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I'm Chris Walsh, a 2L at Harvard Law in the CyberOne class, working on the materials for Week 11, "Open Access". I'm also a Student Fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center doing research on legal and policy aspects of human genetic engineering.


  • Biotech Law and Bioethics
  • Intellectual property (reform)
  • Free culture and open access
  • Machinima / gaming / RPGs
  • reading / writing fiction


  • neuroscience/genetics/cognitive science background
  • amateur machinimist
  • basic coding skillz (!l337)
  • if I think of anything else relevant, I'll post it

Relevant(?) Experience

  • Worked for Creative Commons as a legal intern this past summer, in the Science Commons division.
  • Lots of casual and academic discussions about the science and philosophy of minds

Ongoing Course Journal


Wiki is a great tool for organizing information – even using its hypertext nature for personal organization is useful, and its ability to grow on its users’ desire for creativity is a marvelous thing. The one weakness of wikis that I have observed is that it is very difficult to organize people with a tool that needs to be actively checked for updates. The email feature tries to harness a more passive mode of obtaining updates, but I don’t think it is common to sign up for email updates on wiki pages. I, for one, am concerned about being flooded with emails, and in other cases in giving out my email address.

I’m also a little bit concerned about vandals editing wikis. For a wiki that wants to be open, it seems that only obscurity or dedicated patrols can protect against this activity, or more subtle forms of corruption like commercially-motivated editing.

A couple of days later: A lot of the discussion on wikis seems to revolve around the anonymity of contribution. That's not something I've experienced in the wikis I've used, because they've all been tools for groups of people who already know each other. I think I will go find a wiki that interests me but is run by people I don't know so I can have the purely 'cyber' experience of interacting with people solely through a shared wiki.


I thought Scratch was both useful and elegant – I very much liked how deep information about types and nested statements were retained in the graphical representation. I had three issues that I think can be resolved. The first is that I didn’t see Boolean ‘or,’ ‘and,’ and ‘not’ functions, which would have been useful (I used nested if-else functions instead.) The second is that I would have very much enjoyed the ability to define new blocks, in scratch language or in another language. I thought they could be displayed in a ‘custom’ or ‘user’ panel, and defined just like sprites but with code that runs on the calling sprite when they are called. A lot of the value of programming languages is the ability to create ever more abstract functions for ease of coding, and I think people could accomplish more and develop a better grasp of the value of coding if this feature were available. The third and least important issue is that using the mouse can become onerous – it would be great to have an ability to write scratchspeak in text and translate it into blocks. I don’t know how much demand there will be for that, but I would appreciate it because I find the keyboard friendlier than the mouse, which is slower and often hurts my wrist after prolonged use.

In any event, having graphics, motion, collision detection, and ‘agency’ (the identities of sprites) pre-programmed into the system was very valuable in making a game, and I think the language is learnable by anyone with the motivation. In fact, some of the features that I felt were missing could be pitched as a reason to learn a traditional language.

  • nesson here: Chris, i'm having trouble playing your game. once i've entered my choices at the outset the map disaggregates in a way that seems not intended. am i doing something wrong?