<-- The Filter --> December 2006

December 22, 2006
[0] From the Center
[1] Features
[2] Networked: Bookmarks, Webcasts, Podcasts, Tags, and Blogposts
[3] Global Voices: Digital Dose of Global Conversations
[4] Community Links
[5] Upcoming Conferences
[6] Staying Connected
[7] Filter Facts

[0] From the Center

It’s the end of the year for many of our readers, but around here the year is at its half-way mark; lots of excitement is yet to come before graduation time.  Looking back, it’s always hard to believe how much has happened at the Center and around our community, but this year our collective space has been nothing short of explosive.  What may have been deemed niche issues, are now firmly established as mainstream concerns.  Whether one considers the proliferation of blogs, podcasts and other user-generated media (paired with traditional media’s increasing embrace of the Net); the novel ways governments, activists, universities, and businesses are engaging with new technologies, business models and partners; or the rapid pace and changing landscape of technological innovation, it is clear that change is afoot.  There remains a long way to travel in so many senses, and we look forward to watching – and participating – in this revolution with you.  My sincere thanks for your loyal readership and best wishes for the holiday season.

-- Colin Maclay, Managing Director, Berkman Center--

[1] FEATURES: a bit of what’s going on at Berkman and where to read more

Folksonomy as Symbol
~David Weinberger

It's easy to minimize the importance of folksonomies. These bottom-up taxonomies are just another tool in the kit. Besides, they've been around for a while, well before Thomas Vander Wal gave them a felicitous name. For example, at eBay a sellers' preference for 'laptop' over 'notebook' has emerged all by itself.

In fact, isn't language itself the first folksonomy? Words evolve based on bottom-up usage. So, taxonomies are nothing new.

If that's so, then we're led ever more forcefully to ask: Why the fuss? If folksonomies are old hat, why are we treating them like something fresh and important?

Certainly, in part it's because folksonomies are particularly useful when there are lots of people trying to communicate about a shared set of resources and when there's no central authority that can stipulate the accepted vocabulary and canonical taxonomy. The Web is just such an environment. So, even though there have been folksonomies in the past, the Web has given them a big, whopping, important problem to solve. But, there are lots of innovations for dealing with the Web that have not excited the same degree of enthusiasm. Listmania at Amazon is new and interesting, but not spurring academic conferences. Ebay's trust system is important, but is generally being taken as a useful mechanism, not a change in how we think or how crowds operate. Something about folksonomies has struck a chord, generating interest beyond their benefits as navigational tools. Folksonomies seem to have a symbolic value.

If a folksonomy is a symbol, what is it a symbol of?

First, folksonomies stick it to The Man.  We don't need no stinkin' experts to organize ideas and information! There is, of course, inefficiency built into expert-based taxonomies because they have to choose one way of ordering, and that one way is necessarily infested with personal, class, and cultural biases. As Clay Shirky says, "Metadata is worldview." But beyond the inefficiency, simply having someone else have the authority to say 'It shall be filed thus' is a statement of political authority. Even when the experts do a good job—as they usually do, because they're experts—it is still an implicit statement that someone else's way of thinking is better than yours.

In the face of this, folksonomy says not just that we each have our own way, but that something useful emerges from it.  Folksonomies are proof of the power of emergence. Emergence is a fascinating phenomenon because it explains complexity through intrinsic simplicity. For example, termites build complex towers by following rules so simple that they fit in a termite's brain. But there is also a political side to our interest in emergence, beyond its explanatory power. Emergence is hope. It says (or we take it as saying) that left to ourselves, without extrinsic structuring or regulation or governance, we will be magnificent. This is beyond the hope implicit in democracy that says a group will be able to live together if all are given equal power. We won't just live together, but something far beyond the capabilities of any of us will emerge. Simply by being together, cathedrals will emerge...

The rest of Dr. Weinberger's essay can be found here:

Technology in the Classroom

The great interest in Berkman Center Faculty Director Terry Fisher and Berkman Fellow William McGeveran's paper, "The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age," suggests that the question of technology's influence in education is emerging in many fields and across disciplines.  Analyzing the ways in which educators are constrained by digital copyright protections, the paper's ranking at the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) sees it as a top download in four subject areas: it is the #1 all-time download in "New Institutional Economics", the #7 all-time download in "IO: Productivity, Innovation & Technology", the #2 all-time download  "PIT: Innovation (Topic)" and the #2 all-time download in "PIT: Intellectual Property (Topic)".  The highest order of congratulations go to Professor Fisher, Professor McGeveran, student fellow Jackie Harlow and Arielle Silver for their tremendous accomplishment.

"The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age" is available for download at SSRN:

An interview with Professor McGeveran about the project is at:


Meanwhile, Berkman Fellow Gene Koo has focused his work, not on the intellectual property end of technology's use in education, but on the role that technology plays in a law school curriculum and in preparing students for work in the legal profession.  As part of the "(un)Common Knowledge: Legal Education in the Networked World" event, Mr. Koo asked:

  1. What are the new skills demanded by a technology-enhanced practice? Consider two new practices: (1) e-discovery, which has made it possible for lawyers to sift through of millions of emails and documents; and (2) huge, multi-office teams, which are tackling both more complex but also more discrete issues.

The first is one of many examples of computers as intelligence augmentation; the second illustrates technology as network augmentation.
          * What are the technical skills? Are our new associates as computer-literate as we claim?
          * What are the cognitive/conceptual skills? Are successful lawyers also necessarily systems- and “meta”-level thinkers?
          * What are the social skills? What collaboration and teamwork skills do legal workplaces demand today?
          * What “anti-skills” or attitudes should young attorneys cultivate? How do lawyers prevent themselves from becoming isolated techno-drones?
   2. Who should teach these skills? We have representatives from the law school, law practice, and CLE worlds. Where does the buck stop?
          * Does a networked and “databased” environment shift power away from the teacher (someone who creates and controls an educational experience) to the learner (someone who will seek knowledge/information as s/he sees fit)? Do we have any choice in this matter?
   3. How should they/we teach these skills? In addition to presenting bigger challenges, technology — especially the Internet — also affords us new possibilities.
          * Can traditional distance learning techniques bridge a different gap than geography: that between practice and the academy?
          * How can clinical programs serve not just as opportunities for practice, but also opportunities for technology-enabled practice?
          * Can technology enable or enhance simulations as a pedagogical tool?
          * How do sophisticated networks and networking tools enable lawyers, law professors, and even law students to aggregate and disseminate crucial knowledge? Is the teacher’s role diminished or changed in this environment?

Mr. Koo's thoughts can be found on his blog at:

How Open Will Harvard Be to Internet & Society?

Berkman Center founder Charles Nesson is in conference mode, and the previous issues regarding technology and education are not lost on him.  Along with Professor Charles Ogletree, Professor Nesson has been co-chairing bi-annual Internet & Society conferences since 1996, and the 2007 event is in motion.  At the root of this conference is a heavy question that encompasses myriad perspectives in innovation, technology and the transfers of knowledge: how open will Harvard be to internet & society?

Professor Nesson asked a Tuesday Luncheon Series group just that question.  In identifying three areas - University, Government/Non-profit and For-profit/Corporation - there was debate as to what degree each should have impact on the work and functionality of the other.  Harvard, as Professor Nesson understands it, is privileged in its influence and in the connections it maintains to parties in the other two areas.  When Harvard acts, other universities follow.  So to what degree does Harvard work to honor the platform on which it rests with respect to University systems as a whole, and how can and will open access at Harvard change the dynamics of education and shared knowledge worldwide?  Like the events we are planning in the leadup to the Internet & Society 2007 Conference, the lunch drew upon the collective knowledge of the crowd.  Coming from different perspectives, different schools and different fields, variance and shading came through in participants' concerns: how is Harvard any more trustworthy than a corporation or a government given its high level of influence?  Will open access disrupt or stifle innovation when people fear their strengths or blunders are more susceptible to imitation or ridicule?  Once certain areas of information are constructed in more open systems, how can information from Harvard be made available not just to people who are virtually connected but to those who have fewer technological capabilities?        

The responses and the conversation are available in audio and video at MediaBerkman:

And now your part - how do you envision open access at the university level?  Professor Nesson writes, "please. each of you who attended our i*s berkman session, face to face or web. what happened. what question peaked your interest. use our means to light consideration of these issues. please blog our lexis
nexis evening. please, everyone.
community is like a ship at sea. whose hero is gibson. link together what is happening here into a human net of global voices. everyman to take the helm in a chorus of voices rising from the universities of the world in concert with overmundo."

Responces are welcome here:

Please sign up for our listserv to discuss the upcoming conference: <http://cyber.harvard.edu/lists/subscribe/is2k7>



Digital Rights Management & Interoperability

The Berkman Center has partnered with The Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen for a research initiative to explore interoperability and its relationship to innovation.  Recognizing key occasions in which interoperability is a factor - such as digital identity, e-communications/instant messaging, office applications, and digitalmusic/DRM issues - the project's studies will attempt to discern the factors that influence interoperability and its future.

St. Gallen Professor and Berkman Fellow Urs Gasser recently spoke before the Federal Trade Commission, providing a “European voice” in the discussion on digital rights management. At the hearing, entitled “Protecting Consumers in the Next Techade,” Dr. Gasser reported on the DRM discussion in Europe, noting the lack of a cohesive system and the obstacles faced in the harmonization of anti-circumvention laws.  Post-presentation, Dr. Gasser wrote:

At the European level, though, no coherent DRM interoperability framework exists, although DRM interoperability has been identified as an emerging issue by the European Commission, which has established - among other things - a multi-stakeholder High Level Group on DRM that has also addressed DRM interoperability issues.  The lack of specific and EU-wide DRM interoperability provisions leaves us with three areas of law that address this issue more generally, both at the EU level as well as the level of EU member states. The areas are: copyright law, competition law, and consumer protection law.

Copyright Law

The EU Copyright Directive, mandating the legal protection of DRM systems, does not set forth rules on DRM interoperability. Recital 54 only mentions that DRM interoperability is something member states should encourage, but does not provide further guidance and seems to trust in the market forces. However, one might argue that the anti-circumvention framework itself allows the design of interoperable systems - e.g. a music player able to play songs encoded in different DRM standards - by outlawing only trafficking in such circumvention devices that are (inter alia) primarily designed and marketed for circumvention of effective TPM. Along these lines, at least one Italian Court has ruled - in one of the Bolzano rulings - that the use of modified chips aimed at restoring the full functionality of a Sony PlayStation (incl. its ability to read all discs from all markets despite region coding) is not illegal under the EUCD’s anti-circumvention provisions.

At the EU member state level, France has taken a much more proactive approach to DRM interoperability. A draft of the revised copyright law (implementing the EUCD) introduced an obligation of DRM providers to disclose interoperability information upon requests without being compensated. This “lex iTunes” has triggered strong reactions by the entertainment industry, and the final version of the law softened up the original proposal. Current French law states that a regulatory authority mediates interoperability requests on a case-by-case basis. Under this regime, too, DRM providers can be forced (under certain conditions) to disclose interoperability information on non-discriminatory terms, but they now have the right to reasonable compensation in return.

Competition Law

The baseline is: Competition law in Europe may become relevant in cases where a company with a dominant market position refuses to license its DRM standard to its competitors. However, to date, there exists no case law at the EU level where competition law has been applied to the DRM interoperability problem. But there are important cases (IMS Health and Magill, but also the anti-trust actions against Microsoft) illustrating how competition law — at least in exceptional circumstances — can give the need for interoperability more weight than the IP claims by dominant players. In France, Virgin Media tried to use competition law as an instrument to enforce access to iTunes FairPlay system. The French competition authority, however, has ruled in favour of iTunes, partly because it considered the market for probable music players to be sufficiently competitive (click here for more details).

Consumer Protection

From a consumer protection law perspective, three issues seem particularly noteworthy. First, the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman has been very critical about Apple’s iTMS interoperability policy in response to a complaint by the consumer council. The Ombudsman argues that iTMS is using DRM and corresponding terms of services to lock its consumers into Apple’s proprietary systems.  Second, a French court fined EMI Music France for selling CDs with DRM protection schemes that would not play on car radios and computers (check here and here). EMI violated consumer protection law because it did not appropriately inform consumers about these restrictions. The court obliged EMI to label its CDs with the text: “Attention - cannot be listened on all players or car radios”.

Third, a recent proposal by the European Consumers’ Organisation proposes to include DRM in the unfair contract directive. The idea behind it is that consumer protection authorities should also be able to intervene against unfair consumer contract terms if the terms are 'code-' rather than law-based.'

Dr. Gasser’s full recap of the hearing can be found on his blog:

Also, Dr. Gasser, with Silke Ernst of the St. Gallen Research Center for Information Law, released a digital copyright focused study entitled "Best Practice Guide: Implementing the EU Copyright Directive in the Digital Age."  In the report, Dr. Gasser and Ms. Ernst propose specific DRM exceptions and recommendations that may influence future digital law reform.   

Their full report is available here:

Links to Berkman conversations happening online

Internet Politics, Governance, and Regulation:
[BLOGPOST] Lawrence Lessig releases Code 2.0, a revision to Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace.

[BLOGPOST] Bill McGeveran heralds arrival of new DMCA exemptions.

[ARTICLE] Derek Slater contemplates how Democratic Congress will impact digital freedom.

Citizen Media and the Future of Journalism:
[BLOGPOST] Dan Gillmor reflects on New Media’s role in election coverage.

[VIDEO] Lisa Williams and Dan Gillmor introduce citizen journalism project, Placeblogger.net.

Digital Media:
[VIDEO] Steve Garfield goes behind the scenes at MediaBerkman.

[BLOGPOST] PRX gets a laugh out of comedic program additions.

[BLOGPOST] Lawrence Lessig evidences Creative Commons’ international application.

Internet, Education, and Knowledge:
[AUDIO] Nancy Hafkin leads discussion on female empowerment in the digital age.

[BLOGPOST] Rebecca MacKinnon advocates increased attention to social responsibility on behalf of Internet companies.

[BLOGPOST] John Palfrey offers list of online resources for teachers.

Security and Anonymity:
[BLOGPOST] Tim Armstrong assesses effects of increase in digital self-disclosure.

[BLOGPOST] Doc Searls calls for new means of managing Internet identities.



[3] Global Voices:
Digital Dose of Global Conversations

David Sasaki, Global Voices Latin America Regional Editor, put together the monthly digest below, a collection of links to the most interesting conversations happening in the global blogosphere. Please check out Global Voices at <http://www.globalvoicesonline.org> and to get a taste of their daily highlights, sign up for Global Voices' daily digest here <http://cyber.harvard.edu/lists> or find it online here <http://digests.globalvoicesonline.org/>.

Global Voices editors, translators, and contributing authors from around the world descended on New Delhi, India this December for their annual offline conversation. This year's summit focused on how the community can approach outreach, translation, and tool development to make the online global conversation more representative of the global population. In the introductory session co-founders Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman looked back at where Global Voices has been and forward to where it is going.

For decades now Fidel Castro and Augusto Pinochet have been immortal lions and opposing icons of Latin America's political legacy. Both of their deaths have been expected for years, but it was Pinochet who passed away first, leaving his countrymen and women to debate the significance of his life and death using a medium we can assume he never had anticipated during his heavy-handed rule.

They are not easy to watch, but cellphone-recorded videos of police brutality in Egypt are giving rise to a national campaign against police torture. Sameer Padania documents the movement's history, actors, and progress.”.

The internet is a big place. And searching for world news from fresh local voices can seem like an impossible task. Until now. With Google's Co-op searching technology, Global Voices co-founder Ethan Zuckerman and tech guru Boris Anthony have developed the "Global Voices Web" search engine to narrow your results from trusted sources compiled by GV's regional editors.

Salam Adil, dedicated curator of the articulate prose which has risen from Iraq's harrowing reality, paints a stark portrait of what has become of his country - as does every post he links to: "Iraq is bleeding and it seems nothing can be done to end the suffering. Today I give you stories from the front lines of the new civil war that is Iraq, without comment. They express themselves well enough."

News in China has generally be quiet with all things LGBTQ. That's lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, queer for those of us lost in the sea of multilingual acronyms. And so, asks John Kennedy, "if nothing earth-shatttering has been in the news today, why is queer content getting prime placement" on most of the country's web portals? "Has queer gone mainstream among China’s urban, upwardly-mobile, white collar, websurfing crowd?"

Equal parts recipe for a web 2.0 virtual conference and overview of Tanzanian citizen media, Ndesanjo Macha reports on the decisions made at the first ever Tanzanian Bloggers' Virtual Conference.

*** Global Voices, a non-profit global citizens' media project, was launched from the Berkman Center by Berkman Fellows Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman and is sponsored by the Berkman Center, the MacArthur Foundation, and Reuters. ***



Featuring our friends and affiliates

Wikia, Inc., "OpenServing"

Creative Commons, “CC Labs”

Chilling Effects, “Weather Reports”

Center for Democracy and Technology, “Reports and Articles”

Public Library of Science, “PLoS Open Access Resources”

The Public Radio Exchange, “Reviews”
< http://prx.org/reviews/>






* The 2007 Summer Doctoral Programme will be held at The Berkman Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 16-27, 2007.  Completed applications must be received by the OII no later than 5pm GMT on Monday, February 12th, 2007. Successful applicants will be notified by March 23rd, 2007.  The SDP is offered in partnership with The Oxford Internet Institute.  The site reads:  “Thirty places are available, open to students from any discipline who are currently undertaking doctoral research on social, political, legal and economic issues relating to the Internet. Preference will be given to students at an advanced stage of their doctorate, who have embarked on writing their thesis, and who are working in a research area that corresponds to one of the OII’s research priorities or the Berkman’s research priorities."
More information is available at: <http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/teaching/sdp/Y2007.cfm>

* Beyond Broadcast 2007 - From Participatory Culture to Participatory Democracy: Febuary 24, 2007, Cambridge, MA.  The MIT Comparative Media Studies Program, the Yale Information Society Project and Berkman "invite you to MIT — to explore the means, the message, and the meaning of the post-midterm, pre-presidential YouTube moment."  <http://www.beyondbroadcast.net/blog/>

* The Internet & Society 2007 Conference: May 31-June 1, 2007.  Please save the dates; more details are coming soon.

CONFERENCE WATCH: January - February, 2007

*January 8: IJCAI-2007 Workshop on Analytics for Noisy Unstructured Text Data - Hyderabad, India:

*January 12-14: The National Conference for Media Reform - Memphis, TN:

*January 18: A Public Forum on Media Ownership - Philadelphia, PA:

*January 18: In Their Opinion - A Panel of Media Critics - Cleveland, OH:

*January 19: Reclaiming the First Amendment: A Conference on Constitutional Theories of Media Reform - Hempstead, N.Y.:

*January 19-21: Conference on Communication Policy Research for Improving ICT governance in the Asia-Pacific - Manila, Philippines:

*January 22-February 2: DRM Technologies & Higher Education - an online workshop:

*January 23-24: Wireless Cities Summit - Toronto, Canada:

*January 23-26: Open Repositories Conference 2007 - San Antonio, TX:

*January 25-26: The First International Workshop on Intercultural Collaboration - Kyoto, Japan:

*January 26: Mobile Identity Workshop - Cambridge, MA:

*January 31-February 1: Making Your Documentary Matter 2007 - Washington, D.C.:

*February 12-14: At The Interface: The Value of Knowledge - Sydney, Australia:

*February 13-14: FTC Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy Workshop - Washington, D.c.:

*February 13-15: The IASTED International Conference on Software Engineering - Innsbruck, Austria:

*February 14-16: Wainhouse Research Collaboration Summit - Sydney, Australia:

*February 18-20: International Association for Development of the Information Society Web Based Communities 2007 Conference - Salamanca, Spain:


*February 21-23: International Conference on Semantic Web and Digital Libraries - Bangalore, India:

*February 22-24: International Conference on Signal Processing, Communications and Networking - Chennai, India:

*February 22-23: Alliance for Community Media Midwest Regional Conference - Minneapolis, MN:

*February 26-27: Tech Policy Summit - San Jose, CA:



How to find out about Berkman's events and releases

*The Berkman Center sends out an events email every Wednesday. If you'd like to be notified of upcoming events - virtual and otherwise - please sign up at

*We webcast every Tuesday Luncheon Speaker events. Luncheon Series events start at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. We welcome your participation as the events happen!
Webcast: <rtsp:// harmony.law.harvard.edu/webcast.sdp> or <http:// harmony.law.harvard.edu/webcast.sdp>
IRC chat channel: <irc://irc.freenode.net/berkman>
Berkman Island at Second Life: <http://tinyurl.com/s6tv4>

*If you are unable to tune in to one of our events as it happens, please check out Berkman's Media Archive: <http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/mediaberkman>

*You can subscribe to the Berkman Center’s audio and video podcasts:
Audio: <http://feeds.feedburner.com/audioberkman>
Video: <http://feeds.feedburner.com/videoberkman>
Both: <http://feeds.feedburner.com/mediaberkman>

*Every Friday we feature the week's online conversations in the Berkman Buzz. If you would like to receive the Buzz via email, please sign up at <http://cyber.harvard.edu/signup>. To take a look at last week's Berkman Buzz, go here:

*If you'd like to be notified of outgoing Berkman research, please sign up for our report release email list: <http://cyber.harvard.edu/signup>




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The Filter is a publication of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
Editor: Rebecca Tabasky

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Last updated

January 16, 2008