Berkman Buzz: August 15, 2014

August 15, 2014

The Berkman Buzz is selected weekly from the posts of Berkman Center people and projects.
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Zeynep Tufecki explains why #Ferguson is a net neutrality issue


Ferguson is about many things, starting first with race and policing in America.

But it’s also about internet, net neutrality and algorithmic filtering.

It’s a clear example of why “saving the Internet”, as it often phrased, is not an abstract issue of concern only to nerds, Silicon Valley bosses, and few NGOs. It’s why “algorithmic filtering” is not a vague concern.

It’s a clear example why net neutrality is a human rights issue; a free speech issue; and an issue of the voiceless being heard, on their own terms.

From Zeynep Tufekci's piece for Medium, "What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: Net Neutrality, Algorithmic Filtering and Ferguson"
About Zeynep | @zeynep

Willow Brugh reflects on expressions, understanding, and accessibility


We have such an investment in the written word in our world right now. And it’s beautiful. Uses different parts of the brain at the same time, allows for storage of thought to be passed down and through and re-examined and loved through time. I love the written word.

But I am also dyslexic. I love books, but I hate reading – I feel like an idiot. I have to read each sentence twice (at least), at the same pace that I’d read aloud. I still don’t always understand what I’m reading – not the concept, mind you, simply the written words which are used to express it. I know the deep knowledge represented on each page, and yet I dredge through it like a 7 year old, frustrated by the time it takes to get through the simplest components. Still. At 30.

From Willow Brugh's blog post, "Expressions and Understanding"
About Willow | @willowbl00

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Brilliant account of how #Ferguson crisis would look through the lens of our typical international news report
Judith Donath (@judithd)

Ethan Zuckerman examines the "Internet's original sin"


At the end of the day, the business model that got us funded was advertising. The model that got us acquired was analyzing users’ personal homepages so we could better target ads to them. Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad. It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good.

From Ethan Zuckerman's piece for The Atlantic, "The Internet's Original Sin"
About Ethan | @ethanz

Harvard Magazine reviews Judith Donath's new book, The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online

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People socialize online more than ever: posting photos on Instagram, job-hunting on LinkedIn, joking about politics on Twitter, and sharing reviews of everything from hotels to running shoes. Judith Donath, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, argues against using real names for most of these Internet interactions and relying instead on pseudonyms.

A made-up handle is essential to maintain privacy and manage one’s online identity, she says. Her new book, The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online (MIT Press, 2014), also contends that well-managed pseudonyms can strengthen online communities, an idea that contradicts the conventional wisdom that fake names bring out the worst in people, allowing “trolls” to bully others or post hateful, destructive comments without consequences. Real names, such thinking goes, keep online conversations civil.

From Erin O'Donnell's piece for Harvard Magazine, "Can Pseudonyms Make Better Online Citizens?"
About Judith | @judithd

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Hope that you can join us for a tweet chat about my upcoming book - Aug 20 at 1pm ET #SASMchat
Rey Junco (@reyjunco)

In the Fight Against Russia, Ukraine Flirts with Kremlinesque Internet Censorship

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A new draft law in Ukraine threatened to empower the government to shut down media outlets and block websites in the name of national security. The law, which passed its first reading in parliament yesterday, has exasperated local journalists, civil society figures, and the international community. The outrage grew so loud that today deputies agreed to remove and soften most of the censorship measures, but proposed moving some of them to existing media laws to achieve some measure of control over dissenting media outlets.

From Tetyana Lokot's post for Global Voices, "In the Fight Against Russia, Ukraine Flirts with Kremlinesque Internet Censorship"
About Global Voices Online | @globalvoices

This Buzz was compiled by Rebekah Heacock.

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Last updated

August 15, 2014