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Frequently Asked Questions File (FAQ)

How can I reach the instructor?

Jonathan Zittrain teaches this course. He can be reached by e-mail at zittrain@law.harvard.edu or in person in his office at 511 Pound. If you would like to schedule an appointment with JZ, please contact his secretary Nancy Foti at foti@cyber.law.harvard.edu or by phone at 495-7547. You can also drop by and take your chances.

How can I reach the Teaching Fellows?

Alexander Macgillivray and Becca del Carmen are the teaching fellows for the class, ishelp@eon.law.harvard.edu is the best place to send questions for them and their offices are located in the Berkman Center complex on the fifth floor of Pound.
Alex is best reached at macgill@mindspring.com and will have office hours by e-mail appointment from 8-10 Tuesday and Thursday mornings (or other times if those are inconvenient) for the first three weeks of the class. After that he will have office hours at a time TBA.
Becca del Carmen is best reached at rdelcarm@law.harvard.edu and will have office hours by e-mail appointment from 8-10 Wednesday and 11-1 Friday mornings (or other times if those are inconvenient) for the first three weeks of the class. After that she will have office hours at a time TBA.

Is there a website for the course?

Yes, it is http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/is99 and you will be visiting it often (see below).

What are the assignments for the course?

The assignments for the course include doing the readings, completing the online assignments, participating in threaded message forums, participating in class and handing in a final paper or a special project.

Special assigments in lieu of a final paper include:

  • Moot Court (four student litigators and two student co-ordinators)
  • Managing a public listserv (three students including one technically inclined student) *
  • Scribing during selected classes (one student per class) *
  • Student panel of experts for week eight (four students) *
  • Presentation of a student's business plan (one or two students)
  • Rotisserrie answers summary presentation (three students per non-MIT week)*
  • Specialized content for the course web site (three students, not necessarily techies)
Options listed with an asterix include writing a very short paper (4-6 pages) about the experience or something related to it. E-mail ishelp@eon.law.harvard.edu if you are interested in any of these options and if these assignments are oversubscribed there will be a lottery to decide participation.

How is the course graded?

Class participation (10%), online participation (60%) and the final paper (30%) are considered in those proportions for your grade.

Class Participation

Integrating the diverse views of class participants in realtime is important to a successful and interesting class. This is a shared responsibility. Voluntary participation is encouraged, with all the caveats that may be known from, say, a first-year section--there is value in multiple voices that may, at times, be more than the value of an individual comment from someone who speaks early and often. Comments in the latter category are welcome (indeed, the spine of a class can be built upon such comments), though may be overlooked at times to favor comments from those who do not speak often.
In addition, some form of cold calling will be used to guarantee broad participation and avoid selection bias in taking a sense of the class. Technological means may be deployed. You may be called upon at any time, in any class. If you know you will not be prepared for a given class, please e-mail ishelp@eon.law.harvard.edu so that we can take you out of the cold call roster.

Online Participation

Your participation online in the threaded messaging forum will not be graded but is encouraged. However, reading the threads that have been posted is required before class time each week.
Participation in the question, answer and response sequences described below is required and will be graded.
Your responses to questions posed online by the Berkman Courseware and the exchange of responses with your classmates also facillitated by the Courseware will make up the bulk of your grade. These responses will mostly be short answer questions and you should make every attempt to stay under the word limit for any given question. However, these responses should take a significant amount of time to compose and are the reason that the registrar's office allowed the course to be a 3 credit, 2 hour course, so they should provoke thought and discussion. Model answers will be discussed at the beginning of the second class and feedback on the strength of your online participation will be given as the course progresses.


There will be a short (10-15 page) final paper for the course. This will be your opportunity to further research and explore a cutting edge legal issue that is of interest to you. Paper abstracts will be due the week of Oct. 15 and the final paper will be due on December 22nd.

What about the online assignments I keep hearing about?

We have online software which which we affectionately call the Bot, or sometimes the Rotisserie or, in our more somber moments, The Berkman Courseware (patent pending). The Courseware will do many things that ordinary course websites do (show you the syllabus, give links to readings, support threaded messaging, etc.). However, it will also ask you questions and pester you to complete assignments. Some questions will be multiple choice, others are short answer, still others ask for a short answer and then, once all short answers have been collected, ask for your comment on a classmate's answer. Very interactive.
Completion of the online assignments is mandatory and the Bot is merciless with its deadlines so be careful to get things in on time. In particular, if you have trouble using the coursware, that will not be a good excuse for not turning in an assignment. Play with the Bot early and often and make sure that by the time the first assignment is due you have registered, been admitted and know how to submit an assignment. As always, e-mail ishelp@cyber.law.harvard.edu if you have any questions or problems.

I'm still confused, can you give me an example?

A typical week of assignments might go something like this:
    Thursday Evening - the Bot e-mails you a reminder that the next week's assignments are up, you go to the website and check the assignments.
    Friday - you haven't used the courseware before so you register to try it out. You have trouble and exchange e-mails with ishelp@cyber.law.harvard.edu until you have it sorted out.
    Monday Evening - after doing the reading over the weekend, you write up your answers to the assignment questions in your favorite word processor (remember to save).
    Tuesday Evening - you read over your answer and then cut and paste the text onto the web form provided by the courseware on the course web site (NB formatting does not transfer).
    Tuesday Midnight - the assignments are due and the Bot enforces a strict cutoff.
    Wednesday Early Morning - student answers to "rotisserie" questions are sent to another student in the class for comment. In a class of Becca, Alex and Jonathan, Becca's answer is sent to Alex, Alex's to Jonathan and Jonathan's to Becca.
    Wednesday Morning - you check your e-mail and find the other student's answer.
    Wednesday Evening - you compose your response to the other student's answer in your favorite word processing program.
    Thursday Noon - you read it over your response and cut and paste it into the Courseware web form.
    Thursday Afternoon - you attend a marvelous class and congratulate yourself for completing one revolution of the rotisserie.
Now you know why this is a three credit course.

Wow, am I on the cutting edge?

Yes, as an added benefit, you will be helping to debug this software by using it, and will make recommendations that will help us make it better in the future. If you find a problem with the Courseware, please e-mail isbug@eon.law.harvard.edu. E-mail isfeatures@eon.law.harvard.edu with any suggestions for new features to add to it. Please try to be as detailed as possible in any bug report or feature request.
Also, once the Courseware has been rigorously tested by you and improved by our programming team as a result of your suggestions, it will be given away (source code and all) to the free software community.

How much work is involved?

The bargain: The readings will be queued for about two hours a week, they will be highly edited, relevant and not regurgitated in class. Your end of this bargain is to do the readings and be ready to talk about them in class.
Online assignments should take about two hours per week as well. If it is taking you significantly more time to complete the readings and assignments, please e-mail ishelp@eon.law.harvard.edu and we will see what we can do.

What about the optional clinical component?

The Berkman Center has a number of clinical placements that can be associated with this course. E-mail Michelle Spaulding mspauldi@law.harvard.edu if you are interested in this option.

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

A limited number of 3L papers can be done this way for extra paper credit. Please e-mail Nancy Foti at foti@cyber.law.harvard.edu to schedule an appointment with JZ tomorrow to talk about your paper ideas.

I heard this class will meet with MIT some weeks. Is that true?

That is true. There are currently four joint meetings with a MIT Core 6 (computer engineering) undergraduate class. Those meetings will take place in our HLS classroom. See http://mit.edu/6.805.

I heard this class will have expert/industry panels. Is that true?

The class will include a expert/industry panels many weeks. Guests have included lawyers, business people, politicians, lobbyists, cybergeeks, hacktivists. Indeed, the Department of Justice refused to attend one class attended by the later.

Are you taking attendance?

No, we will not take attendence but we reserve the right to start taking attendance at a later date. However, missing a cold call quite poor class participation and it will be noticed. Also, class should be too good to miss, if it isn't, please drop us a note at ishelp@eon.law.harvard.edu telling us how you think we could make it better. However, if you know that you will miss a class, please send e-mail to ishelp@eon.law.harvard.edu so that we can remove you from the cold call roster.

How do I add a question to the FAQ?

Send e-mail to ishelp@eon.law.harvard.edu and we will answer your question, take your name off it and post it to this FAQ.


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