Each line is drawn between two nodes, representing two IP addresses.
So after all that food..it's finally time to get into the reason why we came to Cambridge...the Berkman Center for Internet & Society! Seth Young manages the Communications efforts. He was kind enough to sit down with me and Sam for a very interesting talk about Berkman's work in shaping the future of the internet.
Now, a few quick background notes. I have an endless fascination for the internet and how it's shaping our world. Susan Crawford introduced me to the Berkman Center through OneWebDay and I couldn't be more excited to know that Berkman exists as a research center that tries to explore and understand the net, its development, dynamics, norms, standards and need or lack thereof for laws.
Berkman is a network of faculty, students, fellows, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and virtual architects that work to identify and engage in the challenges and opportunities of cyberspace. Basically a bunch of very intelligent and passionate people studying the net.
So what does this all mean? What are the tangible takeaways?
1. Berkman is in its 10th year, has 25 full time staff and 30 research fellows, faculty and directors that work on researching three main areas:
A. Law, Technology, Innovation and Knowledge - patent law, intellectual property, disruptive technology
B. Internet and Civic Activity - democracy in the broad sense, civil engagement
C. Technology, Law and Development - legal education, building a repository of teaching materials to use in digital form.
Tony - you are going to like this - Harvard University has adopted guidelines under which the 'final drafts' of academic papers written by researchers at its Faculty of Arts and Sciences will automatically be published on the university's website, unless the authors request a waiver. Many institutions keep open-access repositories of papers but the decision makes Harvard the first US university to sign up to default open-access publishing for its research staff. More. Why is this a breakthrough? Because knowledge from some of the greatest minds will not only be preserved but shared!
2. Berkman is working on several projects at once - ranging from encouraging grassroots media to enabling law professors to share valuable teaching resources across nationwide digital commons. A few very notable projects:
A. Citizen Media Law Project that provides legal training and resources for individuals and organizations involved in citizen media (i.e. bloggers).
"We’ve created the legal guide to address the myriad legal issues faced by online publishers, whether they are bloggers, citizen journalists, or established journalism organizations. Because many online publishers don’t have a background in media law, we have tried to make the guide as approachable as possible and included dozens of practical tips for avoiding legal liability,” said David Ardia, director and co-founder of the CMLP, an initiative to provide legal assistance, education, and resources for citizen media and to study the impact of law on online journalism.
This way we all know our rights and responsibilities as citizen reporters! They've created a valuable tool...without having to pay a lawyer money to know our rights, the Citizen Media Law Project educates us on our rights!
B. Digital Natives focuses on the generation that was "born digital" - those that grew up immersed in digital technologies. Basically it's the 20 year olds and below who grew up with internet and never knew what life was like before its existence. (As 30+ yr olds we all remember that annoying modem sound don't we?)
A book is coming out in August titled Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives that explores a broad range of issues, from the highly philosophical to the purely practical: What does identity mean for young people who have dozens of online profiles and avatars? Should we worry about privacy issues? Or is privacy even a relevant value for digital natives? How does the concept of safety translate into an increasingly virtual world? Is “stranger-danger” a real problem, or a red herring? A smart, practical guide to a brave new world and its complex inhabitants, Born Digital will be essential reading for parents, teachers, and the myriad of confused adults who want to understand the digital present-and shape the digital future.
C. Global Voices is easily one of the coolest projects the Berkman Center started. It's an online media community dedicated to amplifying independent online voices from outside North America and Europe. It's basically a team of people who aggregate blog posts from around the world, translate them and then showcase them on one site.
"These amazing people are bloggers who live in various countries around the world. We have invited them as contributors or hired them as editors because they understand the context and relevance of information, views, and analysis being posted every day from their countries and regions on blogs, podcasts, photo sharing sites, videoblogs - and other kinds of online citizen media. They are helping us to make sense of it all, and to highlight things that bloggers are saying which mainstream media may not be reporting." - Global Voice
High five for Reuters for being their flagship sponsor and understanding the need for citizen journalists!
More than anything, we learned from our 2 hour conversation with Seth that there's a great deal of thought and excitement about this new age of information that is upon us. Here is a great video about Berkman:
If you'd like to ever go to an event hosted by Berkman (and stay at the Charles hotel and have steak at the Rialto)...all of their events are FREE and open to anyone. All you need is a reservation.
This probably only covers about 1/10th of our conversation with Seth but I hope it gives you an understanding and appreciation of what this non-profit research facility is doing to shape our future. Berkman rocks.
Finally - a few pictures inside.
The Geek Cave:
A great map on the wall:
Even scholars know how to have some fun:
The faces of Berkman:
Me and Seth Young.
Thank you, Seth, for taking time out of your busy day to talk to us about all the wonderful things you folks are doing at Berkman. Hope to see you again soon!