Berkman Buzz: April 21, 2015

April 21, 2015

The Berkman Buzz is a weekly collection of work, conversations, and news from around the Berkman community.
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Berkman Center and Cyberlaw Clinic to Support MIT Media Lab's Digital Currency Initiative

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We at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society - and, in particular, here at the Cyberlaw Clinic - are thrilled to share today's announcement from our friends and frequent collaborators at the MIT Media Lab of the Lab's new Digital Currency Initiative. MIT has been a leader on both the study and implementation of bitcoin-based systems, with the MIT Bitcoin Club bringing students and others together to think about the development of bitcoin-platforms and the MIT Bitcoin Project putting virtual currency in the virtual hands of students in an effort to generate interest in emerging payment systems. We are ecstatic to see the Media Lab put its weight behind research on and facilitation of blockchain-based technologies and welcome the effort to formalize its role as a neutral hub and convening force on the topic of digital currency.

From the blog post, "Berkman Center and Cyberlaw Clinic to Support MIT Media Lab's Digital Currency Initiative"
About the Cyberlaw Clinic | @cyberlawclinic

Doc Searls argues Internet.org is a failed exercise in misdirection

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The Internet is one thing. It is comprised of everything it connects. By nature it is as neutral as gravity. It favors nothing and is not partial to anything. Yes, there are exceptions to that rule, in the way Net access is provisioned, but the basic nature of the Net - as a free, open and neutral shared space in the world - is by now obvious to pretty much everybody who doesn't have an interest in limiting it in some way.

This is why Facebook's Internet.org is pure misdirection: a partial private fraction masked as a complete public whole. And also why it's in trouble. The misdirection isn't working.

From his blog post, "Internet.org is a failed exercise in misdirection"
About Doc | @dsearls

Zeynep Tufecki considers technology, power and labor

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Machines aren't used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a "good enough" job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans. Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency

From her New York Times piece, "The Machines Are Coming"
About Zeynep | @zeynep

Shoshana Zuboff examines the "sharing economy"

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Are Germany and Europe behind the curve in digital disruption? Earlier this year Volkmar Denner, the CEO of Bosch, told the Financial Times: "Uber is not a revolutionary technology, it's a business model innovation - and there we are not good enough yet...That's where I see the biggest threat." There's also been quite a lot of material coming out of the European Commission and other sources on the need for more digital disruption in Europe. Is Mr. Denner correct? Should Germany and Europe imitate the Uber model? Is it a model that will drive economic history? Will it make our societies more prosperous? More democratic?

From her article, "Disruption's Tragic Flaw"
About Shoshana | @shoshanazuboff

Bruce Schneier on "security theater"

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Fans attending Major League Baseball games are being greeted in a new way this year: with metal detectors at the ballparks. Touted as a counterterrorism measure, they're nothing of the sort. They're pure security theater: They look good without doing anything to make us safer. We're stuck with them because of a combination of buck passing, CYA thinking and fear.

From his Washington Post article, "Baseball's new metal detectors won't keep you safe. They'll just make you miss a few innings."
About Bruce | @schneierblog

Leora Kornfeld explores PBS's move to YouTube

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The trade-off here is this: sacrificing the owned and operated PBS platform for access to YouTube's 1 billion+ monthly users. The costs? Well, for starters, YouTube takes 45% of the ad revenue, but they're the elephant in the room, and as such they can take (close to) the lion's share of the revenue. And apologies for the mixing of animal metaphors but I couldn't resist.

The other beast in the room is Facebook, where YouTube video is commonly shared. It's responsible for about 25% of all traffic referred online.

From her blog post, "Why PBS moved from 'owned & operated' media to YouTube"
About Leora | @ellerybiddle

How Blogging is Held Hostage by Ethiopian Politics

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The control exerted by the state over Ethiopia's telecommunications services is usually justified in the name of preserving Ethiopia's economic sovereignty. To a large extent, Ethiopia exploits its position as western powers' stable ally in the volatile Horn of Africa. Bordered by Sudan and Eritrea, and with a genuine terror threat emanating from neighboring Somalia, the government can use a sweeping and abusive anti-terrorism laws as a tool to suppress any hint of dissent.

From Global Voices | @globalvoices

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Last updated

May 18, 2015