Berkman Buzz: March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015

The Berkman Buzz is a weekly collection of work, conversations, and news from around the Berkman community.
The Berkman Center is proud to be one of thirteen winners of the Digital Media and Learning Competition's "Trust Challenge," which aims to foster trust in online learning environments. Learn more

After the Protests

Quotation mark

by Zeynep Tufecki

LAST Wednesday, more than 100,000 people showed up in Istanbul for a funeral that turned into a mass demonstration. No formal organization made the call. The news had come from Twitter: Berkin Elvan, 15, had died. He had been hit in the head by a tear-gas canister on his way to buy bread during the Gezi protests last June. During the 269 days he spent in a coma, Berkin's face had become a symbol of civic resistance shared on social media from Facebook to Instagram, and the response, when his family tweeted "we lost our son" and then a funeral date, was spontaneous.

From The New York Times | @zeynep

Yik Yak and Online Anonymity are Good for College Students

Quotation mark

by Reynol Junco

LAST WEEK, THE New York Times published an article about the popular anonymous social app, Yik Yak. Stories introducing a new social media platform used by young people seem to almost always engage moral panics. The Times story certainly followed this model. Their thesis was that allowing young people to post anonymously on Yik Yak leads to the most horrendous instances of harassment and abuse.

Call me crazy, but I am really tired of the anonymity equals evil trope. I'm also tired of claims that popular social technologies are inherently bad based on isolated negative incidents. Do issues of harassment happen on Yik Yak? Yes. Do they occur with a frequency that is disconcerting? Absolutely not.

From Wired | @reyjunco

Whether You're Red or Blue, You Should Love the FCC's Internet Plan

Quotation mark

by Susan Crawford

One day two years ago, while I was doing a public radio call-in show for a station in North Carolina, I heard a Tea Party member say something completely reasonable.

It had been a long day. I'd been in a windowless conference room in midtown Manhattan making calls every half hour to different programs and I was up to Hour Four, so I was a little punchy. I was talking about high speed Internet access and the need for open, cheap, fast fiber access across the country, and a guy called in - let's call him Scott - saying he agreed with me wholeheartedly.

From Backchannel | @scrawford

Binders Full of Election Memes: Participatory Culture Invades the 2012 U.S. Election

From The Civic Media Project, edited by Eric Gordon and Paul Mihailidis


by Erhardt Graeff

Participatory culture handed the 2012 U.S. presidential election season a bumper crop of political memes. These "election memes," largely in the form of image macros, took sound bites from the candidates' debates and speeches and turned them into "digital content units" of political satire "circulated, imitated, and/or transformed via the Internet by many users," to paraphrase Limor Schifman's definition of "internet meme" (2013, 177).

Image macros like the lolcat, feature bold text on top of an image, often a "stock character," and like all Internet memes are "multi-participant creative expressions through which cultural and political identities are communicated and negotiated" (Ibid.). This case study focuses on three popular image macro-based election memes that came out of the 2012 US presidential election cycle: "Fired Big Bird," "Binders Full of Women," and "You Didn't Build That," and argues that sharing such memes is a valid form of political participation in the style of what Tommie Shelby calls "impure dissent" (forthcoming).


Robots, War, and Society


by Camille Francois

Since 2007, the discipline of military robotics has gained sustained and significant attention in the public debate. There is today a growing body of scholarly work devoted to the ethical implications of autonomy, remote warfare, and its compliance with the requirements of international humanitarian law.

Roboticists such as Ronald Arkin have argued that military robotics could yield new forms of conflict, more moral and more observant of international law. "[R] obots not only can be better than soldiers in conducting warfare in certain circumstances, but they can also be more humane in the battlefield than humans," he wrote in a piece describing current research underway to explore the implementation of "ethical governors" in robotic technologies. Other scholars have responded that autonomous lethal weapons will never have the agency and morality needed to comply with the complexities of constraints on the use of force, notably as far as the principles of distinction, proportionality and the need for accountability are concerned.

From Defense Dossier | @camillefrancois

Tunisian Activists Fear Rights Setbacks After Bardo Museum Attack

Quotation mark

by Afef Abrougui

Tunisian activists and bloggers have been expressing concerns over rights setbacks in the aftermath of the deadly attack on the Bardo Museum, in Tunis, on Wednesday. In the attack, claimed by ISIS on 19 March, 20 tourists and a Tunisian police officer lost their lives. The two attackers were killed by police.

Following the attack, statements made by politicians and individuals calling for restrictions on rights and liberties and the use of capital punishment raised eyebrows among human rights activists.

From Global Voices | @globalvoices

More Berkman in the News

Manage subscription preferences

Last updated

March 23, 2015