<-- The Filter --> November 2007

December 5, 2007
[0] From the Center
[1] Features
[2] Networked: Bookmarks, Webcasts, Podcasts, and Blogposts
[3] Berkman @ 10
[4] Global Voices: Digital Dose of Global Conversations
[5] Community Links
[6] Upcoming Conferences
[7] Staying Connected
[8] Filter Facts

[0] From the Center
Our interests at the Berkman Center have always been global - mirroring the Net - including everyone who's online, and just as importantly, everyone who's not.  Our focus on different national contexts, international policy efforts, comparisons across settings, and engagement within them has varied naturally, depending on themes, opportunities to effect change, partners, and more.  The international elements of this month's filter highlight our recent good fortune to engage on a host of consciously international issues with wonderful colleagues.  Whether it is our transatlantic work on Interoperability and Innovation with the inimitable Faculty Fellow Urs Gasser and his crew at St. Gallen, ambitious globally distributed initiatives like the OpenNet Initiative and Global Voices, the development of Principles on Privacy and Self-Expression in concert with companies, rights organizations, investors and academics mostly in Europe and the US (plus Berkman Alum Rebecca MacKinnon in Hong Kong), or simply the recent visit by our friend Francois Leveque from Ecole des Mines in Paris, these interactions have been profoundly valuable.  While the challenges of bridging culture, policy and perspective remain great, they pale in comparison to the amazing lessons and relationships that have come from the process.  It is our hope -- and suspicion -- that this is just the beginning, that we will continue to develop the skills and understanding necessary to make this type of work our second nature.
-- Colin Maclay, Managing Director, Berkman Center --

[1] FEATURES: a bit of what's going on at Berkman and where to read more
Interoperability and eInnovation
by David Russcol
Interoperability is a core aspect of the technological achievements of the last few decades, yet it has received relatively little academic attention. Interoperability is (roughly speaking) the ability of different systems to exchange data with one another to achieve some useful outcome. Although technical interoperability (having systems that can talk to one another) is a major part of interoperability, legal, market, and personal factors are also relevant. Even if one program or system can talk to another, it will not do so if the two are controlled by competitors unwilling to cooperate or if doing so would violate antitrust laws, for instance.
The entire Internet is an example of the enormous potential for innovation created by interoperability. The Internet, and the Web in particular, are based on open standards from the Internet Engineering Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium, among others. Virtually everything on the Web communicates through TCP/IP, HTML, HTTP, and other such open technologies that are available to all developers and applications. Innovation has been widespread from the invention of the Web through the advent of e-commerce to the recent development of mashups, a direct application of the interoperability present on the Web. It is undeniable that the development of the Internet has coincided with unprecedented technological and economic growth, but the relationship between interoperability and this innovation has not been spelled out to date.
However, the Berkman Center and the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, have recently completed a study on the relationship between interoperability and innovation in the context of information and communications technologies. Following on the Roadmap for Open ICT Ecosystems, we entered into this project with the general idea that openness and interoperability are generally “good things” that facilitate competition, growth, and innovation, although we retained a healthy skepticism that this was true in all cases. In our discussions with experts and market actors, we developed more nuanced views. Different ways of achieving interoperability are better than others in given situations, due to varying externalities and incentives for various stakeholders.
Interoperability does have potential drawbacks for many parties, from major corporations seeking to protect copyrighted music from pirates and hackers by walling it off in incompatible DRM to suspicious libertarians concerned about a buildup of personal information in the hands of government or private actors due to seamless Digital Identity technology. Just as there can be too little interoperability (such as the communications systems that did not work together on 9/11), it may be that there can be too much.
In order to analyze the relationship between interoperability and innovation, we mainly focused on three in-depth case studies: DRM-protected music, Digital ID, and Mashups/Web services. In each case, we explore several possible paths to sustained interoperability and assess the potential of each to spur innovation. There are many possible ways to achieve interoperability, ranging from voluntary (using or creating open standards) to involuntary (reverse engineering by competitors) to coerced (mandates by government actors). They vary on numerous dimensions, including level of government involvement, responsiveness to changing market factors, cost-effectiveness, and the amount of private coordination necessary to achieve interoperability.
In general, we conclude that there is no “silver bullet” for interoperability – no one approach that is suitable for all circumstances. Instead, we advocate a rigorous case-by-case analysis to determine the most appropriate course, focusing on the market structure and economic incentives in light of the goal of innovation or whatever other policy goals are desired. We tend to prefer open standards processes, but in some cases unilateral action (as with Apple virtually creating the online music market with iTunes and its DRM, or Facebook opening an API to developers) is easier and more effective in spurring innovation.  While we are generally wary of government intervention, we recognize that there are situations where market failures make state action appropriate, usually intervention after the fact to break up monopoly or oligopoly situations that stifle innovation.
About David Russcol:
Breaking Down Digital Barriers:
Roadmap to Open ICT Ecosystems:

Reflections on the IGF
by Robert Faris
Just weeks ago in Rio de Janeiro, the second Internet Governance Forum effectively came to an end after the penultimate session.  With the closing remarks still to be delivered, most of the remaining attendees mingled in conversation at the back of the plenary hall, ignoring the pleas of the chairman to come to order.  The next couple of speakers went forward with their comments without the full attention of the plenary, while the many participants that were weary of the structure pursued their own agendas.
Close to fourteen hundred people came together for this multi-stakeholder event representing more than one hundred countries.  Given the flagrant lack of real power placed in the hands of the IGF, it is laudable that so many people came to share what should be done—in full knowledge that this body could not make it happen.  On the other hand, many of us don’t need much urging to visit Rio.
The choice of venue was risky with the beach less than 100 meters from the podium.  It fortunately rained for most of the forum; had it been sunny, attendance on days three and four might have been left only to the virtual and virtuous.  I find fresh coconut milk the perfect fuel for digesting the enormity of Internet governance, particularly in combination with the sonorous lapping of waves.  When that isn’t enough, a caipirinha can help with one’s courage of conviction.
A few of the speakers at the forum resorted to impassioned arm-waving, but most of the proceedings were carried out in the subdued tones of civil discourse on matters of critical import. The mode of the proceedings was the panel, which is great at giving as many attendees as possible a moment of discursive glory.  The downside is that it is nearly impossible to deliver a coherent message in less than 10 minutes, except to those singing to the choir.  This most often leaves us with little more than a chance to state priorities and identify important facets of a puzzle to be solved at a later point in time.  Like the others, I dutifully recited the table of contents of what I would have gladly expounded upon for a full hour or two.
If the diversity of attendees or the number and range of opinions expressed is the gauge of success, then the 2007 IGF was a huge success.  Perhaps this indeed should be the best measure of accomplishment for a multi-stakeholder initiative, with apologies to those that cringe and run for the door when that phrase in mentioned.  Everyone who wished to briefly share their thoughts had an opportunity to do so.  The problem was getting people to listen.  I, for one, left Rio with all my preconceptions, biases and dogmas unscathed.  I suspect that most participants were similarly immune to the words of their counterparts.
Andrew Keen did not convince me to shut down the cacophony of opinions coming through my ethernet cable and spend more of my time with the BBC and CNN.  He is right that I should become a more discerning and perspicacious consumer of online media.  I continue to search the web for guidance on that.  Neither was Vint Cerf convinced by Keen’s remarks: Cerf’s response was that Keen’s “diatribe” was a lot of “crap.”  (Wow, how many of us are envious that he can get away with that in such an august public forum.)  Yet, I have little faith that Keen has now realized the error in his ways having been chastised by one of the godfathers of the Internet.  I do agree with Keen regarding the value of the The New York Times.  Perhaps we could join forces to get the paper to the next 6.5 billion readers who don’t read the New York Times.  If only there were a low cost way to duplicate and distribute information around the world we might have a chance.
The IGF included almost one hundred different sessions, each with a finely targeted topic, except that upon closer inspection, these turned out to be the same ten or so topics.  Expanding access to the Internet was properly placed at the top of the list of priorities for most.  If innovative approaches to this issue were broached I missed it while sitting in on a parallel panel.  A session that discussed ICANN without advertising the fact seemed to upset everyone, those who attended that didn’t want to hear any more about it, and those that missed it who wanted to hear more on the topic, if only they had known it would be aired out again.  In another egregious error in the program, all the panelists that spoke at the human rights and net neutrality session agreed that net neutrality should be protected.  (I believe that there was also broad consensus that human rights are good.)  Internet security was presented by dozens of experts in twenty minutes or less, with the number of definitions for security far outnumbering the presenters.  Others discussed how open source and proprietary approaches could be utilized to protect intellectual property online.  Other panels confirmed that cybercrime should be addressed and that children should be protected.  More on that next year.
I regrettably missed the sessions on ‘critical internet resources’.  This euphemism seems to intentionally lend itself to an infinitely wide spectrum of interpretation, though most often seems to correspond to an attack on the conspiracy to keep control of the Internet out of the hands of the international community, who would otherwise bring order to the chaos, and deliberate the Internet into submission.  As far as I can tell, the ICANN board did not grasp the logical justice for democratizing the network and failed to immediately turn over the keys to the Internet.  The search for a governance body capable of restoring civility, security and accuracy to the medium continues.  If confused by this, tell me how you feel about international hegemony and democratic accountability in international institutions, and I’ll tell you which side to line up on. I can also give you a few key talking points that will induce the other side to cower and seek cover, at least for a while anyway before they come up again firing.  
Another key question of conscience discussed during the IGF is whether technology companies should: a) govern themselves; b) follow local law; c) be subject to binding international law; d) none of the above; e) all of the above.  By the way, the second choice is not allowed.
The intrepid Google representatives were inescapable, sitting on innumerable panels to respond to those that question their lack of evil. They talked about privacy, market power and their choices to compromise with governments that would otherwise block their services.  At times they resorted to describing the numerous services that users around the world voluntarily use for free—raising further suspicion.  All agreed before ripping into them that it was great for Google to come and take the heat.  Others were of course conspicuous in their absence.
With so many diverse and interesting opinions expressed—all uttered by experts—it seems a shame to not aggregate these into something that one can take to the policy-makers and international negotiators.  One possible savior from the randomness of it all, Jimmy Wales, did not beam into the freedom of expression panel as expected.  We still don’t know whether to lay the blame on Skype, the poorly managed Internet, or Rio.  I looked to Wikipedia to make sense of the noise, and found neither a concise treatment of the proceedings nor the full breadth of vision found at the conference.  (There is a link to the full text of the plenary proceedings on the IGF website, though one must provide their own tropical drink.)  Perhaps Wikipedia has finally met its match.  As for me, I guess I can’t have my complexity and simplify it too.
Removing tongue from cheek for a moment, this clearly was not a forum for making major decisions or generating new strategies for tackling profound questions that involved multiple trade-offs between privacy, security and freedom of expression, or for finding the best way to reward innovative thinkers while continuing to promote innovation.  There is inestimable value in the conversations and connections made off the official record and unknown benefits to be reaped by the potential future collaborations.  For those who attended with the hope of moving from talk to action, the forum may have provided a unique opportunity to meet and converse with others who are similarly inclined.
The question I am left to ponder is how the exchanges of opinions can be aggregated and channeled into something genuinely useful. Many of the sessions consisted of people talking past one another, all of us on separate trajectories with no notion or appreciation of where the others were heading.  Some in pursuit of greater protection of children online, others in search of greater internet security, others urging for greater social responsibility and freedom from cyber crime.  It is hard to argue with any of this, until you start to consider how to get there from here.  A lingering disappointment in the IGF, and life in general, is that so many bright, well-meaning people can not cleanly reach consensus on how to govern the Internet.  I haven’t figured out yet whether this is an indication of too much or too little coconut milk.  In the meantime, I will be embracing the chaos and looking forward to New Delhi.
About Robert Faris:
About the OpenNet Initiative:
About the Internet Governance Forum:

Using Tech to Improve Political Debates
by Dan Gillmor
Recently, presidential candidates from both parties participated in the latest of this election cycle’s “debates.” The quotes around that word are deliberate, because political debates are stuck in a world of television sound bites, after-the-fact spin, and almost blatant contempt for voters.
Mass media, the communications technology that became supreme in the 20th century, has ruined debates. The Lincoln-Douglas confrontations in 1858 and other verbal contests were once among the deepest and most revelatory of conversations. They revealed intellect and passion, and illuminated the issues of their day. Today’s mass media, reflecting a cultural short attention span, elevates shallowness.
This year’s endless series of events, with so many candidates aiming for the nominations, have been especially puerile, little more than mini-press conferences and spin sessions. Even when the questions are serious, the time limitations on answers puts a premium on regurgitating canned, semi-clever lines that entertain instead of illuminate. These things are to real debating what motel room art is to Picasso.
But technology can also help restore the debate. The Internet and digital tools - search, blogging, online video, wikis, interactive games, and virtual worlds - are made to order for serious conversations. The collision of technology with media offers an unparalleled chance to hold debates that would illuminate our problems and opportunities and give us true insight into the people who want us to elect them.
The role of technology in politics has always been prominent, notably in communications. The pamphleteers of America’s Revolutionary era, and newspaper people later on, knew how powerful the printing press could be. The telegraph sped the news. Telephones, a one-to-one device, transformed personal communications. Radio and then, even more, television became the ultimate tools: one-to-many megaphones of unparalleled power.
The Internet subsumes all that came before, and adds a many-to-many capability. The democratization of media means that anyone can publish; that what we publish is available to a potentially global community; and that creation naturally leads to conversation and collaboration.
The Net has, of course, already made itself felt on the campaign trail. Howard Dean’s 2004 team innovated with blogging and online fund-raising ideas. Former senator George Allen lost his 2006 reelection race in part because of an unflattering video posted on YouTube. In this cycle, the presidential candidates are all over the Internet map, and so are their supporters - witness the now-famous “I’ve got a crush on Obama” video and Mitt Romney’s invitation to his supporters to create advertisements, among countless other efforts.
We’ve seen some modest attempts to make the Internet part of the debate process. The CNN-YouTube Democratic event during the summer (a Republican version was held on Nov. 28), demonstrated at least one thing of value: Regular folks can ask questions that are at least as penetrating, or vapid, as the ones posed by journalists in more typical settings. But post-event chatter focused, to a major extent, on what questioners looked like - and whether CNN and YouTube should have let the audience, not just the journalists, select the questions posed to candidates (the answer is obviously yes). Still, this was a sideshow. We learned almost nothing useful about the candidates or their views.
Meanwhile, Slate and Yahoo joined forces a few weeks ago to offer a slightly more innovative, roll-your-own version. Voters could select specific questions and issues, and get a brief video lineup of candidates’ views. Yahoo says visitors to the site stuck around for an average of seven minutes, a long time on the Web but a pathetic span for serious voters. Perhaps they’d have delved more deeply had the site included more truly interactive features.
Better still is 10Questions.com, created by the TechPresident site working with The New York Times and MSNBC, a site that lets regular folks ask video questions and vote on the ones that get posed to candidates. Then the candidates answer, and the regular folks vote on whether the candidates actually answered.
But we can do even better, using a variety of media and techniques. Consider two approaches, different in character but both aimed at greater understanding.
First, the candidates should agree to hold lengthy, one-on-one debates and then put the results online for the public to slice and dice. Rather than having journalists and/or YouTubers ask the questions, we should leave the questioning to the candidates themselves. Give the candidates time to provide substantial responses, and give them full freedom to follow up on their opponents’ remarks. Moderators could help keep the debate on track and civil.
The videos should be posted online and made freely available. Media organizations, party organizations, interest groups, and private citizens could use increasingly inexpensive digital editing tools to help us sort through the mass of video; for example, someone who cares about healthcare could create a comparison of what each candidate said about the topic.
Then let voters decide what they want to watch. A few will watch everything. Many more will watch several debates, or parts of many.
Certainly this system would ask a great deal of the candidates, including perhaps more of their time than they might wish to spend. It would also demonstrate the utter shallowness of the so-called debates that broadcasters and interest groups sponsor today.
A second approach would be even more ambitious: A debate that would unfold online over the course of days, or even weeks and months. Imagine that one candidate takes a position and poses a question. The opponent would answer with a written response of some predetermined length, but with the help of staff, experts, and the general public. Then the first candidate, again with the help of anyone who wants to join the process, would dissect the response and reply with (we’d hope) a truly nuanced update. Continue this process at length - and repeat it with many other topics.
What would the site look like? What technologies would we use? I have my own ideas, and have posted them on my blog, but I’m just one person; we need a collective effort to figure this out, using much the same iterative process. The specific tools are less important than the willingness to deploy them.
Indeed, we’d start with an inventory of what people are already doing. Nonpolitical online conversations are already achieving remarkable depth and breadth using a variety of methods.
But before we finish yet another campaign cycle in the traditional way, let’s resolve to bring debating into the new century. We have the ability to turn top-down, sell-the-candidate methods of electioneering into edge-in conversations among candidates and the electorate. It’ll happen eventually. Why not this time?
More on Dan's Gillmor's theory on the future of political debates:
About Dan Gillmor:
Dan Gillmor's Latest Endeavor:

Links to Berkman conversations happening online
Privacy and Social Networking:
[JOURNAL] Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship.
[ARTICLE] David Weinberger: Facebook's Privacy Default.
[BLOGPOST] Ethan Zuckerman on the changes to Facebook.
[PRESENTATION] Jonathan Zittrain on the "Future of the Net."

Internet Politics, Governance, and Regulation:
[ARTICLE] Congress looks to colleges to police copyright.
[WEBSITE] Vote Gopher: Presidential Election forum.
[VIDEO] Urs Gasser and John Palfrey present "Breaking Down Digital Barriers."
[DATABASE] Citizen Media Law Project: Database of Legal Threats.

Security, Filtering, and Digital Identity:
[BLOGPOST] Wendy Seltzer: Stop Congress From Breaking Higher Education Networks.
[REPORT] OpenNet Initiative: Nigerian 2007 Presidential Election.
[ARTICLE] "10 Tips for Smart Holiday Shopping Online."
[CASE STUDY] Breaking Down Digital Barriers: Digital Identity Interoperability and eInnovation.

[3] Berkman @ 10:
Celebrating 10 years of exploring cyberspace, sharing in its study, and pioneering its development
MacArthur Award, Kicking Off Berkman @ 10
by John Palfrey
This year, the Berkman Center is celebrating its tenth anniversary. We’re spending the year, in part, reflecting on what we’ve learned in our first decade, where things stand now in our field, and where we ought to focus for our second decade. We’ll have a series of special events throughout the year, as well as a gala event from May 14 - 16, 2008. We hope very much to see lots of friends, old and new, over the course of the year.
We’ve also undertaken an effort this year to raise endowment-style funds for the Center to support our next ten years of operations. We’ve been very generously supported over the years, by the Berkman family and many others. Our mode has been not to have a permanent endowment, and we are not changing course in this regard, but rather we seek to raise funds on an entrepreneurial basis as we go along. We’re taking this tenth anniversary celebration as a time to achieve a bit more stability in our funding structure by raising funds to cover our core costs for our second decade.
We could not be happier that the MacArthur Foundation has decided to give us a $4 million award, our largest ever gift outside of the ongoing generosity of the Berkman family. This award from the MacArthur Foundation is the anchor to what we intend to make a successful effort to ensure that we have the resources to do our work even better in our second decade than we have in our first. I’m confident that the importance of the issues of Internet and society only grow more important and central to the lives of people around the world with each passing year.
The MacArthur Foundation has been exceptionally helpful to us on many levels as we go about our public-spirited work. The foundation’s president, Jonathan Fanton, the vice-president Elspeth Revere, and program officer John Bracken have contributed to our work in so many substantive and philanthropic ways. We’re extremely grateful.
About John Palfrey:
To comment, please visit:
For more on Berkman @ 10:

Berkman @ 10: Our Year-Long Look at the Future of the Net
The future of citizen media.

[BLOGPOST] Center for Citizen Media explains business models.
The future of television.
[APPLICATION] Free and Open-Source Internet TV from our friends at Participatory Culture Foundation.
The future of education.
[TECH] OLPC extends their Get One Give One program.

[4] 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>
In light of the state of emergency declared in Pakistan on November 3, 2007, Global Voices has set up a Special Coverage Page where we shall be aggregating our own coverage of the events plus regular updates from selected English-language blogs and other relevant information.
Bangladeshi bloggers are imploring their readers to set political differences aside and unite to care for the tens of thousands affected by Cyclone Sidr. They also explain how an innovative fundraising campaign allows those within Bangladesh to donate to the humanitarian effort via SMS.
Just before the U.S. stock market took one of its largest tumbles in recent history, PetroChina, the self-titled “most profitable enterprise in Asia,” returned to the Chinese stock market after seven years abroad. Though the state-owned oil giant now claims the world’s greatest market value (surpassing Exxon-Mobil and General Electric), Chinese business bloggers are concerned about what the future holds.
Ten day to go before the Russian Duma election, Dmitri Minaev reports on the “dirty tricks” used in this year’s campaign, and LJ user 'drugoi' conducts an online opinion poll, whose results, among other things, show that the new parliament is likely to be elected by the grandmothers of Russian bloggers.
A recent bribery scandal at Samsung involving prosecutors and government officials has become a litmus test for presidential candidates in the upcoming South Korean election. Some wonder whether it's Samsung or the government that holds the greatest power.
Tanzania’s Richard Bezuidenhout was declared the winner of the $100,000 prize in the second season of Big Brother Africa. Richard, a 24 year-old film student, survived five nominations to be forced out, fell in love with a fellow housemate from Angola, and was involved in an alleged sexual assault in the house. He was also newly married at the start of the show. Is Bezuidenhout’s win a reflection of African values or just another example of irresistibly bad reality TV?
It took no time at all for five words said by the King of Spain to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez at a summit in Chile to become slogans for the opposition, the subject of parodies, and even ringtones for cell phones. “Por que no te callas?” or “Why don’t you shut up?” continues to be written about in the press and especially in blogs on both sides of the Atlantic, writes Luis Carlos Diaz from Caracas.
Shedding light on the battle between state censorship and anti-censorship groups, Sami Ben Gharbia has developed the Access Denied Map, an interactive Google Maps mashup that provides information about the censorship efforts targeting various online social networking communities and web-based applications.

Featuring our friends and affiliates
10 Questions: "the first truly people-powered online presidential forum"
NewsTrust (Beta): Your Guide to Good Journalism
Pew Internet Report: Why We Don't Know Enough About Broadband in the U.S.
John Tehranian: Infringement Nation: Copyright Reform and the Law/Norm Gap

*December 3-6: Social Media for Government - Washington, DC:
*December 6: How is the Internet Changing the NH Primary? - Manchester, NH:
*December 6-9: Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Society: Transformations and Challenges - Vienna, Austria:
*December 7-8: Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations of the Future at Harvard Business School - Allston, MA:
*December 8: Symposium on Reputation Economies in Cyberspace at Yale's Information Society Project - New Haven, CT:
*December 10: Copyright and the University: An Academic Symposium at GWU - Washington, DC:
*December 11-18: SANS Cyber Defense Initiative 2007 - Washington, DC:
*December 11-12: Le Web 3 - Paris, FR:
*December 11-12: Massachusetts Digital Government Summit - Boston, MA:
*December 11-13: Curating our Digital Scientific Heritage: a Global Collaborative Challenge - Washington, DC:
*December 14-17: Economics of E-Learning - Paris, FR:
*January 12-13: 2008 Boston Digital Media Summit at Boston College - Newton, MA:
*January 14-17:  Niseko Conference 2008: Internet law for professionals - Niseko, Japan:
*January 14-15: Workshop: Computing in the Cloud at Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy - Princeton, NJ:
*January 18-20: International Conference on Technology, Knowledge and Society at Northeastern University - Boston, MA:
*SAVE THE DATE! May 14-16: The Berkman Center's 10th Anniversary Conference and Gala at Harvard University - Cambridge, MA:

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* About Us
The Filter is a publication of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
Editor: Patrick McKiernan
Contributors: Amar Ashar, Rob Faris, Dan Gillmor, Colin Maclay, John Palfrey, David Russcol, and David Sasaki
* Not a Copyright
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Last updated

February 1, 2012