This week there were two out-of-the-park posts by Berkman folk: Ethan
Zuckerman on advertising as the Net’s original sin, and Zeynep Tufecki on
the power of the open Internet as demonstrated by coverage of the riots in
Ferguson. Each provides a view on whether the Net is a failed promise. Each
is brilliant and brilliantly written.
Zeynep on Ferguson
Zeynep, who has written with wisdom and insight on the role of social media
in the Turkish protests (e.g., here and here), looks at how Twitter brought
the Ferguson police riots onto the national agenda and how well Twitter
“covered” them. But those events didn’t make a dent in Facebook’s
presentation of news. Why? she asks.
Twitter is an open platform where anyone can post whatever they want. It
therefore reflects our interests — although no medium is a mere reflection.
FB, on the other hand, uses algorithms to determi... (more)
Judith Donath is giving a book talk to launch The Social Machine. I read it
this weekend and it is a rich work that explores the ways in which good
design can improve our online sociality. I’m a fan of Judith’s and am
looking forward to seeing what 25-minutes’ worth of ideas she selects to
talk about tonight, given the richness of her book.
NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key
information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small
matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other
people’s ideas and words. ... (more)
Talk about “civility” on the Internet always makes me a little nervous.
For a bunch of reasons.
First, I generally try to be civil, but I’d hate to see a Net that is
always and only civil. Some rowdiness and rudeness is absolutely required.
Second, civility as a word feels like it comes from a colonial mentality, as
if there are the civil folks and then there are the savages. I’m not saying
that’s what people mean when they use the term. It’s just what I
Third, civility is so culturally relative that demanding that someone be
civil can actually mean, “Please play... (more)
The Web was social before it had social networking software. It just hadn’t
yet evolved a pervasive layer of software specifically designed to help us be
In 2003 it was becoming clear that we needed?—?and were getting?—?a new
class of application, unsurprisingly called “social software.” But what
sort of sociality were we looking for? What sort could such software bestow?
That was the theme of Clay Shirky’s 2003 keynote at the ETech conference,
the most important gathering of Web developers of its time. Clay gave a
brilliant talk,“A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy,” in which... (more)
Despite the claims of some — and unfortunately some of these some run
the companies that provide the US with Internet access — there are n
reasons why we need truly high-speed, high-capacity Internet access, where n
= everything we haven’t invented yet.
If we had truly high-speed, high-capacity Internet access, protesters in
Ferguson might have each worn a GoPro video camera, or even just all pressed
“Record” on their smartphones, and those of us not in Ferguson could have
dialed among them to see what’s happening. In fact, it’s pretty likely
someone wo... (more)