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Berkman Buzz, week of April 21

A look at the past week's online Berkman conversations. For a complete picture, please visit our Berkman aggregator and AudioBerkman. Last week’s Buzz is here.

What’s going on…take your pick here or browse below.

* Yochai Benkler discussed his new book, The Wealth of Networks at the Berkman Center.  John Palfrey gives a quick book synopsis. David Weinberger and Wendy Seltzer cover Benkler's lecture.
* Censorship in Asia: Why Rebecca MacKinnon is disturbed about Skype’s practices in China.  Ethan Zuckerman identifies technical solutions to the problem.
* David Weinberger analyzes copyright's effects on education.
* Jackie Harlowe, Bill McGeveran, and Prof. Terry Fisher discuss digital challenges to education.
* Derek Slater critiques Philips’ newest DRM technology.
* Beyond Broadcast takes on a second life of its own.

The full buzz.

"Prof. Yochai Benkler is making the argument(s) of his new book, The Wealth of Networks, (500+ pages; buy it or write about it), in 30 minutes here in Hauser 102 at HLS.  Whew -- a lot of big ideas, and big words, in a short space.  He is considering two large problems. 1) What are the stable changes in the production of human knowledge and information?..."
John Palfrey, "Benkler mini-lecture at HLS"

"...He asks: What can we say about the new economics and understand it as something stable, not a passing fad? What does the change mean to our core commitments to democracy, etc. [As always, these are notes and thus are not accurate, complete or reliable.] Between 1835 and 1850, Yochai says, the cost of starting a mass circulation paper rose from $10,000 and $2.5M (in current dollars). This signalled a "stark bifurcation between producers and consumers." Readers became passive. This lasted for 150 years...."
David Weinberger, "Yochai Benkler"

"We're moving from the age of industrial information production to one of social information production. Ever-faster computers on our desks let us individually produce what would have taken a firm to organize just a decade ago. Ever-further networks let us share that with the world as cheaply as storing it for ourselves. This "social production" is distributed and motivated by social relationships rather than market signals...."
Wendy Seltzer, "Benkler on Social Production of Information"

"This is not just about freedom of speech and human rights, it's about the way you treat your user and whether you are squandering your user trust in China. User trust is ultimately your greatest competitive advantage in China; any technical competitive edge will not be maintainable over the long run against your Chinese competitors. Filtering in a non-transparent, unaccountable manner squanders your user trust...."
Rebecca MacKinnon, "Skype and China censorship"

"He’s interested in “social relaying” - using individual relationships in a peer to peer model to tunnel through the firewall without relying on a central server. (This sounds a bit like what Citizen Lab is trying to do with Psiphon.) He speculates that there’s a strategy of offering internet access via Skype, taking advantage of the fact that Skype’s traffic is encrypted...."
Ethan Zuckerman, "Technical approaches to censorship in Asia"

"Bill's group found four general categories of problems: 1. The law is unclear. 2. DRM. 3. It's hard and expensive to clear rights. 4. The gatekeepers — e.g., school systems — are very cautious about digital rights, primarily because of the first three problems...."
David Weinberger, "Academic copyright and fair use"

"So DRM is, as most people know, a way that content owners or producers use technology to protect their goods. So they can use these DRM systems that involve encryption or watermarking or other techniques for limiting exactly how users can access and make use of their works. What's interesting is that while we often think of DRM just in the context of commercial providers locking down their materials, such as film studios locking down DVDS with CSS encryption, educators sometimes also use these tools. This paper looks at both aspects of this. In particular we look at ...."
Jackie Harlowe, "Digital Learning Event Audio, April 19"

"If that happens, this patent could be the federally-set standard, and tech creators would have to pay Philips every time they want to sell a new device. Instead of wasting its time with this anti-user opportunism, Philips should focus on building technologies that satisfy its customers...."
Derek Slater, "Philips Patents DRM to Stop Commercial Skipping, Changing Channels"

"The Berkman Center has purchased a plot of land in Second Life to host the virtual version of Beyond Broadcast. The construction of Austin Hall, the Ames Courtroom, and other Harvard landmarks is currently underway—you can even expect to see a replica bridge going over the Charles!...."
Beyond Broadcast, "The conference goes virtual - second life"

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