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Berkman Buzz: May 13, 2011

A look at the past week's online Berkman conversations

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What's being discussed...take your pick or browse below.

* Wendy Seltzer inspects son-of-COICA.
* OpenNet Initiative reports on the Syrian Electronic Army, and Facebook.
* Media Cloud investigates Russian blogs, media and agenda-setting.
* Ethan Zuckerman keynotes CHI 2011 -- parataxis, cities, serendipity, design.
* David Weinberger discusses e-books and much more with James Bridle.
* Citizen Media Law Project introduces us to the OpenCourt project.
* Weekly Global Voices: "Uganda: Museveni’s Swearing in Overshadowed by Rival's Return"

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The full buzz.

"There’s more than a hint of theatrics in the draft PROTECT IP bill...that has emerged as son-of-COICA, starting with the ungainly acronym of a name. Given its roots in the entertainment industry, that low drama comes as no surprise. Each section name is worse than the last: 'Eliminating the Financial Incentive to Steal Intellectual Property Online' (Sec. 4) gives way to 'Voluntary action for Taking Action Against Websites Stealing American Intellectual Property' (Sec. 5). Techdirt gives a good overview of the bill, so I’ll just pick some details..." From Wendy Seltzer's blog post Debugging Legislation: PROTECT IP

"Syrian government-run al-Thawar newspaper has accused Facebook’s administration of conspiring against the Syrian people. The paper has also announced that pro-regime Syrian programmers are currently preparing a surprise for Facebook. The paper said in an unsigned editorial...on May 7, 2011 that it is clear that Facebook has sided with the 'so called revolutionaries' in Syria. The editorial also accused the site of having double standards because it allegedly shut down pages belonging to the Syrian Electronic Army without any justification or prior notice." From Helmi Noman's blog post for ONI, Syrian government newspaper accuses Facebook of conspiring against the country

" seems that based on this early output from Russian media cloud that opposition blogs are indeed different from both government information channels and popular media, and that they are likely providing an alternative agenda to mainstream sources. More research is required to understand how these different sources talk about the same topic, and if blogs in any way have a different agenda than other media. The recent events in Egypt provide an excellent example of the appearance of an agenda item in the blogosphere that is almost completely absent from official Russian government information channels..." From Bruce Etling's post for Media Cloud, Do Russian Blogs Represent an Alternative Public Sphere? Early Results from Russian Media Cloud

"But both Gibson and Stephenson were interested in virtual spaces as ones in which people were forced to interact because lots of people wanted to be in the same spaces at the same time, bumping into each other as they headed towards the same destinations. On the one hand, it’s an insane way to visualize data – why would we force people into close contact when we’re building 'spaces' that can be infinite in scale? Both believed that we’d want to interact in cyberspace in some of the ways we do in cities, experiencing an overload of sensation, a compression in scale, a challenge of picking out signal and noise from information competing for our attention." From Ethan Zuckerman's blog post CHI keynote: Desperately Seeking Serendipity

"James Bridle is the interviewee in the first in a series of podcasts I’m doing for the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. I met James at a conference in Israel a few weeks ago, and had the great pleasure of getting to hang out with him. He’s a British book-lover and provocateur, who expresses his deep insights through his wicked sense of humor." From David Weinberger's blog post James Bridle – first Library Innovation Lab podcast

"OpenCourt, an experimental project launched on May 2, 2011, by WBUR, Boston's NPR news station, seeks to change all of that. With the cooperation of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (the highest court in the Commonwealth) and the Massachusetts District Court (a department of the Massachusetts Trial Court), the OpenCourt project has started streaming live video and audio of the proceedings in the First Session of Quincy District Court. OpenCourt also provides WiFi access to journalists and bloggers so that they can report live from the courtroom. The goal of the OpenCourt project is to develop a set of standards and best practices for live access to the courts that can be replicated in courtrooms around the country." From Jeff Hermes' blog post for CMLP, Announcing OpenCourt

"Dr. Besigye was almost stopped from coming back to the country the day before the ceremony. Blocked from boarding a Kenya Airways flight after reports that the Uganda government would not allow the airline to land if he was on board, Besigye was later offered a seat on another evening flight which he declined. Together with his wife and former confidante Museveni Winnie Byanyima, they chose to come back on the very day of the swearing in ceremony. The army used used tear gas and canes to try to disperse crowds gathered along Entebbe Road as they waited for Besigye. The military had to make way for foreign dignitaries to be able to access the road to the airport as a journey that usually takes about a hour, took Besigye and his crowd of supporters over six hours to make it to the city." From Rosebell Kagumire's blog post for Global Voices Online, Uganda: Museveni’s Swearing in Overshadowed by Rival's Return

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Compiled by Seth Young.

The Berkman Buzz is selected weekly from the posts of Berkman Center people and projects and sometimes from the Center's wider network.

Suggestions and feedback about the Buzz are always welcome and can be emailed to