Archive Page 3



A classic study of public opinion found that while Americans generally supported abstract principles of freedom of expression, many would not support the application of these principles in concrete cases, such as permitting an extreme group to speak at a local school (McCloskey and Brill 1983). That the public can support concrete actions that undermine professed principles was one factor that led to elitist theories of democracy, which argued that democracies rely on elites, such as judges, and parliamentarians, to protect democratic rights and civil liberties. They can’t be left to public opinion. This does not always work.

The public and many politicians seemed to ignore a disjunction between abstract principles and concrete applications of these principles when all the parties in Britain as well as the public at large supported a statutory imposition of a press regulator, agreed early this week, while still voicing support for freedom of the press.

It is most important to focus on those expected to uphold civil liberties in the face of prevailing public opinion, our elected officials. Are they hypocrites, not seeing the inconsistency in how their stated principles are contradicted by their support for actions that will have a chilling effect on freedom of the press? Or do they see themselves balancing conflicting principles, such as accepting limits on freedom of the press in order to uphold law and policy on bribery, privacy and data protection, and libel or defamation?

I should preface my response by stating my own view that the new press regulation will have a chilling effect on freedom of the press and freedom of expression online. The obvious threat of imposing exemplary fines on papers or Web sites that don’t join the club, and are judged to have defamed a person, is clearly going to have a chilling effect across the board, and particularly on organizations without deep pockets. Providing greater support for libel actions against newspapers and Websites will lead the press and bloggers to over-censure their work in anticipation of potential retribution by the regulator, such as in disproportionate awards to claimants.

Most importantly, this creation of law and regulation by the state to control the press in print and online is the beginning of the end of an independent press – the Fourth Estate identified by Edmund Burke. The press is a Fourth Estate because it is separate and relatively independent of the state, and therefore able to hold government to account. Now we are seeing some newspapers (e.g., FT, Guardian) joining the state sponsored club of papers, losing their independence, while a few papers, such as The New Statesman, have had the courage to refuse to join this group.

So the question that I must ask myself is whether this loss to freedom of the press through the creation of this regulator is justified by other values that will be protected by the regulator. My conclusion is that it is not, but let me explain by taking you back into increasingly familiar territory, which has been well developed by many others, but ignored since the day that Mum’s Net made phone hacking a politically powerful issue.

Phone hacking is a good example as it brings together the major wrongs attributed to the press and other actors in this saga. Namely, it involved unauthorized access to personal information (violation of privacy and data protection), bribery of police officers (police corruption), and defamation (libel or slander by the press).

Immediately after the phone hacking scandal broke out, the principle focus of blame fell on the Press Complaints Commission. It was said to have had no teeth, and was ineffectual in regulating the press. Self-regulation therefore lost credibility, and this created momentum behind the Leveson Inquiry and then behind statutory regulation of the press – regulation imposed by the state although cloaked in a Royal Charter.

In the immediate aftermath of the phone hacking scandal and attacks on the PCC, I approached my colleagues enmeshed in the study of journalism and the press and argued that the Press Complaints Commission was being used as a red herring, deflecting attention from those responsible for the law and policy that should protect the public from phone hacking. Thinking I would be corrected, I found to my surprise that they generally agreed, but they shied away from openly challenging what was soon becoming the dominant narrative among the critics of phone hacking. Far from the Internet creating an ‘echo chamber’ of self-reinforcing opinion (Sunstein 2007), the groupthink within the club of those critical of the tabloids put politicians in a true echo chamber.

Clearly, unauthorized access to personal information is a violation of privacy and data protection but it was and continues to be the responsibility of the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). The ICO reported on phone hacking well before the issue exploded with pressure from Mum’s Net in the pre-Hacked Off days. Politicians failed to take onboard the findings of the ICO and support the ICO in dealing with this problem. The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is not the ICO or Parliament. The government should give the ICO the resources and support necessary to address this problem.

Likewise, the bribery of police officers is not the job of the PCC and could never be. How could the government create a press regulator capable of taking on the Metropolitan Police. This is absurd. Again, the PCC was a red herring here as well. The arrests of many journalists over hacking and bribery – without a PCC – attests to its irrelevance here as well. While I believe the arrests of journalists has been disproportionate in the extreme, and damaging to the press, they illustrate that laws and public bodies exist to address bribery and corruption. No need for a state press regulator here.

That leaves defamation, but here again, there are major existing laws in Britain that protect the public from defamation. In fact, Britain has become world famous for being the place to bring lawsuits. American legislation has sought to block individuals bringing libel cases to the UK courts in order to protect freedom of expression in the US. Britain is known as the destination for libel tourists. But one need only think about examples in the UK, such as failure to expose allegations against the BBC’s Jimmy Saville, to see that defamation is so protected here that the public was unaware of these allegations for decades, and reported only after his death.

Freedom of the press and expression, more generally, are being shaped by an ecology of choices being made about other policies and values, including libel, privacy, security, and other digital rights, such as freedom of information. Worldwide, choices being made by public officials about this wide-ranging ecology of law and policy is increasingly restricting freedom of expression (Dutton et al 2011). Internet content filtering is increasing around the world, as is the application of inappropriate regulatory models to the Internet, such as state pressure on ISPs to control content as if they were a broadcaster. On top of this, the previously unthinkable state regulation of the press in Britain is indeed a set back, but hopefully not a point of no return.

Together these trends are threatening the role that the Internet has played in empowering individuals in ways that are creating a Fifth Estate of networked individuals (Dutton 2009). The Fifth Estate can source its own information and networks in ways that can challenge the press, government and corporate elites. However, in one ‘little’ law, the UK is putting the Fourth and the Fifth Estate in great jeopardy, at the time when independent thought and accountability are desperately needed. This is the foundation of a pluralist liberal-democracy.

What can be done? I will try to support the journalists who are speaking the truth to power, such as Simon Jenkins with The Guardian, John Kampfner, Nick Cohen, and others, who are not towing the all party line on the new press regulator, and support the papers and Web sites that have the courage to challenge this new imposition of greater fines in a country that has been a libel tourist destination, such as The New Statesman. Also, it seems clear that this new press and Internet regulation has begun to wake up an otherwise too complacent blogosphere to stop taking freedom of expression for granted. Everyone needs to be more watchful of moves nationally and internationally away from support for and tolerance of freedom of expression (Dutton et al 2011).

Academics need to stop being afraid of offending politicians and challenge the echo-chamber that the anti-tabloid press and those public intellectuals seeking revenge on the press barons that have put politicians. As a number of commentators have said, this is all about freedom of the press and expression that is critical to well functioning liberal democratic societies, and not the time or way to take revenge on the press barons. Parliament should bring concrete actions in line with their abstract principles and drop this unwarranted press regulation, since competing values are already well protected by other law and policy.

References

William H, Dutton, (2009), ‘The Fifth Estate Emerging through the Network of Networks’, Prometheus, 27: 1–15.

William H. Dutton, Anna Dopatka, Michael Hills, Ginette Law, and Victoria Nash (2011), Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression: The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet. Paris: UNESCO, Division for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace. Reprinted in 2013; Trans. In French and Arabic.

McCloskey, Herbert, and Brill, Alida, (1983), Dimensions of Tolerance: What Americans Believe About Civil Liberties. New York: Russell Sage.

Sunstein, C. R., (2007), Republic.com 2.0 . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

 

We were very lucky to have a wonderful tutorial at the OII on mobile painting apps, given by Jeremy Sutton. Jeremy is a natural teacher and spent the hour plus overtime describing the tools he uses for mobile painting on a tablet computer, focusing on iPad apps, all the time demonstrating the use and functionality of different tools – from brushes to apps – by involving the audience in his various sketches. He created a very useful Web page for the talk which provides his recommendations of tools for mobile painting, see: http://www.paintboxtv.com/ipad-art-tools

Other URLs for painting on an iPad on Jeremy’s site include:

http://www.paintboxtv.com/ipad-art

http://www.paintboxtv.com/inspired-by-hockney

I met Jeremy when he was a physics student at Oxford, and I was a professor in LA in the early 1980s. After a career of over a decade at Oxford Instruments, he followed his love of sketching and painting after he sat down at a conference on computer painting and delighted the conference goers by demonstrating what could be done on a computer screen. He has been creating and selling his work, teaching classes and demonstrating the art and craft of painting with a computer ever since. He was off from our session to spend a day in the Apple Store in London. Now Jeremy is in California with a studio in San Francisco, and I’m in Oxford.

Take a look at his tips, and his Web site. He’ll either inspire you to try it, or provoke your thinking about the implications of computing in the production and access to art.

Jeremy demonstrating use of an app

Jeremy demonstrating use of an app

Bill and Jeremy at OII

Bill and Jeremy at OII

 

About this series

Scholars collaborate online. Data are collected, delivered, analysed, and distributed via the Internet. Communication, both formal publications and informal exchanges, have moved online. Yet face-to-face conversations are still valued, seminars and lectures retain prestige, conferences proliferate, and frequent flyer miles accumulate. This lecture series will provoke a rich discussion of innovations in digital scholarship with an international array of scholars, examining implications for the sciences, social sciences, and humanities and for libraries and publishing.

The series is co-convened by UCLA Professor Christine Borgman, Visiting Fellow and Oliver Smithies Lecturer at Balliol College; Professor William Dutton, Professor of Internet Studies at the OII and Fellow at Balliol College, and Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian and Fellow of Balliol College.

Sponsors and Partners

The Digital Scholarship Lecture Series is organized by Balliol College, the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), and The Bodleian Libraries with support from the ESRC’s Digital Research Programme, based at the Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford.

Agenda

21 February 2013, 17:00 – 18:30

Speaker: Professor Alyssa Goodman, Harvard University

Respondent: Dr Chris Lintott, Department of Physics, University of Oxford

Title: Seamless Astronomy, Sea Monsters, and the Milky Way

Abstract

Most astronomy researchers use online travel tools like Kayak and Expedia, yet they don’t expect such integrative services in their research.  Instead, they use “modernized” versions of old technologies, such as sending each other email in lieu of paper letters.  Some astronomers, however, are leading the way toward a future that has much less precedent in a pre-internet world.  In this talk, I will explain elements of what future-leaning astronomers mean by “Seamless Astronomy,” a term which effectively describes an ecosystem for scholarly research as smart and streamlined as Kayak is for travel.   I will also explain why more traditional astronomers are not always quick to appreciate or adopt “Seamless” principles–even though they use its products (including a wealth of well-organized, interconnected, literature and data) all the time.  To make the theoretical situation more real, I will organize my talk around an ongoing astronomical research project that concerns a long so-called “infrared dark cloud” named “Nessie” and how it can be used to map out the skeletal structure (“Bones”)  of our Milky Way.  The 10-person collaboration working on the Nessie/Bones project includes researchers whose preferences range from traditionalist to futurist, and so offers no end of anecdotes with which to illuminate the Seamless Astronomy story!

For previews of this talk’s content, see projects.iq.harvard.edu/seamlessastronomy/ and milkywaybones.org.

 

Biographical Sketch

Alyssa Goodman is Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, and a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution.  Goodman’s research and teaching interests span astronomy, data visualization, and online systems for research and education.

In her astronomical pursuits, Goodman and her research group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA study the dense gas between the stars. They are particularly interested in how interstellar gas arranges itself into new stars.

In more computationally-oriented efforts, Goodman co-founded The Initiative in Innovative Computing (IIC) at Harvard, and she served as its Director from 2005-8. The initiative created an university-wide interdisciplinary center at Harvard fostering work at the boundary between computing and science.   More recently, Goodman organized a diverse group of researchers, librarians, and software developers into an ongoing effort known as “Seamless Astronomy,” aimed directly at developing, refining, and sharing tools that accelerate the pace of scientific research, especially in astronomy.  Current Seamless projects include Glue, Authorea, the ADS All Sky Survey, the Astronomy Dataverse, and the WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors Program.

Goodman’s personal research presently focuses primarily on new ways to visualize and analyze the tremendous data volumes created by large and/or diverse astronomical surveys, like COMPLETE. She is working closely with colleagues at Microsoft Research, helping to expand the use of the WorldWide Telescope program, in both research and in education.   In 2009, Goodman founded the WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors Program which pairs PhD-level researchers with educators and outreach professionals to improve STEM teaching.

At Harvard, Goodman teaches courses on astrophysics and on the display of data, including one called The Art of Numbers. 

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28 February 2013, 17:30 – 18:30

Speaker: Professor Dieter Stein, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf

Respondent: Victoria Gardner, Taylor & Francis Group, UK

Respondent: Wolfram Horstmann, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Title: Open Access Electronic Publishing: A View from the Frontier

Abstract

Most discussions of the cultural changes linked to the Internet are holistically focused – discussing the effect of technical changes on the characteristics of as a system as a whole. This talk will take a complementary perspective by focusing on how cultural change is being shaped from the bottom-up “makers” “, sufferers” or “perpetrators” of Open Access publishing.

The main part of the talk will give an insider’s perspective, as a case study, of the decisions, motivations and constraints of individuals and stakeholders at different points in the development of a major Open Access publishing project in linguistics.  The perspective will then be widened to situate this particular development in the larger development of a “publication” as one functional element in the concept of open science.

Biographical Sketch

Dieter Stein is Professor of English Language and Linguistics at Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf (Germany). He obtained degrees (Staatsexamen) in Geography and English at Saarbrücken University (1972) and a Doctorate in English Linguistics at Saarbrücken (1975).

After being part of a Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Sonderforschungsbereich on electronic language research and computational linguistics, he taught Applied Linguistics and Translation at Heidelberg University (until 1982). After his Habilitation at Aachen (1982) he was appointed professor for English Linguistics (text- and discourse linguistics) at Justus-Liebig-University Gießen and transferred to Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf in 1990, where he has taught since then in courses for teacher training, as well as general Masters, BA and MA courses. He has served in most administrative capacities, including dean and several terms as chairman. He has also taught at various universities in the United States, Canada, Spain and Italy, was invited scholar at UCLA, Berkeley, UBC Vancouver and Stanford.

His publications are on a broad range of topics ranging from the theory of linguistic change, via applied linguistics, the linguistics of discourse, to language and communication in the Internet, the theory of genre and the language of law and the development of modern English. He was President of the International Society if Historical Linguistics, he is currently President of the International Language and Law Society, he is also editor-in-chief of the Linguistic Society of America’s digital Publication Portal “eLanguage”. He was the organizer and conference director of a number of major international conferences, including “Berlin 6”, the Max Planck Open Access conference at Duesseldorf. He was also involved in organizing “Berlin 9”, the Open Access conference at Howard-Hughes Medical Institution, Bethesda, Md, USA.  His current main research areas include: Language of the Law, Computer-Mediated Communication and language development.

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21 March 2013, 17:00 – 18:30

Speaker: Professor James Evans, University of Chicago

Respondent: Professor Ralph Schroeder, Oxford Internet Institute

Respondent: Dr Eric Meyer, Oxford Internet Institute

Title: Choosing the Next Experiment: Tradition, Innovation, and Efficiency in the Selection of Scientific Ideas 

Abstract

Abstract: What factors affect a scientist’s choice of research problem? Qualitative research in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science suggests that the choice is shaped by an “essential tension” between a professional demand for productivity and a conflicting drive toward risky innovation. We examine this tension empirically in the context of biomedical chemistry. We use complex networks to represent the evolving state of scientific knowledge, as expressed in digital publications. We then build measurements and a model of scientific discovery informed by key properties of this network. Measuring such choices in aggregate, we find that the distribution of strategies remains remarkably stable, even as chemical knowledge grows dramatically. High-risk strategies, which explore new chemical relationships, are less prevalent in the literature, reflecting a growing focus on established knowledge at the expense of new opportunities. Research following a risky strategy is more likely to be ignored but also more likely to achieve high impact and recognition. While the outcome of a risky strategy has a higher expected reward than the outcome of a conservative strategy, the additional reward is insufficient to compensate for the additional risk. By studying the winners of major prizes, we show that the occasional “gamble” for extraordinary impact is the most plausible explanation for observed levels of risk-taking. To examine efficiency in scientific search, we build a model of scientific discovery informed by key properties of this network, namely node degree and inter-node distance. We infer the typical research strategy in biomedical chemistry from 30 years of publications and patents and compare its efficiency with thousands of alternatives. Strategies of chemical discovery are similar in articles and patents, conservative in their neglect of low-degree, distant or disconnected chemicals, and efficient only for initial exploration of the network of chemical relationships. We identify much more efficient strategies for maturing fields.

 Biographical Sketch

James Evans is Senior Fellow at the Computation Institute, Associate Professor of Sociology and member of the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago. Evans work explores how social and technical institutions shape knowledge—science, scholarship, law, news, religion—and how these understandings reshape the social and technical world. He has studied how the Internet and Open Access shapes knowledge in society.  He has also investigated the relation of markets to science by examining how industry collaboration shapes the ethos, secrecy and organization of academic science; the web of individuals and institutions that produce innovations; and markets for ideas and their creators.  Finally, Evans is interested in using digital scholarship to identify biases in research and discovery and then using these as statistical instruments to identify promising but under-appreciated hypotheses and unasked questions. He is currently working on related projects in biology, chemistry, and medicine that explore these possibilities. His work uses natural language processing, the analysis of social and semantic networks, statistical modeling, and field-based observation and interviews. Evans’ research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Mellon and John F. Templeton Foundations and has been published in Science, American Journal of SociologySocial Studies of ScienceAdministrative Science Quarterly and other journals. His work has been featured in the EconomistAtlantic MonthlyWired, NPR, BBC, El Pais, CNN and many other outlets.

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25 April 2013, 17:00 – 18:30

Speaker: Dame Lynne Brindley, former CEO, British Library

Respondent: Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodleian Libraries

Respondent: Professor Christine Borgman, Balliol College and University of California, Los Angeles

Title: Future of Research Libraries in the 21st Century

Abstract

Great libraries are facing both major challenges and opportunities,  now and in the next decade. Research libraries operate in the context of global complexity in a digital information world that envelops scholars, researchers, consumers and citizens. The ‘data deluge’ and ‘always on’ digital culture combine to be awesome in global impact, unprecedented in terms of innovative possibilities, and yet inhuman in many dimensions. The speaker will consider core values of research libraries, whether those values continue to be relevant, and how they might be manifest in new ways. Questions to be addressed include what information should be preserved; whether the physical library still important; whether a new balance can be achieved between information as a public or private good; and how libraries can still be relevant to many disciplines.

Biographical Sketch

Lynne Brindley was Chief Executive of the British Library for some twelve years until Summer 2012 when she stepped down from the role. She was responsible for opening up the BL in its new flagship home, as one of the world’s greatest resources for scholarship, research and business, to a much wider global audience, through major digital programmes and cultural and educational activities. She had previously spent much of her career in UK higher education, as Pro-Vice Chancellor at Leeds University and at the

London School of Economics and Aston University. She had a spell in the private sector as a senior consultant with KPMG. She is now a non-executive Board member of Ofcom (UK Communications and Media Regulator), a member of the Arts & Humanities Research Council, a member of Council of City University, the Wolfson Trust Arts Panel, and the Court of the Goldsmiths’ Livery Company. She holds a BA in music from Reading University, an MA from UCL and was made a Dame in 2008 for services to the British Library and to education.

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16 May 2013, 17:00 – 18:30

Dr Frances Pinter,www.pinter.org.uk

Respondent: Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodleian Libraries

Title: New Open Business Models for Academic Book Publishing in the Post-Finch Era

Abstract

The 150 page Finch Report has less than three pages on books. It takes the view that just as with journal articles any publication arising out of public funding of research should be made publicly available free to the end user. However, as the traditional book business models differ significantly from journals other types of solutions need to be considered.  Finch encourages experimentation. Open access book publishing is being tried in a very tentative way by a few publishers. So far there are only a handful of models all of which have their strengths and weaknesses. Dr Frances Pinter will provide a review of these approaches. She will also present an overview of her own new initiative Knowledge Unlatched.

Biographical Sketch

Dr Frances Pinter is the founder of Knowledge Unlatched, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) devising and implementing a new open access model for scholarly book length publications. (knowledgeunlatched.org). She was the founding Publisher of Bloomsbury Academic and ran the Churchill Archive digitisation project. Frances is a visiting fellow at both the Big Innovation Centre and the London School of Economics. Previously she was Publishing Director at the Soros Foundation (Open Society Foundations). In the late 90s she devised the business model for EIFL, one of the world’s largest library consortia. Earlier she founded Pinter Publishers that also owned Leicester University Press and established the imprint Belhaven Press.  She has been active on a number of publishing trade boards and committees. She holds a BA from New York University and a PhD from University College, London.

23 May, 17:00-18:30 TENTATIVE

 

Dr. Salvatore Mele

CERN – Head of Open Access – http://www.cern.ch/oa

SCOAP3 – Interim Project Manager – http://scoap3.org

INSPIRE – Strategic Director – http://inspirehep.net

 

5 th or 6th June
Prof. Christine Borgman, Oliver Smithies Lecture

Big data, little data, no data: Research data as a lens to view the evolution of digital scholarship

Posted with the permission of Ted Nelson, who wrote:

Theodor Holm Nelson will be teaching a possibly final, or ‘bucket’, course on all his computer work and ideas.  The title is “CINEMA OF THE MIND: Philosophy and Art of Designing Interaction” (Computer Science 194, U.C. Santa Cruz, winter quarter 2013).  ☛ Further course details will be found at the end of this note.

The Ted Nelson at the OII

The Ted Nelson at the OII

Dr. Nelson is an independent designer and thinker who for fifty years– since before others imagined personal computing or screen-to-screen publishing– has had deep designs for a computer world very different from that we now face.  While Microsoft, Apple and the Web veered backward, imitating the past and paper, Nelson always designed for the screens-only world we are at last approaching.

Nelson’s Xanadu document designs, well known if not well understood, are generally recognized as precursors to the World Wide Web.  His broader alternative software designs, and their radical theoretical underpinnings, are not well known.  This course boosts their survival and the chance some may eventually prevail.

While other software depicts time as conventional clocks and calendars, Nelson shows it as a spiral that can be tightened to nanoseconds or opened to the lifetime of the universe, wherein you can reconcile people’s schedules for next week or annotate historical theories. While others’ bookkeeping systems show only money, Nelson’s applies to all exchanges– money, Christmas cards, favors, grudges. Instead of today’s isolating “apps” and social cattle pens, he plans a sharable, unifying world of interactive diagrams that zoom to all work and reading, with everything annotatable.

His radical infrastructure includes automatically-coupling data structures, an operating system without hierarchy, and connection-lines between the contents of windows.  These lead to a completely different computer world, and– he fervently hopes– a different human life around them.

All of this is viewed through Nelson’s Schematic Philosophy, offering new terminology and diagrammatics for analyzing complex subjects.

=== COURSE DETAILS

The class is scheduled for Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 7:30, Engineering 2, room 399.  A typical class will consist of a discussion session, a tough lecture, a break, an easy lecture, and another discussion session.

There will be two midterm examinations and a final.  Projects for extra credit (leading to a possible A+) must be negotiated in the first three weeks.

The course is open not just to UCSC undergraduate and graduate students, but to outsiders as well, via a process known as “Concurrent Enrollment.”  Outsider tuition cost appears to be $1355 ($100 application fee for Concurrent Enrollment, plus $1255 tuition).  Two
forms are required: “Concurrent Enrollment Application” to join the university loosely, at http://www.ucsc-extension.edu/sites/default/files/imce/public/pdf/CEAp.pdf  (to be mailed or faxed to the University with the $100– or $65 if
before 14 December) and a form to be signed by the instructor and sent in with tuition payment, at http://www.ucsc-extension.edu/sites/default/files/imce/public/pdf/CEInstrAp.pdf  (final deadline appears to be in mid-January).
More details (not necessarily all consistent) are at: http://www.ucsc-extension.edu/open-campus/enroll

Theodor Holm Nelson PhD
Designer-Generalist, The Internet Archive
Visiting Professor, University of Southampton

My recent books, POSSIPLEX and ‘Geeks Bearing Gifts’, are available from Lulu.com and Amazon.

“Ted Nelson is an idealistic troublemaker who coined the word ‘hypertext’ in the sixties, and continues to fight for a completely different computer world.”

The Economist recently addressed the chilling effect that libel law is likely to have on Twitter, arguing that: ‘Now it [Twitter] seems to fall under the law’s shadow to a greater extent than similar speech does on the offline world’ (November 24, 2012: 37). But it is not simply libel law that could undermine freedom of expression online, it is also criminal laws addressing speech in largely pre-Internet aware days.

Taken together, Internet users – three-quarters of the British public – must be wondering what they can say online. For those in doubt in the aftermath of some actions taken against Twitter users and other online netizens, you may find a recent blog by Roger Darlington to be a helpful place to start in thinking seriously about this question.

Roger Darlington, a former member of the Consumer Panel at Ofcom, has posted a blog, entitled ‘What can’t you say on the Internet?’. He lays on the various viewpoints on this question, as well as UK legislation of relevance. You can read his blog at http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/commswatch/?p=4647 Take a look at Section 127 of the Communications Act of 2003, along with Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

I hope you read this for yourself, but Roger argues that a strict interpretation of UK law could underpin ‘a staggering amount of content to be prosecuted under the criminal law.’ This leads him to conclude that it is time to modernize law and regulation. From his perspective, which I share, there is a need to protect speech online such that people are not subject to inappropriate or disproportionate punishments for such things as tweeting a bad joke or expressing a viewpoint that might be viewed as malicious or indecent.

Consider Roger’s viewpoint and let me know if you have a constructive view on this topic. Roger believes there should be more consistency across media, while I believe that the different communication infrastructures are different in ways that require unique regulatory frameworks. It may be that striving for consistency has led to this disproportionate coverage of online expression. In any case, I agree that this issue will only grow in importance as more communication shifts to the Internet. Consumers need to know what they can and cannot say or this uncertainty alone could have a chilling effect on speech.

There will be an increasing array of issues driven by the convergence of media and the Internet. Content regulation is certainly one key example of such an issue. Over decades, standards of expression on television have become relatively well understood, even if they are sometimes breached and the subject of complaints. But the Internet is not television and is not and – it seems to me – cannot be regulated like television. As but one example, 72 hours of video are posted on YouTube every minute, and this is only one of many video sites on the Internet.

I hope you find Roger’s blog helpful – eye opening – in framing this issue for consumers and netizens. It also provides a nice example of law not keeping up with technological change, and becoming an unintended but unanticipated constraint on technological change. If I have this wrong, let me know.

Oliver Smithies Lecture MT 2012

Professor Christine Borgman

Oliver Smithies Lecture, Michaelmus Term 2012

Wednesday 28 November at 5pm in Lecture Room XXIII, Balliol College

Digital Scholarship: Three Decades in Internet Time

by Christine Borgman

Abstract

“In a few short decades, the practices of scholarship have been transformed by the use of digital resources, tools, and services. Some shifts are obvious, such as seeking, reading, and publishing research online, often to the exclusion of print. Other shifts are subtle, such as data being viewed as research products to be disseminated. Research objects are more atomized, yet aggregated in new ways. Digital technologies offer opportunities to innovate in scholarly practice, collaboration, and communication – from the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts to technology and medicine. Externalities such as Internet economics and research policy pose constraints on scholarly work. Underlying these opportunities and constraints are four trends in scholarly communication, information technology, policy: (1) the transition from a closed scholarly world to the open Internet, (2) the evolution from static to dynamic forms of information, (3) changes in the roles of scholars as readers and as authors, and (4) the growing value of data as new forms of publication. These four trends are explored, leading to a discussion of the challenges facing 21st century scholars.”

The OII is involved with a wide range of collaborating partners in the organization of two joined events focused on China and the New Internet World.

Running over two days, the first event on Friday, 14 June 2013, will be an pre-conference to the 2013 International Communication Association’s Annual Conference. The preconference will be held in Oxford at the OII and other units at the University of Oxford, while the following ICA Conference will be held in London. The call for papers invites academics to address how the phenomenal rise of China and the Asian region on the Internet could be reshaping the global Internet, but also how the global Internet is reshaping communication and media in China and the Asian region. Information about travel and lodging for the ICA preconference is at https://www.icahdq.org/conf/2013/confdescriptions.asp. The call for papers for this ICA preconference is at http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=555

The preconference will be followed by a dinner at Balliol College on the 14th. This is a separate event, but those who attend the ICA preconference or the following day’s event may enquire about space at the dinner at events at oii.ox.ac.uk. The dinner will close the preconference, but open the following day’s conference on China and the New Internet World as the 11th Chinese Internet Research Conference (CIRC).

On the next day, Saturday, we will be holding the Eleventh Chinese Internet Research Conference (CIRC11). This conference is open to a wider range of topics about the Chinese Internet, but we hope the two joined events will be as complementary as possible. We invite the submission of papers for this event. Instructions and more information about CIRC11 is available online at: http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=549

We hope that connecting events into a series will help to highlight one of the most significant developments around the New Internet World, one theme of OII research over the last years, as China and Asia continue to shift the centre of gravity of global Internet use.

Both events are being jointly organized by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) in collaboration with the Programme of Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP) and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) at the University of Oxford, in partnership with the Chinese Internet Research Conference (CIRC), the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at USC, the Center for Global Communications Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, the Global Communication Research Institute at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research (C-Centre) at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the Department of Communication at the University of Macau, and Singapore Internet Research Center at Nanyang Technological University. We are also grateful to Taylor and Francis/Routledge, publishers of Information Communication and Society (iCS) and the Chinese Journal of Communication, among many other journals relevant to the study of the Internet and related media and communication technologies and society, for their sponsorship.

Thanks for considering your involvement. If you have questions, you may contact ‘events at oii.ox.ac.uk’ about China and the New Internet World.

I had the honor of participating in a launch of Robin Mansell’s new book, Imagining the Internet (Oxford University Press, 2012). Here is a podcast of the launch, featuring an overview by Robin.
Download: Audio, Video, Slides – R MansellSpeaker(s): Professor Robin Mansell, Professor William H Dutton, Professor Robert Wade
Chair: Professor Sonia Livingstone

Recorded on 16 October 2012 in Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building.

Big challenges face policy makers trying to balance conflicting interests in the information society. This lecture examines why digital information and complex networks make policymaking especially difficult.

Robin Mansell is professor of new media and the internet at LSE and author of Imagining the Internet.

William H Dutton is professor of internet studies at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.

Robert Wade is professor of political economy and development at LSE.

 

Histories of the Internet – A Special Issue of Information & Culture

I am delighted to be working with Thomas Haigh and Andrew Russell on a special issue of Information & Culture focused on the history of the Internet. We have issued a call for papers (late September 2012) and hope to have full papers for review by the end of August 2013. We have encourage prospective authors to send abstracts of proposed papers by the first of March, if they would like feedback on their focus, but an abstract is optional and final selections will be based on peer review of the completed papers.

The editors have a website for the special issue, which you should consult for the most up-to-date and complete information on the special issue. See: www.sigcis.org/InternetIssue.

Scholars engaged in studies of the Internet are aware of the continuing debates surrounding the key developments that have shaped the Internet, Web and related communication and information technologies. People vary over the very definition of the Internet and the relative importance of different individuals, motivations and events in its development. This special issue aims to bring together some of the most current, critical and influential treatments of this rapidly evolving history.

My co-editors and I would welcome your help in alerting colleagues who could contribute to this issue, and would value your own consideration of an original contribution to this call. I look forward to hearing from you in any event.

Of course, if you have comments on the call itself, or the difficulties surrounding histories of the Internet, to not hesitate to comment on this blog. We hope this special issue stimulates further debate and scholarly research on the many histories of the Internet.

Internet Studies has gained another centre for research and teaching with the establishment of the Alexander von Humbolt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG). I attended one of the first meetings of the HIIG’s Scientific Advisory Council on 12-13 September 2012, and left encouraged by the plans and progress of the Institute during its first months, and very optimistic about the developing network of Internet research centres around the world, to which HIIG provides a major addition.

The centre has been founded as a joint initiative of a collection of strong academic institutions, configured by ‘the Humbolt Universität zu Berlin, the Berlin University of Arts and the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB) in collaboration with the Hamburg-based Hans Bredow Institute (HBI) by way of an integrative collaborative’ agreement, as noted on our papers. HIIG’s establishment was enabled by a base of funding from Google, which will be broadened in the coming years.

Lunch at Entrance to HIIG

The meeting was held at the HIIG’s stunningly located offices at Bebelplatz 1, Berlin (see photos from the front entrance). I was impressed both by the collaborative nature of the centre itself, which is co-directed by four leading academics, who represent the founding institutions: Dr Jeanette Hoffman (WZB), Prof Dr Dr h.c. Ingolf Pernice (Humbolt Universität zu Berlin), Prof. Dr Dr. Thomas Schildhauer (Berlin University of Arts), and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz (HBI).

The four directors have established a framework for guiding their research on issues of innovation, law and policy, a step that proved invaluable to the first years of the OII. Also the HIIG has taken an early leadership position in establishing a network of Internet research centres with the Berkman Institute, MIT, Bangalore and others.

More could be said, but let me refer you to their Web site at http://www.hiig.de/en/. I certainly left encouraged about the continuing growth and maturity of Internet Studies, and the potential for HIIG to take a leading role as part of an international network of centres to jointly cover the increasing range of issues and approaches tied to Internet Studies.

 




About

William H. Dutton (B.A. University of Missouri; M.A., PhD. SUNYBuffalo, 1974) is Professor of Internet Studies, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and Fellow of Balliol College.