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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Christopher Hoadley on Indigenous Technology Design and its Challenges

While many well meaning efforts bring technology design to bear on problems in developing economies, such as Google People Finder, One Laptop Per Child, etc., fewer efforts involve local participants or settings in the design process.

In this talk, Dr. Chris Hoadley — associate professor and director of the Educational Communications and Technology program at New York University — shares work on collaboration with youth, NGOs, and technologists in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and highlights some of the challenges in trying to create indigenous design capacity.

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News and Entertainment in the Digital Age: A Vast Wasteland Revisited

In 1961, Newt Minow — then Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission — delivered a landmark speech to the National Association of Broadcasters on “Television and the Public Interest,” in which he described television programming as a "vast wasteland" and advocated for public interest programming. Fifty years later Newt Minow — and a slate of distinguished guests — reflect upon the changed landscape of television and dramatic shifts in the broader media ecosystem, and identify lessons learned that may help to offer insight into the next 50 years of media and public discourse.

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iLaw 2011: Minds For Sale

Jonathan Zittrain delivers one of his most thorough and provocative discussions on the concepts of ubiquitous human computing and distributed work. Encompassing phenomena from gamification, CAPCHAs and Mechanical Turk to the X Prize, he examines the consequences of crowdsourcing, economically, legally and socially, reviews the development and present state of the practice, and invites the audience — in person and on the net — to take part in its possible futures.

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iLaw 2011: Digital Libraries, Archives, and Rights Registries

Charlie Nesson moderates this thorough session on the future of knowledge, how it is stored and how it is shared. Practical use cases such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) in addition to other efforts to create registries for public domain works will be discussed, building upon and further illustrating previous thematic areas and pillar sessions, including copyright, user innovation, and free and fair use. Central considerations and driving questions regarding underlying technical architecture, legal challenges, legal support, and liability will inform the conversation.


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Sascha Meinrath on How Geeks, Wonks, & Field Operatives are Fighting to Transform Inside-the-Beltway Policy-Making

Since its founding in 2009, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative (OTI) has been a catalyst for innovative technology and telecom interventions. OTI is working in Philadelphia and Detroit to build community wireless networks in areas underserved by broadband providers. They also coordinate (M-Lab), an open, distributed, global platform for Internet measurement tools, and the Commotion Mesh Wireless Project (a.k.a., "Internet-in-a-Suitcase") that has gained notoriety during the Arab Spring.

Sascha Meinrath — Director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative and Research Director of the Foundation's Wireless Future Program — discusses the work of the OTI, and challenges facing the spread of communications technology.

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Derek Bambauer & Oliver Day on The Hacker's Aegis - Protecting Hackers From Lawyers

Research on software security vulnerabilities is a valuable example of peer production. However, hackers are often threatened with intellectual property lawsuits by companies who want to keep flaws secret. Oliver Day — a senior security researcher for Internet titan Akamai — and Derek Bambauer — a professor of internet law at Brooklyn Law School — propose a liability shield for security research to improve cybersecurity in a world dependent on cloud computing and mobile platforms.

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Michele Martinez Campbell on the Internet and the Commerce Clause through the Prism of the Federal Kidnapping Act

Should kidnapping be a federal crime if use of the Internet or other telecommunications facilities is central to the crime's execution? Even if the physical act itself takes place within the borders of a single state?

Michele Martinez Campbell — Assistant Professor of Law at Vermont Law School (and accomplished crime novelist — presents case studies that illuminate a uniquely 21st century legal question about federalism, technology and criminal law.

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Cultivating New voices, Approaches, and Audiences for national — and international — reporting

This conversation was inspired by Berkman Fellow Persephone Miel, whose work focused on how compelling narrative and context for international stories could make unfamiliar international news more accessible to American and global audiences. Her efforts to support and promote talented local, non-US journalists whose work has the potential for global impact, but who need to overcome significant obstacles to succeed, are continued through a fellowship established in her honor by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, in partnership with Internews.

Journalists Fatima Tlisova (Voice of America) and Pulitzer Prize winner Dele Olojede join Ethan Zuckerman (Berkman Center/Global Voices), Colin Maclay (Berkman Center), Ivan Sigal (Global Voices), Jon Sawyer (Pulitzer Center) and the Miel family for a discussion and reflection on these questions, and on Persephone's work and the journalistic values she championed.

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Latanya Sweeney on Privacy Rethinks and the Example of Privacy-Preserving Marketplaces

Societal demands to share large-scale collections of detailed personal information are driving new directions for privacy in data architectures. Based on prior research, Latanya Sweeney — Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science, Technology and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University and founder and director of the Data Privacy Lab — discusses the privacy-preserving marketplace paradigm, which seeks to design data sharing arrangements as markets that must insulate or compensate data subjects for economic harms.


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Glenn Otis Brown on Bots, Mobs, Geeks: The new separation of powers / Top Secret, XXX, Private, All Rights Reserved

Glenn Otis Brown — Director of Business Development for Twitter in New York, and an alum of Google, YouTube, Creative Commons, and the Berkman Center among others — presents on two topics.

1) Bots, Mobs, Geeks: The new separation of powers

Are we be ruled by robots? The mob? Technocrats? Yes, yes, and yes. The question is not if, but how -- and how we should prevent any one of the three from taking over.

2) Top Secret, XXX, Private, All Rights Reserved

Confidentiality, content regulation, privacy, and copyright are all asking the same question: Who should have access to what kind of expression, and when? Why, then, do we continue talk about them as separate subjects? And what would happen if we approached them as part of a single, unified set of rules? Should organizations like Creative Commons move into offering "privacy licenses"? What can the music industry teach governments about Wikileaks? What can the CIA learn from YouTube?

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Kate Hennessy on Ethnographies of Access, Ownership, and Collaboration in the Virtual Museum

Museums and academic institutions are rapidly digitizing their ethnographic collections to make them accessible to the public and to communities from which they originated. These practices amplify the public nature of institutional collections, create opportunities for re-thinking how collections should be shared online, and help merge global heritage policies and institutional practices with Aboriginal paradigms of knowledge circulation, ethics, and control.

In this talk about collaboratively designed virtual museum projects with Dane-zaa and Inuvialuit communities in Canada, Kate Hennessy — Director of the Making Culture Lab at Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology — shows how access to digital collections can both facilitate the reclaiming of intellectual property rights and copyright of cultural heritage––including the right to restrict circulation of cultural property––and support the design of archives and virtual exhibits on Aboriginal terms.

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Nicole B. Ellison on the Benefits of Facebook “Friends”

New research co-authored by Nicole Ellison — Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at Michigan State University — attempts to identify specific Facebook-enabled behaviors that contribute to users’ ability to access diverse perspective, novel information, and social support.

In this talk Professor Ellison provides an overview of this research and explores the link between bridging social capital levels and Facebook-related factors such as time on site, the number of Facebook Friends, and a set of behaviors called “Cultivation of Social Resources.”

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Miriam Meckel on Drivers of Online Trust

User trust has been identified as a key success factor of online business: A user's willingness to provide personal data is a prerequisite for online transactions. But the qualities that communicate trustworthiness to a user are varied and difficult to parse.

Miriam Meckel — Professor for Corporate Communication at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, and the Managing Director of the Institute for Media and Communication Management — discusses the results of a recent study of users of online services, and identifies the nine core drivers of online trust.

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Seth Flaxman & Paul Schreiber on a Netflix for Voting

TurboVote is a service that makes voting by mail and voter registration as simple as renting a DVD with Netflix.

Seth Flaxman — Co-Founder and Executive Director of Democracy Works (and a former Berkman Center intern) — and Paul Schreiber — one of the software engineers behind Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign — talk about how, in two months for spare change, TurboVote built what the government couldn't do for any price, and discuss the project's legal, technical and philosophical issues

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Juan Carlos de Martin & Charles Nesson on Re-thinking the University's Role in Society in the Network Age

Universities are at a historical crossroads, for both structural, long-term processes, as well as for more recent developments, mostly due to political decisions and technology. In this talk Juan Carlos de Martin — coordinator of COMMUNIA, the European Thematic Network on the digital public domain — and Charles Nesson — Founder and Faculty Co-Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society — attempt to answer the question: How can we best develop the potential of an Internet-enabled University without losing sight of the University's ultimate goals in society?

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Erez Lieberman Aiden & Jean-Baptiste Michel on Culturomics: Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books

Construct a corpus of digitized texts containing about 4% of all books ever printed, and then analyze that corpus using advanced software and the investigatory curiosity of thousands, and you get something called "Culturomics," a field in which cultural trends are represented quantitatively.

In this talk Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel — co-founders of the Cultural Observatory at Harvard and Visiting Faculty at Google — show how culturomics can provide insights about fields as diverse as lexicography, the evolution of grammar, collective memory, the adoption of technology, the pursuit of fame, censorship, and historical epidemiology.

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Academic Uses of Social Media

Social media — from blogs to wikis to tweets — have become academic media, new means by which scholars communicate, collaborate, and teach. This distinguished panel of Harvard faculty discuss how they are adopting and adapting to new communication and networking tools

Panelists include:
Michael Sandel, Nancy Koehn, N. Gregory Mankiw, Harry R. Lewis, and John Palfrey.

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danah boyd on Embracing a Culture of Connectivity

Many young adults have incorporated social media into their daily practices, both academically and personally. They use these tools to connect, collaborate, communicate and create. In this talk, danah boyd — Social Media Researcher at Microsoft Research New England and affiliate of the Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society — examines the different social media practices common among young adults, clarifying both the cultural logic behind these everyday practices, and the role of social media in academia.

She is introduced by Judy Singer, Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity at Harvard University, and John Palfrey, Faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

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Radio Berkman 182: Fear of a Networked Fourth Estate

“Wikileaks” has become something of a neverending story. Coverage has branched out beyond the revelations of the documents allegedly leaked by Pfc. Bradley Manning in 2010, and on to ancillary territory: the flamboyant presence of founder Julian Assange; the legal propriety of Wikileaks’ actions; and the harsh treatment of Manning as a military detainee. These last two areas have garnered the attention of today’s guest. Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler recently co-authored a joint letter condemning the abuse of Bradley Manning that has since been signed by 295 scholars in the legal realm. He has also spoken out against efforts by government and private entities to stifle Wikileaks. While some have argued that facilitating the release of classified documents is unprecedented and perhaps illegal, Benkler has insisted that Wikileaks’ behavior is not only entirely constitutional, but also not exceptional. Moreover, he says, the private and governmental response to Wikileaks demonstrates an interesting insight into how networks do battle in the digital age. We sat down with Benkler this week to hear why.

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Radio Berkman 181: The Management (Rethinking Music VII)

In our last episode we talked about how artists can feel besieged from all sides. Fans, promoters, labels — when you're talented and famous everyone wants a piece of you. Today's guest is one of the most important people in a musician's life. He's the guy that keeps the vultures at bay, and makes sure the artists can focus on their music. He is The Manager. Michael McDonald is the founder of the boutique artist management company Mick Management, home to artists like John Mayer, Brett Dennen, and Ray LaMontagne. One of Michael's most popular artists, John Mayer, has gone from a small-time musician with a street team to a multi-platinum artist with an amazing fan interaction on twitter. John Mayer later abandoned Twitter (and nearly 4 million followers) when he felt it was too limiting. Michael talked with us about how artists experiment with promotion and social media (sometimes with mixed results), and how managers help deal with the demands placed on artists.

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Radio Berkman 180: No Such Thing as a Free Sample? (Rethinking Music VI)

Musicians often feel besieged on all sides. Promoters, labels, publishers, radio stations, and venues can make an artist feel exploited and overwhelmed. But in the digital age it might feel like fans and fellow musicians are taking a bite out of them, too. Second to piracy the phenomenon of fan created content is the greatest irritation to professional musicians and their stakeholders. From the upload of a song to YouTube (which involves almost no creative effort) to sampling, remixing or creating a fan-made music video — many artists feel fan initiatives show disrespect for their rights. And some are using the tools of PR and the law to make their voices heard. Jay Rosenthal is the General Counsel for the National Music Publishers' Association with decades of experience working with music industry organizations on the legal side, and representing artists like Salt n Pepa, Thievery Corporation, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. We talked about professional musicianship, and what kind of threat sampling and remix projects (like Girl Talk's "All Day" and DJ Danger Mouse's "Grey Album") poses to the music industry.

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Radio Berkman 179: The Googleplex

The story of Google's rise to prominence is one of consistently radical innovation. In the 1990s Google reinvented the model of the search engine — transforming it to an algorithmically-driven ranking system — and online advertising — making it possible for anyone to be an advertiser or advertisement host. Since then Google has taken on and dominated almost every other sector of the web by taking advantage of — and in many ways building — some of the web's greatest assets: speed, openness, and ability to take risks and experiment. That's according to Steven Levy, author of the new book In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives. But the story of Google is not just one of innovation. It's a coming of age story in which a young, idealistic startup is confronted with the harsh realities of growing into the world's third largest tech company: antitrust investigations, lawsuits, and a particularly tense standoff with the leadership of the largest country in the world. Steven Levy is a senior writer for Wired Magazine, and he joins us today to talk about his new best-selling profile of Google.

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Greg Elliott & Hugo Van Vuuren on the Communication Crises and the Evolution of Personal and Cultural Protocols

There is a full-scale "communication crisis" going on. Otherwise meaningful conversations and valuable data points are spread incoherently across various platforms. As communication channels increase in number and function, how will formerly society-wide notions of culture and protocol evolve to a personal and group level?

Greg Elliott — a master's student at the MIT Media Lab — and Hugo Van Vuuren — a Berkman fellow — present Protocol, a tool to help users communicate their personal communication preferences over multiple communication platforms (in beta at

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Radio Berkman 178: Whirled Music (Rethinking Music V)

From the wax cylinder to the MP3 tracking global trends in music has changed a great deal over time. In 1933, the Lomax family of ethnomusicologists and folklorists traipsed around the world with a 315-pound phonograph recorder to collect the music and stories of dozens of cultures. Today, it might be more useful to fire up YouTube or MySpace to see what bubbles up. But the digital music revolution has also made it easier for music to cross boundaries, for trends to spread, intermingle, and evolve much faster than ever before. And musical recordings, along with many of the tools used to share and create music online have often been victim to the impermanence of the web, making the job of the modern ethnomusicologist harder than ever. Ethan Zuckerman sat down with one such ethnomusicologist, Wayne Marshall — a blogger, DJ, and post-doctoral scholar at MIT working on a book about global youth culture and digital music — to talk about his work.

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Dan Gillmor on Mediactive: Using Media in a Networked Age

In an age of information overload too much of what we watch, hear and read is mistaken, deceitful or even dangerous. In a networked age, we are fully literate only if we are creators as well as active consumers, and the Internet has given us the tools to be both.

Dan Gillmor — founding director of the new Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship — discusses the themes of his recent book Mediactive: Using Media in a Networked Age, and demonstrates how the release of the book itself is an experiment in digital publishing.

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Doreen Tu on Cybercrimes in Taiwan

With the rapid growth of Internet usage in Taiwan over the last decade has come an increase in cybercrimes such as online fraud, copyright infringement, and access offenses.

In this talk Doreen Tu — prosecutor of Taipei District Court Prosecutors' Office — discusses Taiwan's experiences and challenges of combating cybercrime.

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Radio Berkman 177: Retweeting Robots

Strike another entry off the list of things robots CAN’T do. Geeks competed this past winter in Socialbots 2011 to create robots capable of forming relationships on Twitter in a competition organized by Tim Hwang and the Web Ecology Project. The winning bot was the one who could gain the most followers and have the most 140 character conversations with other human beings without intervention. And the bots actually WORKED. The real world applications for such technology are endless — non-profits, activist groups, e-commerce, the military — all could benefit from artificial intelligence to infiltrate social networks. And might be already…

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Alice Marwick on Celebrity, Publicity and Self-Branding in Web 2.0

In the mid-2000s, journalists and businesspeople heralded “Web 2.0” technologies such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook as signs of a new participatory era that would democratize journalism, entertainment, and politics. But user status and popularity has become a primary use of social media, maintaining hierarchy rather than diminishing it. In this talk Alice Marwick — a postdoctoral researcher in social media at Microsoft Research New England and a research affiliate at the Berkman Center — examines interactions between social media and social life in the San Francisco “tech scene” to show that Web 2.0 has become a key aspect of social hierarchy in technologically mediated communities.

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Radio Berkman 176: Label Success (Rethinking Music IV)

Did you ever wonder how artists become rock stars? Sure, talent is a big part of it. But behind almost every successful musician — from the platinum selling pop idol to the quirky regional artist who only sells records by the handful — you’ll probably find at least one person, if not a team of people working hard to make sure the business side of the music business stays going. And if you think that’s changed with the digital revolution, you’d be surprised. Sure, technology has made the recording process easier, and artists can connect directly with fans and promote shows easily through the web. But putting together a hit and sharing it with the world is hardly a solo effort. Today we sit down with two of the folks who help keep the music flowing. “Big” Jon Platt is President of EMI Music Publishing’s North American creative team, and responsible for signing Jay-Z among countless other chart-topping artists. Kim Buie is the Vice President of A&R for Lost Highway records out of Nashville, the home of artists like Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, and Tom Jones.