Talk:The Future of the Internet

From Internet Law Program 2011
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Student Questions for the Discussion Panel

Add your questions for the panel here!

  • If you could make one specific regulatory change relating to internet policy, what would it be?
  • What is the next field for explosive growth or progress in the Internet?
  • What kind of feasible projects should the Berkman Center, or students, take on next?
  • What is the future of relatively closed and tethered platforms such as the iPhone? Could that model ultimately prevail?
  • Do you think that social networks have reached full growth or do you see an other model emerging in the future?
  • What is the approach that developing countries should take to the net neutrality issue: the US' or Chile and Netherland's?
  • How important are broadband policies to the commons-based peer-production model that has been discussed during iLaw sessions?
  • How can commons-based peer-production systems help shape/influence state internet regulation?

. . . to infinity, and beyond!

Student Option A Assigment responses for 'The Future of the Internet' section

Option A - Project
Patrick McKeown

The Future of the Internet section brought iLaw 2011 to a close. It was thought that this slot could be used to tie in some of the most popular unanswered questions from the backchannel, with a view to leaving open the variety of issues raised for future thought and discussion. Naturally, and generally, the section became more conclusory and the unanswered questions that were dredged from the depths of the iLaw question tool archive were left for any of those still interacting online.

Much of the real world room conversation lent itself to summing up iLaw as a whole, with thanks being duly accorded to its organizers, speakers, participants, and all concerned. That is not to say that no questions or ideas were posited for future thought. Alongside the general appraisal of the efforts that went into iLaw 2011, and the remarks regarding the other sections of iLaw, two main themes emerged for consideration.

First, we discussed intellectual property and scholarship––particularly with regard to Harvard's own intellectual property and its role in improving open academic discourse. Two projects were brought up as examples: H2O project (an “open courseware repository”), and Berkman's H2O project. After a brief uneasiness about the prospect of many of their lectures being leaked online, the professors, noting MIT’s ongoing Open CourseWare endeavours, moved toward embracing the idea. The remaining reluctance to fully sanction LectureLeaks was due to the potential for conflicts with Harvard’s copyright policies, and more significantly for the professors, the fact that classes are frequently like sanctuaries or fora within which students can develop and sharpen their oration skills without (too much) fear of public attention or oppressive ridicule. Several professors also talked about conflicts between Harvard's open access policy and journals' conflicting requirements.

The second theme concerned iLaw itself. In a somewhat Dickensian manner, the discussion covered the iLaws of past, present and future. It was noted that previous iLaw conferences had a much more limited scope, but as the internet and the conference both developed and issues became broader and more complex, so did the areas under discussion. The iLaw of present was indicative of this growing complexity and demonstrated well the emergence of new issues; Cybersecurity, Privacy, Digital Humanities, Exploring the Arab Spring, and the fascinating and shocking, Minds for Sale; as well as the disappearance of previous issues, such as domain name conflicts, that are now considered solved, or at least less challenging. Professors raised two major ideas for future iLaw conferences: franchise conferences that brought iLaw professors and curricula to other universities and even countries, and longer iLaw courses that might fill up an entire semester or more. It would be hard to say, “Bah, humbug”, to that experimental invocation of the Net’s spirit of global interactivity.

So, with that, the (almost) weeklong iLaw2011 drew to a close and the myriad participants toddled off somewhat confused, perplexed, inspired, tantalized, and probably in need of some sleep. Personally, as a big fan of the multimedia interactivity aspects to the Internet, Patrick was particularly beguiled by some of the activities of those immersed in the digital humanities; but, not nearly as much as he was disconcerted by the potential (mis)uses of the outsourcing possibilities the Internet is beginning to offer through the likes of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, or the altogether more frightening issues raised by JZ in the Cybersecurity section. Will he ever log on again after that? Maybe, but certainly not without covering up his webcam, changing any and all passwords, and potentially moving to his own island where he can be sure of being free of the real world implications of someone gaining control over any government’s centralized top-secret backup servers, and where he can be sure to avoid having to witness Bruce Willis subsequently, and single-handedly, winning in a fight with an F-35B.

Dan, on the other hand, felt remarkably optimistic about the potential for future innovation in the internet, thinking perhaps that professor Zittrain was too pessimistic about the potential consequences of innovations such as Mechanical Turk. While JZ in this panel moderated his conclusions from The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, sayiing that the path to potential internet lockdown would be subtler than he had expected, Dan thinks that the most optimistic panelists this week had it right. The most important innovations in the structure of the internet (such as TCP/IP, WiFi, peer-to-peer) have developed despite being considered impossible or unlikely under existing theory. As JZ mentioned, making predictions in this kind of field is devilishly hard, but most developments have had ultimately positive results. Taking the long view, then, we should expect the resilient internet to survive and thrive despite the challenges to come.