Live blogging from the workshop “From Social Network to Social Movement” at Harvard Law School. David Lazer from the Harvard Kennedy School is presenting on the properties of network power. You can also follow on Twitter: #HLSsocnetworks
Definition of network: a network is a set of units (be them people or organizations) and a set of attachments amongst those units. Definition of power: 1) Individual and group access to resources. Where you are in the network influences your access to resources. How does power flow from people who have power to actual formulation of policy? 2) Collective capacity to organize – how do networks enable or inhibit the growth of certain social movements? Continue reading “David Lazer on the properties of network power”
[youtube width=”315″ height=”235″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4omD0j_e0k[/youtube]
La Pecora Bianca presenta Herdict, uno straordinario nuovo sito che aiuta gli utenti a riprendere controllo della Rete. Hai problemi con siti in parte o del tutto inaccessibili? Prova ad usare Herdict su: http://herdict.org.
Herdict.org e’ un progetto del Berkman Center for Internet & Society, all’Universita’ di Harvard, ideato da Jonathan Zittrain e dalla OpenNet Initiative (ONI) che permette agli utenti di Internet di tutto il mondo di raccogliere e condividere segnalazioni di malfunzionamenti e blocchi volontari di diversi siti o pagine Web. Per ulteriori informazioni, leggi: “Herdict, la Mappa Mondiale della Censura“.
In the past couple of days Facebook has been rolling out to its users a new homepage. This is the second time that Facebook changes dramatically its look. While there was great upheaval against the first change in the home page compared to the original Facebook (where fun applications, superpoking and friend hugging held center stage), I think it can be safely argued that the change was a great improvement in terms of making Facebook a much more functional website where to share information (in the form of links, photos and news feeds) with other people in your network.
This second change in the look of Facebook, however (which now makes your homepage very much look like Twitter, a site which has been growing exponentially in popularity) has a new rationale behind it. It is not anymore about making the sharing of information with your friends easier, it is about providing real time access to information about your friends. Indeed, status updates now appear to be the same as any other wall post made by your friends, while finding out about other friends activities (posting of photos, groups joint, people friended) is now messy and more difficult. Continue reading “the new facebook home page”
I have just come back from a three day workshop on: “The Internet and Democracy, Lessons Learnt and Future Directions of Research”, which we at Berkman’s Internet & Democracy project have been organizing in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. The workshop gathered around 25 leading academics working in the field in order to investigate: (1) what are the lessons learnt from existing research? (2) how can we best measure the impact of the Internet and new media on democracy and what are the insights provided by different research methodologies? (3) what are the future directions for the field? The sessions covered an array of topics, with a variety of methodological perspectives.
Day one was opened by a public lecture by Matthew Hindman held at the Oxford Said Business School which explored how online audiences are distributed and how site traffic changes over time. The webcast of the lecture will be available online here.
Continue reading “The Internet and democracy: lessons learnt and future directions of research”
I am currently at Oxford for a three day workshop on: “The Internet and Democracy, Lessons Learnt and Future Directions of Research”, which we at Berkman‘s Internet & Democracy project have been organizing in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.
The aim of the workshop is to bring together leading researchers to assess the current state of research on the impact of the Internet on democracy. In particular, the workshop aims to assess: (1) what are the lessons learnt from existing research? (2) How can we best measure the impact of the Internet and new media on democracy and what are the insights provided by different research methodologies? (3) What are the future directions for the field?
Please check this blog and the Berkman’s Internet and Democracy blog in the next few days for blogposts about the workshop sessions. A webcast of the opening lecture which was held yesterday by Matthew Hindman at the Oxford Said Business School will also be made available soon online both on the OII and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society website.
[youtube width=”315″ height=”235″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NggzBHSXdCo[/youtube]
Today, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University has officially launched: http://www.herdict.org — a tool that employs the distributed power of the Internet community to provide insight into what users around the world are experiencing in terms of web accessibility.
Everyone is invited to explore http://www.herdict.org and participate by reporting websites that they cannot access, testing sites that others have reported, or downloading the browser add-on for reporting sites on the fly. Herdict Web aggregates reports in real time, permitting participants to see if inaccessibility is a shared problem, giving them a better sense of potential reasons for why a site is inaccessible. Trends can be viewed over time, by site and by country.
[youtube width=”315″ height=”235″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLsyLEwIFVc[/youtube]
In an effort to regulate the Internet, as part of a package of laws to safeguard national security, the Italian Government has recently proposed an amendment which in practice – if approved – would oblige all Italian ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block a site (be this a website, a blog or a social media site such as Facebook or Youtube) where material has been posted which is believed to defend or instigate a crime [Bloomberg’s reporting the news here].
This amendment does not talk about merely deleting the material which is believed to be criminal/illegal but about filtering/blocking/blacking out/preventing access to the entire website if the manager of the site did not take down such material. For example, if Facebook did not shut down groups such as the ones which have recently come to the spotlight for praising Mafia bosses, Italian ISPs would be in fact obliged to block access to the whole of Facebook, or be fined (from 50,000 to 250,000 Euros).
The decision of whether such material is in fact illegal would not go to the Courts of Law but would be taken directly by the Minister of the Interior, with no opportunity for trial in front of Magistrates. The amendment has already been approved by the Senate and is waiting to be discussed at the Chamber of Deputies.
Commentators from blogger Beppe Grillo to Italian politician Antonio di Pietro have voiced their protests against this amendment which – if it becomes law – would in fact curtail freedom of expression — and potentially allow the shutting down of thousands of voices on the Web. According to di Pietro [English version here] the amendment is unconstitutional and anti-democratic thereby putting Italy in the same situation of countries such as China and Burma where Internet filtering is widespread. In his blog Beppe Grillo reports an interview with Senator D’Alia [English version here] where the Senator explains how the amendment would in fact work.
A group has been created on Facebook against this amendment – where materials such as editorials and comments can be found – for more information see also: http://www.baoad.it/facebook-censored/.
It has been about two hours since CNN has shown on cable tv snippets of Obama’s first interview with Al-Arabiya TV station but no news of it appears yet on any of the major news and newspapers’ websites both national and international. The Huffington post, however, has documented it and posted a video and a transcript here and several other blogs are sharing and commenting the news.
A few days ago in the IHT Evgeny Morozov, a Fellow at the Open Society Institute in New York, has published an interesting op-ed entitled: “Digital renegades, or captives?” where he analyzes the role of the Internet in promoting civic engagement in authoritarian regimes. Evgeny asks: “What if the original premise was wrong and the Internet is not a great force for democratic change but rather the clay that keeps authoritarian regimes together?” Evgeny alerts us to the dangers of seeing the Internet as a magic wand, which will necessarily promote democratic change and warns us about the importance of context (America vs. non-Western European countries) when analyzing the role of the Internet in aiding political change and political participation.
Evgeny goes on to argue (and I quote his words, again): “We have to be aware of the fact that the Internet has given the youth living in controlled societies infinite venues for digital entertainment – without any religious or social censorship – that may not necessarily be enhancing their digital sense of citizenship and civic engagement. Risking the comfort of their bedrooms – with their hard-drives full of digital goodies – for the gloom of a prison cell does not appeal to many of them. The governments are all too happy to promote this new cult of ‘cyber-hedonism’.”
In other words, the Internet is just a tool – we must avoid technologically deterministic arguments which stress the effects of technology by taking it out of context, and by devoiding it of social agency. Evgeny suggests two ideal types (a la Weber): ‘digital renegades’ vs. ‘captives’ which I think are much more than just another trendy name, but they are two categories which may well turn out to be a really useful analytical tool in studying young people’s civic engagement.
[Cross-posted on Internet and Democracy blog and Digital Natives blog]