One thing I wanted to touch base on before moving onto my conclusions from the conference: YouTomb.
On Thursday night I had the opportunity to meet with a group of people over dinner to talk about an effort coming out of MIT’s Free Culture group – their campus’ chapter of a nationwide network of students spending time exploring and acting on the issues of culture, intellectual property, and society, based on the book of the same name by Lawrence Lessig. You can (and should) read it in its entirety here. Representatives from Harvard College’s Free Culture, the founders of ROFLCon, Alex Leavitt, and Jeff Young from Chronicle.com were also at the table, and thanks again to Jeff for picking up the tab.
Now to wrap up the conference. Where do we go from here?
In the spirit of Nesson and Zittrain, we are posing the big questions, and less the answers, for the future of the Internet.
I’m already back at it for Network Neutrality with three veritable geniuses in the field: Yochai Benkler and Terry Fisher, and Tim Wu (Wu being known as the guy who coined the term “network neutrality,” I’ll have to recap Joshua Micah Marshall’s statements a little later.
Second session of the afternoon Jonathan Zittrain is in the same room, so I’m camping out here it looks like.
I got here a bit late, so I ducked into the media/breakout room to get an edge on travel to our morning “open sessions.” Most likely I’ll be attending Open Media, an analysis of media and democracy in the current space, as well as joining several sessions over the day on a variety of topics. Plus lunch with Joshua Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo. Onward!
(Update: I’ll be attending the open forum entitled “The Musician and the Scientist” and looking at Creative and Science Commons, and doing some serious issues analysis. Hosted by Melanie Dulong.)
I’m going to quickly touch base on the big stuff of the day, for he sake of making my 8:00 meeting with a bunch of people to talk about takedown notices in YouTube. Here are a few quick reactions that come to mind, with deep analysis following after this hectic week.
- The Internet is shifting away from being a place you access from a personal computer and more to a tool you refer to in a myriad of devices. The terms of service on these devices (Verizon mobile, Apple’s iPhone, etc.) are much more controlling than the relatively open architecture of the computer. This lends itself to trouble if we do not watch ourselves carefully.
- Jonathan Zittrain’s comments at the very start of the meeting will not escape my head. The Internet was designed, as he observed, out of whimsy and mirth and playfulness. Despite how serious people take themselves on the web today, I don’t think we’ve shaken off that enjoyment aesthetic.
- There’s a lot of cool heady projects to examine going forward: Publus, Global Voices, The Sunlight Foundation, Regional, Kaltura, and OpenNet, to just get started.
- I must look more into the sneakernet phenomena of countries were net censorship is an ongoing struggle. The power of the flash drive came up in conversation almost as much as the Star Wars kid.
- The ability to empirical study is, by nature, a slower process then web trends. Being able to analyze the data must become faster.
- Crowdsourcing is an area that needs serious assessment, both from contributors and hosts.
- The overarching element of all of these discussions stems to a concept of both “controlled anarchy” and “trust in the majority of users.” Virtually all of the technology and initiatives mentioned today rely on the good actions of users, and thought-fancy methods that discourage bad participation. The brilliance of hacking Wikipedia is such a salient example of this. Because it’s so easy to change Wikipedia, there’s no incentive to try and hack it. And due to moderation which satisfies all but the totally crazy, it moderates itself.
More discussion tomorrow. Stay tuned.
Afternoon series at Berkman@10 (Benkler at left, Wales at right). Liveblogging away.
I found a power cord. We’re back in business.
I had a great discussion at lunch with Howard from Ecotrust, Mike the VP of Creative Commons, and Jace, a kid between colleges like me (though formerly involved with a different Waltham startup for the creative industry). We discussed the initiatives of Ecotrust, including a platform to connect large-scale food purchasers with farm-grown meat, fruit and vegetables, emphasizing a shift from a pure price-driven food service industry to one more of an origin-conscious (careful not to call it a “fair trade” or “organic”, for the burdens of certification in those can be end-result inhibitive). Mike was able to clarify a confusion I had for a long time regarding profit-making as an ancillary to CC Not-Profit licensed work by a different party (trust me, it only gets more confusing from here). I’ll leave it by saying he satisfactorily addressed my concern.
We appreciated irony, too. We laughed at the trademark application process of Creative Commons, which Jace actually helped push through while he worked at the Berkman Center (whilst fully understanding the non-contrary fact that Creative Commons is a registered Trademark), and we enjoyed the fact that Howard’s initiative to bring people back to a commodity-less food purchasing system on a local level be instituted though the vast, highly commodity-driven medium like the Internet.
Now on to Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and now chair of the Wikia foundation.
(Liveblogging, so refresh from time to time. I don’t plan on being tied to the laptop, however, so if I go silent for a while, I’m off discussing.)
(edit: as I foolishly left my power cable back in Brookline, I’ll be saving the rest for tonight’s recap)
(edit: I’ll have my own comments on the late morning discussion of politics and internet, but in the meantime see David Weinberger’s comments on the subject)
For the next two days I’ll be on the Harvard Law campus discussing the past, present and future of the internet as part of the Berkman@10 conference. The conference, as the name suggests, honors the ten year anniversary of the Berkman Center, and features a host of the web/tech/law superstars that played a role in the center’s (and, by extension, the Internet’s) development. I plan to write a recap of each night not only as an exercise in retention, but in the hope that one or more of you, dear readers, will care to see what is on the mind of internet visionaries today.
This may evolve substantially into deep discussions, and in that light I’m adding the tag “Berkman@10″ to this and related posts, for the sake of future navigation.
(image courtesy Flickr user CursedThing)
Let me start this by saying that I love the state of Oregon. They seem to get it on a lot of ways. I love the way they vote (from a procedural angle); I love Portland, and its fantastic used bookstore that occupies a city block; and one of my best friends is graduating this year from Reed, which is pretty neat school I had a chance to visit while on tour two Septembers ago.
It’s almost surpising that the “Chillest State in the Union” would find itself embroiled in a copyright scandal that has strong roots in the pockets of big publishing. And yet, here we are. (more…)