<-- The Filter --> March/April 2007

January 31, 2015
[0] From the Center
[1] Features
[2] Networked: Bookmarks, Webcasts, Podcasts, 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 hard to believe - indeed, we are only just coming to terms with it - but the Berkman Center turns ten this year (I think that's at least a century in internet time, but because wikipedia doesn't have a conversion table, that's only a guess).  It somehow seems fitting that a variety of projects years in the making are now coming to fruition, beginning with this month's publication of two groundbreaking books written by Berkman Fellows John Clippinger and David Weinberger on identity and meaning, respectively.  In addition to overviews of their work, this helping of the Filter also features Berkman Founder Charlie Nesson talking with MIT OpenCourseWare guru Anne Margulies.  She and the program are an inspiration and particularly relevant because this Spring's Internet & Society Conference, the sixth in the biennial series, focuses on the role of University and its relationships with other content creators and the Net itself, examining knowledge beyond authority.  We've begun to reflect on the past decade and will continue to over the course of the year, but would love to hear from you: your memories, associations and experiences with Berkman, so please send thoughts, pictures, even cards to tell us what this community has meant to you -- and of course, what we could do to mean more.

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

The Berkman Center is also hiring for a number of long, short, and summer term positions with existing and upcoming projects.  Please visit our employment page <http://cyber.harvard.edu/home/employment> to learn more about these opportunities and to find out how to apply.


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

Conversation with Anne Margulies, Director, MIT OpenCourseWare
Excerpts from a March interview with Charles Nesson, Founder, Berkman Center

ANNE MARGULIES:  Even though Open Courseware was originally envisioned to be a public service initiative for MIT, one of the greatest things about Open Courseware is that it has had some wonderful benefits for MIT. One of the benefits: we really clarified the whole intellectual property regimen at MIT. For the first time with Open Courseware it was made very clear that the course materials that are created in MIT belong to the faculty member.  We get permission from the individual faculty member to publish course materials on our site. The faculty member grants to MIT a nonexclusive license to publish them on the web. We use the Creative Commons non-commercial license on our site.  This approach to intellectual property ownership was really a pivotal and very strategic decision that MIT made, which the administration and faculty made together.  The idea to give away the materials came from a faculty committee. The administration liked the recommendation and embraced the idea of making shared knowledge as a public good.  They went around department by department and tried the idea out on the faculty.  MIT is different from Harvard in being a more unified faculty.  MIT faculty see themselves as belonging to the MIT community. Here at Harvard I think faculty think of themselves first as belonging to their school, and then maybe the university.  The process of engaging Open Courseware engaged the entire MIT faculty, about 1000 faculty members, in these department meetings. They considered and formed a general consensus that the faculty believed it was a good idea.  MIT then went forward with OpenCourseWare as an institutional initiative. It still is voluntary.  Each and every faculty member decides whether or not they want their materials out, and they decide whether or not they want their course videotaped and whether they want their videos out.

CHARLES NESSON:  Suppose I am a faculty member and I want my course videoed, what rules do I have to follow?

ANNE MARGULIES:  First, we do worry a lot about making sure that we don't infringe on anyone else's copyright, so you as a faculty member, if your intention is to publish it openly on the web through us, will work with us to make sure that you are not inadvertently putting in your videotape other people's copyrighted materials, showing movie clips that we don't have permission for and things like that.  You need to make sure that we really have permission for what goes up openly on the web.  Second, we protect the privacy of students. At your first class of the semester, you will announce to the students that it is going to be videotaped. If students don't want to be part of the videotape, there is a special part of the room where they can sit so as not to be on a camera.  We were counseled that we need not get special permissions for students’ voices off camera.

CHARLES NESSON:  Why are faculty putting their video up at MIT?  What’s the payoff for them?

ANNE MARGULIES:  Partly the payoff is greater visibility for their work and their expertise. They contribute to their discipline through their research, but now they are able to contribute to the teaching of their discipline by sharing the way that they teach. It helps them to contribute to their discipline in another way. Usually the ones who are interested in being videotaped are the more gifted and the more passionate about teaching. They are getting tremendous fan mail from people all over the world telling them that it’s inspiring.  People who hated physics or never understood calculus are thanking them. It’s very gratifying for the faculty to see that they are having an impact beyond MIT, which I think is similar to what, perhaps, what you described in the way you think about it.

CHARLES NESSON:  Could you break your 30 million (budget) down into different categories? ...How much of it goes to sorting out copyright issues?

ANNE MARGULIES: ...37 percent... When OpenCourseWare started, MIT assumed we would get sued. There was no way we were not going even inadvertently to infringe on somebody.  The publishers’ eyes were on us.  All eyes were on us.  Because of that we took a very risk-adverse position. We review with the faculty member the content of their course and ask them to identify for us any of the graphs or charts or any other chunks of third-party copyrighted content. Our OpenCourseWare team works with them to get permissions.  If it’s a graph or chart, we pull it out and replace it with a new original object that we create and then license openly.  All of the content on our site is truly openly licensed. That is a labor intensive process.

CHARLES NESSON:  Have you had any particular connection with library at MIT?  Is there any sense that you are overlapping function or that their function is reaching out in your direction or anything like that?

ANNE MARGULIES:  No overlap. We have collaborated with them in a number of areas.  They have helped us create the MediData taxonomy that we use.  They have built an archive so that when we update or replace a course, we don’t lose the prior version.  It is sent to a library archive that we have been linked to.  We have had a very positive collaboration, but I don't think there has been any overlap. In fact, our DSpace collaborations have been one of the points of real synergy as we are dropping our archive courses into that system.

...One of the ways we are hoping to sustain this it will be with hybrid funding that will be partly MIT in a general budget funding, partly appropriate corporate sponsorships that we would recognize on the site, donations made through the site by users, and support from alumni since they love it so much.  MIT is committed to sustain it, but we are trying to minimize the amount of money that has to come out of the MIT budget.

...I think the law school should lead the way for Harvard and decide to develop an Open Courseware. There has been no law content out there yet in Open Courseware. You would be the first of the law schools.

MIT OpenCourseWare:
Berkman Center's H2O Project:
Harvard University Internet & Society Conference 2007: Knowledge Beyond Authority:

A Crowd of One - The Future of Individual Identity
By John Clippinger

A Crowd of One is an attempt to instigate a new kind of "Post Enlightenment" narrative about how we think about human nature, our social economic and political institutions - and our individual and collective identities. The goal is to get beyond simplistic Enlightenment dualisms - individual versus group - emotion versus reason - determinism versus free will - self-interested versus other regarding - rationality versus "irrationality" - Hobbesian "state of nature" versus civilized order.

It is not that Enlightenment thinking is a thing of the past - it still is vital part of current understanding of ourselves - how we frame our political and cultural debates, how we imagine our futures, how we define and defend who we are. Yet it is wrong, profoundly wrong, and as long as it is unconsciously or blindly adhered to and reflexively obeyed - we will not meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Once a mysterious "black box" - the workings of the human brain are becoming documented - visible - comprehensible - accessible. Reason is not separate from emotion - Descartes was wrong.  The most important decisions we make - whom we trust - give our lives for - marry - etc are more often than not the product of rational thought but emotive reflex from one of the oldest - parts of the brain - the Amygdala. We are not inherently selfish creatures - but more often than not cooperative creatives - not because we are inherently good or bad - but because it leads to what are called Evolutionary Stable Strategies - outcomes that further the welfare of the group and the species. At great expense, we have evolved "mirror neurons" that give us the capacity for empathy - something that Adam Smith in his book, Moral Sentiments, felt was a key requirement for markets and social cooperation. Note that Smith did not extol rationality as the key motivator and glue of human sociality - and economic specialization - but moral sentiments - emotions.

Next Americans tend to think of individuality as something that is individually constructed and asserted. Certainly, the Libertarian view - is that I alone am responsible for what I am - that the group - the state - is something that infringes upon and dilutes individual freedom - and that the individual alone should reap the fruits of their own efforts - any less is theft.  From an evolutionary and neuroscience point of view - the identity and proficiency of an individual is derived from their interaction with a group - from family, clan, tribe or society. Feral children - those raised in the a real state of nature without benefit of human interaction do not develop the most elemental traits that we regard as human - language - higher level cognition - sense of self as a human being - are even severely stunted in the physical development.  Individual identity is embedded, contextual and mutually constructed through ones actions and interactions in the different social networks one is born into or participates. Even one's role in a social network - especially early childhood networks are allotted by the more influential and powerful members of the network - parents, relatives, alpha members.

Even David Brooks - conservative U of Chicago grad -in a recent editorial in the New York Times - acknowledges - begrudgingly that a new narrative is in the making.

"The logic of evolution explains why people vie for status, form groups, fall in love and cherish their young. It holds that most everything that exists does so for a purpose. If some trait, like emotion, can cause big problems, then it must also provide bigger benefits, because nature will not expend energy on things that don't enhance the chance of survival.

"Human beings, in our current understanding, are jerry-built creatures, in which new, sophisticated faculties are piled on top of primitive earlier ones. Our genes were formed during the vast stretches when people were hunters and gatherers, and we are now only semi-adapted to the age of nuclear weapons and fast food.

"Furthermore, reason is not separate from emotion and the soul cannot be detached from the electrical and chemical pulses of the body. There isn't even a single seat of authority in the brain. The mind emerges (somehow) from a complex light show of neural firings without a center or executive. We are tools of mental processes we are not even aware of."

I for one welcome this insight into our natures and actions - because we no longer need to be automata of our species. By understanding the workings of our natures and the forces that shape our natures - we can now use science to break the "cycles of violence" in Hobbesian traps - get beyond our Pleistocene reflexes and start to evolve ourselves and our institutions in a way that is neither destructive our planet ourselves for that matter.

By and experimenting and evolving in digital time - through virtual worlds - we can accelerate our learning.

John Clippinger's latest work, A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity, was released this April by Public Affairs Books.

Video of John's book release and discussion (RealPlayer format):
About John Clippinger:
Berkman Books Page:

Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
By David Weinberger

We're very good at organizing things in the real world. Whether we're organizing a kitchen or laying out a new corporate head quarters, we have a variety of sophisticated techniques that we're perfectly at home with. But, whether we arrange things alphabetically, by size, or by pecking order, when it comes to real objects, we always have to follow two basic principles: Everything has to go somewhere, and no thing can be in more than one place. That's just how reality works.

But in the digital world we're freed from those restrictions. Whether we're organizing our downloaded songs, digital photos, an online store, or entire libraries of scientific information, we can put our electronic stuff into as many electronic folders as we want. If your catalog of engineering equipment is on line, you can put, say, a bolt into electronic bins according to size, material, cost, quality, and whether it's been approved for outdoor use. In fact, you don't even have to decide for your users which categories make sense. You can let them create their own categories by "tagging" electronic items however they like. At Flickr.com, for example, people tag photos with whatever will help them find those photos again, and users tag the millions of books cataloged at LibraryThing.com. Because these tags are public, you can click on one and find all the photos or books that others have tagged that way. This can be a powerful way to browse and an even more powerful way to do research collectively.

The alternative at such sites would be for the owners of the site to create their own taxonomy of categories. But every way we classify represents a set of interests. No taxonomy works for all interests and for all ways of thinking about a domain. For example, the vendor selling hardware such as bolts can anticipate that sometimes we'll want to search by size, but not that someone is going to want to find a bolt to use as a gavel in a dollhouse or a bolt with a particular electrical resistance. There are an infinite number of ways we may want to slice up our world because there are an infinite number of human interests. In the physical world, we have to pick one, so we have expert taxonomists who make the best decision. But in the digital world, we can leave all the digital objects as a huge miscellaneous pile, each tagged with as much information about it as possible. Then, we can use computers to slice through the miscellany, organizing on the fly according to the categories that matter to us at that moment. So, it turns out that while the miscellaneous box represents the failure of real world organizational schemes, it is how digital organization succeeds.

This has an unsettling effect since we have large institutions that get much of their value -- and their authority -- from their privileged position as organizers of information. For example, the most prestigious position at a newspaper belongs to those who decide what goes in and which stories go on the front page. Likewise, businesses influence our decision processes by artfully arranging their offerings, and educators decide what will be taught and how topics relate. Now that the users and readers are able to do that for themselves, authority is rapidly shifting from those institutions to the new social networks through which we're figuring out how to put things together for ourselves.

We are rapidly developing new principles and techniques for figuring out how to make sense of the miscellaneous so that it is more responsive to our needs, interests, and points of view. While the technology that's emerging is powerful and fascinating, the more important change is occurring at the level of institutions and authority. That's where we'll see the real effect of the miscellaneous.

David Weinberger's latest work, Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder, is available May 1st from Times Books.

Everything is Miscellaneous Blog:
About David Weinberger:
Berkman Books Page:


Links to Berkman conversations happening online

Internet Politics, Governance, and Regulation:

[BLOGPOST] Wendy Seltzer documents her fair use saga with the NFL.

[PODCAST] Harvard Law panel discussion on the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys.

[PODCAST] Web of Ideas: Does Participatory Culture Lead to Participatory Democracy?

[WIKI] Professor John Palfrey's course on Internet, Law & Politics.

Citizen Media and the Future of Journalism:

[WEBSITE] Principles of Citizen Journalism.

[REPORT] Citizen Media: Fad or Future of News?

[WIKI] Blogging Code of Conduct.

Security and Anonymity:

[PODCAST] Microsoft Associate General Counsel, Ira Rubenstein discusses privacy policies.

[BLOGPOST] StopBadware.org: Malicious hacking, one site's story.

[WIKI] Project VRM (Vendor Relationship Managment).

Knowledge Beyond Authority, IS2K7 Conversations:

[PODCAST] Gavin Yamey of the Public Library of Science on Open Access, Part I.

[PODCAST] Social Tagging @ Harvard with Michael Hemment, Part I.

[QUESTION TOOL] Interactive questions to steer the conference.


[3] Global Voices:
Digital Dose of Global Conversations

David Sasaki, Global Voices Director of Outreach, 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 here:  <http://www.globalvoicesonline.org>

France’s first round presidential election not only brought a record turnout of voters to the polls; it also inspired a wealth of commentary from Francophone bloggers in locations as diverse as the Congo, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, the Caribbean, and Tahiti. Thanks to Jennifer Brea’s faithful translations and added context, we too can take part in the conversation.

Bangladesh’s military-backed caretaker government, brought to power in the January 11 state of emergency, is continuing in its efforts to end a history of partisan deadlock by exiling two icons of the country’s biggest party rivalry. Rezwan sums up what Bangladeshi bloggers think of the forced exile of Sheikh Hasina Wazed and Begum Khaleda Zia.

Brazilian netizens, already infamous for their domination of Google’s social networking site, Orkut, are now getting ready to stake their claim in the digital world’s most popular virtual reality, Second Life. Jose Murilo Junior and fellow Brazilian bloggers describe the island geography of Second Life Brasil while noting that much of “the buzz around the inauguration of Brazilian Second Life is its strong connections with big advertisement agencies dealing with advanced marketing strategies.” Even the Catholic Church is looking toward the three dimensional online environment as a cyber place of proselytizing potential.

Boris Yeltsin was more than just Russia’s first president, he was also a 20th century icon of global transformation, or, as one writer put it, the beginning of the end of history. Veronica Khokhlova presents us with translated excerpts of how Russian bloggers responded to his death.

In a follow-up post to his query on why some jailed bloggers and online activists receive more international support than others, Sami Ben Gharbia draws our attention to a long list of persecuted internet activists from Egypt, Syria, China, Algeria, Malaysia, and Tunisia who all deserve our support and advocacy.

John Kennedy introduces us to Huseyin Celil, an ethnic Uighur originally from China’s largely Muslim northwest and now a Canadian citizen, who was sentenced to life imprisonment last week in a Chinese court after his 2006 extradition from Uzbekistan. “Two questions around which the controversy revolves:” explains Kennedy, “does the Canadian government not worry about granting citizenship to Chinese criminals, or is the Chinese government making these charges up?”

The headlines themselves are great fodder for late night talk show hosts (no more gold teeth, a nationwide student dress code, a ban on book day, no cell phones at schools, no more Russian last names), but is Tajik President Rakhmon’s latest batch of legislation paving the road for sustained authoritarianism or post-Soviet nation building?

In his first post as Japanese Language Editor, Chris Salzberg provides us with some interesting data about what language actually dominates the global blog buzz. Here is how Japanese bloggers themselves reacted to their unexpected domination.

To subscribe to the Global Voices update, sent once each weekday, please click here:


Featuring our friends and affiliates

**NEW** Global Voices website

Congresspedia: the "Citizen's Encyclopedia on Congress"

Assignment Zero: Pro-Am Journalism Opens on the Web

Yale ISP Access to Knowledge Conference 2007

General Public License, version 3 open-editing

World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report 2006-2007



Featured Conferences:
* May 18: OpenNet Initiative - The Future of Free Expression on the Internet: Global Filtering Conference 2007 - Oxford, England:
<http://cyber.harvard.edu/oniconference07> **ACCEPTING REQUESTS FOR WAITING LIST**

* June 1: Internet & Society Conference 2007: UNIVERSITY: Knowledge Beyond Authority - Cambridge, MA:
<http://cyber.harvard.edu> **REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN**

Upcoming Conferences:
* May 2: Future of Music Coalition and American Constitution Society's Music, Technology and IP Policy Day - Washington, DC:

* May 3-4: Webvisions - Portland, Oregon:

* May 7: Open Possibilities at Community One - San Francisco, CA:

* May 8-12: International World Wide Web Conference - Alberta, Canada:

* May 18: OpenNet Initiative - The Future of Free Expression on the Internet: Global Filtering Conference 2007 - Oxford, England:

* May 18: The International Free of Kings Build-It! Conference - Olympia, Washington:

* May 18-20: International Summit for Community Wireless Networks - Columbia, Maryland:

* May 25: Second Life International Education Conference: Best Practices in Teaching, Learning, and Research:

* May 25: The Social Impact of the Web: Society, Society, Government and the Internet:

* May 29: Wall Street Journal's D5: All Things Digital - Carlsbad, California:

* May 29: LAB on MEDIA and Human Experience - Amsterdam, Netherlands:

* May 29-30: Netsquared: Remixing the Web for Social Change - San Jose, CA:

* June 4-6: Publishing for Impact: A Conference for Mission Driven Non-profit Book Publishers - Washington, DC:

* June 7-8: Teaching w/ Technology Idea Exchange: The Open Conference on Technology in Education - Orem, Utah:

* June 13: NMK Forum 2007: What Comes After Content? - London, England:

* June 13: Edutainment 2007: The 2nd International Conference of E-Learning and Games - Hong Kong, China:

* June 14: 3rd International Conference on Open and Online Learning - Penang, Malaysia:

* June 15-17: iCommons Summit 2007 - Dubrovnik, Croatia:

* June 20-22: Supernova 2007 - San Francisco, CA:

* June 23: First International Workshop on Digital Libraries Foundations - Vancouver, CA:

* June 20-27: American Library Association Annual Conference 2007 - Washington, DC:


How to find out about Berkman's weekly events

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>

Every Friday we feature the week's online conversations in the Berkman Buzz. If you would like to receive the Buzz via email, please send an email to pmckiernan AT cyber.harvard.edu with "Buzz subscribe" as the subject line. To take a look at last week's Berkman Buzz, go here:

We webcast every Tuesday Luncheon Series Speaker. Luncheon Series events start at 12:30 pm Eastern Time. The webcast link is <rtsp://harmony.law.harvard.edu/webcast.sdp>. You can participate live in our lunch discussions through our IRC chat channel: <irc://irc.freenode.net/Berkman> or on our island in Second Life: <http://tinyurl.com/s6tv4>. Tune in!

If you are unable to tune in to one of our events, please check out Berkman's Audio Event Archive: <http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/audioberkman>

The Berkman Center's audio and podcasts are also available through iTunes, ODEO, and Podnova.

* iTunes: <http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=1352385...
* ODEO: <http://odeo.com/channel/79770/view>
* Podnova: <http://www.podnova.com/index_podnova_station.srf?url=http://feeds.feedbu...

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 <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: Patrick McKiernan

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Last updated

January 16, 2008