil (or at least financially motivated) intentions. There’s an irony here because my experience is the opposite.Most product teams have painfully good intentions, shaped by utopic visions of how the ideal person would interact with the ideal system. Nothing is more painful than sitting through a product design session with design personae that have been plucked from a collection of clichés.

I’ve seen a lot of terribly naive product plans, with user experience mockups that lack any sense of how or why people might interact with a system in unexpected ways. I spent years tracking how people did unintended things with social media, such as the rise of “Fakesters,” or of teenagers who gamed Facebook’s system by inserting brand names into their posts, realizing that this would make their posts rise higher in the social network’s news feed. It has always boggled my mind how difficult it is for engineers and product designers to imagine how their systems would get gamed. I actually genuinely loved product work because I couldn’t help but think about how to break a system through unexpected social practices.

Most products and features that get released start with good intentions, but they too get munged by the system, framed by marketing plans, and manipulated by users. And then there’s the dance of chaos as companies seek to clean up PR messes (which often involves non-technical actors telling insane fictions about the product), patch bugs to prevent abuse, and throw bandaids on parts of the code that didn’t play out as intended. There’s a reason that no one can tell you exactly how Google’s search engine or Facebook’s news feed works. Sure, the PR folks will tell you that it’s proprietary code. But the ugly truth is that the code has been patched to smithereens to address countless types of manipulation and gamification(e.g., SEO to bots). It’s quaint to read the original “page rank” paper that Brin and Page wrote when they envisioned how a search engine could ideally work. That’s so not how the system works today.

The good intentions of engineers and product people, especially those embedded in large companies, are often doubted as sheen for a capitalist agenda. Yet, like many other well-intended actors, I often find that makers feel misunderstood and maligned, assumed to have evil thoughts. And I often think that when non-tech people start by assuming that they’re evil, we lose a significant opportunity to address problems.

The Good Intentions of Journalists

I’ve been harsh on journalists lately, mostly because I find it so infuriating that a profession that is dedicated to being a check to power could be so ill-equipped to be self-reflexive about its own practices.

Yet, I know that I’m being unfair. Their codes of conduct and idealistic visions of their profession help journalists and editors and publishers stay strong in an environment where they are accustomed to being attacked. It just kills me that the cultural of journalism makes those who have an important role to play unable to see how they can be manipulated at scale.

Sure, plenty of top-notch journalists are used to negotiating deception and avoidance. You gotta love a profession that persistently bangs its head against a wall of “no comment.” But journalism has grown up as an individual sport; a competition for leads and attention that can get fugly in the best of configurations. Time is rarely on a journalist’s side, just as nuance is rarely valued by editors. Trying to find “balance” in this ecosystem has always been a pipe dream, but objectivity is a shared hallucination that keeps well-intended journalists going.

Powerful actors have always tried to manipulate the news media, especially State actors. This is why the fourth estate is seen as so important in the American context. Yet, the game has changed, in part because of the distributed power of the masses. Social media marketers quickly figured out that manufacturing outrage and spectacle would give them a pathway to attention, attracting news media like bees to honey. Most folks rolled their eyes, watching as monied people played the same games as State actors. But what about the long tail? How do we grapple with the long tail? How should journalists respond to those who are hacking the attention economy?

I am genuinely struggling to figure out how journalists, editors, and news media should respond in an environment in which they are getting gamed.What I do know from 12-steps is that the first step is to admit that you have a problem. And we aren’t there yet. And sadly, that means that good intentions are getting gamed.

Developing the Hacker Mindset

I’m in awe of how many of the folks I vehemently disagree with are willing to align themselves with others they vehemently disagree with when they have a shared interest in the next step. Some conservative and hate groups are willing to be odd bedfellows because they’re willing to share tactics, even if they don’t share end goals. Many progressives can’t even imagine coming together with folks who have a slightly different vision, let alone a different end goal, to even imagine various tactics. Why is that?

My goal in writing these essays is not because I know the solutions to some of the most complex problems that we face — I don’t — but because I think that we need to start thinking about these puzzles sideways, upside down, and from non-Euclidean spaces. In short, I keep thinking that we need more well-intended folks to start thinking like hackers.

Think just as much about how you build an ideal system as how it might be corrupted, destroyed, manipulated, or gamed. Think about unintended consequences, not simply to stop a bad idea but to build resilience into the model.

As a developer, I always loved the notion of “extensibility” because it was an ideal of building a system that could take unimagined future development into consideration. Part of why I love the notion is that it’s bloody impossible to implement. Sure, I (poorly) comment my code and build object-oriented structures that would allow for some level of technical flexibility. But, at the end of the day, I’d always end up kicking myself for not imagining a particular use case in my original design and, as a result, doing a lot more band-aiding than I’d like to admit. The masters of software engineering extensibility are inspiring because they don’t just hold onto the task at hand, but have a vision for all sorts of different future directions that may never come into fruition. That thinking is so key to building anything, whether it be software or a campaign or a policy. And yet, it’s not a muscle that we train people to develop.

If we want to address some of the major challenges in civil society, we need the types of people who think 10 steps ahead in chess, imagine innovative ways of breaking things, and think with extensibility at their core. More importantly, we all need to develop that sensibility in ourselves. This is the hacker mindset.

This post was originally posted on Points. It builds off of a series of essays on topics affecting the public sphere written by folks at Data & Society. As expected, my earlier posts ruffled some feathers, and I’ve been trying to think about how to respond in a productive manner. This is my attempt.

Flickr Image: CC BY 2.0-licensed image by DaveBleasdale.

by zephoria at February 15, 2017 05:51 PM

February 14, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Hyperloop Law: Autonomy, Infrastructure, and Transportation Startups


featuring General Counsel of Hyperloop One, Marvin Ammori


The future of transportation may include Google's autonomous vehicles, Uber's flying cars, and Amazon's delivery drones--all bound together by a high-speed hyperloop backbone. You may not be able to take a hyperloop flight until at least 2020, but lawyers and governments are already working out the new legal framework necessary for a high-speed, safe, sustainable new network. Join the general counsel of Hyperloop One to learn more...

Parent Event

Berkman Klein Luncheon Series

Event Date

Feb 14 2017 12:00pm to Feb 14 2017 12:00pm
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus, Wasserstein Hall

This event is co-sponsored by Harvard Journal of Law & Technology and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

In 2013, Elon Musk proposed an "open source transportation concept" of levitating vehicles zooming passengers through vacuum tubes at 760 miles an hour. It would be weatherproof, energy-efficient, relatively inexpensive, have autonomous controls.Its impact on urban and inter-city transport could reshape economies and families. 

Since Musk's proposal, a company in Los Angeles, Hyperloop One, has secured 160 million in financing, hired 220 employees, and began engineering and testing to make the hyperloop concept a reality. But engineers aren't the company's only inventors. A hyperloop transport system is so different from an airplane, train, or bus that a new legal regime is necessary. Lawyers and government officials in the US, Dubai, and elsewhere have been working on creating a new framework that could govern the deployment of hyperloop systems. 

Hyperloop One General Counsel Marvin Ammori will discuss the challenges and opportunities for crafting this new legal framework.

About Marvin

As General Counsel of Hyperloop One, Marvin lead the legal team and served on the senior business leadership. Hyperloop One is working to make ultra-highspeed ground transportation a reality. The legal and business issues they deal with include infrastructure finance, procurement, regulatory, transactions, and everything else. Their team includes five lawyers.

Before joining Hyperloop One, Marvin spent over a decade representing top technology giants and startups concerning their most important legal issues. He led the pro-net neutrality coalitions. He advised Google in its antitrust investigation, Apple in its disagreement with the FBI over iPhone encryption, and many in the tech community to kill SOPA. From 2011 to 2015, he did this as the head of his own firm representing companies including Google, Apple, Dropbox, and SoftBank, and startups like OpenDNS and Layer. Before that, he represented advocacy groups, including leading the Comcast-BitTorrent case as general counsel of Free Press, which is among the most important litigations concerning Internet policy in the past two decades. In 2014-2015, he led the fight to Title II for net neutrality, organizing hundreds of companies and nonprofits, and helped secure a victory on appeal against administrative and first-impression constitutional challenges. 

Marvin has been named among Politico's 50 visionaries for 2015, Fast Company's 100 Most Creative in Business in 2012, a Washingtonian Magazine "Tech Titan" in 2015, and has also been profiled on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He has published in the Harvard Law Review, Foreign Affairs, and the New York Times, and appeared as an expert on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox, and testified before several government agencies around the world. 

A former law professor, Marvin has written on First Amendment theory. His article "First Amendment Architecture" sets out my primary arguments. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 2003, cum laude.



by candersen at February 14, 2017 05:30 PM

February 13, 2017

David Weinberger
Ricky Gervais's "Life on the Road": Review

[NO SPOILERS YET] Ricky Gervais’ new TV movie, Life on the Road, now on Netflix, suffers from the sort of mortifying errors committed by its protagonist, David Brent, the manager of The Office with whom the movie catches us up.

[TINY SPOILERS THAT WON’T SPOIL ANYTHING] The movie is amusing in some of the main ways the original The Office was. David Brent is an unself-knowing narcissist surrounded by people who see through him. It lacks the utterly charming office romance between Tim and Dawn (Jim and Pam in the US version). It lacks any other villain than Brent, unlike Gareth in the original (Dwight in the US version). It lacks the satire of office life, offering instead a satire of self-funded, doomed rock tour by an unknown, pudgy, middle-aged man. That’s not a thing, so you can’t really satirize it.

Still, Gervais is great as Brent, having honed uncomfortable self-presentation to an art, complete with a squealing giggle that alerts us to his inability to be ashamed of himself. And Gervais sings surprisingly well.

[SPOILERS] But then it ends suddenly with Brent being accepted by his band, by the office where he’s been working as a bathroom-supply salesperson, and by a woman. Nothing prepares us for this except that it’s the end of the movie and Gervais wants to give his character some peace and dignity. It’s some extraordinarily sloppy writing.

Worse, the ending seems way too close to what Gervais himself seems to want. Like Brent, he wants to be taken seriously as a musician and singer, except that Gervais’s songs are self-knowingly bad, in the style of Spinal Tap except racist. Still, you leave the movie surprised that he’s that good a singer and that the songs are quite good as comic songs. Brent-Gervais has achieved his goal.

Likewise, you leave thinking that Gervais has given us a happy ending because he, Gervais, wants to be liked, just as Brent does. It’s not the angry fuck-the-hicks sort of attitude Gervais exhibited during and immediately after The Office.

And you leave thinking that, like Brent, Gervais really wants to carry the show solely on his shoulders. The Office was an ensemble performance with some fantastic acting by Martin Freeman (!) as Tim and Lucy Davis as Dawn, as well as by Gervais. Life on the Road only cares about one character, as if Gervais wanted to prove he could do it all by his lonesome. But he can’t.

Ricky Gervais pulls his punches in this, not for the first time. Let Ricky be Ricky. Or, more exactly, Let Ricky be David.

The post Ricky Gervais's "Life on the Road": Review appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at February 13, 2017 09:46 PM

February 11, 2017

Miriam Meckel
Der nächste Deal ist der letzte

Griechenland verlangt erneut nach Rettung. Lässt sich Berlin wieder auf einen Deal ein, ist das Verrat an der Bevölkerung und an Europa.

Wer es 25 Jahre miteinander ausgehalten hat, der wird ja wohl auch noch den Rest schaffen. Das gilt vielleicht für menschliche Beziehungen, nicht aber zwangsläufig auch für wirtschaftliche oder gar politische. Die Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union haben in dieser Woche für den Vertrag von Maastricht Silberhochzeit gefeiert. Aber die Stimmung ist wie nach einer jahrelangen, vergebens geführten Paartherapie. Keiner hat mehr richtig Bock auf den anderen. Gemeinsamkeit ist sexyer als Alleingang? Die EU entfaltet ihre Anziehungskraft seit Jahren – wenn überhaupt – nur mehr im Kopf. Ohne Bauch und Herz aber wird Vereinigung zur abstrakten Gedankengymnastik.

Es scheint nur oberflächlich als Widerspruch, dass nun einer Hoffnungsträger sein soll, der sein politisches Leben bislang in der Brüsseler Blase verbracht hatte: Martin Schulz, fast 25 Jahre Mitglied im Europäischen Parlament und fünf Jahre dessen Präsident. Auf Schulz ruht mehr als die Zukunft der SPD. In ihm steckt die Hoffnung für eine Wiederbelebung europäischer Paarbeziehungen.

Das Gedankenspiel ist einfach: Sollte Schulz gegen Angela Merkel gewinnen (erste Umfragen sehen beide gleichauf), ist das nur ein Schritt. Zuvor könnte Emmanuel Macron in Frankreich das Rennen um die Präsidentschaft machen. Und dann kommt womöglich auch Italiens Ex-Premier Matteo Renzi wieder ans Ruder. Der flotte europäische Dreier würde der EU-Fiskal- und -Haushaltspolitik eine Wende inmitten der Schussfahrt verordnen: mehr öffentliche Investitionen, (noch) mehr Ausnahmeregeln bei den Stabilitätskriterien, Schluss mit Sparsamkeit und Haushaltsdisziplin. Solch ein Ende der Enthaltsamkeit löst in manch einem südeuropäischen Land schon wilde Träume aus.

Es wäre besser, dieses Szenario konsequent zu durchdenken, als es mit selbstgewisser Regierungshand beiseite zu wischen. Der Prüfstein weiterer Bindung liegt nämlich schon wieder vor unserer Tür. Im Juli muss Griechenland rund sieben Milliarden Euro an Krediten zurückzahlen. Das wird nur gelingen, wenn jemand den Griechen das Geld vorher zusteckt. Und darüber ist ein heftiger Streit zwischen EU und dem Internationalen Währungsfonds (IWF) entbrannt. Der IWF soll sich am dritten Rettungspaket für Griechenland über bis zu 86 Milliarden Euro beteiligen. Dessen aktuelle Einschätzung zu Griechenland lautet aber: nicht satisfaktionsfähig. Zu hohe Schuldenlasten und ein zu hoch angesetzter erwarteter Primärüberschuss ab 2018.

Wenn der IWF ausbüxt, müsste die Bundesregierung die weiteren Griechenlandhilfen durch den Bundestag absegnen lassen. Ein riskantes Spiel, das man lieber auf die Zeit nach der Bundestagswahl verschieben möchte. Ein klares Bekenntnis zum Schuldenschnitt oder eine Trennung auf Zeit – Deutschland muss sich entscheiden. Geschieht das nicht, entscheidet das Volk mit Liebesentzug. Der nächste Deal wird dann unversöhnlich enden – für Angela Merkel und die EU.

by Miriam Meckel at February 11, 2017 02:00 PM

February 10, 2017

Justin Reich
Use Design Thinking to Create an Opportunity to Learn
Whether the goal is design thinking or deeper learning, ensuring that all teachers and administrators have an opportunity to learn may be most critical for long-term success.

by Beth Holland at February 10, 2017 11:01 PM

February 08, 2017

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
Kenyan Court Knocks Down Criminal Defamation, Safeguards Freedom of Expression

Efforts to create more space for free expression in Africa have been strengthened by the Kenyan Judiciary. In the case of Jacqueline Okuta & Anor vs. AG & Others, the High Court of Kenya on 6 of February 2017 annulled section 194 of the Penal Code that provides for the offence of criminal defamation. This decision is significant in safeguarding the fundamental rights of Kenyans, particularly in light of the forthcoming general elections. It curtails the misuse of criminal law provisions by political figures to curtail speech they consider unfavorable. Journalists especially have been victims of criminal defamation sanctions for exposing corruption and unlawful activities of public officials.

The harmful and undesirable consequences of criminalizing defamation, viz. the chilling possibilities of arrest, detention and two years’ imprisonment, are manifestly excessive in their effect and unjustifiable in a modern democratic society,” Judge Mativo of the High Court of Kenya pronounced in his judgment.

The Judge noted that upon promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya in 2010, it was expected that certain provisions in Kenya’s existing laws were to be amended to align them to the letter and spirit of the Constitution. However, seven years later, this expectation had not been met. Relying on regional and international standards on freedom of expression, the Court concluded that criminal defamation is unconstitutional, reasoning that “the chilling effect of criminalizing defamation is exacerbated by the maximum punishment of two years’ imprisonment imposable for any contravention which is clearly excessive and patently disproportionate for the purpose of suppressing objectionable or opprobrious statements. The Court further held that imprisonment as a sanction was not “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society” and that the availability of civil remedies afforded sufficient redress for injury to one’s reputation.

Criminal defamation continues to prominently feature in Penal Codes of African countries especially in East Africa. The High Court of Kenya is the first court in the region to declare that criminal defamation violates the right to freedom of expression.

The case in Kenya arose from the indictment of two petitioners, Jacqueline Okuta and Jackson Njeru, who were each charged with criminal defamation for allegedly publishing defamatory statements on their Facebook account “Buyer beware-Kenya.” The case complaint was based on a post in which the complainants were pictured and named as being wanted for illegal possession and handling of property, and misuse of a telecommunication device. The petitioners then sought to challenge section 194 of the Penal Code before the Constitutional and Human Rights division of the High Court, arguing that the provision was unconstitutional and violated the right to freedom of expression.

A key question is what impact the decision from Kenya’s High Court will have in East Africa, and possibly in the wider African region. The judgment follows and references the landmark decision of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the case of Lohé Issa Konaté v. Burkina Faso, but goes further than that Court’s finding that criminal defamation laws should only be used as a last resort when there is a serious threat to the enjoyment of other human rights in exceptional circumstances such as hate speech and incitement. It does so by finding that “any continued enforcement of criminal defamation laws by the government would be a violation of the fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right to the freedom of expression.”

This corresponds with the minority dissenting opinion in the African Court case, in which 4 of the 10-judge bench found that the “’State’s duty to enforce collective security, morality and common interest’ cannot justify the criminalization of expression of speech by way of criminal defamation laws of any kind, whether punishable by incarceration or not. Access to civil action, civil sanctions together with specifically defined crimes for safeguarding national security, public peace and the common interest should be sufficient.”

The Kenyan case highlights the potential of strategic litigation as an effective tool in bringing about social change where lobbying efforts have failed. It reinforces the efforts of other national courts in Africa like Zimbabwe that have decriminalized defamation twice, once under its previous and once under its current constitution. Other countries in the region, such as Ghana, abolished criminal defamation laws through law reform. This is in line with the continental campaign to decriminalize defamation by the African Union Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Efforts to do the same in East Africa have so far been without result, especially where countries like Uganda previously upheld the constitutionality of criminal defamation laws on grounds that they are “relevant” in protecting reputation.

A challenge to Uganda’s criminal defamation laws is currently pending before the East African Court of Justice. The case, brought on behalf of the now-deceased Ugandan journalist Ronald Ssembuusi, argues that his conviction to a prison sentence of one year was in violation of Uganda’s obligations under the East African Community Treaty. The matter has garnered much interest from the international community, with not only the African Union and United Nations Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression having requested to make amicus submissions in the case, but also a coalition of 20 African and international NGOs. It will be interesting to see what impact the Kenyan judgment might have on the case. If the East African Court rules in favor of Ssembuusi, the judgment will positively impact all East African Community countries, which include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda Burundi and South Sudan.

Nani Jansen Reventlow is a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center and an Associate Tenant at Doughty Street Chambers.  She serves as an Advisor to the Cyberlaw Clinic and was lead counsel on the Konaté case. Catherine Anite is a human rights lawyer from Uganda and part of the legal team litigating the Ssembuusi case.


by Nani Jansen Reventlow and Catherine Anite at February 08, 2017 09:27 PM

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