Wiki Syllabus

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NOTE: This syllabus is 'unofficial'. To be guaranteed the most up to date info be sure to check here. (Of course if you see difference please correct this copy!)


Class 1. Monday, January 28, 2008 (both)

Topic: Is the web different?

The readings for this first day are very light. The background reading we’d suggest (if you are so inclined prior to the first class; we expect that you will read it over the course of the term in any event) is Lawrence Lessig, Code 2.0 (Basic Books, 2006). Lessig’s Code is the best articulation of the many interrelated struggles for control online and how a series of disparate forces affect that way control is exercised. We’d also suggest that you get going on the readings for day 2.

This introductory class takes up the basic question of this course: Is the Web different? What does it mean for a technology to be different? What hangs on this question?

Class 2. Tuesday, January 29, 2008 (Weinberger)

Topic: What is the web?

What do we mean when we are talking about the “web”? Is that the same thing as the Internet? Do we mean just a technology, or a culture, or what?

Required Reading:

David Isenberg, “Rise of the Stupid Network,”

Doc Searls & David Weinberger, “World of Ends,”

Jerome Saltzer, David Reed & David Clark, “End to End Arguments in Network Design,”

Recommended Reading:

Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web, Chapters 1 & 4

Class 3. Monday, February 4, 2008 (Palfrey)

Topic: Is there a World Wide Web, or Many Different Webs?


Excerpts from Deibert, Palfrey, Rohozinski, and Deibert, Access Denied (two chapters handed out)

“How Women and Men Use the Internet,” Deborah Fallows, Pew Internet & American Life Project, Dec. 28, 2005 - Read at least the summary of findings, p. i-vi.

Read also at least one ONI country summary at


Class 4. Tuesday, February 5, 2008 (Weinberger) (Palfrey away) *

Topic: Is copyright fair? More important, is fairness an ultimate or even important value in culture? In an ideal world, what role would copyright play?

Lawrence Lessig, The Code 2.0, pp. 169-176 (the opening of Chapter 10)

Class 5. Monday, February 11, 2008 (Palfrey)

Topic: Copyright: History and Future

Selections from Doron Ben-Atar, Trade Secrets (Yale University Press, 2004). (Optional)

Terry Fisher, Promises to Keep, (Stanford University Press, 2004), Introduction and Chapter 6, online at

In this class, we will look at the history of the copyright doctrine in the United States, the debates that have roiled during the Internet era, and Prof. Fisher’s proposal for the future.

Class 6. Tuesday, February 12, 2008 (Weinberger)

Topic: Piracy or Sharing: Future of Music.

Guest: Musician Brad Turcotte (

David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists – And Megastars

Courtney Love Does the Math

David Pogue, “The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality” (NY Times, Dec 20, 2007)


Is there a future for music? What are alternative business models? What will happen to the existing music industry? Do we need to intervene via policy or law to ensure the best outcome?

Our guest will be Brad Turcotte of, a one-man band trying to make a living as a musician while operating under the still-emerging norms.

Module III: Self and Others: How We Stick Ourselves Together

Class 7. Monday, February 18, 2008 (Weinberger)

(This is President’s Day; yes, we have class!)

Topic: Individuals, Social Creatures and Bodies

Readings: Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapter 13

Clippinger, A Crowd of One, Chapter 6

Weinberger, Small Pieces Loosely Joined, pp. 132-139

We have assumed in the West that humans are first and foremost individuals, and eventually these individuals may enter into social relations. Further, we've come to think that the “real” self is an inner core and the external, public self as a construction that ma or may not be true to the inner self. But is that true on the Web? Does each of us even a “core” self on the Web? Is role playing a type of falsehood or insincerity on the Web? Is role playing different on the Web than in the real world where we behave differently in different contexts? How important is the fact that we have a body to this?

Class 8. Tuesday, February 19, 2008 (Palfrey) (Weinberger away) *

Topic: Privacy, Anonymity, Identity

Readings: Palfrey & Gasser, Born Digital, chapters 1 – 4 Optional: Clippinger, A Crowd of One (the rest)

Class 9. Monday, February 25, 2008 (Weinberger)

Topic: Reputation, Trust, and Perfection

Readings: Shirky, “Open Source and Love” (video)

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, pp. 13-15

Weinberger, Small Pieces, Chapter 4

Eric Raymond, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,”

If we do things for love on the Web (as per Shirky), do we also do them for our reputation? Is reputation the new form of insincerity? Is it more easily manipulated on the Web and thus a less useful guide? Do we want to be able to integrate reputation systems across apps? Is a generalized reputation system possible?

Class 10. Tuesday, February 26, 2008 (Palfrey)

Topic: The New Nature of the Public. Is privacy over?

danah boyd, “Why Youth (Heart) Social Networks”

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (pp. 22 - 36)

If the reasonable expectation of privacy is different online, should we rethink our legal paradigms for privacy?

Module IV: Knowledge

Class 11. Monday, March 3, 2008 (Weinberger)

Topic: Knowing on the Web

Philosophy of knowledge, traditionally. Certainty. Authority. Wikipedia and fallibility.

Descartes, Meditations 1 (Optional: Discourse on Method, Chapts. 1 & 2:, Weinberger, Small Pieces, Chapter 6, “Knowledge” Weinberger, Everything Is Misc., Chapter 7: “Social Knowing”

Read one of the following Wikipedia articles, paying especially attention to its “talk/discussion” page: 1. Swiftboating: 2. Sally Hemmings: 3. Shakespearean Sonnets: 4. JFK Assassination:

Knowledge arose as a category of belief: Justified true belief. Over time, the requirements for justification got narrower. It also got driven inside people's heads. What does knowledge look like on the Web? Does the traditional Western philosophy accurately describe it? What role do authorities play traditionally and on the Web? On the Web has knowledge decayed? Has it changed its nature?

Class 12. Tuesday, March 4, 2008 (Weinberger)

Topic: Is Science Changing?

Guest: John Wilbanks, Science Commons

Science is both a way of knowing and a set of institutions. Are both/either changing? To what extent are our assumptions about what constitutes scientific knowledge based on the inherent limitations of paper publishing? Should we be distributing scientific research before it's been peer reviewed? Is the authority of science diminishing?

Sites to visit:

PloS: Science Commons: BioMed Central: Nature's prepress: arXiv:

Class 13. Monday, March 10, 2008 (Palfrey) *

Topic: Ownership and knowledge

Jean-Nicolas Druey, “Information Cannot be Owned.” Read draft text of the open access proposal at Harvard

Can anyone “own” knowledge? Does the web make us think differently about the nature of ownership of information or expression?

Class 14. Tuesday, March 11, 2008 (Weinberger)

Topic: Knowledge and Metadata

Weinberger, Everything Is Miscellaneous, pp. 199-222 Weinberger, Small Pieces, chapter 6

We were supposed to be drowning in information, but we seem to be swimming quite well. That's because the solution to information overload is to generate more information...information about information (metadata). But who owns the metadata? That matters because metadata is political and metadata is power. Open Library.

Class 15. Monday, March 17, 2008 (Palfrey)

Topic: Future of Libraries

Future of libraries. Future of books. Reading becoming social.

Reading: Anthony Grafton, “Future Reading” (New Yorker, Nov. 3, 2007)

Weinberger's response:

Module V: Economics & Markets

Class 16. Tuesday, March 18, 2008 (Palfrey)

Topic: Collaboration and Economics

Digital technologies are a powerful economic force in the hands of the right entrepreneurs and capital providers. Forget the boom, though some pure-play Internet businesses may have long-term importance themselves; the most dramatic, lasting impact of the Internet may be in terms of transforming the economics of production in traditional industries. Both Yochai Benkler and his fellow traveler, Eric von Hippel, argue that models like the open source movement and user-centric innovation are updating the way products and wealth are created in a globally-connected economy. A related argument: the big importance of the Internet is in the creation of an empowered middle class of digital entrepreneurs who in turn push for the rule of law, stable environments of capital investment, and so forth in developing economies. In this session, we will explore the relationship between changes in economic factors and changing politics and economies.

Required Reading:

Eric von Hippel, Democratizing Innovation (2005), pp. 1 – 131. (If you are downloading rather than reading the hard-copy, that’s the intro through chapter 9).

No class March 24 – 25, 2008 – Spring Break.

Class 17. Monday, March 31, 2008 (Weinberger) *

Topic: Marketing and the web

Traditional marketing is based on two assumptions: The company can control what's known about it, and most information is delivered through broadcast media. The Web disputes both assumptions. Networked customers know more about products than the companies do, and they develop and share that knowledge in networked conversations. Traditional marketing techniques look manipulative and non-credible on the Web. Many marketing and PR companies are turning to “conversational marketing.” But, is conversational marketing just a wolf in sheepish clothing?

Locke, Searls, Weinberger, The Cluetrain Manifesto, Chapter 4:

Module VI: Media

Class 18. Tuesday, April 1, 2008 (Palfrey)

Topic: Is the Web a Mass Medium?

What can the MSM do that the crowds can’t? Is there a future that combines the best of traditional news reporting and citizen journalism?

Clay Shirky, “Power Laws, Web logs, and Inequality,” at

Mary Joyce, Case Study on OhMyNews,

Gillmor, We the Media (to be assigned)

Class 19. Monday, April 7, 2008 (Weinberger) *

Topic: What’s up with Blogging?

Readings: Blogs

Pew Studies on blogging:

John Kelly, Case on Iranian Blogosphere

Blogging from the beginning has been construed by the mainstream press as an amateur version of itself. Does that view reveal, obscure, or both? Is blogging changing anything important, or is it just bifurcated between blogs that feed into the mainstream and blogs that are relevant only to handfuls of friends?

Class 20. Tuesday, April 8, 2008 (Palfrey)

Topic: The Diaspora

Case study on Global Voices

Could Global Voices have existed without the web? As we look outside the United States, the impact of the Internet on politics and society may be more transformative than it is here. The Global Voices project offers a window into this possibility in dozens of states around the world that are not extensively covered by the mainstream media. What can we learn by broadening the frame to a global viewpoint, incorporating the experiences we observe in the developing world?

Required Reading (light reading week): follow the postings for a region of the world on for a week.

Module VII: Morality

Class 21. Monday, April 14, 2008 (Weinberger)

Topic: Is there a moral tendency in the architecture of the net?


Weinberger, chapter in Turow, The Hyperlinked Society (May 2008) Lessig, Code, chapters 3 and 4. Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope, p. 77-83

Module VIII: Power

Class 22. Monday, April 15, 2008 (Weinberger) (Palfrey away) *

Topic: Web effect on politics?

The Howard Dean campaign tried to dismantle the typical pyramid of power in campaigns according to which the candidate speaks and the followers follow. Instead, the Dean campaign tried to connect supporters so that they could engage with one another without being instructed to repeat the “message of the day.” Howard Dean did not become president, yet some of the lessons of that campaign are reflected in some of the 2008 campaigns. Is anything changing in politics? Will it? Or is the Internet destined to be nothing but a fund-raising tool for traditional campaigns?

Jim Moore, “The Second SuperPower”

Steve Johnson, “Two Ways to Emerge”,

Weinberger, “Broadcasting and the Voter’s Paradox”,

Joe Trippi, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, “Introduction” (scroll down)

Class 23. Monday, April 21, 2008 (Palfrey)

Topic: Web Governance

There’s a lot of talk that the Internet allows new and greater freedoms to individuals. Are there methods of state control that exist in the online environment that didn’t exist beforehand?

Timothy Wu and Jack Goldsmith, Who Controls the Internet: Illusions of a Borderless World, chapters 10 and 11.

Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, Chapter 11: The Battle Over the Institutional Ecology of the Digital Environment, pp. 383 – 459.

Module IX: Synthesis

Class 24. Monday, April 22, 2008 (both)

Topic: The Web is different. Yes or no?

Come on, make up your mind.

(Why) does it matter?