Clare Hall Tanner Lectures 2008 (3) – Response by Professor Jonathan Zittrain
Duration: 16 mins 15 secs
About this item
J. Zittrain was one of the respondents to the 2008 Lectures.
On video from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society
|Collection:||Clare Hall – Tanner Lectures|
|Publisher:||Clare Hall – Tanner Lectures|
|Copyright:||Jonathan Zittrain – Clare Hall – Tanner Lectures|
|Keywords:||Zittrain; Berkman; Internet; Society; Tanner;|
|Abstract:||Jonathan Zittrain proposes to explore the idea that communities do shape communication technologies, perhaps as much as they are determined by them. Citing the Monderman traffic experiments, where community interactions take the relay in the absence of set rules and roadsigns, Zittrain explains how then complex projects like Wikipedia, which at first might appear as a silly idea, effectively self-regulate and produce useful results. As constituting of the Wikipedia system, technologies such as the wiki itself, the article structure with its change history and discussion pages or the noticeboard of incidents are shaped to answer specific arbitration and communication needs felt by communities that form around topics and articles.
The Web is a difficult place to regulate and Zittrain goes on to compare top-down approaches, like the UK Patent Office promoting copyrights education by encouraging schoolchildren to copyright their homework, to bottom-up community approaches like Oink organizing file-sharing on a large scale on the basis of a an ethos of sharing.
The educational project One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is presented as a community enabling technology, relying on mesh networks to allow kids to congregate.
Zittrain concludes with affirming his optimism and his sense of connection with ubiquitous technologies, such as the technology of the book and he discerns what he calls an irrepressible spirit in our generative technologies, where communities grow around them and shape them in such a way that they may be able to transcend the natural limitations placed upon them by governments worried about subversion and companies worried about distracted consumers.
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