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Wednesday, May 20, 6:00 PM
Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St 2nd Floor Map
Dinner is provided but please RSVP to

The "Harvard-MIT-Yale Cyberscholar Working Group" is a forum for fellows and affiliates of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, Yale Law School Information Society Project, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School to discuss their ongoing research. Each session is focused on the peer review and discussion of current projects submitted by a presenter. Meeting alternatively at Harvard, MIT, Yale, the working group aims to expand the shared knowledge of young scholars by bringing together these preeminent centers of thought on issues confronting the information age. Discussion sessions are designed to facilitate advancements in the individual research of presenters and in turn encourage exposure among the participants to the multi-disciplinary features of the issues addressed by their own work.

Dinner is provided but please RSVP to


Aaron Shaw - Polanyi's Penguin? Commons-Based Industry in the Neoliberal Knowledge Economy

A renowned group of social and political theorists have argued that Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP) and the spread of non-rival informational goods could eliminate North-South inequalities in the knowledge-based economy (see, for example, Benkler 2006; Weber 2004). Some of them have even gone further to depict non-rival knowledge production as an oppositional response to Neoliberal Globalization consistent with Karl Polanyi's (1944) theory of “The Double Movement” and a “disembedded” market economy (Evans 2005; Jessop 2007; O'Riain 2006; Weber and Bussell 2005). In this talk, I trace the theoretical bases of these claims and revisit the relationship between CBPP and the market in the context of the global Information Technology industry. I argue that the logic of production underlying commons-based innovation strategies in the field of IT does not contradict ideologies of the free market. Building on the Polanyian critiques of global neoliberalism, I propose an alternate framework for assessing commons-based industry and commons-based development policies along the dimension of “embeddedness.”

Colleen Kaman - The World in the Network

The appearance of the Mosaic browser in 1994 marked a watershed moment for the Internet as a public object. This occurred at a moment when the network was in flux—being exposed to competitive business dynamics and becoming explicitly transnational and modularized as companies competed over features, services, and licenses. This project explores how competing ideas of access (laws and social norms), interface (navigation and place-building), and infrastructure (the tensions between what constituted “the Internet” as a network of services and as a singular global concept) have worked to create the global Internet as we know it today. Nowhere is this more evident than in the shifting metaphors and frames and technical debates that occurred during the mid 1990s, particularly with Carl Malamud’s yearlong 1996 Internet World Expo as well as select popular press and technical trade publications of the time.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen - Mundane Tools and Mobilizational Practices in Two U.S. Congressional Campaigns

The mobilizational potential of the Internet has been highlighted both by both social scientists and professional practitioners. A wide range of new tools have become ubiquitous in political campaigns—ranging from state-of-the-art websites to something as prosaic as email. But we still do not know what internet elements are most important for mobilizational practices. Based on participant-observation in two congressional campaigns in the United States, web research, interviews with professionals and activists, and analysis of secondary sources, I will argue that it is not campaign web sites as such, or the Internet in general, but specific “mundane mobilizational tools”, particular things like email and search, that are most intimately involved in mobilizational practices. Contrary to the specialized and emerging tools that have received the most scholarly, professional, and journalistic attention, mundane mobilizational tools are not designed specifically for political use, but instead derive their affordances from the fact that they (1) connect with existing infrastructures and communities, (2) allow distributed communication, and (3) are already familiar to users.


Aaron Shaw is a Research Fellow with the Cooperation Research Group at the Berkman Center and a Ph.D student in the Sociology Department at the University of California, Berkeley.    

Colleen Kaman is a master’s student in Comparative Media Studies and a researcher at the Center for Future Civic Media at MIT.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen is a Ph.D student in Communications at Columbia University.

Past Event
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 - Thursday, May 21, 2009
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

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