This page features 15 years of conversations with leading cyber-scholars, entrepreneurs, activists, and policymakers as they explore topics such as: the factors that influence knowledge creation and dissemination in the digital age; the character of power as the worlds of governance, business, citizenship, and the media meet the Internet; and the opportunities, role, and limitations of new technologies in learning.

Most Berkman events, including conferences, luncheon series talks, and many meetings, are webcast then archived on this website.  Starting in 2015, webcasts are now archived on specific events pages and are no longer listed here.  Please consider this page an incomplete archive, while we transition how we display multimedia on our site. Many of these talks are also available on the Berkman Center's YouTube channel.

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metaLAB on Collections, Data, & Platforms for Participation in Museums & Other Institutions

Curarium is a collection of collections, an “animated archive,” designed to serve as a model for crowdsourcing annotation, curation, and augmentation of works within and beyond their respective collections. Curarium aims to construct sharable, media-rich stories and elaborate arguments about individual items as well as groups of items within a corpora.

The metaLab's Jeffrey Schnapp, Matthew Battles, and Pablo Barría Urenda describe the Curarium, and its first project to ingest Villa I Tatti’s Homeless Paintings of the Italian Renaissance collection, and build engagement with a wider audience to identify, classify, describe, and analyze the objects in the collection.

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Javier Bargas-Avila: Is Beautiful Really Usable?

Ever come across a product that looked beautiful but was awful to use? Or stumbled over a something that was ugly as hell but just did exactly what you wanted? Ever wondered how these factors work together, and how they influence the experiences we create?

Product usability and aesthetics are coexistent, but they are not identical.

In this talk Javier Bargas-Avila -- Senior User Experience Researcher & Manager at Google (Switzerland) -- shows how usability, aesthetics, and affect work together to create great -- or not so great -- experiences.

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RB 212: Richard Price on

In January of 2012 a British mathematician posted a humble invitation on his blog for fellow academics and researchers to join him in boycotting the prestigious research publisher Elsevier. Citing high prices, exploitative bundling practices, and lobbying efforts to prevent open access to research, the mathematician publicly denounced Elsevier and refused to do business with them in the future. Eighteen months later almost 14,000 researchers have joined the boycott of Elsevier, kicking off what's been referred to as the Academic Spring movement. But despite the effort, closed academic journals continue to be a frustration for professors and researchers in the digital age. Alternatives to closed journals are becoming more common, but growth is slow, and some fields are more welcoming to open access than others. Enter, a topic agnostic platform for researchers to share their work, connect with peers, and present an entire corpus of their research, completely open and completely free. Today's guest Richard Price launched after encountering his own frustrations with the world of closed publishing as a student and researcher of philosophy. He recently spoke with David Weinberger about how the platform is facing up against for-profit journals.

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RB211: Bruce Schneier on Surveillance and Security

Revelations of the NSA’s data surveillance efforts have raised serious questions about the ethics and necessity of violating privacy that have been bubbling under the surface for some time. Efforts to monitor communication are nothing new, but electronically mediated communication has increased the amount of information being shared, and the possibilities for eavesdropping are endless. But there's a trade off. People tolerate incursions into privacy for greater security or even convenience: health care, transportation, public safety, or any number of web utilities we use on a daily basis. Bruce Schneier is an author, Berkman fellow, and security technologist. He recently sat down with David Weinberger to talk about the positives and perils of privacy violation.

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Oliver Goodenough on Creating a Law School e-Curriculum

Legal practice and legal education both face disruptive change due to technology. Oliver R. Goodenough -- Berkman Fellow, Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School, and Adjunct Professor at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College -- discusses how technology is shaping legal practice, and how learning from this phenomenon should be a priority for any school looking to provide a useful education for the lawyers.

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Ethan Zuckerman on REWIRE: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection

We live in an age of connection, one that is accelerated by the Internet. This increasingly ubiquitous, immensely powerful technology often leads us to assume that as the number of people online grows, it inevitably leads to a smaller, more cosmopolitan world. We’ll understand more, we think. We’ll know more. We’ll engage more and share more with people from other cultures. In reality, it is easier to ship bottles of water from Fiji to Atlanta than it is to get news from Tokyo to New York.

Ethan Zuckerman -- Director of MIT's Center for Civic Media and cofounder of the citizen media community of Global Voices -- discusses his new book "REWIRE: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection," which explains why the technological ability to communicate with someone does not inevitably lead to increased human connection. Featured respondents include Judith Donath, Ann Marie Lipinski, and David Weinberger.

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Douglas Rushkoff on Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

The always-on, simultaneous society in which we have found ourselves has altered our relationship to culture, media, news, politics, economics, and power. We are living in a digital temporal landscape, but instead of exploiting its asynchronous biases, we are misguidedly attempting to extend the time-is-money agenda of the Industrial Age into the current era. The result is a disorienting and dehumanizing mess, where the zombie apocalypse is more comforting to imagine than more of the same. It needn't be this way.

Douglas Rushkoff -- teacher, documentarian, journalist, and author -- discusses insights from his recent book "Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now" with David Weinberger and a live audience at Harvard.

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Laura Amico on Jazz and Journalism: Reporting with Improvisation

Improvisation theories, drawn mostly from jazz, have increasingly been applied to entrepreneurship, new product development, and other fields, but rarely, if ever, to journalism. Yet journalism is an industry built on improvisation, from the actions of reporters out in the field, to the deadline work of editors and page designers. More than that, it is an industry that needs a new framework in order to survive.

Laura Amico -- a Nieman-Berkman fellow in journalism innovation and founder of Homicide Watch -- presents her preliminary ideas on improvisation theory and jazz in news development, arguing for a journalism framework that builds new culture out of improvisation.

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Dorothea Kleine on ICTs, Development and the Capabilities Approach

ICT for development (ICT4D) scholars claim that the internet, radio, and mobile phones can support development. Yet the dominant paradigm of development as economic growth is too limiting to understand the full potential of these technologies.

Dorothea Kleine translates Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach to development –- focusing on a pluralistic understanding of people’s values and the lives they want to lead -- into policy analysis and ethnographic work on technology adaptation to show how technologies are not neutral, but imbued with values that may or may not coincide with the values of users.

Dorothea Kleine -- Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and Director of the interdisciplinary ICT4D Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London -- discusses this and other insights from her recent book "Technologies of Choice: ICTs, Development and the Capabilities Approach."

She is joined by Nancy J. Hafkin -- formerly of the UN Economic Commission for Africa -- as a discussant.

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Timothy H. Edgar on Addressing Cyber Conflict While Protecting Privacy and Internet Freedom

What does talk of cyber war mean for our liberties? The United States has a new military command for cyberspace, with the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) as its commander. At the same time, the Secretary of State has announced that the “freedom to connect” is an aspect of fundamental human rights and has criticized countries that attempt to filter the Internet. Computer networks remain insecure, as sensitive data is leaked or stolen at increasing rates.

In this talk, Timothy H. Edgar -- visiting fellow at the Watson Institute and Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center -- examines the legal powers available to addressing network and computer insecurity and their impact on privacy, civil liberties, and other fundamental values.

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Justin Reich on Personalized Learning, Backpacks Full of Cash, Rockstar Teachers, and MOOC Madness

For decades, policymakers and futurists have heralded digital tools as essential to the the future of learning. Has the moment of disruptive transformational revolution finally arrived? If we are at a watershed moment, what futures are available to us?

Justin Reich -- visiting lecturer at MIT, Berkman fellow, and educational researcher -- discusses the intersection of technology, free-market ideology, and media hype in U.S. education reform.

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Jonathan Zittrain on Reconciling a Global Internet and Local Law

Location matters. Energy, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, natural hazards, traffic and transportation, crime and political instability, water quality and availability, climate change, migration and urbanization –- all key issues of the 21st century –- have a location component.

Jonathan Zittrain -- co-founder and director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society -- examines how a global internet circumvents, clashes with, and otherwise interacts with local policy frameworks in this talk delivered at the 2013 Conference of the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University.

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Daniel J. Caron & Eric Mechoulan on How to Archive for the Future

In order to secure our future, we need to know how to organize our past. If we want to preserve accessibility to valuable information about legal, political, social, and cultural discourses in an era of information abundance, it becomes vital to design carefully how we distinguish between noise and significant pieces of information. In this talk, Daniel J. Caron -- Librarian and Archivist of Canada -- and Eric Mechoulan -- professor at the Université de Montréal -- discuss the challenge and opportunities for archiving in the digital age.

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Work Here: Heather Whitney on Having a Voice in the Modern Workplace and Changing the World

Companies like Google and Twitter and Facebook are thought to provide some of the most envied work environments on the planet. But should employees be worried that their trust in their employer, so purposefully cultivated, has been built on promises that are more illusion than enforceable promise?

Some in the labor movement think these employers create nothing more than a mirage, that like the now-prohibited company unions of the past, these employers work to ensure workers feel a sense of ownership and voice but, when push comes to shove, have nothing the company cannot just as easily take away. Others, including many who work at these companies, disagree. In this talk, Heather Whitney -- Berkman fellow, Harvard J.D. candidate, and former Google Global Ethics and Compliance team employee -- outlines the debate and tries to make headway towards some answers.

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Derek Khanna on Disruptive Innovation in Washington, DC

SOPA, CISPA, CFAA, DMCA, mobile phone unlocking -- how can a complacent Congress address real and systemic problems related to technology and antiquated legislation? In this talk, Derek Khanna -- Yale Law Fellow with the Information Society Project and former House Republican Study Committee staffer (where he authored the widely read House Republican Study Committee report “Three Myths about Copyright Law”) -- presents a strategy for re-framing the policy questions, winning small battles, and developing a working coalition to achieve positive technology policy reforms in Congress.

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Bruce Schneier & Jonathan Zittrain on IT, Security, and Power

How does the Internet affect power? How does power affect the Internet?

Factors such as ubiquitous surveillance, the rise of cyberwar, ill-conceived laws and regulations on behalf of either government or corporate power, and a feudal model of security collide to create a circumstance in which those in power are using information technology to increase their power, at the expense of users.

Bruce Schneier—renowned security technologist and author—discusses these issues and more with the Berkman Center's Jonathan Zittrain.

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Anil Dash on The Web We Lost

In the past decade, we've seen an unprecedented rise of powerful social networks, connecting millions or even billions of people who can now communicate almost instantaneously. But many of the promises that were made by the creators of the earliest social networking technologies have gone unfulfilled. In this talk, Anil Dash—entrepreneur, technologist, and writer—takes a look at some of the unexamined costs, both cultural and social, of the way the web has evolved.

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Dan Gillmor on Permission Taken

Once, personal technology and the Internet meant that we didn't need permission to compute, communicate and innovate. Now, governments and tech companies are systematically restricting our liberties, and creating an online surveillance state. In many cases, however, we're letting it happen, by trading freedom for convenience and (often the illusion of) security. In this talk, Dan Gillmor—a founding director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication—suggests steps we can take as individuals to be more secure and free, and to take back the permissions we're losing.

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RB210: The New Knowledge Worker

As high school and college students transition into a knowledge economy they face both advantages and challenges with how they find information and engage with co-workers as teammates. As a recent study of US employers and recent college graduates discovered, some young hires are pretty good at finding out information online and through social networks, but experience significant difficulty with traditional methods of finding answers — going through bound reports, picking up the phone, or researching with groups. The study, How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace, was conducted by Project Information Literacy, and part of a series of studies supported by the Berkman Center and the Institute for Museum and Library Services to discover how research behavior is changing. David Weinberger spoke with Berkman Fellow and director of Project Information Literacy Alison Head about her research.

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Geoffrey Miller on the Smartphone Revolution in the Behavioral Sciences

5.9 billion people now use mobile phones, of which 1.1 billion are smartphones. With this kind of penetration smartphones will empower behavioral scientists to collect terabytes of ecologically valid data from vast global samples—easily, quickly, and remotely, transforming the behavioral sciences even more profoundly than PCs and brain imaging did. Smartphones can record where people are, what they are doing, and what they can see and hear. They can run interactive surveys, tests, and experiments through touch screens and Bluetooth peripherals.

Geoffrey Miller—Visiting Professor at the NYU Stern Business School—discusses what smartphones can do now, and will be able to do in the near future, as research platforms, and the new opportunities for understanding human nature and culture.

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Book Talk: Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Neil Cukier on Big Data - and its Dark Side

The power of big data—analyzing huge swaths of information to uncover insights and make predictions that were largely impossible in the past—is poised to transform business and society. Yet there is a dark side. Privacy is eroded like never before. And a new harm emerges: predictions about human behavior that may result in penalties prior to actual the infraction being committed. In this talk Viktor Mayer-Schönberger—Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford—and Kenneth Neil Cukier—Data Editor of The Economist—take a look at big data's power, the dangers it poses and how to address them.

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Eric Gordon on Transforming Local Civic Engagement Through an Online Game

The problem of civic engagement is often un­derstood as a lack of participation. People do not show up to meetings, they do not engage in their civic institutions or communicate with decision-makers.

The Engagement Game Lab has developed an online game called Community PlanIt—which has been played in six distinct planning processes ranging from urban planning in Detroit and Philadelphia to education planning in Boston—to explore how game mechanics and social interaction can move local civic processes beyond transactive participation towards a sustained, reflective mode of civic interaction.

In this talk, Eric Gordon—researcher, game designer, and Berkman Fellow—explores the unique affordances of Community PlanIt for building social trust, engaging youth in civic life, and developing shared local narratives.

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Jon Penney on Internet Censorship and the Remembrance of Infowars Past

With Internet censorship on the rise around the world, organizations and researchers have developed and distributed a variety of tools to assist Internet users to both monitor and circumvent such censorship.

In this talk, Jon Penney—Research Fellow at the Citizen Lab and Berkman Fellow—examines some of the international law and politics of such censorship resistance activities through three case studies involving past global communications censorship and information conflicts—telegraph cable cutting and suppression, high frequency radio jamming, and direct broadcast satellite blocking—and the world community’s response to these conflicts.

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Ruha Devanesan on Thoughts On The Fallout from Kony 2012

On March 5th, 2012, the American nonprofit, Invisible Children, published a video called "Kony 2012" on the social video-sharing network, Youtube. Within six days the video was dubbed the “most viral video in history,” beating out pop artists Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Beyonce’s music videos in how quickly it hit 100 million views.

In this talk Ruha Devanesan — Executive Director of the Internet Bar Organization and Berkman Fellow — explores thoughts on the successes and failures of the initial Kony 2012 campaign, and the way in which Invisible Children has responded to criticism and adapted its messaging to ask what lessons can be learned by the human rights advocacy community from Kony 2012 and Invisible Children's subsequent actions.

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Jenna Burrell on Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafes of Urban Ghana

Ghana, a small country on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, is the size of Oregon. Its entire population is only double that of New York City. Yet what is unfolding there matters to the future of the Internet.

In this talk, Jenna Burrell — Assistant Professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley — draws from a 6-year period of ethnographic research (2004-2010) on youth in Accra’s Internet cafes — where the primary activity was cultivating relationships with foreigners in chat rooms and dating sites as these users sought to enact a more cosmopolitan self — and considers how network security and network administration are shaped not simply by an impersonal technical logic or even commercial interests, but also by cultural biases and parochialism that violate, perhaps unwittingly, these early ideals of the Internet.

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Is School Enough?

In what ways do we reward the authentic learning and work that young people do that is not validated and evaluated by our educational institutions? In this highly connected world that is powered by what we need when we need it, is school really enough?

Berkman Fellow and Engagement Game Lab director Eric Gordon leads a panel discussion on lessons learned about how youth are experiencing and pursuing education from the new documentary "Is School Enough?," including Urs Gasser (Berkman Center director), Sandra Cortesi (Youth & Media Lab lead fellow), and Reynol Junco (Berkman fellow), along with Sierra Goldstein (a student featured in the documentary) and the film's director Stephen Brown.

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Molly Sauter: “LOIC Will Tear Us Apart”—The Impact of Tool Design and Media Portrayals in the Success of Activist DDOS Actions

Activist Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) actions such as Anonymous' "Operation Payback" owe their success to the role of tool design and media coverage.

Through a close reading of changes in tool interface and functionality over several iterations, Molly Sauter—Berkman Center fellow and graduate student in Comparative Media Studies at MIT—considers the evolution of the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) DDoS tool from an inwardly-focused community tool to one which engaged with a larger population. She also demonstrates how Anonymous helped reframe DDoS actions from a tool of direct action to a tool of media manipulation and identity construction.

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David Wertime on Using the Social Web to Gauge Grassroots Sentiment in China

In what ways is the Chinese Internet a better source for grassroots Chinese sentiment than traditional quotes and sources? In what ways is it worse? More broadly, what best practices can and should journalists use when mining social media for sentiment?

David Wertime—co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation, an English-language online magazine that synthesizes and analyzes Chinese social media—discusses how his team analyzes Chinese language social media to discern trends in grassroots sentiment.