Current Berkman People and Projects

Keep track of Berkman-related news and conversations by subscribing to this page using your RSS feed reader. This aggregation of blogs relating to the Berkman Center does not necessarily represent the views of the Berkman Center or Harvard University but is provided as a convenient starting point for those who wish to explore the people and projects in Berkman's orbit. As this is a global exercise, times are in UTC.

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September 26, 2016

Berkman Center front page
Translating Research for Action: Ideas and Examples for Informing Digital Policy


The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society is pleased to release this series of papers, which aims to build a bridge between academic research and policymaking in the networked world by helping to identify opportunities in key areas related to digital technology and innovation. Focusing on critical topics such as how privacy intersects with issues related to students, open data, and cybersecurity, these briefings experiment with formats that may be more useful and accessible to decision makers than traditional research papers.

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The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society is pleased to release this series of papers, which aims to build a bridge between academic research and policymaking in the networked world by helping to identify opportunities in key areas related to digital technology and innovation. The series builds on the Center’s commitment to exploring new ways to communicate, educate, and inform in the public interest and are informed by conversations and collaborations with diverse stakeholders in each area. “Networked Policy Making Avenues” takes a process perspective and outlines different channels and methods available for academics to inform policymaking. The additional papers presented in the form of short, synthesizing research briefings have a substantive orientation and serve as examples in action. Focusing on critical topics such as how privacy intersects with issues related to students, open data, and cybersecurity, these briefings experiment with formats that may be more useful and accessible to decision makers than traditional research papers. Each can be viewed as resource that stands on its own, and we hope each will provide a navigation aid vis-a-vis some of today’s controversially debated topics in digital policymaking.

Networked Policy Making Avenues: Assessing the Role of Academics in Digital Policy 
There are a growing number of examples that point toward a change in the way public policy is made in the digital age. This new context, which we refer to as networked policymaking, involves a greater variety of actors and voices, often collaborating in formal and informal networks, taking part in a public consideration and debate of policy questions via digital media. In this document, we seek to (1) describe the different avenues and modalities in which academics can have an impact on policy, and (2) offer a framework to help researchers and other constituents assess the role of academics in policymaking. We hope that this may serve to help researchers build research agendas and policy roadmaps for engagement in specific locales and around salient policy issues. Although the focus of this document is on academics and policymaking, the questions of priorities, focus, and emphasis should be informed by the perspectives and insights of all the various stakeholders that interact, support, and draw upon academic work.
Authored by: Amar AsharRob Faris, and Urs Gasser
Student Privacy and Ed Tech (K-12) Research Briefing 
Foundational changes at the intersection of technology, society, law, and behavior are disrupting and energizing large institutions, impacting the educational technologies and student privacy landscape at lightning speed. Greater levels of connectivity and participation are raising questions about how best to navigate new types of learning environments, how best to engage in data-driven decision-making, and how best to ensure channels for positive collaboration in decision-making. This research briefing builds upon student privacy research and activities, and aims to translate these into practical take-aways. The briefing provides a map of the current digital learning ecosystem in the U.S. primary and secondary space, surveys at a high-level critical issues in the ed tech and student privacy space, and outlines key tools and opportunities for decision-makers.
Authored by: Leah Plunkett and Urs Gasser
Privacy and Open Data Research Briefing 
Political leaders and civic advocates are increasingly recommending that open access be the “default state” for much of the information held by government agencies. Over the past several years, they have driven the launch of open data initiatives across hundreds of national, state, and local governments. These initiatives are founded on a presumption of openness for government data and have led to the public release of large quantities data through a variety of channels. At the same time, much of the data that have been released, or are being considered for release, pertain to the behavior and characteristics of individual citizens, highlighting tensions between open data and privacy. This research briefing offers a snapshot of recent developments in the open data and privacy landscape, outlines an action map of various governance approaches to protecting privacy when releasing open data, and identifies key opportunities for decision-makers seeking to respond to challenges in this space.
Authored by: Alexandra WoodDavid R. O’Brien, and Urs Gasser

Privacy and Cybersecurity Research Briefing 
Cybersecurity has evolved into a pressing issue that sits at the top of government policy and board room agendas as the prevalence and severity of incidents continue to increase. As we search for solutions, public and private sector actors must balance the numerous tensions inherent in securing products and services, keeping users safe, and maintaining a vibrant and innovative ecosystem that supports the continued development of new products. This research briefing aims to translate findings from ongoing Berkman Klein Center privacy and cybersecurity research and activities into practical considerations and takeaways for key stakeholders and decision-makers. It offers a snapshot of the cybersecurity ecosystem and the forces shaping it, a map of high-level overview of several current approaches aimed at addressing cybersecurity challenges, and identifies opportunities for collaborative approaches that will help prepare decision-makers to address the next generation of pressing cybersecurity issues.
Authored by: David R. O’BrienRyan BudishRob Faris , Urs Gasser, and Tiffany Lin





by gweber at September 26, 2016 02:44 PM

Joseph Reagle
Nerd vs. 'bro': Geek privilege, triumphalism, and idiosyncrasy

I've been working on geek meritocracy and privilege for a while now and my original draft has now been split into two. The meritocracy piece will be published early next year, and I've just finished the first draft of: Nerd vs. 'bro': Geek privilege, triumphalism, and idiosyncrasy

ABSTRACT: Peggy McIntosh characterized privilege as an “invisible knapsack” of unearned advantages. Although the invisible knapsack is a useful metaphor, the notion of unearned advantage is not readily appreciated, especially by geeks who see their culture as meritocratic. After providing brief cultural histories of geekdom and privilege, I ask: Why are some geeks resistant to the notion of privilege? Beyond the observation that privilege often prompts defensiveness and unproductive comparisons, there is a geek-specific reason. Geek identity is informed by the trope of geek triumphalism: early insecurity is superseded by a sense of superiority. Geeks’ intelligence, unconventional enthusiasms (e.g., technology and fantasy), and idiosyncratic dress were once targets of ridicule, leading triumphant geeks to believe they have no privilege. These same characteristics, later in life, become sources of success and pride, leading them to think they are beyond bias. Nonetheless, I show that even in the seemingly innocuous realm of idiosyncratic dress, there is bias and privilege.

Comments below or in email are welcome and appreciated.

by Joseph Reagle at September 26, 2016 04:00 AM

September 25, 2016

Miriam Meckel
90 Jahre WirtschaftsWoche


Es hat Vorteile, älter zu werden. Ehrlich. Nicht alles geschieht mehr zum ersten Mal. Und das, was geschieht, lässt sich ein – ordnen, einbetten in einen Fundus an Erfahrung. Wer mit dem Älterwerden nicht dem Starrsinn zum Opfer fällt, der ist ein wunderbarer und inspirierender Gesprächspartner für andere. Er kennt die Fakten und Positionen, kann erfrischende und entlarvende Anekdoten beitragen. Wenn es gut läuft, fördert Zeit die Urteilskraft.

Als unsere Leserinnen und Leser dürfen Sie also Ansprüche an uns stellen. Denn die WirtschaftsWoche, in die Welt gekommen als „Der deutsche Volkswirt“ am 1. Oktober 1926, feiert nun ihren 90. Geburtstag. Zugegeben: Nicht jeder von uns in der Redaktion war von Anfang an dabei. Genau genommen keiner. Aber von allen, die mal an Bord waren, ist etwas geblieben: eine Geschichte, ein Kommentar, ein Stück Arbeit daran, die Welt der Wirtschaft verständlicher und damit uns alle ein bisschen klüger zu machen.

Unser Leitsatz heute lautet: „So verstehen wir Wirtschaft.“ Und in dem „so“ steckt eine echte Aufgabe. Denn „so“ einfach ist das alles nicht. Kann man das Zusammenspiel der Weltwirtschaft in drei Sätzen erklären? Wohl kaum. Ist es einsichtig, dass wir neuerdings dafür zahlen sollen, Geld auf die Bank zu legen? Schwerlich. Wer weiß, nach welchen Regeln die Algorithmen im Internet den Marktplatz der Meinungen bestücken? Nur wer die neue globale Sprache der Programmiercodes gelernt hat. Wir ringen Woche für Woche in der Redaktion um die richtigen Antworten, die verständlichen Einordnungen und die relevanten Themen der Zukunft. Und weil kaum jemand Lust und Zeit hat, sich das alles selbst zusammenzusuchen, sind wir überzeugt, dass nicht nur viele Jahrzehnte hinter, sondern auch ebenso viele vor uns liegen.

Wirtschaftsjournalismus, das ist die Gebrauchsanleitung für alle diejenigen, die unternehmerisch denken und leben. Für diese Ausgabe haben wir viele herausragende Persönlichkeiten gewinnen können, einmal anders auf die Wirtschaft zu schauen. So diskutieren Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel und Trumpf-Chefin Nicola Leibinger- Kammüller die Werte des Unternehmertums. Die Exminister Peer Steinbrück, Rainer Brüderle und Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg streiten über Managerboni und was eigentlich vom Amt des Wirtschaftsministers übrig blieb. Bundeswirtschaftsminister Sigmar Gabriel und Seriengründer Oliver Samwer entdecken sogar Gemeinsamkeiten.

Unser 90. Geburtstag ist gleichzeitig Geburtsstunde des WirtschaftsWoche Clubs – eine unserer Antworten darauf, wohin die Reise für ein bewegliches Medium und seine Nutzer in den nächsten Jahren geht. Im Club treffen Sie die Menschen, über die Sie sonst bei uns lesen, machen sich live und in Farbe ein Bild von der Arbeit der Redaktion und diskutieren mit über die wichtigsten wirtschaftlichen Themen unserer Zeit. Früher war übrigens nicht alles besser. Um sich den „Volkswirt“ leisten zu können, musste der Durchschnittsdeutsche 1926 noch eine Stunde und 16 Minuten arbeiten, heute sind es für eine Ausgabe WiWo nur noch 19 Minuten.

Danke für die Zeit, die Sie uns schenken. Und wenn Sie mit uns zusammen noch ein bisschen älter werden wollen: Wir wären dabei.

by Miriam Meckel at September 25, 2016 08:46 PM

September 24, 2016

Harry Lewis
An Unacceptable Question
Reproduced below are the introductory paragraph and one of the bullet items from Harvard's "Guide to Unacceptable Interview Questions." (See this FAS web page for top level link.)

Why would information that may not be asked of a faculty candidate disqualify a student from team captaincies, Rhodes nominations, and leadership of student organizations?

That's not a rhetorical question. Why is asking about a candidate's club memberships prohibited? Perhaps it is Harvard policy not to discriminate against candidates on the basis of organizations they join--in which case our motion does nothing more than afford students the same protection. Or Harvard is bound by some Massachusetts or federal law which codifies the same principle. If anyone knows the rationale for the prohibition, please do share. In any case, this does seem to bear on the hypothetical I posed to the Faculty Council, about how the faculty might feel if the policy applied to them.
It is essential for all members of a search committee to be aware of these guidelines and follow them in both spirit and letter. Avoid any direct or indirect questions that touch on material that may not be asked. This information about an applicant should never be discussed with regard to his or her candidacy for a position. 
Inquiry into an applicant’s membership in non-professional organizations (e.g., clubs, lodges, etc.)  

by Harry Lewis ( at September 24, 2016 10:41 PM

September 23, 2016

Harry Lewis
The Lifecycle of a Moral Panic

The matter of single-gender social organizations has followed a familiar American pattern. At the beginning, a genuine problem is identified; the responses to it are insufficiently effective; a moral panic erupts, inflamed by larger societal forces; the authorities make a muscular response, which infringes personal freedom; those concerned about the loss of freedom protest cautiously if at all, out of fear of seeming to give comfort to the enemy; and the matter ends with a course correction, perhaps under judicial order in cases where civil rights are at stake, and perhaps only years after the precipitating events.

The immigration and terrorism panics from the current presidential campaign—walls to solve the problem of Mexican rapists, immigration bans to solve the problem of terrorist bombings—fit the old pattern. The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and Tipper Gore’s campaign to label dirty song lyrics show that the same pattern can stretch over issues grave and trivial.  The Internet has spawned a whole series of moral panics—we tell the story of the rise and fall of the Display Provision of the Communications Decency Act in chapter 7 of Blown to Bits.

Typically, the infringement of personal freedom is at first not acknowledged by the authorities, and is dismissed when raised by others. “It’s only a small dent in anybody’s rights, if it has anything to do with rights at all,” goes the argument. “These circumstances are absolutely unique and so this action could never set a precedent for anything else. And the small price is worth paying, given the magnitude of the problem and the importance of addressing it.” This logic leads to exaggeration in both directions, minimizing the threat to personal freedom and overstating the effectiveness of the reaction. The muscular response generally looks overblown once the moral panic subsides—until it is cited as a precedent during a later moral panic. Even the appalling Japanese-American internment has recently been cited favorably.

From a distance—and sometimes from close up, in the eyes of calmer souls—the response to a panic may look very different. As President Pusey said at the time McCarthy was going after Harvard professors for being communists, “Someday I am sure that we shall all look back on the hateful irrationality of the present with incredulity.”

The lifecycle pattern is understandable in political environments; people are often ready to sacrifice freedoms in times of fear, when rational discourse is most difficult. But academic institutions are devoted to the rule of reason and to teaching students how to solve problems rationally, with an eye to historical moments when panic trumped reason. For the pattern to play out at a great university sets a poor model for those we are educating.

The single-gender policy started with a genuine problem: Some of the final clubs are sketchy places, and bad things that happen at Harvard too often have final clubs in the narrative. My memory of Ad Board cases from twenty years ago is that the names of the same two or three clubs kept appearing in case reports—we started drinking at the X club and then went to his room, he got drunk at X club and punched me, somebody threw rocks from the roof of X club, and so on. I have no trouble believing that the reports continue and may be more frequent, reliable, and serious, as reporting of sexual assaults has increased. This is what I meant in my original letter to Dean Khurana when I referred to some of the clubs as “toxic.”

Various attempts to combat the problem have failed, or were effective only briefly. One tactic I tried that was surprisingly ineffective was to scare the grad board members, who might well be personally liable for damages if crimes or injuries occurred at their clubs. My successor went the other way—he tried to make nice with the final clubs. They reciprocated by inviting him to breakfast and serving a dish that was a word-play on his name. That approach did not work very well either.

Then a moral panic set in as college sexual assault, quite properly, gained national visibility. Whatever one thinks of the relevance of Title IX or of the preponderance-of-evidence standard, there is little doubt that the University has gotten much more aggressive about sexual assault prevention since the feds took an interest in Harvard’s response to complaints—and since litigation has been threatened against the university.

And so Harvard has offered a muscular response, of which the new policy is a part. Oddly, in the interest of inclusivity, the policy would divide the student body into two classes. The virtuous, who are not members of single-gender social organizations, would be eligible to be team captains, Rhodes nominees, and so on. The deplorables, who do join such organizations, would not be eligible for such honors. The response brings cheers because finally someone is being tough. The fact that the response may do little to solve the original problem, and would infringe rights of free association that Harvard has long honored, gets lost in the self-congratulations.

The Sexual Assault Task Force report is a good document, and, in my opinion, correctly (if rather too sweepingly) identifies the final clubs as problematic. Neither the report nor the statistical evidence it cites supports forcing them to go co-ed, or discouraging men from joining, as effective responses to the problem of sexual assault. Indeed, if a club has a reputation for being an unsafe place for women, one might question Harvard’s wisdom in encouraging women to join.

What to do, if the new policy isn’t the right approach? Harvard could start by aggressively educating students about any unsafe places it has identified—clubs, parks, or dark alleys near Harvard Yard. Training on how to party safely, not just at the final clubs but anywhere, would be another targeted response—drink in moderation if at all, and never from a punch bowl; take a buddy with you and never leave without her, etc. Improved social spaces are often cited as a necessary response, and who could argue against that on this crowded campus? But Harvard social spaces, which will inevitably be regulated, will never compete against spaces off campus where the drinking age is ignored. Calling in the police when the final club parties disturb the peace might level the playing field of social attractiveness between Harvard and non-Harvard spaces.

In responding to this moral panic, the very definition of the problem morphed into one of broad social “exclusivity” and even “privilege.” Those may be problems, but they are not problems for which any evidence has been presented, so it is hard to judge the response. How odd to hear the Harvard leadership brandishing a stereotype in the interest of promoting diversity and inclusivity! Nor would any problem of privileged exclusivity of the final clubs be fixed by forcing them to go co-ed. If in fact Harvard knows that the membership of the clubs is largely drawn from some hereditary elite, then having the daughters of those families join their sons in the clubs is a laughable blow against privilege. To suggest that simply being single-gender makes the clubs dens of “exclusivity” and “privilege” is to play a word game. By that standard, the Anglican monastery on Memorial Drive is “exclusive.”

And I have never heard anyone refer to the fraternities and sororities as socially exclusive. In fact, my guess is that the members of those organizations, which never used to exist at Harvard, are disproportionally the students who might have attended their state universities had they not come to Harvard. I would speculate that the rise of fraternities and sororities is a side effect of the democratization of Harvard College—its evolution from a largely bicoastal, high-income, urban institution into one much more representative of America.

Students tend to bring to Harvard the clubs and hobbies that they had in high school or that their high school friends are enjoying at universities near home. I have joked, but it may well be true, that fraternities and sororities grew in popularity among Harvard students around the same time that we began seeing a baton twirler at halftime of Harvard football games. These were not part of old Harvard because old Harvard was not representative of America. The reason these allegedly exclusive organizations exist is because Harvard is more inclusive than it has ever been. I don’t love the baton twirling or the sororities either, but that doesn’t matter. Harvard is large, and contains multitudes.

So when President Faust said in her videoabout the final clubs, “The whole situation could be resolved in a minute if these clubs admitted women,” I wonder which “situation” she was referring to. Not the problem of sexual assault. Not the problem, whatever it is, of off-campus sororities and fraternities. Not the problem of “privilege” or “exclusivity.” Only the problem, perhaps, of widespread unhappiness with the policy itself.


President Faust had an op-ed in the Crimson on September 21, Claiming Full Citizenship. It’s a good account of the history, and I’m glad she points the finger at Radcliffe College as an institution which in its latter days did more to hold back than to advance the equality of women undergraduates. However, the article transitions in an abrupt and puzzling way to justifying the new policy on single-gender social organizations. Just when did the Kappa Kappa Gamma, or the Porcellian Club for that matter, become one of the “opportunities central to Harvard undergraduate life,” and thereby fall under Harvard control?

Much less under presidential control. The op-ed has three “I want”s in the last two paragraphs. These seem to be intended to justify the “We created a policy” that is used in the Atlantic video. This is constitutionally simply wrong—the Statutes are clear that the College is in the “immediate charge of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences,” not of the President. That is why the Faculty annually votes all the rules and regulations for the College, and specifically approves any changes.

But quite aside from the statutory questions are the deeper questions about the role of the institution in the private lives of its students. There may be many things that the president, or indeed the Faculty, “wants” of Harvard students. We have historically exercised humility in deciding which of those institutional “wants” were appropriate to demand. How did it come to pass that what the president wants can become the law of the land for students who wish to be first-class Harvard citizens?

In particular, I wonder: If, as the president states, the correct response to Harvard students joining single-gender social organizations is to make them second-class Harvard citizens, was the Verba committee wrong? At the time when President Faust, with great dignity, upheld the FAS policy against discriminatory organizations and barred ROTC from Harvard, should Harvard have imposed on ROTC students some loss of privilege in the interest of greater inclusivity? Does the president think that what the Verba committee considered too patronizing on Harvard’s part is today no longer patronizing at all? Or is it now OK for Harvard to be patronize—some might say infantilize—its students, by limiting their freedom to choose which off-campus activities they may honorably join?

by Harry Lewis ( at September 23, 2016 02:41 PM

Miriam Meckel
Das absolute Gefühl


Die deutsche Politik ist im postfaktischen Zeitalter angekommen – und nicht erst, seit auch Angela Merkel davon spricht. Darin hat sich die globale Wirtschaft längst eingerichtet.

Nun ist auch Deutschland in postfaktischen Zeiten angekommen. Offiziell erklärt wurden sie in dieser Woche durch Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel. Sie nahm am Montag in Berlin ausführlich zu ihrer Flüchtlingspolitik Stellung, gestand Fehler ein und begründete die Diskrepanz zwischen Politik und ihrer Wahrnehmung: „Es heißt ja neuerdings, wir lebten in postfaktischen Zeiten“, so Merkel. „Das soll wohl heißen, die Menschen interessieren sich nicht mehr für Fakten, sie folgen allein den Gefühlen.“

Was früher die Umfrageinstitute waren, ist heute das Gefühlsbarometer. Es misst auf unklarer Datenlage unklare Befindlichkeiten einer unbestimmten Gruppe von Menschen. Mit dem gefühlten Ergebnis werden hitzige Debatten vom Zaun gebrochen, in der die Beteiligten ihre Position gefühlt täglich wechseln, um zu einem unbestimmten Ergebnis zu gelangen, mit dem man sich kurzfristig gut fühlt. Ist das neu? Keineswegs.

Die internationale Finanzwirtschaft feierte sich im postfaktischen Zeitalter über Jahre mit strukturierten Produkten und der Entkoppelung von Risiko und Haftung. Bis dann am 15. September 2008 mit dem Zusammenbruch von Lehman Brothers die Realität eine gnadenlose Schneise der Wertvernichtung in die Märkte schlug. Sie reicht bis heute.

Die Eindämmung der Staatsschuldenkrise beruht zu einem wesentlichen Teil auf der kollektiven postfaktischen Selbsthypnose, dass eine Europäische Währungsunion ohne eine politische Union funktionieren könne. Dass die EU-Konvergenzkriterien Näherungswerte oder freundliche Empfehlungen seien. Dass Griechenland jemals ohne einen Schuldenschnitt wirklich wieder auf die Beine kommen könne.

Die Brexit-Befürworter in Großbritannien haben ihren knappen Sieg auch mit dem Argument errungen, das Land zahle wöchentlich 445 Millionen Euro an die EU. Schlicht falsch, weil weder Zahlungen der EU an Großbritannien noch der Britenrabatt eingerechnet sind. Machte aber keinen Unterschied.

US-Präsidentschaftskandidat Donald Trump darf das Nordamerikanische Freihandelsabkommen als „schlechtesten Deal aller Zeiten“ bezeichnen. Glaubt ihm das jemand? Auch der Glauben ist in postfaktischen Zeiten angekommen: Er besteht nicht mehr in faktischer und emphatischer Überzeugung, sondern im Wellenreiten auf Meinungsströmungen, mit denen sich Energie abführen lässt – gegen alles, was in dieser Welt als Zumutung empfunden wird.

Die Bundeskanzlerin hat dem postfaktischen Zeitalter der Gefühle übrigens ihr eigenes entgegengesetzt. Sie hat „das absolut sichere Gefühl“, dass wir aus dem Schlamassel besser herauskommen, als wir hineingeraten sind. Ein absolut sicheres Gefühl – das ist das Höchstmaß an Faktizität und Geltung, das im postfaktischen Zeitalter vorstellbar ist.

by Miriam Meckel at September 23, 2016 05:26 AM

September 22, 2016

David Weinberger
The Trump Stand-in Audition Tapes

The Clinton campaigned apparently auditioned a bunch of celebrities to stand in for Trump as she practices debating him. I somehow managed to get the transcripts of their auditions. They include, perhaps surprisingly, Louis CK, Bryan Cranston, Quentin Tarantino, and some others.

You can read the full transcripts here.

The post The Trump Stand-in Audition Tapes appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at September 22, 2016 10:35 PM

Berkman Center front page
Announcing a New Edition of Born Digital


The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society is pleased to announce the publication of Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age, authored by Faculty Directors John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.

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The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society is pleased to announce the publication of Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age, authored by Faculty Directors John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.

The first generation of children who were born into and raised in the digital world are coming of age and reshaping the world in their image. Our economy, our politics, our culture, and even the shape of our family life are being transformed. But who are these wired young people? And what is the world they’re creating going to look like?

In this revised and updated edition, leading Internet and technology experts John Palfrey and Urs Gasser offer a cutting-edge sociological portrait of these young people, who can seem, even to those merely a generation older, both extraordinarily sophisticated and strangely narrow. Exploring a broad range of issues—privacy concerns, the psychological effects of information overload, and larger ethical issues raised by the fact that young people’s social interactions, friendships, and civic activities are now mediated by digital technologies—Born Digital is essential reading for parents, teachers, and the myriad of confused adults who want to understand the digital present and shape the digital future.

This new edition is an expanded and updated version of the well-received 2008 book, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. The new edition builds upon recent research conducted by the Berkman Klein Center’s Youth and Media project and also includes insights from the Berkman Klein-UNICEF Digitally Connected network, as well as many other collaborators and colleagues from around the globe.

Praise for Born Digital (Selection)

“The authors are knowledgeable but never pedantic, their studious, emphatic approach is both valid and reassuring, and their overarching point—let's think about these things now, rather than trying to fix them later—well taken.” - Washington Post

“A well-reasoned, thorough synthesis of some momentous, if familiar, ideas.” - New Scientist

“A landmark sociological study of today’s early adults” - Project Information Literacy

“Born Digital offers a compelling account for parents, teachers, policy-makers, lawyers, and technical developers who want to know more about digital natives’ online activities and how these are changing society. Palfrey and Gasser present a balanced view, highlighting problems and calling for solutions. Born Digital is timely and informative.” - Science

About the Authors

John Palfrey is head of school at Phillips Academy, Andover. A faculty director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Palfrey lives in Andover, Massachusetts.

Urs Gasser is the executive director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School. Gasser lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

by gweber at September 22, 2016 05:41 PM

Justin Reich
An "Extraordinary" Approach to Bringing Design into Any Classroom
For teachers and students to embrace creativity and creative problem solving, they need an initial experience on which to base new ideas.

by Beth Holland at September 22, 2016 04:27 PM

September 21, 2016

PRX Announces: Project Catapult

PRX is excited to announce Project Catapult, an innovative podcast training project with public media stations, made possible by a $1 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Five stations will be selected to participate in a 20-week curriculum to develop new skills, which will include digital content development, cultivating diverse talent, audience engagement and monetization. PRX will provide technical training in key areas where broadcast and podcast strategies diverge. The training will take place at the PRX’s Podcast Garage in Boston and on-location at each station. At the end of the curriculum, each station, in co-production with PRX, will launch a new podcast.

The curriculum will be based on our positive experiences with Matter—a media accelerator started in 2012 by PRX with funding from KQED and The Knight Foundation. A key component of our training program is to apply an iterative process to show development in collaboration with the stations. PRX will take stations through a process of rapid content development and feedback or “creative sprints.” That is followed by a piloting process that involves additional supportive but critical feedback.

Public media is poised for this moment and many stations are ready to advance podcasts from their ‘shiny stage’ to a new, relevant and sustainable part of their content offering. Stations are already centers of solid audio production, yet podcast success remains elusive—the intimate storytelling styles, hosting and distribution options and monetization options can differ from the familiar broadcast know-how.

Stations bear considerable risk in the current podcast environment. Even the best intentions around new talent and topics can fail if marketing, promotion, staff expectations and sponsorship efforts are not mastered.

Project Catapult will address these challenges head-on. Through an open RFP process, PRX and CPB will select the five stations with input from an expert panel. 

Our focus will be on:
Sustainable Ideas: An important objective of the curriculum is to establish support from the executive team. The bootcamp will focus on 2-3 station leaders, with at least one having responsibility for revenue. Creating sustainable shows is critical to the success of the training. PRX will be sharing expertise about sponsorships and fundraising from surveys, donor data, and other industry trends.

Identification and cultivation of talent. Finding talent requires a willingness to experiment and test ideas. Balancing openness with quality while creating the right incentives to foster talent is essential.

Support and skills training. While the barrier to entry in the podcast space is relatively low, today’s content creators have to have skills far beyond 
storytelling. While many may have personality and good hosting skills, we see particular gaps in technical/production quality and knowledge, promotion, feedback, audience focus and listening metrics and monetization know-how.

Industry linkages and community. PRX will develop a process to listen and guide this conversation with a small group of engaged, committed stations and industry teachers and leaders.

To learn more and to apply to the program, visit The application process opens today. Participating station teams will begin work in January 2017.

The post PRX Announces: Project Catapult appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at September 21, 2016 09:30 PM

David Weinberger
[iab] Frances Donegan-Ryan

At the IAB conference, Frances Donegan-Ryan from Bing begins by reminding us of the history of online search.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

We all leave digital footprints, she says. Every time we search, data is recorded. The sequence of our searches gives especially useful information to help the engine figure out what you’re trying to find out. Now the engines can refer to social graphs.

“But what do we do with data?”

Bing Predicts
looks at all the data it can in order to make predictions. It began by predicting the winners and losers in American Idol, and got it 100% right. For this election year, it tried to predict who would win each state primary or caucus in the US. Then it took in sentiment data to figure out which issues matter in each state, broken down by demographic groups.

Now, for example, it can track a new diabetes drug through the places people visit when logged into their browser. This might show that there are problems with the drug; consider for example people searching for unexpected side effects of it. Bing shares the result of this analysis with the CDC. [The acoustics where I was sitting was poor. I’m not sure I got this right.]

They’re doing the same for retail products, and are able to tell which will be the big sellers.

Frances talks about Cortana, “the only digital system that works across all platforms.” Microsoft is working on many more digital assistants — Bots
— that live within other services. She shows a temporary tattoo
made from gold leaf that you can use as a track pad, and other ways; this came out of MIT.

She says that the Microsoft version of a Fitbit can tell if you’re dehydrated or tired, and then can point you to the nearest place with water and a place to sit. Those shops could send you a coupon.

She goes quickly over the Hololens since Robert Scoble covered it so well this morning.

She closes with a story about using sensor data to know when a cow is in heat, which, it turns out, correlates with them walking faster. Then the data showed at what point in the period of fertility a male or female cow is likely to be conceived. Then they started using genetic data to predict genetically disabled calves.

It takes enormous computing power to do this sort of data analysis.

The post [iab] Frances Donegan-Ryan appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at September 21, 2016 06:59 PM

[iab] Privacy discussion

I’m at the IAB conference in Toronto. Canada has a privacy law, PIPEDA law (The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) passed in 2001, based on OECD principles.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Barbara Bucknell
, the director of policy and research at Office of the Privacy Commissioner where she worries about how to protect privacy while being able to take advantage of all the good stuff data can do.

A recent large survey found that more than half of Canadians are more concerned about privacy than they were last year. Only 34% think the govt is doing enough to keep their privacy safe. Globally, 8 out of 10 are worried about their info being bought, sold, or monitored. “Control is the key concern here.” “They’re worried about surprises: ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were using my information that way!'”

Adam Kardash [this link
?] says that all the traditional approaches to privacy have be carefully reconsidered. E.g., data minimization says you only collect what you need. “It’s a basic principle that’s been around forever.” But data scientists, when asked how much data they need for innovation, will say “We need it all.” Also, it’s incredibly difficult to explain how your data is going to be used, especially at the grade 6-7 literacy rate that is required. And for data retention, we should keep medical info forever. Marketers will tell you the same thing so they can give you information about you what you really need.

Adam raises the difficulties with getting consent, which the OPC opened a discussion about. Often asking for consent is a negligible part of the privacy process. “The notion of consent is having an increasingly smaller role” while the question of control is growing.

He asks Barbara “How does PEPIDA facility trust?”

Barbara: It puts guardrails into the process. They may be hard implement but they’re there for a reason. The original guidelines from the OECD were prescient. “It’s good to remember there were reasons these guardrails were put in place.”

Consent remains important, she says, but there are also other components, including accountability. The organization has to protect data and be accountable for how it’s used. Privacy needs to be built into services and into how your company is organized. Are the people creating the cool tech talking to the privacy folks and to the legal folks? “Is this conversation happening at the front end?” You’d be surprised how many organizations don’t have those kind of programs in place.

Barbara: Can you talk to the ethical side of this?

Adam: Companies want to know how to be respectful as part of their trust framework, not just meeting the letter of the law. “We believe that the vast majority of Big Data processing can be done within the legal framework. And then we’re creating a set of questions” in order for organisations to feel comfortable that what they’re doing is ethical. This is very practical, because it forestalls law suits. PEPIDA says that organizations can only process data for purposes a reasonable person would consider appropriate. We think that includes the ethical concerns.

Adam: How can companies facilitate trust?

Barbara: It’s vital to get these privacy management programs into place that will help facilitate discussions of what’s not just legal but respectful. And companies have to do a better job of explaining to individuals how they’re using their data.

The post [iab] Privacy discussion appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at September 21, 2016 02:21 PM

[iab] Robert Scoble

I’m at a IAB conference in Toronto. The first speaker is Robert Scoble, who I haven’t seen since the early 2000s. He’s working at Upload VR that gives him “a front row seat on what’s coming.”

WARNING: Live blogging. Not spellpchecking before posting. Not even re-reading it. Getting things wrong, including emphasis.

The title of his talk is “The Fourth Transformation: How AR and AI change everything.”

First: The PC.

Second: Mac and GUI. Important companies in the first went away.

Third: Mobile and touch. Companies from the second went away.

We’re now getting a taste of the fourth: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Kids take to VR naturally and with enthusiasm, he notes.

“Most people in the world are going to experience with VR with a mobile phone because the cost advantages of doing that are immense.” This Christmas Google will launch its Tango sensors that map the world in 3D. Early games for the Tango phone will give a taste of AR: mapping the physical space and put virtual things into it. Robert shows what’s possible with the Tango phone. Retail 411 is working on bringing you straight to the product you want in a physical store. This tech will let us build new games, but also, for example, put a virtual blue line on a floor to show you where your meeting is. Or, in a furniture store it can show you the items in a vision of your home.

Robert calls AR “Mixed Reality” because he thinks AR refers to the prior generation.

Vuforia was designed for mobile phones, placing virtual objets in real space. But soon we’ll be doing this with glasses, Robert says. Genesis [?] puts a virtual window on your wall. Click on it, and zombies crawl through it and come toward you.

Magic Leap got huge investments because the optics of the glasses they;re building are so good. He points out that the system knows to occlude images by interfering real world objects, e.g., the couch between you and the zombie.

He shows a Hololens app preview. Dokodemo Teleportation Door, made in Unity. You place a door on the ground. Open it. There’s a polygonal world inside it. Walk through the door and you’re in it.

Robert says Apple ditched the headphone jack in order to put advanced audio computing in your head, replacing ambient sound with processed sound that may include virtual audio.

Eyefluence builds sensors for eyes. Robert shows video of someone navigating complex screens of icons solely with his eyes. “Advertisers will be able to build a new kind of billboard in the street and know who looked at it.” [Oh great.]

ActionGram puts holograms into VR. [If you need a tiny George Takei in your living room — and who doesn’t? — this is for you.]

SnapChat bought a company that puts a camera in glasses. SnapChat is going to bring out a connected camera. It could be the size of a sugar cube.

Sephora has an app that shows you how their makeup looks like on your face, color matched.

Robert talks about the effect on sports. E.g, Nascar has 100+ sensors in cars already Researchers are putting sensors in NFL players’ tags for “next gen stats.”

“We’re in the Apple II stage” of this. It wasn’t great but kicked off a trillion dollar industries. Robert’s been told that we’re two years away, but says maybe it’s four years. “The new Ford cards are all built in virtual reality…If you don’t have a team thinking about working in this new world, you’ll be at a disadvantage soon.”

“This is the best educational technology humans have ever invented.”

This is intensely social tech, he says. You can play basketball or ski jumping with your friends over the Internet. He shows a Facebook demo. You can share things with others, things with media inside of them. E.g., go to a physical space and see it together. [Very cool demo. I think this is it:]

The post [iab] Robert Scoble appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at September 21, 2016 01:49 PM

Radiotopia Welcomes The West Wing Weekly

Radiotopia is excited to announce a new addition to its podcast lineup: The West Wing Weekly. Co-hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway (of Song Exploder) and acclaimed actor Joshua Malina, The West Wing Weekly is an episode-by-episode discussion of the beloved serial political TV drama, The West Wing. Launched earlier this year, The West Wing Weekly podcast quickly built a vibrant and active fanbase as it covered season one of the television show, and is on the verge of tackling season two.

The West Wing Weekly

Bringing on The West Wing Weekly is an exciting development for Radiotopia. The decision is in keeping with our mission and support the best independent and entrepreneurial-driven talent in podcasting, and uphold top quality content across our shows. It also allows us to explore a new content direction, and evolve as a network. We’re thrilled to collaborate with Hrishi on this project alongside his other Radiotopia show, Song Exploder.

The West Wing Weekly does so much more than just recap and discuss a television show. The hosts cross into the real world quite often, to find a deeper understanding of the issues that come up on The West Wing. The podcast uses interviews to explore issues covered on the TV episodes (such as gun control or veterans’ health) framed in our current political landscape. Hirway and Malina have had segments interviewing Matthew Shepard’s friend, and now Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, about hate crimes in the wake of the Orlando massacre. They’ve interviewed a Rabbi about Talmudic interpretation and how it relates to actors interpreting the text of a script. They’ve even talked with an economics writer about the census.

The Podcast So Far

Guests have included:
West Wing stars: Richard Schiff, Dulé Hill, Janel Maloney
Plus Tim Matheson, Kathleen York, Liza Weil and recurring actors William Duffy and Peter James Smith (Ed and Larry), Melissa Fitzgerald (Carol), Bill O’Brien (Kenny)
Crew: Costume designer Lyn Paolo, Music supervisor Ann Kline, writer/producer Eli Attie
Real life DC figures: Press Secretary Jay Carney, Senator Chris Coons, Senator Bob Casey, Clinton advisor Ron Klain, Gary Indiana’s mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, former DNC CEO Amy Dacey, and the Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy.

Season two will kick off on September 28th with a double episode, plus special guests Tommy Schlamme (series director/exec producer) and Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman). The double episode podcast premiere mirrors the season two television premiere, which also featured two episodes.

The post Radiotopia Welcomes The West Wing Weekly appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at September 21, 2016 05:24 AM

September 19, 2016

What small business and their customers have in common

small vs largeSmall businesses and their customers both have problems dealing with big businesses that are more vested in captive markets than in free ones. So, since VRM is about independence and engagement, we may have an opportunity for customers and small businesses to join in common cause.

To dig deeper into that possibility, I interviewed LaVonne Reimer, who runs Lumenous (a startup that  provides ways for small businesses to create and share credit profiles on their own terms). Here goes—

DS: How big is small business?

LR: The domestic small business market in the U.S. is currently at 28 million firms. This includes employer and non-employer firms that provide products or services to their neighborhoods and communities as well as those that provide a unique offering to a larger supply chain or marketplace.

The impact of credit decisions is another big number—how at least $4 trillion flows to small business in the U.S.. That includes a significant portion of over $1 trillion in federal contracts and grants, and $700 billion in loans, a substantial portion of which are backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

DS: What’s the biggest issue for small business, and how is that similar to issues for individuals?

LR: Credit. The $28 billion credit industry provides creditworthiness indicators as well as personal identity and entity verification for both businesses and individuals. From the standpoint of both, that industry is a collection of black boxes. They are unaccountable collections of algorithms that can make or break a business, or often its owner, without explaining why. Or even knowing why.

The incumbent with the biggest impact on small business credit is Dun & Bradstreet. Founded in 1841, D&B is the grandfather of all credit bureaus and in many respects the originator of corporate surveillance.  And now D&B is in the identity business as well, putting those being identified at D&B’s mercy.

DS: How?

LR: Through the Data Universal Numbering System, better known as DUNS. It’s a loss leader that gives D&B a potent tool for finding and extracting information from business owners not otherwise publicly available. And it’s all done out of the sight of the business, and—effectively—government as well.

DS: Are they alone at this?

LR: No. A handful of venture-backed “fintech” startups are using similar technology to harvest data. Some of the data gathering might be initially authorized by the business owner. Other data they can scrape or mine from the Web to determine creditworthiness for purposes of making loans. Many do not disclose “effective APR” but recent Federal Reserve System research suggests the range may be from over 50% at the low end to somewhere in the hundreds. Business owners may get loans they couldn’t get from regulated or traditional banks but are blind-sided by onerous terms and in some cases thrown into bankruptcy because the collection model—daily automated micro-payments—catches them off guard, for example by triggering excessive non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees. To a business owner, these providers seem much like credit bureaus. There is no way yet to leverage or re-use the data you have to supply to get the loan, much less understand how the algorithms work.

I should add that a small business “bill of rights” has been circulating among start-ups; but it under-estimates the degree to which the odds are stacked against a small business across commercial credit.”

DS: What about government oversight?

LR: Today, consumer identity and credit providers must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but the FCRA and similar regulations do not govern small business credit, not even when consumer credit information is used to verify the identity and creditworthiness of the entity and owner.

There is, however, increasing scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of big data systems in credit profiling and other data brokers. In multiple enforcement orders and two major reports, the FTC is calling on identity and data providers to demonstrate greater transparency and accountability in the uses of personal data. One report is Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion? The other is “Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability.

Still, as is true of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, small business is left unaddressed, even if creditors use consumer credit information associated with the owner of the business.

DS: What outcomes are we looking for here?

LR:  At Lumenous, we are applying the principles of VRM to transform the relationship between small business and creditors. As a result, up to six million small employer firms will be able to access the credit, capital, and commerce they deserve.. This will lead to better leverage of cash and ability to not only meet payroll and pay bills on time, but also better contribute to the economic well-being of their communities. Twenty-two million “non employer firms”—freelancers and sole proprietors, for example—will have access to credit, and more easily form trusted joint ventures to bid on otherwise out-of-reach projects.

DS: Are there any large companies that are working to bring small business and their customers together in the fight to improve the economy from the bottom up?

LR: I really like what Xero is doing. It is far more friendly and useful to small business than other accounting software and services companies (especially Quickbooks). It’s growing rapidly too. I believe that;s because it has a deep understanding of how small business works, and a genuine respect for how small business owners think about their firms, and those firms’ roles in the world.

DS: I noticed. Xero’s CEO, Rod Drury, sourced a recent post of mine in a talk he gave just a few days ago. And Gary Turner, an old friend from my Cluetrain days, is Managing Director of Xero in the UK. I’ll be talking with both in the next few days as well.

LR: I expect that Xero will also have lots of useful intelligence about what’s actually happening with small business, worldwide—and with possible VRM connections.

And here are some bonus sources, mostly courtesy of LaVonne:

There are many more, but I’ll save those for a follow-up post.














by Doc Searls at September 19, 2016 03:36 PM

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
Rideout v. Gardner: Report from the First Circuit

Last week, the First Circuit heard oral argument in Rideout v. Gardner. The case concerns the constitutionality of a New Hampshire statute — N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:35 (as amended in 2014) — which prohibits voters from sharing photos of their marked ballots on social media. Specifically, the statute bars (among other things) “taking a digital image or photograph of [one’s] marked ballot and distributing or sharing the image via social media.” It has become known as New Hampshire’s “ballot selfie” law.

Party briefs filed in the case include the following:

  • a reply brief filed on behalf of Secretary of State Gardner.

In April, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Keene Sentinel. The brief supported plaintiffs-appellees. As the Clinic noted in a previous blog post, the brief highlighted the important free speech issues at play and detailed many ways in which ballot selfies can improve the political process, such as by increasing civic engagement among young voters and helping to address problems of ballot confusion and design.  

Other amici appeared as well, filing briefs in support of the appellees’ position. Neal Katyal of Georgetown Law and Hogan Lovells filed a brief on behalf of Snapchat and Eugene Volokh of UCLA School of Law (and an Academic Affiliate at Mayer Brown)  filed a brief on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. These briefs also raised concerns about the statute’s constitutionality.

Oral argument took place on Tuesday, September 13th, at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston. New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Stephen Labonte appeared on behalf of defendant-appellant, Secretary of State Gardner, and Gilles Bissonnette from ACLU-NH appeared for the plaintiffs-appellees.

From the beginning of the state’s argument, the three-judge panel — Judges Lipez, Lynch, and Thompson — focused heavily on the fact that the statute seems to address, in the words of Judge Lynch, a “problem that may not exist” (or one that, at the very least, has not been “proven to exist”). The state defended the constitutionality of the statute by highlighting the importance of protections against vote-buying and voter coercion and speculated that ballot-selfies might be used as the type of proof a vote-buyer might demand of a vote-seller. But, the state offered no evidence — as a general matter — that this type of activity had presented a problem in New Hampshire. And, the record was specifically devoid of evidence that photos of completed ballots were being used in the way the state suggested they might be used.

Mr. Labonte repeatedly invoked the potential harms wrought by “new technologies” and the fact that voters are now “taking the world into the voting booth with them.” He suggested that this might facilitate vote-buying and -selling. But, Judge Lipez interjected that the state had “absolutely no evidence” that the kind of vote-buying or voter coercion that were stated rationales for the statute were actually taking place.

In addition to the absence of evidence supporting the bill’s purported rationale, the panel focused a lot of attention on whether the statute as enacted was narrowly-tailored. Mr. Labonte argued that it was so tailored in light of the fact that in targeted “only one manner” in which one might express a view about one’s experience in the voting booth. That is to say — the statute prohibits sharing of photographs, not (as Mr. Labonte suggested) running to the courthouse cafeteria and shouting about one’s choice in a given election. Judge Lynch questioned whether that was a reasonable distinction, noting the adage that “a picture is worth 1,000 words.”  

Judge Lipez was more pointed, asking how the state could possibly argue the statute was narrowly tailored given that it “sweeps into its ambit” people like the plaintiff-appellees in the case (who, concededly, had taken photos of marked ballots for purposes other than to support a vote-buying or -selling scheme.) Judge Lipez seemed incredulous, suggesting that New Hampshire had “turned First Amendment analysis on its head” by arguing that the statute met narrow-tailoring requirements under either an intermediate scrutiny or strict scrutiny standard of review.

The panel also noted the existence of criminal remedies that prohibit the type of conduct the state claimed was the target of this statute. The judges questioning the additional value that this type of statute might add to the state’s arsenal in preventing activity that all seemed to agree was (and should be) unlawful. 

Counsel for plaintiffs-appellees opened his argument by focusing on the fact that the law bans “innocent political forms of expression” that have nothing to do with vote-buying and coercion. The panel’s questions focused largely on the various paths it might take in ruling in favor of the appellees. Judge Lynch remarked that First Amendment doctrine is a “minefield” and addressed with counsel the viability of arguments based on overbreadth and narrow-tailoring and whether the statute should be subject to intermediate or strict scrutiny. Regarding the lack of evidence proffered by the state, Judge Lipez asked whether the requirement of narrow tailoring permitted a legislature to assert a “prophylactic justification” for a law — that is, a justification based on something that might someday happen as opposed to something that evidence demonstrates has happened in the past.

Judge Lynch suggested that the ACLU-NH might want the Court to rule that the statute at issue was content based (in which case, strict scrutiny would apply). But, Mr. Bissonnette offered the panel a range of ways in which the Court might rule in his clients’ favor. He argued that, even under intermediate scrutiny, the statute would fail based on a lack of narrow-tailoring. Mr. Bissonnette noted that, far from demonstrating that there were “no less-restrictive alternatives” to the approach the New Hampshire legislature ultimately adopted, the legislature in this case had “tried nothing” in terms of alternative ways to address purported vote-buying and voter coercion issues.

No time is set for a ruling in the case, but the Cyberlaw Clinic will continue to monitor the docket.

Alisha Siqueira is a 2L at Harvard Law School and is enrolled in the Cyberlaw Clinic during the fall semester 2016.

by Christopher Bavitz and Alisha Siqueira at September 19, 2016 02:43 PM

Harry Lewis
Nazis, communists, and sororities

We have passed the Godwin’s law threshold in the discussion of the motion prohibiting discrimination against students on the basis of organizations they join. I have now heard more than one argument along these lines: “OK, maybe the College’s new policy is overkill. Harvard should leave the sororities alone and go after the sketchy final clubs in some other way. But your motion is worse overkill in the opposite direction. It would protect the rights of Nazis to be nominated for Rhodes Scholarships!”

The motion would provide no such protection. In fact, the motion would have no impact at all on the standards Harvard presently uses to honor students; it would simply stop Harvard from changing those standards. Students are responsible for their words and deeds. A student who spouts white supremacist garbage should expect to be culled out of any competition in which good character is a criterion—whether or not he is officially a member of the Nazi Party.

What about someone who is exposed as a member of the Nazi Party but doesn’t talk about it or anything else related to race or politics? That unlikely scenario would be decided in the usual way—by getting more information, discussing, and exercising human judgment, not by applying a rule. If certain organizations were automatically prohibited, what would be the protocols for keeping the list up to date? No such list would be needed to exclude students who belong to hate groups. The problem with being in such a group is not the membership card.

If tempted by the Nazi example to conclude that there are some groups just too horrible for honorable Harvard students to join, faculty should remember how recently the shoe was on the other foot. In 1953, several members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences were disparaged by Senator Joseph McCarthy for being members of the Communist Party. Wendell Furry, a genial and eminent professor of theoretical physics, was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and was indicted for contempt of Congress when he refused to name others who had been party members. McCarthy demanded that Harvard fire him, and President Pusey courageously refused.

We, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, were then happy then to have Harvard stand behind our freedom to join organizations. Should we now withdraw the same privilege from our students?

Ah, you may say, but today’s Harvard has better judgment about good and bad organizations than Congress did then. We would go after only obviously terrible organizations, like the Nazi party. So the motion is a bad idea because it would tie Harvard’s hands to go after Harvard students who join obviously horrible organizations.

Can we really have confidence that Harvard, given the opportunity to demonize students for their organizational memberships, would not succumb to pressure—internal or social—to move the horribleness line? Our record on students’ rights is far from unblemished. Things that were once unthinkable have now become unquestionable. The equal treatment of black students, who were barred from the Houses when they were opened. The rights of gay students, who were persecuted mercilessly by President Lowell. The equal status of women undergraduates, who were originally relegated to the “Annex,” and who as recently as 1999 could be Harvard students only by having “special” status as Radcliffe students, with their own dean, president, and distinctive diploma. In every case, students and social movements have been ahead of Harvard’s wisdom about what is best for students.

It is the height of arrogance for Harvard to declare that in 2016, it knows better about the private choices of its students. Yet Harvard’s confidence in the judgment of its students is at a modern low—they were not even consulted about the policy. No vetting through the constituted Committee on Student Life, no Town Halls or discussions in the Houses—just the announcement, complete with a presidential imprimatur, at the very moment students were leaving for the summer.

We take pride in being a diverse community, and also in our transformative impact on our students. But the transformative impact Harvard has on its students is itself diverse and unpredictable. We do not aspire to transform all members of our student body into believers in Harvard’s values, as we choose to define those values at the moment we and they are here. There is no single Harvard culture and it is not the job of the faculty to create one.

Our students include intentional nonconformists, out of step with our institutional thinking and that of society at large. We have students whose needs we are not meeting, and who do not wish to be told that they may not seek off-campus what is missing from their Harvard lives. If these students choose to form or to join organizations, then we can decide to keep those groups off campus if their policies don’t comply with Harvard standards. But we shouldn’t, ever, discriminate against students because of those private choices that they make. They are free adults as well as Harvard students, coming from diverse backgrounds and headed, in just a few years, back into the full complexity of American society. To punish them for joining clubs, political parties, or other off-campus organizations would be patronizing, to use the very accurate language of the Verba report.

by Harry Lewis ( at September 19, 2016 01:03 AM

Ethan Zuckerman
Going Solo – On hating and accepting change

I have not been writing much about my divorce on this blog – I’ve kept most of that discussion on Facebook. I thought this post, wrestling not only with the divorce, but unwanted change more generally, might be helpful for a broader audience.

I have been coming to grips with the uncomfortable realization that I am a conservative.

Not a political conservative – if anything, this election is hardening my identity as a progressive insurrectionist. Not a social conservative – that the world around me is more colorful, diverse and fluid by the day is a major source of joy. Personally conservative.

I don’t like change. I’d go as far as to say that I hate it.

I live in the same house I bought almost twenty years ago. It’s painted the same color it was then. It’s in, more or less, the only town I’ve lived in as an adult, the town I moved to for college twenty seven years ago. I’ve had the same damned non-hairstyle since I was sixteen.

Given my lived preferences, it appears that I would be happiest if everything in my immediate personal life could stay the same forever.

That, of course, isn’t an option.


Earlier today, my wife of seventeen years and I divorced in a ceremony she designed. It began with a blessing over wine in the battered, tarnished cup someone had given us at our wedding, engraved with the date. My beloved ex took the wine blessed in that cup, poured it into two red plastic Solo cups, and we each drank from our own. As the wine moved from a beloved relic into the table settings for a game of beer pong, I couldn’t help seeing this as a downgrade of a life together into two uncertain, lesser futures.

Which is, of course, wrong. Our lives are both already changing in ways that are healthy, unexpected and often delightful. I just need to get over hating the process.

What I’m learning – slowly, awkwardly, painfully – is that the changes I fear and dread have often already happened. By the time Rachel was ready to tell me she needed to end our relationship, it had changed a long time ago. We had stopped being the center of each other’s personal universes, had disengaged from the others passion and work, had begun sharing and confiding in other friends. My instinct was to fight these changes, to try and bring things back to the comfortable stability we had once enjoyed. I am grateful that Rachel fought to embrace the change, to step into the unknown, believing that things could be different and better.

My reaction to the end of my marriage with Rachel was to frantically reach out to old friends and demand they reassure me that they still loved me and that our relationship would never change. Some did. Some didn’t. In a few cases, friends took the opportunity to point out that we weren’t as close as we had been, that our friendship had already changed, or even ended, sometimes years before. They are right, too, and the onus is on me to discover what those friendships might be now, and what new spaces may have opened in my life as other friends have departed.

The problem with hating change is that it doesn’t stop it from happening. It just assures that change will happen to you, rather than allowing you to choose to make a change.

I am slowly learning to see the upside of my old nemesis. Some of what’s happened to me in the past year has been unbelievably wonderful. Those marvelous parts happened when, faced with a change that was already underway, I made a choice and made a change. My challenge now is to overcome my instinctive fear, this desire for everything to remain static and comfortable – despite its imperfections – and learn to love the changes. They’re coming anyway.

by Ethan at September 19, 2016 12:26 AM

September 18, 2016

David Weinberger
Lewis Carroll: Technodeterminist

From Sylvie and Bruno (1889) by Lewis Carroll:

“If Steam has done nothing else, it has at least added a whole new Species to English Literature!”

“No doubt of it,” I echoed. “The true origin of all our medical books—and all our cookery-books—”

“No, no!” she broke in merrily. “I didn’t mean our Literature! We are quite abnormal. But the booklets—the little thrilling romances, where the Murder comes at page fifteen, and the Wedding at page forty—surely they are due to Steam?”

“And when we travel by Electricity if I may venture to develop your theory we shall have leaflets instead of booklets, and the Murder and the Wedding will come on the same page.”

The post Lewis Carroll: Technodeterminist appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at September 18, 2016 06:29 PM

Lewis Carroll on where knowledge lives

On books and knowledge, from Sylvie and Bruno by Lewis Carroll, 1889:

“Which contain the greatest amount of Science, do you think, the books, or the minds?”

“Rather a profound question for a lady!” I said to myself, holding, with the conceit so natural to Man, that Woman’s intellect is essentially shallow. And I considered a minute before replying. “If you mean living minds, I don’t think it’s possible to decide. There is so much written Science that no living person has ever read: and there is so much thought-out Science that hasn’t yet been written. But, if you mean the whole human race, then I think the minds have it: everything, recorded in books, must have once been in some mind, you know.”

“Isn’t that rather like one of the Rules in Algebra?” my Lady enquired. (“Algebra too!” I thought with increasing wonder.) “I mean, if we consider thoughts as factors, may we not say that the Least Common Multiple of all the minds contains that of all the books; but not the other way?”

“Certainly we may!” I replied, delighted with the illustration. “And what a grand thing it would be,” I went on dreamily, thinking aloud rather than talking, “if we could only apply that Rule to books! You know, in finding the Least Common Multiple, we strike out a quantity wherever it occurs, except in the term where it is raised to its highest power. So we should have to erase every recorded thought, except in the sentence where it is expressed with the greatest intensity.”

My Lady laughed merrily. “Some books would be reduced to blank paper, I’m afraid!” she said.

“They would. Most libraries would be terribly diminished in bulk. But just think what they would gain in quality!”

“When will it be done?” she eagerly asked. “If there’s any chance of it in my time, I think I’ll leave off reading, and wait for it!”

“Well, perhaps in another thousand years or so—”

“Then there’s no use waiting!”, said my Lady. “Let’s sit down. Uggug, my pet, come and sit by me!”

The post Lewis Carroll on where knowledge lives appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at September 18, 2016 02:26 PM

September 17, 2016

Harry Lewis
A rough consensus
When I tried to begin my CS121 lecture Thursday, the projection system was not working. As the lectures are live streamed to a distance audience taking a parallel course through the Harvard Extension School, I couldn't proceed. Stuck with nothing to do until the tech arrived to diagnose the problem, and a captive audience of about 150 undergrads, I decided to learn something and teach something.

I was curious what they thought of the new College policy on single-gender social organizations. Now this is not an unbiased group--I had told them on Tuesday to read my op-ed, but I didn't suggest any reading to give the arguments in favor of the policy. (What would I have suggested?) And of course they know me, and I had just fed them donut holes. And they are computer science students, majority male, freshmen under-represented because of the level of the course, not a random sample of the student body.

Even acknowledging all the biases likely present in the group, I didn't want to ask them for yeas and nays in a way that would make them reluctant to acknowledge publicly what they thought. So I used the protocol of the Internet Engineering Task Force: Rough consensus, determined by humming.  No one can tell whether you are humming or not; and if there is a rough consensus, it's apparent. Of course you can't decide a closely contested question this way, but the genius of the IETF is to avoid votes entirely. All engineering design decisions, after the very first ones, were made by rough consensus--without a consensus, you don't change anything. (The memorable expression is "rough consensus and running code," but the "running code" part is not in the by-laws. It's just a signal that you get a leg up if you can show that your dandy idea can be developed quickly to a state where it sort of almost works.)

So we tested, by humming, whether CS121 students were in favor of the new policy or not. The consensus was there and it was overwhelmingly negative.

Now maybe if you ran the same test in a Gov course you'd get an entirely different result. (Hey, Prof. Porter, how about trying it in The American Presidency?) But still. It was astonishing. I am sure I read somewhere (the Crimson?) that students are in favor of the policy. It never went through the student government or any of the official student-faculty committees, so there is no evidence there.

If anything, I would have expected CS students to be less sympathetic to off-campus social clubs. I think, and the class seemed to agree, that they are underrepresented in those organizations, probably because they are working too hard. And yet the favorable hums were barely audible in a large lecture hall.

By the way, doesn't that suggest a solution to the Final Club problem? Just ramp up the workload in Ec and Gov to be more like it is in CS.

Bonus link: a story about my senior year. Recommended reading for students who think their senior year is stressful! Professors' Professors

by Harry Lewis ( at September 17, 2016 02:38 AM

September 16, 2016

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
Access to Justice Lab Launches at HLS

We are excited to report that the Access to Justice Lab has gone live at Harvard Law School. HLS Professor Jim Greiner, who serves as Faculty Director of the Lab, is a pioneer in the use of rigorous research methodologies to evaluate of outcomes for those with legal needs. The Lab will carry on that work — developing evidence-based approaches to help courts and legal services providers understand what works in improving access to justice.

Some more details from the A2J Lab team:

The A2J Lab is an Arnold-Foundation-funded initiative within the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession.  Our mission is to produce rigorous evidence in the fields of access to justice (civil or criminal) and adjudicatory administration, and to combat the resistance within the U.S. Bench and Bar to rigorous empirical thinking.

Who are we?  We are two full-time researchers, a project manager, a research associate, a faculty director, a rich variety of affiliates, and, most importantly, you.  We hope that anyone interested in access to justice or in evidence-based thinking in the law will participate in our efforts by offering ideas, providing guidance on questions or issues that are stumping us, participating in research projects, linking us with likely partners, or telling us things we ought to know.

Join the conversation! Follow us on twitter and facebook, subscribe to our blog and send us your ideas.

Congratulations to the Lab on its launch; we look forward to learning from them in the years to come.

by Clinic Staff at September 16, 2016 08:57 AM

Miriam Meckel
Ohne Haftung


Die österreichische Demokratie scheitert auf der Suche nach Zusammenhalt am Klebstoff.

Wäre Thomas Bernhard noch am Leben, man dürfte sich schon auf einen erneuten beißenden Kommentar zu seinem Land freuen, mit dem er ein Leben lang in Hassliebe lebte. Das Verbindende zwischen Dichter und Land war in etwa so stark wie der Klebstoff, der dafür sorgen sollte, dass die Österreicher am 2. Oktober im zweiten Anlauf endlich ein Staatsoberhaupt wählen können. Doch in der Alpenrepublik stehen die Zeichen seit Monaten auf Lösen statt Verbinden.

Mit dem Rücktritt von Exkanzler Werner Faymann im Mai hat ein Auflösungsprozess begonnen, der bislang nicht gestoppt werden konnte. Gründe dafür sind die Flüchtlingskrise, aber auch die wirtschaftliche Lähmung Österreichs. Das Land, zu Beginn des Jahrtausends Musterländle der Euro-Zone, fällt wirtschaftlich zurück und liegt in der jährlichen Wachstumsrate zum dritten Mal unter dem Durchschnitt im Euro-Raum. Schwaches Wachstum, wachsende Arbeitslosigkeit und seit Jahren ausbleibende Reformen haben das Vertrauen der Bürgerinnen und Bürger in ihr Land zermürbt.

Es ist also eine weitreichende politische Haftungsfrage, die mit dem vermaledeiten Klebstoff verbunden ist. Nicht nur dass sich Österreich international lächerlich gemacht hat (auch wenn eine Tranche des Klebstoffs aus Deutschland stammt, den man lieber wieder „heim ins Reich“ geschickt hätte, wie es manch einen Kommentator zu historischen Analogien verleitete). Sie zeigt, dass die politische Klüngelei, verbunden mit einem Mangel an Verantwortungsbewusstsein, weiter ihre Blüten treibt. Nachdem beim ersten Wahlanlauf im Mai die Stichwahl aus formalen Gründen vom Verfassungsgericht kassiert worden war, hätten alle gewarnt sein müssen. Durch das Beben ums Kleben klappt auch das nun wieder nicht. Es wird jetzt am 4. Dezember gewählt. Vielleicht.

Wie kann es sein, dass inzwischen nahezu alles durch DIN-Normen und ISO-Vorschriften durchgeregelt ist, aber niemand die Umschläge überprüft hat? Wie kann es sein, dass über eine Hotline des Innenministeriums Anrufer aufgefordert wurden, Umschläge, die sich geöffnet hatten, mit Klebestift wieder zu verschließen, was einer indirekten Aufforderung zum Wahlbetrug gleichkommt?

In Österreich herrscht politische Materialermüdung. Die Beteiligten nehmen schulterzuckend hin, dass nun das Wahlgesetz geändert werden oder einer der beiden Präsidentschaftsanwärter um die Ecke gebracht werden muss, weil die Verschiebung des Wahltermins nur bei Tod eines Kandidaten vorgesehen ist. Und der österreichische Innenminister ist zu naiv, zu unbedarft oder auch zu müde, Verantwortung zu übernehmen und zurückzutreten.

Für den von Bundeskanzler Christian Kern in Angriff genommenen neuen Schwung des Landes ist das eine üble Posse. Die österreichische Demokratie scheitert einstweilen auf der Suche nach Zusammenhalt am Klebstoff. Das hätte sich Thomas Bernhard nicht schöner ausdenken können.

Das Wichtigste aber ist wenigstens geklärt. Bis auf Weiteres kann das Porträt von Exbundespräsident Heinz Fischer in den österreichischen Schulen hängen bleiben, obwohl er schon seit Juli nicht mehr im Amt ist. Hat das Bildungsministerium beschieden. Es gibt noch Sinn für Prioritäten. Eine solche könnte in der Frage liegen: Wofür braucht Österreich eigentlich einen Bundespräsidenten? Auch ein Amt kann eine Sparmaßnahme sein.

by Miriam Meckel at September 16, 2016 05:53 AM

September 15, 2016

Miriam Meckel


Die Volksparteien sollten raus aus der Mitte. Nur wer im Wettbewerb klar und eindeutig positioniert ist, macht sich unersetzbar.

Wer fürs politische Geschäft gerüstet sein will, muss raus auf die Straße. Am besten in den USA. Dort ist es, anders als in Deutschland, nämlich üblich und unproblematisch, rechts zu überholen. Dass man damit politisch erfolgreich sein kann, lehrt derzeit nicht nur Donald Trump in Übersee, sondern auch die AfD, die auf der heimischen Welle gut geschürter Antistimmung reitet und damit in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern zweitstärkste Kraft im Landtag geworden ist.

Das ist der Horror von CDU und CSU. Deren Losung lautete in den Worten von Franz Josef Strauß, schon immer: Rechts der Union darf es keine demokratisch legitimierte Partei geben. Die gibt es nun, und sie wird nicht nur der Union kräftig zu schaffen machen.

Die einst von CDU-Revoluzzer Heiner Geißler entwickelte Lagertheorie – rechts das bürgerliche Lager aus Union und FDP, auf der anderen Seite das linke Lager aus SPD und Grünen – ist längst überholt. In den vergangenen Regierungsperioden ist ein Sammellager der politischen Kräfte entstanden, in dem sich die Parteien an einer lauen Konsenssuppe gewärmt haben. Unter vielen Bürgerinnen und Bürgern herrscht deshalb inzwischen der Lagerkoller.

Die AfD will nicht in die Mitte. Sie will draußen bleiben (mit Ausnahme von Jörg Meuthen, AfD-Bundesvorsitzender und Landesvorsitzender in Baden-Württemberg, dem ein Landtagsfrühling gleich Hoffnung auf einen Regierungssommer im Bund macht). Sie muss Alternative zum „System“ sein, das ist ihr Erfolgsrezept.

Dieses Rezept greift. Zwei Drittel der AfD-Wähler in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern gaben an, aus Enttäuschung über die anderen Parteien AfD gewählt zu haben. Und schon beginnt der Zersetzungsprozess zwischen CDU und CSU. „Die Lage für die Union ist höchst bedrohlich“, kommentiert CSU-Chef Horst Seehofer und spielt mit dem Gedanken, bei der Bundestagswahl 2017 mit der CSU bundesweit anzutreten. Das Konzept könnte politisch aufgehen, allerdings anders, als Horst Seehofer sich das vorstellt.

Sollte Angela Merkel 2017 nicht wieder antreten, hat die CSU die Chance, eine Menge Stimmen derer zu gewinnen, die jetzt die AfD gewählt haben. Das macht noch keinen Bundeskanzler Seehofer, könnte aber dafür sorgen, dass der politische Raum rechts von der Union wieder besenrein zur eigenen Bewirtschaftung zurückgewonnen werden kann. Gleichzeitig wäre die SPD gezwungen, eine eindeutige Parteihaltung zu entwickeln, um sich konsequent von der Union abzugrenzen.

Derartige Zentrifugalkräfte täten der Parteienlandschaft gut. Die Mitte würde entrümpelt, die beiden Volksparteien wieder unterscheidbar. In dem so entstehenden Raum hätte auch eine FDP wieder mehr Luft, sich konsequent und vor allem öffentlich wahrnehmbar wirtschaftspolitischer Themen anzunehmen. Kurzum: Die Bürger im Land hätten wieder eine Wahl. Wo es mehrere Alternativen gibt, braucht es keine Partei, deren Programmatik im Anderssein liegt. Die AfD wäre überflüssig.

Deswegen wäre es so wichtig, die Volksparteien begriffen den Schreck von Sonntag als Chance für Diversifizierung. Nur wer im Wettbewerb klar und eindeutig positioniert ist, macht sich unersetzbar – das gilt für Parteien wie für Unternehmen. Und für rechte Überholmanöver wäre dann die Spur verstellt.

by Miriam Meckel at September 15, 2016 03:42 PM

September 14, 2016

Harry Lewis
No Values Tests
The blog has been silent for awhile, in part because I was dean again for six months, in part because I was trying to get a book finished, and in part because I am Director of Undergraduate Studies in what has become one of Harvard's largest concentrations. My theory of computation course has 240 students this term, which creates problems, even if they are exactly the problems I want my field to have!
I and several of my colleagues penned an op-ed for the Crimson yesterday: No Values Tests, relating to the the policy on single-gender social organizations announced last spring. You can follow the Crimson links if this is all new to you and you care (I don't blame you if it's too much inside-Harvard-baseball for your tastes). I will just post it here without comment, except to say that I rather liked the graphic this blog attached to its commentary. FIRE also commented on it.

by Harry Lewis ( at September 14, 2016 02:32 PM

PRX’s Orbital Path with Michelle Thaller on Sky & Telescope

Orbital Path host Michelle Thaller
Michelle Thaller

PRX has a new collaboration with Sky & Telescope magazine, launching today. Each episode of our space podcast, Orbital Path, will be featured on Sky & Telescope‘s website. Starting with our next new episode in October, the entries will include a special op-ed piece from our host, astronomer Dr. Michelle Thaller.

Michelle will provide something different each time, from backstory about the episode to further exploration into a topic. Michelle travels the world for her work studying binary stars and as the Deputy Director for Science Communications at NASA, and her fascinating guests come from all fields of space science.

Sky & Telescope was founded in 1941 and has the most experienced astronomy staff of any magazine worldwide—check out the story of how they were founded.

Orbital Path looks at the big questions of the cosmos and what the answers can reveal about life here on Earth. Subscribe here and stay tuned to Sky & Telescope for Michelle’s editorials, starting with our next episode in early October.


Orbital Path is hosted by Michelle Thaller, produced by Justin O’Neill, and edited by Andrea Mustain, with direction and distribution from PRX’s Chief Content Officer John Barth and Content Coordinator Genevieve Sponsler. Support for Orbital Path comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science, technology, and economic performance. More at

The post PRX’s Orbital Path with Michelle Thaller on Sky & Telescope appeared first on PRX.

by Genevieve at September 14, 2016 02:20 PM

September 13, 2016

Justin Reich
Digital vs Analog Reading: The Paradox of Paper
Despite the arguments against e-reading posed by some scholars, the ability to search, manipulate, and interact with digital texts may prove to be invaluable for deeper synthesis and analysis.

by Beth Holland at September 13, 2016 10:21 PM

Berkman Center front page
Hammering Square Pegs into Round Holes


The Geographical Scope of Application of the EU Right to be Delisted


In this paper, Michel Reymond explores the extraterritorial effects of the Google Spain decision rendered in May 2014 by the European Court of Justice. Through a methodology inspired by private international law, the author examines the geographical reach of the so-called ‘Right to be Forgotten,’ which is more correctly identified as a ‘Right to be Delisted.’

Publication Date

15 Sep 2016

Thumbnail Image: 
In this paper, Michel Reymond explores the extraterritorial effects of the Google Spain decision rendered in May 2014 by the European Court of Justice. Through a methodology inspired by private international law, the author examines the geographical reach of the so-called ‘Right to be Forgotten,’ which is more correctly identified as a ‘Right to be Delisted.’ Using a series of hypothetical cases, he explores and explains the conditions necessary to subject search engines headquartered outside of the territory of the European Union to the obligation of partially delisting ‘irrelevant’ or ‘outdated’ URLs which may harm the  privacy rights of European citizens. He arrives at the following key findings:
  • Determining the geographical scope of the Right to be Delisted on a case-to-case basis is currently an excessively complex process, as it relies on the uneasy combination between specific ad hoc rules found in Google Spain and in the recent opinions of the Article 29 Working Party, and the general scope rules the 95/46/EC Data Protection Directive.
  • The Right to be Delisted, as the expression of an eminently personal right to privacy, clashes with the Directive’s focus on data processing and on the activity of data controllers to establish its scope. Thus, when applied to individual case scenarios involving delisting requests, these rules do not provide adequate nor consistent results.
  • A global “place of harm” standard, similar to how privacy torts are handles in private international law, should be relied upon instead. To some extent, it already has, as search engine practice use the place of the habitual residence of the claimant as the main locus for individual delisting queries. The paper provides proposals which could be used to codify and further shape this established practice.

The paper is part of Michel Reymond's ongoing work on the topic; it has been developed during his time as a visiting researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society under funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Producer Intro

Authored by

by gweber at September 13, 2016 05:08 PM

David Weinberger
Top Ten Names for Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Ice Cream

Top 10 new names for Ben & Jerry’s coffee ice cream to convince them to bring it back. #BringBackCoffee @benandjerryspdx

10. Coffee Hold the Gimmicks

9 . Coffee with OMG SO MUCH Cream and Sugar. Also, It’s Frozen.

8. Coffee Uncrunchy

7. St. Agnes‘ Coffee Purity

6. Coffee Coffee Reanimation

5. Larry David’s I Said I Don’t Want Anything In My Cone Except Coffee

4. Coffee Shutup

3. Jack Nicholson’s Coffee and Chicken Salad Sandwich on Wheat Toast

2. What Part of Coffee Do You Not Understand?

1. Just Fucking Coffee

The post Top Ten Names for Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Ice Cream appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at September 13, 2016 04:41 PM

September 12, 2016

What VRM is about


ProjectVRM fosters development of tools and services that make every person both independent of others (especially companies), yet better able to engage with them. There are a lot of developers doing that now, but we could use a lot more. Bigger ones, too.

Our main problem, to the small degree we have one, is VRM as a TLA (three letter acronym). Each of the three letters—Vendor, Relationship and Management—is a one-word MEGO: a four-letter acronym that says “my eyes (or ears) glaze over.”

I bring this up because we are often asked why we don’t have a less boring name for what is becoming an exciting category, and something that’s finally catching on. The answer is that the baby got named long ago, and changing what we call it now is, to use a FLA, a PITA.

Meanwhile, I kinda like the little image I put up, above, just to see if it has any box office.




by Doc Searls at September 12, 2016 09:12 PM

Berkman Center front page
Culture Change and Digital Technology: The NYPD under Commissioner William Bratton, 2014-2016


This white paper explores NYPD's adoption of Twitter and an ideation platform called IdeaScale that was aimed at allowing community members to nominate "quality of life" issues for resolution by the police. It examines the department's pivot to Facebook as an interactive communications platform following its experience with IdeaScale...

Publication Date

12 Sep 2016

Authored by Susan Crawford and Laura Adler
New Yorkers are now safer in the city than they have been in years. Yet tensions between police officers and the communities in which they work have continued to mount in New York, as in other cities across the country. Just this past summer, racial violence erupted in Milwaukee and Baton Rouge in response to the fatal shooting of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Milwaukee joined other cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., in which police killings have been seen as brutal evidence of the disrespect that many African Americans say the police show them. The challenge facing the NYPD today is to maintain safe streets while ushering in a new era of mutual respect between officers and local communities. At this early stage of digital technology adoption, the NYPD’s attempt under Commr. William Bratton (2014-2016) to change the culture of policing by enriching communications between police and neighborhoods holds lessons for public agencies across the U.S. during a period of intense volatility.
This white paper explores NYPD's adoption of Twitter and an ideation platform called IdeaScale that was aimed at allowing community members to nominate "quality of life" issues for resolution by the police. It examines the department's pivot to Facebook as an interactive communications platform following its experience with IdeaScale. It connects these initiatives to the NYPD's overall push for Neighborhood Coordination Officers throughout the city. Finally, it pulls together information about NYPD's revisions to its training and recruitment programs and the department's ongoing efforts to upgrade its basic digital assets, from precinct Internet access to smartphones.
These programs, all made possible by Commr. Bratton's strong leadership, were designed to create a virtuous cycle: The NYPD’s social media, neighborhood policing, and new recruiting and training programs aimed to increase mutual respect by helping officers understand and enhance their responsibility to serve and protect New York City communities—and help community members see police officers as human beings. Stronger community relations may, in turn, support crime prevention. Shifting from a confrontational to a collaborative approach may encourage community members to come forward when they learn about crime. And all of these steps are designed to lead policing away from an exclusive focus on crime reduction and towards a balanced strategy of crime prevention and community outreach—an effort, in Commr. Bratton’s words, to move from a “warrior” to a “guardian” policing mindset.

Producer Intro

Authored by

by gweber at September 12, 2016 04:20 PM

Welcome Sean Nesbitt

I’m Sean Nesbitt, Station Relations Director for PRX.

I guess you can say I took the path less traveled to arrive in public media. I grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, a small urban community in central New Jersey. It’s a short Amtrak ride away from Newark. Or a longer Amtrak/Path ride to Manhattan.


My journey started at Norfolk State University, a historically black university. It was a launching pad for my sense of adventure. I learned about business and government affairs at Georgetown; studied the German language intensively at The University of Virginia; and studied in South Africa for three-and-a-half months. Did I say adventure?  

After graduation, I worked at Grand-Am Road Racing, the sports car division of NASCAR. Media/Public Relations was at the core of what I did. It was a really cool experience! But I wanted a change of pace—some pun intended—and leapt at a marketing opportunity at PRI. Public media really captured my imagination.

I advocated for big names in public media: BBC, CBC, PRI’s The World ®, This American Life, etc. Exposure to this level of talent sparked my interest in growth. So I enrolled in an innovative MBA program at Western Governors University. A rotation of challenging projects for work and school was my life for 20 months.  

Now, three months after graduation, I’m thrilled to help chart the future of public media at PRX. I believe in our ability to make positive change happen—for everyone.

More about me: I’m a very active volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters. (Ask me about it!) Plus, I love wheeling my Dahon C6 folding bike around the Mississippi River.

The post Welcome Sean Nesbitt appeared first on PRX.

by Sean Nesbitt at September 12, 2016 01:00 PM

September 11, 2016

Ethan Zuckerman
Massive National Prison Strike! Maybe. We don’t know. That’s a problem.

Yesterday, prisoners around the US began a strike protesting unpaid, underpaid and forced labor. Maybe. We think.

Led by prisoners in Alabama and Texas, incarcerated activists planned a nationwide labor strike yesterday, with prisoners refusing to report for jobs essential to run the prison, as well as for jobs for companies who contract jobs to prison labor. Scheduled for the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising, organizers announced that this would be the largest prison protest in US history.

Was it? I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone does.

Image from Sofie Louise Dam’s brilliant cartoon briefing on the strikes

It’s hard to tell what’s going on inside US prisons. While prisoners can reach out to reporters using the same channels they can use to contact friends or family members, journalists have very limited rights of access to prisons, and it would be challenging for an intrepid reporter to identify and contact inmates in prisons across a state, for instance, to determine where protests took place. Wardens have a great deal of discretion about answering reporters’ inquiries and can choose not to comment citing security concerns. Reporters who want to know what’s going on inside a prison sometimes resort to extraordinary measures, like becoming a prison guard to gain access. (Shane Bauer’s article on private prison company CCA is excellent, but the technique he used was not a new one – Ted Conover’s 2000 book Newjack is a masterpiece of the genre.)

Because it’s so hard to report from prison – and, frankly, because news consumers haven’t demonstrated much demand for stories about prison conditions – very few media outlets have dedicated prison reporters. One expert estimates that there are fewer than half a dozen dedicated prisons reporters across the US, an insane number given that 2.4m Americans are incarcerated, roughly 1% of the nation’s population.

So what happened yesterday?

Prisoners associated with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), in cooperation with the End Prison Slavery in Texas movement, the Free Alabama Movement and others announced a coordinated strike on September 9th. While different movements have different demands, a common thread is opposition to unpaid and underpaid labor. Nearly 900,000 inmates work within US prisons. Some produce goods for sale by corporations, a process called “insourcing”, but most work in the prison laundry, kitchens and janitorial services, keeping prisons running. Alex Friedmann, managing editor of the indispensable Prison Legal News observes that, “If our criminal-justice system had to pay a fair wage for labor that inmates provide, it would collapse.”

In most states and in federal prisons, inmates are paid a small fraction of the minimum wage for their work. In Texas and Arkansas, they are not paid at all. Activists point out that forced labor for unfair or no wages is tantamount to slavery. And while good students of American history know that the 13th amendment abolished slavery, not everyone knows that slavery continued to be permitted “a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”. In her brilliant book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander points out that after slavery was abolished, southern states began aggressively arresting and imprisoning African Americans, then leasing convicts as hired labor to the plantation owners who previously kept slaves. Since the start of the war on drugs, the US prison population has quadrupled, and African-Americans have been disproportionately imprisoned for drug crimes. Much as Jim Crow and convict leasing reproduced much of the control structures of slavery, the war on drugs, Alexander and others argue, is producing a system that looks like contemporary slavery.

Organizers called on inmates to refuse to report to work, hoping to paralyze prison operations and force guards to take on essential jobs. It’s unclear how many inmates were willing to risk punishment and retribution by participating. Some facilities may have preemptively locked down their facilities to prevent strikes from occurring. Holmes Correctional facility in Florida announced a lockdown after a reported riot the day before the general strike. Subsequently, two other Florida facilities have been in lockdown starting during the strike, and others report “disturbances”. The spokesperson for the Florida prison system reported that Friday’s disruptions included everything from a few inmates failing to report for work to “major” revolts.

Ar Holman Prison in Alabama, where some of the movement organizers are based, prison authorities report that 45 prisoners refused to work on Friday. IWOC, the organizers of the strike, report that South Carolina prisoners have issued a list of demands before they return to work and that as many as 30 prisoners are striking. Perry Correctional Institution in Greenville, SC is reported to be on lockdown in response to the protests. Some of the news reported on the IWOC feed is less optimistic – they report the few prisoners who’ve decided to strike in North Carolina are outnumbered by those who did not participate.

And that’s basically what we know.

It’s possible that the protests have been disappointingly small. It’s exceedingly hard to organize a nationwide movement given the barriers to communication prisoners face. Wired published an intriguing article on the role of social media in organizing the strike, but no one should conclude that inmates with smuggled mobile phones have the level of internet access protesters in Tahrir had, for example. (Still, the Free Alabama Movement manages to maintain a YouTube presence with videos filmed from inside prison.) It’s also possible that the protests are more widespread that we know. That’s what IWOC organizers predicted, suggesting that it will be at least a week before we know what actually happened on the 9th. It’s likely that many protesters will be cut off from mail and phone, unable to report on what’s going on within their prisons.

I’ve been writing lately about situations in which readers can have power by calling attention to events in the world. This is one of those situations. If the prison strike becomes a nationwide story, it’s likely that some wardens will be more cautious than they otherwise would in taking punitive action against strike participants. And while it’s hard for anyone to report on conditions in prisons, large media organizations like the Washington Post, the New York Times, NPR and others may be able to reach out to existing contacts and provide a more detailed view of events – and none of those three have done significant reporting on this strike thus far. Especially if you are a subscriber or supporter, this would be an excellent time to write a note to the public editor asking for close coverage to this topic.

Perhaps the call for the nation’s largest prison strike has failed. Or perhaps we’re seeing the beginnings of a long action that will change incarceration as we know it. It’s a problem that we don’t – and can’t – know. A nation that imprisons 1% of its population has an obligation to know what’s happening to those 2.4 million people, and right now, we don’t know.

Here are some of the resources I’m leaning on to follow the strike. Isabelle Nastasia is keeping a list of reports on strike actions at Mask Magazine. IWOC’s Facebook page is sharing reports as they come in from individual prisons.

There’s been some exemplary work done reporting on the strike ahead of time. The American Prospect published my single favorite text piece… though it’s from 2014… and The Nib features Sofie Louise Dam’s graphic briefing on the strike, which is a must-read.

by Ethan at September 11, 2016 03:07 AM

September 09, 2016

Criminal’s 50th Episode

Criminal Podcast's 50th EpisodeTo celebrate Criminal‘s 50th episode, we asked host Phoebe Judge and producer Lauren Spohrer to share their favorite episodes. Phoebe writes: “Over the last two and a half years, we’ve learned that you should never walk into an interview thinking you know what you’ll get.  We’re always amazed by how open people are to discussing horribly sad or strange periods in their lives. If anything, making Criminal has shown us that crime (like all things) is infinitely more interesting than it first appears, and that people are remarkably resilient.”

Check out their favorites below, and subscribe to the Criminal podcast in iTunes here.

Phoebe’s Favorite Episodes

Episode 4: Call Your Mom
There are plenty of things we don’t share with our mothers. Dark, sad
things. Unless of course, you’re both in the business of death.

Episode 14: The Fifth Suspect
In June 2014, authorities released information about a massive child
pornography ring being conducted in North Carolina. Four suspects had
already been arrested, and the police were asking the public for help
finding a fifth suspect. But they didn’t need to look very hard — the
suspect was about to turn himself in, almost by accident.

Episode 23: Triassic Park
The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona has the largest
collection of petrified wood in the world. The beautiful wood is more
than 200 million years old, and visitors to the park often take a
little piece home with them as a souvenir. But stealing the wood has
serious consequences, both legal and, some say, supernatural.

Criminal Podcast's 50th EpisodeLauren’s Favorite Episodes

Episode 25: The Portrait
More than eighty years ago, a North Carolina family of nine posed for
a Christmas portrait. Two weeks later, all but one of them had been
shot dead.

Episode 36: Perfect Specimen
The 500-year-old Treaty Oak in Austin, Texas was once called “the most
perfect specimen of a North American tree.” But in 1989, Austin’s city
forester realized that the Treaty Oak didn’t look so good, and began
to wonder whether someone had intentionally tried to kill it.

Episode 18: 695-BGK
Police officer John Edwards was patrolling a quiet neighborhood in
Bellaire, Texas when he saw an SUV driven by two young
African-American men. It was just before 2am on December 31, 2008.
Edwards followed the SUV and ran the license plate number. His
computer indicated that the SUV was stolen, and Edwards drew his gun
and told the two men to get down on the ground. It wasn’t until later
that he realized he’d typed the wrong license plate number into his
computer. He was off by one digit. By the time he realized his
mistake, one of the men had already been shot in the chest at close

The post Criminal’s 50th Episode appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at September 09, 2016 01:37 PM

September 06, 2016

Berkman Center front page
Why the Internet Matters


an interactive discussion with Prof. Jonathan Zittrain, Berkman Klein Center Faculty Chair


If you’re interested in connecting with the Berkman Klein Center's research, community, and events, or are just generally interested in digital technologies and their impact on society, please join us for this talk!

Event Date

Sep 6 2016 5:00pm to Sep 6 2016 5:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 5:00 pm followed by Reception
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East, Second Floor (Map)

Learn more about the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University -- and its network of researchers, activists, faculty, students, technologists, entrepreneurs, artists, policy makers, lawyers, and more -- in an interactive conversation lead by Berkman Klein Center Faculty Chair Jonathan Zittrain. If you’re curious about connecting with our research, our community, or our events, or are just generally interested in digital technologies and their impact on society, please join us! The conversation will be immediately followed by a reception in the same room.

by doyolu at September 06, 2016 06:30 PM

September 05, 2016

Miriam Meckel
Ziviler Ernstfall


Wiedereinführung der Wehrpflicht? Ein Pflichtjahr wäre ein besserer Beitrag für den inneren Zusammenhalt, der gelitten hat.

Da kommt was durch die Hintertür. Soll die Wehrpflicht, nur wenige Jahre nach ihrer faktischen Abschaffung 2011, nun wieder eingeführt werden? Die Spekulationen dazu tobten schon heftig, bevor das Bundeskabinett das neue Konzept zur zivilen Verteidigung am Mittwoch beschlossen hat. Tatsächlich dreht es sich darin auch um „Einberufungs- und Leistungsbescheide bei Wiederaufleben der Wehrpflicht“.

Der Generalplan für den Ernstfall geht also davon aus, dass im Falle des Falles auch Zivilisten zur Unterstützung der Streitkräfte eingezogen werden können. Die politische Diskussion, die daraufhin vom Zaun gebrochen wurde, ist ein Paradebeispiel für die simpelsten Reiz-Reaktions-Schemata im politischen Geschäft – und das ist schade.

Man kann zu Recht darüber streiten, ob Andeutungen zur Wiedereinführung der Wehrpflicht als politisches Signal in diesen Zeiten nicht Ängste schüren, die längst ausreichend vorhanden sind. Aber dass niemand mal einen Schritt weiterdenkt, das ist mager. Das Konzept des Innenministers will die Gesellschaft im Ernstfall absichern. Dazu sollte jede Bürgerin und jeder Bürger einen Beitrag zu leisten bereit sein. Aber warum eigentlich nur im militärischen Ernstfall? Haben wir nicht längst den zivilen Ernstfall? Den Zustand, in dem der Zusammenhalt der Gesellschaft, die Bindung zwischen Bürgern und Staat so locker und fragil geworden sind, dass man selbst für den Normalfall von nichts mehr ausgehen kann?

Deutschland braucht dringend eine Klammer, um den inneren Zusammenhalt und das Gemeinwesen zu stärken. Nicht über die Wiedereinführung der Wehrpflicht, sondern über einen einjährigen Sozialdienst, den jeder erbringen muss, der in unserem Land lebt. Deutsche ebenso wie Migranten, Frauen ebenso wie Männer, Jüngere ebenso wie Ältere. Die Bundeswehr kann ein Einsatzfeld sein. Aber auch in Unternehmen, die einen Beitrag für die Gemeinschaft leisten, kann Dienst getan werden. In der Unterstützung von Start-ups, im Umweltdienst, im Sport, in der Verkehrssicherung, in der Forschung, natürlich auch in Krankenhäusern, Pflegeheimen und Museen.

Das ökonomische Gegenargument ist bekannt: Billige Zivis nehmen den ordentlich bezahlten Kräften die Arbeit weg und drücken die Löhne. Viel teurer kommt es Deutschland aber, wenn Staat und Bürger sich weiter entfremden. Das Sicherheitsgefühl der Deutschen und ihr Vertrauen sind gestört – durch die Flüchtlingsfrage, die Niedrigzinspolitik, die Staatsschuldenkrise die Bedrohung durch Terrorismus. Lässt sich die deutsche Gesellschaft dadurch auseinanderdividieren, haben es die äußeren Feinde sehr viel leichter, Schaden anzurichten.

Seit 2011 gibt es den Bundesfreiwilligendienst, der Wehr- und Zivildienst abgelöst hat. Aber eben auf freiwilliger Basis. Auf einen verfügbaren Platz kommen bis zu zehn Bewerber. Zeigt das nicht, dass der Wunsch nach einem Beitrag zum Gemeinwohl bei vielen jungen Menschen vorhanden ist? Die Generation der Totalindividualisten wird wieder abgelöst von denen, die lieber gemeinsam etwas auf die Beine stellen und nicht nur an der eigenen Turbokarriere interessiert sind. Richtig wäre, diesen Trend in einem Pflichtjahr aufzugreifen. Der beste Zivilschutz beginnt bei den Menschen, die ganz einfach begreifen: Der Staat, das bin auch ich.

by Miriam Meckel at September 05, 2016 08:13 PM

September 02, 2016

David Weinberger
Wait, did I become a jock?

I believe we invented the indoors because it’s better than being outdoors.

I don’t care about sports. Oh, sure, I watched the clips of the USA’s women’s gymnastics team, but mainly as amazing science fiction because clearly that was not possible.

I enjoy watching dance for the same reason, although I am also capable of being moved by it, something that no home town team does for me. I went to a couple of dance classes with my not-yet wife when we were courting, but I stopped coming out of pity for our poor, kind teacher who would not accept that someone could fail to master walking with his arms in opposition to his legs…you know that thing humans do when their right hand swings back as their left leg swings forwards.

Needless to say, I was not on any high school or college teams.

In short, I am your basic indoor Jew. A schlub.

I prefer it this way. Bodies are over-rated, except for eating and, well, you know. They’re high-maintenance and whiny. But what are you going to do? You can’t live with ’em and you can’t live without ’em, am I right?

So I was surprised to realize that I may have become a jock.

It’s September. I live in Boston. Tomorrow we might get snowed in until April, or, like last year, it might stay early Fall until January. Which means my jogging days are numbered. And, of course, they’ve got a big red number counting down as well, given that I’m 65 years old and never thought I’d still be sweating into a baseball cap at this age.

Jogging — yes, I know the whippersnappers don’t call it that any more — is the only athletic activity I’ve ever succeeded at, where success means doing it more than twice in a row. I started doing wind sprints when I was in college, very occasionally, and then in grad school in Toronto started running at the local YMCA. That came to an end when people complained about the volume of my footfall on the wooden track. Apparently my feet have hinges that cause them to slap the boards like cricket bats. So, I began running outside.

I reached my peak around 1977 when I trained for and then ran in a 10K. I was pretty proud of myself as I reached the finish line until a twelve year old girl sprinted past me chewing gum and holding a transistor radio to her ear. But in truth I’ve never been motivated to run fast or even a bit faster. I’ve been motivated by making it back home where I can sit indoors.

That ultimately is the secret to my success with jogging: I head out in a loop and the only way to make it stop is to keep going.

I am a terrible jogger. I was always slow but now I watch who’s passing me and realize that I only feel like I’m running. Still, I come home and sweat for half an hour.

Being a world-class athlete isn’t always pretty

During the intervals when I’m running, I do it maybe 3 times a week, although I’ve been running every day, compulsively, all summer. I put on my bright green shorts, one of my ancient baseball hats, and my earphones playing something upbeat that I can stop listening to as the voice in my head gets more insistent, and run 2.5-3.5 miles depending on how I feel and how cool the temperature is; my endurance is in a non-linear negative relationship with the heat.

The truth is that my mood is better during the months when I’m running. Could be the sunlight, which I otherwise avoid the way other people duck out of the rain. Could be the cardiovascular effects; my heart rate is lower during my running months. Could be the general lassitude the exertion brings on; when it comes to everything, I just give less of a damn. Who knows.

But what’s made me think that I’m slipping into jockhood is that I’ve actually been looking forward to my daily jog. I’m not running any faster, I’m not running any better, I still look like a bag of potatoes falling down the stairs, but I sort of enjoy it. Sort of.

It will pass. As will we all.

The post Wait, did I become a jock? appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at September 02, 2016 12:32 PM

September 01, 2016

Justin Reich
PBL and Design Thinking to Unleash Student Creativity
PBL and Design Thinking offer up two strategies for teachers to encourage students' divergent thinking and creativity.

by Beth Holland at September 01, 2016 02:30 PM

August 31, 2016

Center for Research on Computation and Society (Harvard SEAS)
Postdoc Mixer

Job Tricks and Treats: Preparing for the Job Circuit

Get ready for interview season by conducting practice interviews with faculty. Learn how to prepare materials, and pair with your peers to review research and teaching statements. We welcome all CS, Stat, and IACS postdocs.

by Gabriella Fee at August 31, 2016 09:10 PM

Postdoc Mixer

Making the Most of your Postdoc Experience 

We invite all CS, Stat, and IACS postdocs to attend this social event. We will introduce you to the community of postdoctoral fellows and discuss your goals for the upcoming year. Come prepared to explain what you do to your friends!

by Gabriella Fee at August 31, 2016 09:07 PM

CRCS Seminar: Empower the Defender with Unpredictability: Game-Theoretic Approaches for Real-World Security and Sustainability Challenges


MD 119

Join us for the bi-weekly CRCS Seminar Series! Listen to thought-provoking speakers, engage in interdisciplinary discussion, and partake of complimentary refreshments. 

by Gabriella Fee at August 31, 2016 08:58 PM

David Weinberger
Socrates in a Raincoat

In 1974, the prestigious scholarly journal TV Guide published my original research that suggested that the inspector in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment was modeled on Socrates. I’m still pretty sure that’s right, and an actual scholarly article came out a few years later making the same case, by people who actually read Russian ‘n’ stuff.

Around the time that I came up with this hypothesis, the creators of the show Columbo had acknowledged that their main character was also modeled on Socrates. I put one and one together and …

Click on the image to go to a scan of that 1974 article.

Socrates in a Raincoat scan

The post Socrates in a Raincoat appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at August 31, 2016 05:49 PM

August 30, 2016

David Weinberger
Party tech policies

Clinton policy page home page

Clinton Tech and Innovation policy

Trump policy home page

Trump’s Tech and Innovation policy

I did a Google search on “ technology” and likewise for innovation and couldn’t find a tech policy on his site, although he does support the GOP platform which mentions innovation:

Libertarian Party

I couldn’t find a tech policy per se, but their platform mentions supporting uncensored and unregulated media and tech, privacy, and the use of innovative tech to protect the environment.

Green Party

The party platform doesn’t have a top-level tech policy, but there’s a subsection of the” Advanced Technology and Defense Conversion” section that talks about telecommunications, and one about Open Source Software.

The post Party tech policies appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at August 30, 2016 05:25 PM

Inside the Podcast Studio: How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black

On this month’s edition of Inside the Podcast Studio, we turn the tables on Michael Ian Black and his producers, Mary Shimkin and Jennie Brennan, to get the scoop behind their podcast, How to Be Amazing. Learn about how the show was conceived, memorable guest moments and, of course, Michael’s own Fav 5.

On the Podcast

Tell us how the podcast came to beHow to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black
Michael Ian Black: I wish I could take credit for this idea but I cannot. Although I had done some interviewing in the past, and had fantasized about having an interview show, I really didn’t take any steps towards that goal until Jennifer and Mary approached me with their idea of creating an NPR-type show, with me as host. We batted around some ideas about what the focus should be and ultimately decided to concentrate on process: why people do what they do. We don’t stick to that exclusively, because we also want to get to know our guests on a more personal level, but that remains the show’s central conceit.

Where do you find stories or guests for the show?
Michael Ian Black: I do almost nothing other than make occasional suggestions to Mary and Jen who rarely do the bulk of the booking.

Mary/Jennie: We try hard to mix things up- pop culture people, journalists, academics, athletes, etc. Once we have a hit list we just ask, and ask, and ask, and ask until we get a final “Never gonna happen so quit bugging us.” We’ve been very lucky to have our guests so far, and that is in no small part due to Michael’s name and reputation. We have too many favorite guests to pick one. I know, a cop out, but true.

We love the ‘Fav 5’ section at the end of each episode. How did you come up with that? What are the most memorable answers you’ve gotten?

Michael Ian Black with Tavi Gavinson Michael with Tavi Gavinson

Michael: From the very first episode, I wanted to have a signature moment at the end that revealed something new about the guests, something they probably hadn’t discussed during the interview, and something they might not have answered in other interviews. Plus, I thought it would be a good way for listeners to connect in a more personal way with the guests: it might give them something to check out they hadn’t heard of before. As far as answers, Elizabeth Gilbert’s food recommendation of “bone broth” sticks out, as does Daniel Kahneman’s “not Mexican.” A lot of people recommend meditation and somebody—and I’m blanking on who—recommended getting a humidifier.

How do you think the podcast can complement other parts of Michael’s career, like acting gigs and books he writes?
Mary/Jennie: One of the things that was apparent from the get-go was what a great interviewer Michael is. He in genuinely interested in every person he talks to, wants to delve deep and isn’t afraid to ask “those” questions, but in a very respectful manner. We already knew he was a good writer, his introductions for each guest have been terrific. I think both of these show a side of him that surprised many people.

Michael Ian Black with David SedarisMichael with David Sedaris

How do you find a balance between humor and seriousness? How does Michael manage to pull such personal facts out of people, like David Sedaris’ income?
Mary/Jennie: So many big moments come around the half way point in the sessions, I think it’s because the guests feel relaxed and safe by that point. Michael isn’t a “gotcha” interviewer and because he is such a good listener and asks great questions, there is a level of intimacy that happens in the booth. It’s like a great first date, it just seems natural to reveal such personal info.

Michael: Right from the beginning, we discussed the tone of the show falling smack dab in between “Fresh Air” and Marc Maron’s “WTF,” an earnest show with moments of humor. I try to keep things light, but when I see opportunities to ask tough and serious questions, I try to do that. With Sedaris, it was a matter of turning the table on him. He’d just finished talking about how people are willing to tell him highly personal information during his signings—like how much money they make—and I wanted to see if he would answer such a personal question himself. I honestly didn’t expect him to.

Tell us about your show and what makes it unique? Why are you so passionate about your subject matter?
Michael: Look, there’s a lot of interview shows out there and we don’t pretend to do anything new. What we’re trying to do is draw from a large pool of professions and life experiences to give a much broader look into creativity, motivation, and persistence. It would be one thing for me to exclusively interview people in show business, and it would be easy, but I hope the listeners appreciate that we are as likely to have a statistician or astronomer on the show as a comedian or actor.

I’m trying to get at the common core that drives people to do the things they do in the hopes that listeners will recognize their own passions and set off on—or encourage them to continue on—their own creative path.

Michael Ian Black with Bob Odenkirk Michael and Bob Odenkirk

What makes the show ideal for the podcast format?
Michael: Clearly, the ability to conduct long, probing interviews without much interruption makes podcasting so valuable. We can take all the time in the world with our guests. Although we tend to keep our shows around an hour, there’s nothing preventing us from doing a two or three-hour episode, or a half-hour episode. A podcast’s flexibility is the perfect venue for a conversation. When I watch TV interviews now, I get so frustrated as a viewer because they have to jump from topic to topic so quickly in order to make their commercial breaks. It makes for a very frenetic experience.

Michael, we want to turn the tables on you and find out your own ‘Fav 5’

Michael: Ok, my fav 5 of the moment (always subject to change):
Food: Baked potato with salsa
Music: Ingrid Michaelson “It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense”
Book: Michael Chabon “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”
Movie/TV: “Don’t Think Twice”
Misc: Hot tub. I bought a hot tub and I love the hot tub.

On the Space

Michael Ian Black with John LeguizamoIn studio with John Leguizamo

Where do you literally of your work? Can you walk us through that space 
Mary/Jennie: We record at Argot Studios in NYC.  It’s a great space, large but cozy. The booth is big enough that both producers can watch the interview.  Paul, who runs the studio, is great. He’s super friendly and easy to be around.  We’ve tried a couple other spaces and there’s nothing that has everything Argot offers. It’s a great fit for what we do. We were certain from the start that we wanted a high-quality recording, which is why we went to a studio. It’s not the kind of show that could be done out of one of our homes, or in a coffee shop.

On podcasting

What can the podcast medium achieve that other media forms like broadcasts cannot?
Michael: With a podcast, you can make, literally, tens of dollars.
Mary/Jennie: He’s not joking.

How do you envision the future of the podcasting landscape?
Michael: This is a tough question. My guess is the quantity and quality of podcasts will continue to expand over the next several years. Because the barrier to entry is so low, the ability to experiment is so high so we’ll probably see some really fun and innovative work being done in this field. PREDICTION: The Grammys will add a podcasting category in the next few years.

Subscribe to How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black in iTunes here.

The post Inside the Podcast Studio: How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at August 30, 2016 03:53 PM

VRM at MyData2016


As it happens I’m in Helsinki right now, for MyData2016, where I’ll be speaking on Thursday morning. My topic: The Power of the Individual. There is also a hackathon (led by going on during the show, starting at 4pm (local time) today. In no order of priority, here are just some of the subjects and players I’ll be dealing with,  talking to, and talking up (much as I can):

Please let me know what others belong on this list. And see you at the show.


by Doc Searls at August 30, 2016 09:18 AM

Is Facebook working on a VRM system? Or just another way to do ads?

It’s easy to get caught up in news that WhatsApp is starting to accept advertising (after they said they would never do that), and miss the deeper point of what’s really going on: Facebook setting up a new bot-based channel through which companies and customers can communicate. Like this:


The word balloon is Facebook Messenger. But it could be WhatsApp too. From a VRM perspective, what matters is whether or not “Messenger bots” work as VRM tools, meaning they obey the individual user’s commands (and not just those of Facebook’s corporate customers). We don’t know yet. Hence the question mark.

But before we get to exploring the possibilities here (which could be immense), we need to visit and dismiss the main distractions.

Those start with Why we don’t sell ads, posted on the WhatsApp blog on 18 June 2012. Here are the money grafs from that one:

We knew we could do what most people aim to do every day: avoid ads.
No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow. We know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn’t). We want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake… and that you reach for in the morning. No one jumps up from a nap and runs to see an advertisement.

Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought. At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out… And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.

Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product.

Great stuff. But that was then and this is now. In WhatsApp’s latest post, Looking Ahead for WhatsApp (25 August), we have the about-face:

But by coordinating more with Facebook, we’ll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp. And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of. You can learn more, including how to control the use of your data, here.

Pretty yucky, huh?

Earlier in the same post, however, WhatsApp says,

we want to explore ways for you to communicate with businesses that matter to you too

Interesting: Mark Zuckerberg said the same thing when he introduced messenger bots, back in April. In the video at that link, Zuck said,

Now that Messenger has scaled, we’re starting to develop ecosystems around it. And the first thing we’re doing is exploring how you can all communicate with businesses.

You probably interact with dozens of businesses every day. And some of them are probably really meaningful to you. But I’ve never met anyone who likes calling a business. And no one wants to have to install a new app for every service or business they want to interact with. So we think there’s gotta be a better way to do this.

We think you should be able to message a business the same way you message a friend. You should get a quick response, and it shouldn’t take your full attention, like a phone call would. And you shouldn’t have to install a new app.

Note the similarities in the set-up:

  1. Zuck:  “how you can all communicate with business.”
  2. WhatsApp: “explore ways for you to communicate with businesses.”

This is, or should be, pure VRM:  a way for a customer to issue a service request, or to intentcast for bids on a new washing machine or a car. In other words, what they seem to be talking about here is a new communication channel between customers and businesses that can relieve  the typical pains of being a customer while also opening the floodgates of demand notifying supply when it’s ready to buy. Back to Zuck:

So today we’re launching Messenger Platform. So you can build bots for Messenger.

By “you” Zuck means the developers he was addressing that day. I assume these were developers working for businesses that avoid customer contact and would rather have robots take over everything possible, because that’s the norm these days. But I could be wrong. He continues,

And it’s a simple platform, powered by artificial intelligence, so you can build natural language services to communicate directly with people. So let’s take a look.

CNN, for example, is going to be able to send you a daily digest of stories, right into messenger. And the more you use it, the more personalized it will get. And if you want to learn more about a specific topic, say a Supreme Court nomination or the zika virus, you just send a message and it will send you that information.

The antecedents of “you” move around here. Could be he’s misdirecting attention away from surveillance. Can’t tell. But it is clear that he’s looking past advertising alone as a way to make money.

Back to the WhatsApp post:

Whether it’s hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls.

This also echoes what Zuck said in April. In both cases it’s about companies communicating with you, not about you communicating with companies. Would bots work both ways?

In “‘Bot’ is the wrong name…and why people who think it’s silly are wrong”, Aaron Batalion says all kinds of functionality now found only in apps will move to bots—Messenger’s in particular. “In a micro app world, you build one experience on the Facebook platform and reach 1B people.”

How about building a one-experience bot so 1B people can reach businesses the same way?

Imagine, for example, that you can notify every company you deal with that your last name has changed, or you’ve replaced a credit card. It would be great to do that in one move. It would also be VRM 101. But, almost ten years into our project, nobody has built that yet. Is Facebook doing it?

Frankly, I hope not, because I don’t want to see VRM trapped inside a giant silo.

That’s why I just put up Market intelligence that flows both ways, over in Medium. (It’s a much-updated version of a post I put up here several years ago.)

In that post I describe a much better approach, based on open source code, that doesn’t require locating your soul inside a large company for which, as WhatsApp put it four years ago, you’re the product.

Here’s a diagram that shows how one person (myself, in this case) can relate to a company whose moccasins he owns:


The moccasins have their own pico: a cloud on the Net for a thing in the physical world. For VRM and CRM purposes, this one is a relationship conduit between customer and company.

A pico of this type comes in to being when the customer assigns the QR code to the moccasins and scans it. The customer and company can then share records about the product, or notify the other party when there’s a problem, a bargain on a new pair, or whatever. It’s tabula rasa: wide open.

The current code for this is called Wrangler. It’s open source and in Github. For the curious, Phil Windley explains how picos work in Reactive Programming With Picos.

I’ll continue on this theme in the next post. Meanwhile, my main purpose with this one is to borrow interest in where Facebook is going (if I’m guessing right) with Messenger bots, and do it one better in the open and un-silo’d world, while we still have one to hack.
















by Doc Searls at August 30, 2016 05:55 AM

August 29, 2016

Berkman Center front page
The Responsive Communities Initiative - Boston HUBweek


with Prof. Susan Crawford


The Responsive Communities Initiative led by Prof. Susan Crawford at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University addresses some of the most important issues of economic development, social justice, and civil liberties of our time – those prompted by Internet access. This event is part of Boston's HUBweek 2016.

Parent Event

Berkman Klein Luncheon Series

Event Date

Sep 27 2016 12:00pm to Sep 27 2016 12:00pm
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East C, Second Floor (Map)

Check back soon for video from this event!

The Responsive Communities Initiative led by Susan Crawford at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University addresses some of the most important issues of economic development, social justice, and civil liberties of our time – those prompted by Internet access. The program has three areas of research involving the Internet, data, and government: Internet Access Infrastructure, Data Governance, and Responsive Communities Leaders. Come learn about the current state of the program's research, what they hope to achieve, and how Internet access could be regulated as a utility and open government data can improve our communities.

About Susan

Susan Crawford is John A. Reilly Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a co-director of the Berkman Klein Center. She is the author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, co-author of The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance, and a contributor to’s Backchannel. She served as Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (2009) and co-led the FCC transition team between the Bush and Obama administrations. She also served as a member of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Advisory Council on Technology and Innovation and is now a member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Broadband Task Force. Ms. Crawford was formerly a (Visiting) Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard’s Kennedy School, a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Michigan Law School (2008-2010). As an academic, she teaches Internet law and communications law. She was a member of the board of directors of ICANN from 2005-2008 and is the founder of OneWebDay, a global Earth Day for the internet that takes place each Sept. 22. One of Politico’s 50 Thinkers, Doers and Visionaries Transforming Politics in 2015; one of Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology (2009); IP3 Awardee (2010); one of Prospect Magazine’s Top Ten Brains of the Digital Future (2011); and one of TIME Magazine’s Tech 40: The Most Influential Minds in Tech (2013). Ms. Crawford received her B.A. and J.D. from Yale University. She served as a clerk for Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and was a partner at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale) (Washington, D.C.) until the end of 2002, when she left that firm to enter the legal academy. Susan lives in New York City and Cambridge, MA.

This free event is part of Boston's HUBweek 2016.

by candersen at August 29, 2016 08:54 PM

August 26, 2016

It’s People vs. Advertising, not Publishers vs. Adblockers

By now hundreds of millions of people have gone to the privacy aisles of the pharmacy departments  in their local app stores and chosen a brand of sunblock to protect themselves from unwanted exposure to the harmful rays of advertising online.

There are many choices among potions on those shelves, but basically they do one, two or three of these things:


The most popular ad blocker, Adblock Plus, is configurable to do all three, but defaults to allow “acceptable”* ads and not to block tracking.

Tracking protection products, such as Baycloud Bouncer, Ghostery, Privacy Badger and RedMorph, are not ad blockers, but can be mistaken for them. (That’s what happens for me when I’m looking at Wired through Privacy Badger on Firefox.)

It is important to recognize these distinctions, for two reasons:

  1. Ad blocking, allowing “acceptable” ads, and tracking protection are different things.
  2. All three of those things answer market demand. They are clear evidence of the marketplace at work.

Meanwhle, nearly all press coverage of what’s going on here defaults to “(name of publisher or website here) vs. ad blockers.”

This  misdirects attention away from what is actually going on: people making choices in the open market to protect themselves from intrusions they do not want.

Ad blocking and tracking protection are effects, not causes. Blame for them should not go to the people protecting themselves, or to those providing them with means for protection, but to the sources and agents of harm. Those are:

  1. Companies producing ads (aka brands)
  2. Companies distributing the ads
  3. Companies publishing the ads
  4. All producers of unwanted tracking

That’s it.

Until we shift discussion to the simple causes and effects of supply and demand, with full respect for individual human beings and the legitimate choices they make in the open marketplace, to protect the sovereign personal spaces in their lives online, we’ll be stuck in war and sports coverage that misses the simple facts underlying the whole damn thing.

Until we get straight what’s going on here, we won’t be able to save those who pay for and benefit from advertising online.

Which I am convinced we can do. I’ve written plenty about that already here.

* These are controversial. I don’t go into that here, however, because I want to shift attention from spin to facts.










by Doc Searls at August 26, 2016 09:18 AM

August 25, 2016

Justin Reich
A New 21st Century Educational Leadership Curriculum
To help future educational leaders embrace 21st-century learning, this online course models best practices and immerses them in a new learning experience.

by Beth Holland at August 25, 2016 07:57 PM

Berkman Center front page
Fall 2016 Open House: Berkman Klein Center (and friends)


Come to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society’s Fall 2016 Open House to meet our faculty, fellows, and staff, and to learn about the many ways you can get involved in our dynamic, exciting environment.

Event Date

Sep 23 2016 5:00pm to Sep 23 2016 5:00pm
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Friday September 23, 2016 at 5:00 pm followed by Reception
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein West, Second Floor (Map)

RSVP required to attend in person

Come to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society’s Fall 2016 Open House to meet our faculty, fellows, and staff, and to learn about the many ways you can get involved in our dynamic, exciting environment.

  • 5:00-6:30 pm - Project Showcase Session: Select Berkman Klein projects (as well as projects from our friends at the Harvard Innovation Lab, SHARIAsource, and the Criminal Justice Policy Program at HLS) will be present with information about their current activities. Staff working with each of these projects are eager to share information about the big research questions they are considering, meet potential future collaborators, and solicit ideas. In addition to the project tabling, there will be space and opportunity to connect with new Berkman Klein community members and Berkman Klein Center Staff and Faculty. You may come for any portion of time during this session.
  • 5:45-7pm - Reception: Keep the conversations going with the help of light snacks and drinks!

Spoiler alert: check out the current open research positions with our teams!

As a University-wide research center at Harvard, our interdisciplinary efforts in the exploration of cyberspace address a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. If you're interested in the Internet’s impact on society and are looking to engage a community of world-class fellows and faculty through events, conversations, research, and more please join us to hear more about our upcoming academic year.

People from all disciplines, universities, organizations, and backgrounds are encouraged to attend the Open House. We look forward to seeing you there!



by doyolu at August 25, 2016 05:05 PM

David Weinberger
Five minutes of hope

What I find most remarkable about this exchange: So few conversations begin with the request for help changing one’s own mind.

The post Five minutes of hope appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at August 25, 2016 12:59 PM

August 23, 2016

Ethan Zuckerman
Supporting Feyisa Lilesa, a remarkable athlete and protester

At the end of the Rio Olympic men’s marathon, silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa did something extraordinary, important and dangerous. As he crossed the finish line, he crossed his wrists in front of his forehead in a gesture that’s halfway between “hands up, don’t shoot” and “X marks the spot.”

The gesture is sign of defiance that has become a symbol of Ethiopia’s Oromo rights movement. An unprecedented wave of protests in Ethiopia by Oromo and other ethnic rights groups is rocking Ethiopia, which is one of Africa’s most repressive states. By showing support for the protesters in his native Oromia, Lilesa has brought international attention to a movement that’s been violently suppressed by the government, with over 400 civilians killed.

He has also put himself and his family at risk. Defiance of the Ethiopian government can lead to imprisonment or to death. Ethiopian colleagues of mine at Global Voices served eighteen months in prison for the “crime” of learning about digital security, so they could continue to write online about events in their country. Fearing arrest or worse, Lilesa has decided to remain in Brazil, and may seek asylum there or in the US. A GoFundMe campaign has raised almost $100,000 to contribute to his legal and living expenses. But the real challenge may be reuniting Lilesa with his wife and children, who remain in Ethiopia.

The Olympics have an uneasy relationship with protest. While states threaten boycotts of each others’ games – and occasionally follow through on those threats – athletes who bring politics into the arena have been sharply sanctioned. When Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a Black Power salute after winning gold and bronze in the 200 meters in 1968, both were suspended from the US Olympic team, expelled from the Olympic village and sent home. (Peter Norman, the Australian silver medalist, who supported their gesture and wore a Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in solidarity, was not sanctioned, but was shunned by his country’s Olympic committee and never raced again.) While the Olympic movement does not appear to be taking action against Lilesa, unfortunately, that’s likely the least of his problems.

I wrote two weeks ago about my fears that attention to the Olympics and the endless US political campaign would distract people from these protests in Ethiopia. I argued that international attention may help protect the lives of Ethiopian activists, as the government will be forced to face the consequences of how they treat their dissenting citizens. Lilesa has helped ensure that the Olympics would include a healthy dose of Oromo rights. Now it’s time to do our part and ensure that Lilesa and his family don’t pay for his actions with their lives.

I gave to support Feyisa Lilesa’s relocation fund, and encourage you to do so as well. Here’s hoping he can return home someday soon to an Ethiopia that makes space for dissent. Unfortunately, that’s not the Ethiopia the world has now.

by Ethan at August 23, 2016 06:58 PM

PRX Remix August Picks: Magic skates, a boy genius, and a roundabout

Welcome to the second edition of our PRX Remix picks. This month, I’ve got three totally unique stories for you this month. They’ll take you from a roller rink in Wisconsin, to an improv comedy troupe in Tennessee, to a dangerous intersection in Massachusetts where a controversial road proposal pits local government against townsfolk.

“The Magic Skates” from Where@bouts

This might be the first-ever podcast episode hosted by someone wearing roller skates. Yes, you read that right. The episode begins with the host, so-called “Mad Genius”, roller skating around a rink. From the sound of it, he’s only learning. It’s a fitting way to open a story about the sounds of a roller rink, guided by roller derby star Jeanne Du Snark, a blocker for the Vaudeville Vixens in Madison, Wisconsin.

The story comes into its own when Mad Genius remixes the sounds of the roller rink into a song reflecting Du Snark’s experience. This is the calling card of Where@bouts—exploring a sense of place through found sounds, then remixing those sounds into a song. Mad Genius describes the show as an “art popcast,” but whatever you call it, it’s incredibly unique and well-produced.

PRX Remix pick #1Roller derby is not for the faint of heart

Through song, we learn about how the roller derby offered Du Snark a new kind of challenge and thrill after finishing her Division I soccer career, not to mention a louder, more devoted fanbase. We hear about her intense tryout process just to make the team, and about how she has narcolepsy and feels more awake, literally, while skating than doing anything else. All this is set to an incredibly catchy rhythm, anchored by the sounds of fans chanting and skates scraping the rink. Even Du Snark’s voice somehow feels melodic in the hands of Mad Genius. The remixed composition actually adds to the story. I’m curious to hear more from Mad Genius and Where@bouts in the future.

“The Genius Improviser” from Neighbors

PRX Remix pick #2This dog is a genius

“Genius” is a term thrown around lightly whenever someone does anything intellectually impressive. Michael Kearney, however, is one of the few who actually fits the definition. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Kearney is the youngest person ever to graduate college, at just 10 years old. But neither Kearney’s genius nor his fame are the crux of this story. No, this is an entertaining and thoughtfully told account of an extraordinary person on a familiar journey—a journey to find community, to feel a sense of belonging, and to figure out what it means to be successful. Kearney isn’t an obvious fit to run his local improv comedy outfit. But it becomes clear as the story progresses, both Kearney and his fellow improvisers are better off because of it.

This episode comes from Nashville Public Radio’s Neighbors podcast, which started out as an independent show from producer Jakob Lewis. Lewis is also the creator of The Heard audio collective. Neighbors was recognized with an award for this episode from the Academy of Podcasters at this year’s Podcast Movement conference in Chicago.

“Driving In Circles” from Martine Powers

Traffic engineering is not typically a topic that inspires much excitement. A proposal to replace a traditional intersection with a roundabout is not an  obviously interesting story. Somehow,  producer Martine Powers has defied all odds and turned a story about traffic engineering into this piece that takes a fascinating look at human psychology. She made a controversy about road design in a small town feel as high-stakes as a Jason Bourne chase scene—more high-stakes, actually, if you consider how terrible the new Jason Bourne movie is.

PRX Remix pick #2Roundabout mock-up

Roundabouts are in vogue these days with local governments and public works departments. There’s data showing they decrease crashes and crash severity,  and they’re cheaper to maintain than traditional intersections. But townsfolk, like the ones at the center of this story, can be reticent to change a system that mostly works fine. The roundabout seems like total chaos, with no signs indicating when to stop and go.

Formerly of The Boston Globe, Martine Powers is now a metro reporter for The Washington Post. According to her bio, she has a self-described knack for “making boring stuff interesting.” I can’t help but agree.

How To Listen to PRX Remix:

Download the PRX Remix app or go to and press ‘play’. If you’re a satellite radio listener, check out channel 123 on Sirius XM or XM radio. If you’re a traditionalist and stick to the radio dial, check these listings to find PRX Remix on a station near you.

Josh Swartz is the curator of PRX Remix. Email him at with questions and suggestions.

The post PRX Remix August Picks: Magic skates, a boy genius, and a roundabout appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at August 23, 2016 01:55 PM

Center for Research on Computation and Society (Harvard SEAS)
Nisarg Shah
CRCS Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard's Center for Computation and Society (CRCS). Broadly, my research lies …

Nisarg Shah

by Gabriella Fee at August 23, 2016 01:52 PM

Feeds In This Planet