by Rocky Tsai '02
V 1.2 - last updated August 31, 2000

"There are no FAQs, only interpretations."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

"FAQs do not cease to exist because they are ignored."
-Aldous Huxley

"I hate FAQs. I always say the chief end of man is to form general propositions -- adding that no general proposition is worth a damn."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

"I believe in general in a dualism between FAQs and the ideas of those FAQs in human heads."
-George Santayana

How can I reach Professor Zittrain?

1.  The absolute best way to reach Professor Zittrain is by emailing him:

2.  A less efficient but certainly welcome algorithm involves scheduling an appointment with JZ.  You can do this by emailing JZ’s assistant Sara Hathaway at, or by calling this number:  495-8351.

3.  The final method, which has an essentially stochastic rate of success, is to try to locate JZ physically.  He is sometimes found sequestered in Griswold 505.

How can I reach the Teaching Fellows?

1.  The teaching fellows for the course are Rebecca Nesson '01 and John Palfrey '01.  Each is an alum of IS99, and each is as dangerously smart as he or she is nice -- a rare and devastating combination.

2.  You can email either of them at

3.  You can try to find them in their offices, which are distributed throughout the Berkman Center garret on the fifth floor of Pound Hall.

When and where does the class meet?

IS2000 typically meets Mondays and Tuesdays, from 4:20 PM to 5:50 PM, in Austin West. The first session on September 5 is scheduled to begin at 4:10.

How many credits is the course worth?

This is a 4-credit course (3 classroom + 1 non-classroom).  There are also optional clinical credits, as well as limited slots for writing 3L papers in conjunction with the class (see below for more information). You should sit down with the HLS catalog and, if necessary, review the rules on credits required to graduate.  They are somewhat Byzantine, and within lies the answer to whether that fourth non-classroom credit can apply to your graduation requirements.

How do I get into the class?

Admission to IS2000 is by application only, and enrollment will be strictly limited to 60 students. The sooner you can apply, the better.

What are the requirements for the course?

1.  You will be required to pair up with a fellow student and write a research paper, approximately 15 pages long.  These papers will, with your permission, ultimately be archived on the IS2000 website. These papers are due Monday, November 27, right after Thanksgiving.  There will typically be no extensions offered.  Abstracts will be due on Monday, October 2.  They should be submitted by pairs.

2.  You will be appointed to a panel of between three and six students. Each day, an assigned panel must be especially prepared to field questions on that day's reading materials. Each panel will also be required to write a hypothetical case study or prepare an analysis of an actual case (not found in the readings) related to its assigned topic.  Each panel is also responsible for preparing and editing class notes for its day. If a guest speaker/panel is invited during your assigned day, then your panel is responsible for hosting the guests (taking them out to dinner, for instance) and for summarizing the guests' remarks (including linking to cases and documents referred to by the guests) on the course website. The end product of each day's panel will be a web page on the IS2000 website.

Students will be assigned to panels; however, you may request to switch panels if you are assigned to a panel on a date which is particularly difficult for you. Panel assignments will be posted on the course site at least one week in advance. There is no panel for class on 9/5. Panel for classes on 9/11 and 9/12 will be announced in class on 9/5 and posted on the course site as soon as possible. 

3.  You must participate in the weekly online Question-Answer-Response component of the course.

4.  You must participate in class. 

How is the course graded?

1. Real-time class participation = 30%

2. Online participation = 40%

3. Final paper = 30%

Is class participation governed by the Socratic method?

Class participation is governed by the Zittrainic method, which is characterized by a combination of monologue, dialogue, and oligologue.  Hence, you should expect a balanced mix of lectures, guest panels moderated by JZ, student panel participation, and cold-calling (with names randomly generated in real-time by a computer program).

In general, the policy is that you may be called upon at any time, and in any class. However, if you know you won’t be prepared for a given class, let us know by e-mail at so that we can remove you from the cold call roster.

What does online participation include?

1.  Although you are not required to post to the threaded messaging forum, you are required to read the threads that have been posted, for they can become topics of real-time class discussion.

2.  A large portion of your grade is based on your participation in the online Question-Answer-Response component of the course, which is managed by software invented by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

3.  The rotisserie gives you assignments in the form of questions (some multiple choice, some short answer), and then, after everyone has submitted her answer, it distributes these answers to different classmates, who must then submit a comment.  It is important that you familiarize yourself with the courseware early, so that by the time the first assignment is due, you understand how to submit an assignment. The rotisserie, being soulless code, does not countenance excuses.

4.  The writing that you do for the rotisserie is the main reason that the course is worth an additional 1 non-classroom credit.

This courseware has been known to respond, as only software can, to the aliases “Rotisserie,” “The Bot,” and “Berkman Courseware.”

Is there a final exam for this course?

There is no final exam for this course.

Since “example is more efficacious than precept,” can you give me an example of how the rotisserie works?

A typical week of assignments might go something like this:

Tuesday Evening:  The Bot emails you, informing you that the assignment for next week is posted on the IS2000 website.  You log on to the website and read over the assignments.    
Saturday Afternoon:  After doing the reading, you dutifully compose your answers to the assignment questions in your favorite word processing program.
Sunday Afternoon:  You read over your answer and then, fully satisfied, cut-and-paste the text into the form provided on the course website (N.B.: formatting does not transfer). 
Sunday at 5:00 PM:  The assignments are due, and the Bot mercilessly enforces a strict cutoff.
Sunday Night:  Each student’s answer to a rotisserie question is sent to another student in the class for comment.  In a class of Alyosha, Beelzebub, and Commodus, Beelzebub's answer is sent to Alyosha, Alyosha's to Commodus, and Commodus’s to Beelzebub.
Sunday Night or Monday Morning:  You check your email and find the other student's answer.
Monday Afternoon: You attend class.
Monday Evening:  You respectfully compose your response to the other student's answer in your favorite word processing program.
Tuesday Morning:  You read it over your response and then cut-and-paste it into the website form.
Tuesday Noon:  The Bot once again mercilessly enforces a strict cutoff.
Tuesday Afternoon: You attend class.

Wow, am I on the cutting edge?

Yes, so don’t hurt yourself.  You will be serving as de facto testers of our courseware—which ultimately will be launched upon the open seas of the free software community—and thus we welcome any recommendations you have for improvements and new features. (If you find a problem with the courseware, please email, and if you have suggestions for new features, please email  Please try to be as detailed as possible in any bug report or feature request.

How much work is involved?

A fair amount of work is involved in a class of this scope.  The readings will be targeted to take about two hours/week to complete, but they will be carefully edited, highly relevant, and non-redundant. Your end of this bargain is to do all the readings and be ready to talk about them in class.
Online assignments should take about two hours/week as well. If it is taking you significantly more time to complete the readings and assignments than we have planned, please email and we will see what we can do.

Are there optional clinical credits for this course?

The Berkman Center has a number of clinical placements, mostly related to ICANN, that are associated with this course. Please email Diane Cabell at or see if you are interested in pursuing this option.

Can I do my 3L paper in conjunction with this course?

A limited number of 3L papers can be done in conjunction with IS2000 for extra paper credit.  Please email Sara Hathaway at as early as possible to schedule an appointment with JZ to talk about your paper ideas.

Is it true that this class will have guest expert panels?

The class will include an expert panel on some occasions.  Past guests have included lawyers, business people, politicians, lobbyists, cybergeeks, and hacktivists.

Are you taking attendance?

No, although we reserve the right to start taking attendance at a later date if large numbers of students start missing class. 

Is there significant crossover between the subjects covered in this course and Professor Nesson's "Exploding Internet" course? That is, if I'm considering enrolling in one, would it be advisable to also enroll in the other?

The courses are quite distinct, and while there may be some overlap, there's no problem seeking to enroll in each.

How do I add a question to the FAQ?

Send an email to and we will post it—with an answer, but without your name—to this FAQ.