<--Filter Flash--> September 2008

September 30, 2008

[0] From the Center
[1] Feature: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives
[2] Feature: looking back at Berkman@10
[3] Special: the future of The Filter
[4] Staying Connected
[5] Filter Facts



[0] From the Center

Autumn is upon us here in Cambridge, and the return of students means renewed vigor for the Berkman Center, especially this year, coming off our tenth anniversary and an incredible couple of months of work with our summer research interns, not to mention a slate of big, early-semester events such as the "United State v. Microsoft: 10 Years Later" conference, the Internet Safety Technical Task Force Open Meeting, and an energetic open house in our new extension space down the street in Harvard Square. We're entering our first year as a University-wide research center with John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's Born Digital on bookshelves, helping establish pressing questions in our research agenda, along with past pillars like Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks and Jonathan Zittrain's The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It. Indeed, we have a terrific group of new fellows and initiatives being developed alongside lots of new work from continuing efforts. In this short issue of The Filter, we invite you to dig into Born Digital, to explore a special visualization of Berkman@10, and to offer your feedback and advice as we think through revisions to The Filter itself in the coming year. As always, this fall, we welcome you to get involved as we roll out new research, papers, and projects and pursue the public interest in the context of Internet & society.



[1] FEATURE: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives

On August 25, the Berkman Center announced the availability of John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's new book, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Basic Books, http://www.borndigitalbook.com, excerpt below). The official publication date was September 2. The German version will be released this Wednesday, October 1. More translations are in progress as well.

Born Digital is an intervention in the discussion around children born into and raised in a connected, digital world. Urs and John examine the issues -- from online safety to the participation gap to digital creativity and beyond -- in ways that are congenial to parents and teachers, as well as to fellow academics. As Berkman friend and former faculty director Lawrence Lessig puts it, "Digital technologies are changing our kids in ways we don't yet understand. This beautifully written book will set the framework for a field that will change that. It is required reading for parents, educators, and anyone who cares about the future."

Born Digital builds on the interdisciplinary research carried out by the Digital Natives project's transatlantic team (from the Berkman Center and from the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland). In support of the book, and the conversations it aims to contribute to and continue, John and Urs have been giving talks and inviting comments, online and off, and we hope you'll join them -- and us -- in thinking through the themes of Born Digital.

* the book
* reactions -- join the conversation!
* Born Digital events -- Chicago and NYC details TBA
* Digital Natives Reporters in the Field series
* Digital Natives project

Congratulations to authors John and Urs (and the whole Digital Natives project team) on this tremendous accomplishment!
From the Introduction:

You see them everywhere. The teenage girl with the iPod, sitting across from you on the subway, frenetically typing messages into her cell phone. The whiz kid summer intern in your office who knows what to do when your e-mail client crashes. The eight-year-old who can beat you at any video game on the market -- and types faster than you do, too. Even your niece’s newborn baby in London, whom you’ve never met, but with whom you have bonded nonetheless, owing to the new batch of baby photos that arrive each week.

All of them are “Digital Natives.” They were all born after 1980, when social digital technologies, such as Usenet and bulletin board systems, came online. They all have access to networked digital technologies. And they all have the skills to use those technologies. (Except for the baby -- but she’ll learn soon enough.)

Chances are, you’ve been impressed with some of the skills these Digital Natives possess. Maybe your young assistant has shown you a hilarious political satire online that you never would have found on your own, or made presentation materials for you that make your own PowerPoint slides seem medieval by comparison. Maybe your son has Photoshopped a cloud out of a family vacation photo and turned it into the perfect Christmas card. Maybe that eight-year-old made a funny video on her own that tens of thousands of people watched on YouTube.

But there’s also a good chance that a Digital Native has annoyed you. That same assistant, perhaps, writes inappropriately casual e-mails to your clients -- and somehow still doesn’t know how to put together an actual printed letter. Or maybe your daughter never comes down for dinner on time because she’s always busy online, chatting with her friends. And when she does come down to dinner, she won’t stop texting those same friends under the table.

Maybe you’re even a bit frightened by these Digital Natives. Your son has told you, perhaps, that a boy in his ninth-grade class is putting up scary, violent messages on his Web page. Or you heard about that ring of college kids who hacked into a company website and stole 487 credit-card numbers before getting caught by police.

There is one thing you know for sure: These kids are different. They study, work, write, and interact with each other in ways that are very different from the ways that you did growing up. They read blogs rather than newspapers. They often meet each other online before they meet in person. They probably don’t even know what a library card looks like, much less have one; and if they do, they’ve probably never used it. They get their music online -- often for free, illegally -- rather than buying it in record stores. They’re more likely to send an instant message (IM) than to pick up the telephone to arrange a date later in the afternoon. They adopt and pal around with virtual Neopets online instead of pound puppies. And they’re connected to one another by a common culture. Major aspects of their lives -- social interactions, friendships, civic activities -- are mediated by digital technologies. And they’ve never known any other way of life.

(Continue reading the Introduction to Born Digital at http://www.borndigitalbook.com/excerpt.php.)
Born Digital is available from Amazon in print and Kindle editions, as well as from many other booksellers.



[2] FEATURE: looking back at Berkman@10: The Future of the Internet

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University (yes, University: on May 15, we officially became an Interfaculty Initiative!) offers -- once again -- our heartfelt thanks to the whole community for making "Berkman@10: The Future of the Internet" a success -- as a conference and as the culmination of our year-long, tenth anniversary celebration. We remain deeply honored that such an engaged group converged on Cambridge to celebrate this milestone and to explore what comes next. As we had hoped, May 15 and 16 were a collaborative examination of the most important issues in our space and an opportunity for many of our friends and partners to (re)connect with one another. Many new conversations and projects were spawned, setting an ambitious tone for the academic year now underway.

We all continue to digest the substance of our exchanges. In the event that you need a second look, there are many ways to revisit Berkman@10. On the conference website at http://www.berkmanat10.org, you'll find video, announcements, and many other outputs from the Berkman@10 conference, as well as the year leading up to it.

One important goal for the conference was to experiment with new approaches to continuing our inquiries jointly, in contact with one another. Whether asynchronous and remote or not, we encourage you to further the conversations about the future of the Net by blogging your thoughts, making use of the array of social tools used at the conference, and generating new ideas that will move us ahead: http://cyber.harvard.edu/berkmanat10/Social_Tools.

Last week, to provoke this continued experimentation and exploration, and in honor of OneWebDay , we introduced a special visualization for accessing Berkman@10-related materials. The visualization was produced by the amazingly generous, good people of Barcelona/Lisbon-based Bestiario -- in particular, Santiago Ortiz -- in consultation with Berkman summer intern Zack McCune. Zack has provided background on the production.
Bestiario's "B10" interface is up and running at http://www.bestiario.org/harvard/b10. Dive in! and let's continue to move things forward together.



[3] SPECIAL: the future of The Filter

On July 30, The Filter newsletter followed the Berkman Center in turning ten. During most of the Center's tenth anniversary, The Filter was on hiatus, with Berkman staff focused on Berkman@10 events, special initiatives, and roll-up (see [2], above). As part of Berkman@10's reflection on the past and interrogation of the future of the Net, we have also been considering -- and reconsidering -- our monthly newsletter.

The Filter has delivered a mix of writing and commentary on Internet and public interest issues, along with links to friends and affiliates, upcoming gatherings and conferences, and interesting bits of news from the Berkman community at large. Past issues of The Filter continue to be accessed frequently, and we invite you too to peruse the full archive. And in the spirit of Berkman@10, and of The Filter's range and mix, we are opening the phone lines, so to speak, and humbly requesting community feedback.

Help us take a hard look at the form and presentation, content and contents, point and purpose of The Filter. What should it be in its second decade? What would you like to see in a monthly email from the Berkman Center? How should it be formatted? We have been asking ourselves the same questions, and we have ideas of our own -- some necessary, some feasible, some aspirational -- but we would love to hear from Filter readers before rolling out any revisions.

Please send your thoughts and feedback to filter@cyber.harvard.edu.
And stay tuned for this year's new -- and improved -- issues of The Filter.




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Last updated

September 30, 2008