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Berkman Buzz, week of May 7

BERKMAN BUZZ: A look at the past week's online Berkman conversations
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School
Week of May 7, 2007

What's going on... take your pick or browse below.

*Doc Searls gets the creeps from a questionably timed press release.
*David Weinberger one-ups elevator muzak.
*Ethan Zuckerman reasons with his past.
*The OpenNet Initiative analyzes the Thai Cyber Crimes Bill.
*Rebecca MacKinnon shares some Hong Kong Stories.
*The Center for Citizen Media considers control over voter generated content.
*Lawrence Lessig approaches the voter generated content from a copyright perspective.
*Internet & Society Conference 2007: Question of the Week.

The full buzz.

"I got an unsolicited email today from Mayo Communications. It's a press release titled 'Pirates of the Internet, Beware! Says Congress to Universities,' and subtitled 'Congress Sends a Threatening Ultimatum and Survey to Universities With 30 Days to Respond to a Laundry List of Questions on Campus Internet Piracy' ... and run as well in Sys-Con magazine (and nowhere else, far as Google can tell).

At the bottom of the release is a pointer to a blog clearly set up to shill the company that bought the publicity (but which I'll decline to support with a pointer). The company 'provides an easy, immediate and cost-effective way to totally protect networks and home computers from the dangers of illegal P2P file-sharing'.

What's creepiest about this is how it comes at the same time that the RIAA is getting Congress to put the heat on universities in an effort to stomp out "piracy" of copyrighted material by students. Somehow it smacks of a campaign. Given Mayo's Hollywood connections, I wouldn't be surprised.
Some universities are complying. Others are not..."
Doc Searls, "RIAA vs. Universities, Round One"

"Now that my book is actually'd think I'd know how to answer the question, 'So, what's it about?' without the use of Powerpoints and the phrase 'But it's actually more interesting than I'm making it sound.' Here's the official version of the current Elevator Pitch, which you may actually hear me spontaneously pronounce word for word:

We know how to organize things in the real world, whether it's a store, a front page or your kitchen. No matter whether you arrange things alphabetically or by size, you always follow two basic principles: Everthing has a place, and two things can't go in the same place. But, online, those principles don't hold, so we're inventing new ones. For example, a physical photo has to go in one album. But a digital photo of Uncle Bernie on the beach on his birthday can go in as many digital albums as you want -- trips, relatives, beaches, birthdays, funny sunburns, bad comb-overs... And it's not just photos. The new principles for how we organize ideas, information and knowledge are transforming media, education, politics, science, and business - upsetting the old order and the old authorities.

So, your challenge is to make that half as long and twice as compelling..."
David Weinberger, May's Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization newsletter

"It’s hard for me to write about the rationale of Global Voices because the project isn’t my project alone. It began as a partnership and rapidly turned into a vast international collaboration. I know that Rebecca and I have different reasons for our involvement with the project, and I strongly suspect that my reasons are different from David’s, Amira’s, Ndesanjo’s, or those of any of the dozens of people who actually build the site every day. This post offers some of my reasons for being involved with Global Voices; my reasons may be close to, or far from, everyone else’s..."
Ethan Zuckerman, "What I think We're trying to do"

"Today the Bangkok Post reported that the Thai National Legislative Assembly (NLA) approved the Cyber Crimes Bill in a nearly unanimous vote. Nearly a year has passed since the military coup overthrowing former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the current NLA is made up of legislators appointed by the new government. 

Since the coup, Thai citizens no longer have a constitution that guarantees or upholds their fundamental rights, and many provisions of this new law add to the uncertainty. ONI conducted a quick analysis based on a translated draft version of the bill from last fall provided by the Freedom against Censorship in Thailand coalition..."
The OpenNet Initiative, "Thailand passes new cybercrimes law"

"I have several good excuses for not blogging much lately, but my favorite excuse is the work I've been doing with my New Media Workshop students.   Web reporting projects by my 60 undergraduate and masters' students are now rolling out at Hong Kong Stories.   Check them out!
The stories examine different ways that Hong Kong has changed over the past ten years since the handover from British to Chinese rule.  The site is fully Web2.0-enabled so you can subscribe to the rss feed, post comments, leave trackback and bookmark things that you find interesting.  My students are roughly one third Hong Kong Chinese, one third mainland Chinese, and one third from various other countries. I think the site paints a fascinating picture of how this group of people views Hong Kong.
Here's what Hong Kong Stories can teach you:
* You think everybody in Hong Kong is rich? Think again.
* Mainland Chinese culture in Hong Kong is growing stronger,  with more Mandarin everywhere - let us know your views whether that's good or bad here.
* The influx of mainlanders into Hong Kong is also impacting tourism, education, the arts, marriage and childbirth patterns, and medical practices.
* Hong Kong is also changing the growing numbers of mainland Chinese people who come here to study and work.
* Not all Hong Kongers are ethnic Chinese. There's a large and long-standing South Asian community.
* Buddhism isn't just thriving, it's growing in Hong Kong.
* Did you know there are refugees living in Chunking Mansions?..."
Rebecca MacKinnon, "Hong Kong Stories: Check out my students!"

"There’s no question that citizen media and citizen generated content is going to be involved in politics in a variety of ways, including advocacy for candidates. More input around candidates and more ways for citizens to get involved is a good thing. But last week’s controversy when MySpace gave control of the previously 'unofficial' Barak Obama page to the Obama campaign reveals the many unresolved issues around citizen-generated content and campaigns..."
The Center for Citizen Media, "MySpace, Obama and voter-generated content: Updated"

"While many rightly and fairly struggle over genuinely difficult copyright questions, it has been the strategy of some of us to push for solutions to obvious problems first. The place of copyright in political debate is one such obvious problem. Technology has exploded the opportunity for people to comment upon, and spread political speech.   Democracy is all about encouraging citizens to participate in that debate. And all of us, whether Democrats or Republicans, should push to remove unnecessary burdens to that participation. 

Unfortunately, however, the uncertainty about the scope of copyright regulation is increasingly one such burden on Internet political speech. This next political cycle will see an explosion of citizen generated political content.  Some of that speech will be crafted from clips taken from the Presidential debates. Some of that will be fantastically valuable and important. Yet as the law is right now, it is extremely difficult for an ordinary citizen to understand the boundaries of 'fair use,' or the limits to copyright law..."
Lawrence Lessig, "A call on the RNC & DNC to eliminate unnecessary regulation of political speech"

“What role do OpenCourseWare systems play in this endeavor to harness the Internet as an open facilitator and distributor of University knowledge?”
The Internet & Society Conference 2007 - University: Knowledge Beyond Authority
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