Jamaican music-making practices present an interesting case study in the relationship between culture, copyright law, technology and power. In this talk Larisa Mann — a DJ, journalist, and student of Berkeley Law School's Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program — shows how the street dance, the explosively creative heart of Jamaican musical practice, suggests several ways that technology can help or hinder people currently excluded from formal systems of power.
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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Dr. Sasha Costanza-Chock — Berkman Fellow and Assistant Professor of Civic Media at MIT — introduces the theory of transmedia mobilization and invites us to rethink the relationship between social movements and the media opportunity structure. Based on five years of research within the immigrant rights movement in Los Angeles, the theory of transmedia mobilization involves engaging the social base of the movement in participatory media making practices across multiple platforms. This marks a transition in the role of social movement communicators from one of primarily content creation to aggregation, curation, remix, and recirculation of rich media texts through networked movement formations.
The Internet is not as wild and ungoverned as we might have naively assumed back at its conception. But overall, no single state, firm, or institution in the world has as much power over Web-based activity as Google does. Is Google's dominance the best situation for the future of our information ecosystem?
Siva Vaidhyanathan — professor of media studies at the University of Virginia — discusses key points from his most recent book "The Googlization of Everything (and Why We Should Be Worried)."
How are online and offline political activities linked? Berkman Fellows Eszter Hargittai and Aaron Shaw collected data soon after the 2008 presidential elections on a diverse group of young adults from Obama's home city of Chicago. In this presentation Hargittai and Shaw look at the relationship of online and offline political engagement based on this data, and consider the relative importance of numerous factors in who was more or less likely to vote and engage in other types of political action.
Information and Communications Technologies are powerful tools for shaping people’s everyday lives, but understandings of development differ and too often remain implicit and removed from participatory processes involving the intended users.
In this talk Dorothea Kleine — Lecturer in Development Geography at the UNESCO Chair/Centre in ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London — explores potential technological and process innovations which could lead to more participatory decision-making on policy and technology design — an area where all countries can be classified as “developing.”
Technology has buried us in an avalanche of numbers and graphs and charts, many of which claim to present the truth about important issues. At the same time, our personal facility with numbers has diminished, leaving us at the mercy of quantitative reasoning and presentation that is often wrong and sometimes not disinterested.
Brian Kernighan — author, Berkman Fellow, and Computer Science Professor at Princeton — discusses the idea of numeracy: how to assess the numbers we are presented with every day, and how to produce sensible numbers of our own.
Lewis Hyde — Berkman Center Faculty Associate & Professor at Kenyon College — discusses his new book, "Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership." Robert Darnton — Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard — responds.
This event was co-hosted with the Humanities Center at Harvard University.
The various trends known as cloud computing have spawned serious critiques about vendors' reliability, security, privacy, and liability. In this talk, Andy Oram — editor at O'Reilly Media — melds cloud computing with the principles of free and open source software to find solutions or mitigating factors for the concerns about cloud computing, and suggests a comprehensive architectural approach for the cloud.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is an increasingly common Internet phenomenon capable of silencing Internet speech, usually for a brief interval but occasionally for longer.
A recent paper released by the Berkman Center sheds light on DDoS attacks on independent media and human rights organizations, seeking to understand the nature and frequency of these attacks, their efficacy, and the responses available to sites under attack.
Co-authors Ethan Zuckerman, Hal Roberts, and Jillian C. York discuss the recently released report: "Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites."
On the occasion of his appointment as the Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law, John Palfrey delivers a lecture proposing a path toward a new legal information environment that is predominantly digital in nature.
A new, digitally optimized legal information environment can be the key to a world of improvements, but such a revolution in information can also carry risks.
Here, Professor Palfrey discusses the benefits, risks, and obstacles of facing a new system of legal information.
Tim Wu is a policy advocate, a professor at Columbia Law School, and the chairman of media reform organization Free Press. Wu was recognized in 2006 as one of 50 leaders in science and technology by Scientific American magazine, and in 2007 Wu was listed as one of Harvard's 100 most influential graduates by 02138 magazine.
Here he discusses themes and ideas from his most recent book "The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires."
In a few short years, app developers have already changed music's role in our lives with new solutions for music discovery and recommendation, blog and news aggregators, music games, location-based listening, interactive remix apps, social music sharing, and countless other new music experiences.
However, most music application developers are locked out of the commercial music industry, unable to navigate the licensing maze, or to hire one of a few very well-connected deal makers necessary to launch a licensed service comprised of the same popular music available to larger players.
Jim Lucchese — CEO of Echo Nest and a former music lawyer — discusses the specific needs and vast potential of the growing music app development community, citing examples of new and innovative music applications, illuminating the licensing challenges holding back innovation in music, and offering a new way forward: the use of open developer APIs to forge a stronger digital music industry.
Public culture is being remade in the wake of user-generated content. The ever curious category of "world music" is a case study in how culture has been changed by the proliferation of music and video production software and the connective possibilities of the web. With these innovations, a multinational network of grassroots producers, DJs, and bloggers are able to renegotiate and redefine the term category.
In this talk Wayne Marshall — an ethnomusicologist, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT, and DJ — discusses how the bottom-up revision of world music can be seen as a valuable development, though queasy connections with its earlier incarnation, also persist.
The real challenge of community calendaring isn't technical. It's conceptual. Most people don't know how they could (or why they should) be the authoritative publishers of their own data. This comes from a lack of understanding of some of basic concepts of computing, including:
The pub/sub communication pattern
Indirection ("pass-by-reference" vs "pass-by-value")
Structured versus unstructured data
Along with reading, writing, and arithmetic, these "Fourth R" principles will empower an informed and engaged 21st-century citizenry. As Jeannette Wing argues in her computational thinking manifesto, computer and information scientists are no longer the only ones who need to understand and apply these principles.
Jon Udell—senior technical evangelist for Microsoft—draws from the experience of developing elmcity—a project for publishing community calendar events in a simple, structured, subscribable format—to explore Fourth R principles, why they're hard for most people to understand, how we can teach them, and why we should.
In order to support youth in a community, who needs to communicate what information to whom, through which media? Which barriers are in the way of such communication, and how might these barriers be overcome? And what are the devil(s) in the details of just “adding tech”?
In the OneVille Project, students, teachers, parents, mentors, techies, and researchers are co-designing and pilot-testing a toolbox of open source “community communication tools” supporting students individually, across schools, and citywide.
Mica Pollock—an anthropologist of education and Somerville parent—shares her early thoughts on this collective effort to understand and improve a city’s ecosystem of communications.
We are witnessing escalating evidence of human destabilization of the climate and biodiversity loss. In the sustainability community, both activists and practitioners are increasingly turning to the internet to foster new lifestyles, consumption patterns and ways of producing. There has been an explosion of web-enabled innovations around consumption sharing and extra-market exchange in order to reduce footprint.
In this talk Juliet Schor—Professor of Sociology at Boston College and author of the new book "Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth"— discusses these innovations, highlighting cutting-edge examples where peer production and open-source practices accelerate the spread of sustainable practices in agriculture, consumption and manufacturing.
As more and more content moves into the cloud libraries are decreasingly the single place to go to find the material you need for your research (except for rare books and special collections). But libraries know a huge amount about their contents. This metadata is becoming even more valuable as research moves online, since now it can be deployed to help scholars and researchers discover, understand, and share what they need to know. The co-directors of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School—Kim Dulin and David Weinberger—along with members of the Lab will demonstrate their lead project (ShelfLife) and talk about the Lab's proposed multi-library metadata server (LibraryCloud).
Barbara van Schewick—Associate Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, an Associate Professor (by courtesy) of Electrical Engineering at Stanford’s Department of Electrical Engineering and the Director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society—discusses her new book, Internet Architecture and Innovation.
This book analyzes how the Internet's internal structure, or architecture, has fostered innovation in the past; why this engine of innovation is under threat; why the "market" alone won't protect Internet innovation; and which features of the Internet's architecture we need to preserve so that the Internet continues to serve as an engine of innovation in the future. Whether you are tired of or confused by the network neutrality debate, or simply wondering what is at stake, van Schewick's talk is refreshing and illuminating.
The internet provides an unprecedented opportunity for social scientists to recruit a large pool of subjects quickly, cheaply, and virtually effortlessly. Online labor markets, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), is one place where social scientists can easily find subjects to participate in unique cooperation studies in exchange for cash (where pay depends on choices in the study, rather just a flat rate). These labor markets also facilitate field studies, where 'subjects' are unaware they are in an experiment, but instead think they are just completing normal work tasks.
Dave Rand—a Cooperation Fellow at the Berkman Center, as well as a Harvard's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics—describes designing and running experiments using MTurk, some successful experiments, and the lessons learned thus far.
Founders of companies often experience early sins of omission or commission which decrease the probability of ultimate success.
John Chory—chair of the WilmerHale Venture Group and a member of the Corporate Practice Group—focuses on the representation of early-stage and venture-backed technology and life sciences companies. In this talk he discusses issues affecting startup companies, and some of the more common mistakes made by startups, many of which are not at all obvious.
Wikipedia’s style of collaborative production has been lauded, lambasted, and satirized. Despite unease over its implications for the character (and quality) of knowledge, Wikipedia has brought us closer than ever to a realization of the century-old pursuit of a universal encyclopedia.
Joseph Reagle—a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society—discusses insights from his new book Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia, a rich ethnographic portrayal of Wikipedia’s historical roots, collaborative culture, and much debated legacy.