Berkman Center for Internet & Society
|Motto||Exploring cyberspace, sharing in its study & pioneering its development.|
|Type||Technology research center|
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is a research center at Harvard University that focuses on the study of cyberspace. Founded at Harvard Law School, the center traditionally focused on internet-related legal issues. On May 15, 2008, the Center was elevated to an interfaculty initiative of Harvard University as a whole. It is named after the Berkman family, who owned the communications company The Associated Group (later sold to Liberty Media).
Sister centers started or inspired by Berkman founders include the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, Oxford Internet Institute, and Bilgi University Institute of Information and Technology Law. Partner institutions, such as the NEXA Center for Internet and Society at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy, Zhejiang University of Media and Communications (ZUMC) Center for Internet and Society and the Bangalore Centre for Internet & Society, have also been founded since the launch of the Berkman Center.
History and mission
The Berkman Center was founded in 1998 by professors Jonathan Zittrain and Charlie Nesson. Since then, it has grown from a small project within Harvard Law School to a major interdisciplinary center at Harvard University. The Berkman Center seeks to understand how the development of Internet-related technologies is inspired by the social context in which they are embedded and how the use of those technologies affects society in turn. It seeks to use the lessons drawn from this research to inform the design of Internet-related law and pioneer the development of the Internet itself. The Berkman Center sponsors Internet-related events and conferences, and hosts numerous visiting lecturers and research fellows.
Members of the center teach, write books, scientific articles, weblogs with RSS 2.0 feeds (for which the Center holds the specification), and podcasts (of which the first series took place at the Berkman Center). Its newsletter, The Filter, is on the Web and available by e-mail, and it hosts a blog community of Harvard faculty, students, and Berkman Center affiliates.
The Berkman Center faculty and staff have also conducted major public policy reviews of pressing issues. In 2008, John Palfrey led a review of child safety online called the Internet Safety Technical Task Force. In 2009, Yochai Benkler led a review of United States broadband policy. In 2010, Urs Gasser, along with Palfrey and others, led a review of Internet governance body ICANN, focusing on transparency, accountability, and public participation.
Projects and initiatives
The Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP) is a project hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. The purposes of the CMLP are:
- To provide assistance and resources to individuals and groups involved in online and citizen media.
- To facilitate the participation of citizens in online media.
- To protect the freedom of speech on the Internet.
The CMLP's latest endeavor is Online Media Legal Network, a free legal consultation service connecting online journalist and media ventures with volunteer lawyers.
The Berkman Center operated the now-completed Internet and Democracy Project, a self-described "initiative that will examine how the Internet influences democratic norms and modes, including its impact on civil society, citizen media, government transparency, and the rule of law, with a focus on the Middle East. Through a grant of $1.5 million from the US Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, the Berkman Center will undertake the study over the next two years in collaboration with its extended community and institutional partners. As with all its projects, the Berkman Center retains complete independence in its research and other efforts under this grant.
The goal of this work is to support the rights of citizens to access, develop and share independent sources of information, to advocate responsibly, to strengthen online networks, and to debate ideas freely with both civil society and government. These subjects will be examined through a series of case studies in which new technologies and online resources have influenced democracy and civic engagement. The project will include original research and the identification and development of innovative web-based tools that support the goals of the project. The team, led by Project Director Bruce Etling, will draw on communities from around the world, with a focus on the Middle East."
In 2006, the Berkman Center established the non-profit organization StopBadware, which aims to stop viruses, spyware, and other threats to the open Internet. In 2010, StopBadware became an independent entity supported by Google, PayPal, Mozilla, and Nominum.
The Digital Public Library of America is a project aimed at making a large-scale digital public library accessible to all.
Fellows include or have included John Perry Barlow, danah boyd, John Clippinger, Tamar Frankel, Benjamin Mako Hill, Reynol Junco, Rebecca MacKinnon, James F. Moore, Mayo Fuster Morell, Doc Searls, Wendy Seltzer, Peter Suber, Jimmy Wales, David Weinberger, Dave Winer, and Ethan Zuckerman.
The center also has active groups of affiliates and alumni who host and participate in their projects each year.
- Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin
- Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at Boalt Hall
- Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at University of Ottawa Faculty of Law
- Center for Internet and Society (CIS) at Stanford Law School
- Information Law Institute at New York University School of Law
- NEXA Center for Internet and Society at the Polytechnic University of Turin
- Oxford Internet Institute
- Information Society Project at Yale Law School
- Swartz, Jon (10 June 2008). "Berkman Center pioneers steer the course of cyberspace". USA Today. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
- Bradt, Steve. "Harvard Gazette announcement of Berkman Center elevation to Harvard interfaculty initiative". News.harvard.edu. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
- Berkman Gift of $5.4 Million to Support Professorship for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies and Center for Internet & Society
- See http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/
- "Oxford Internet Institute website".
- See http://cyberlaw.bilgi.edu.tr/
- See http://nexa.polito.it/
- See http://www.cis-india.org/
- "Harvard's Berkman Center Launches Publius Project". Schoollibraryjournal.com. May 19, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
- "About Berkman Center". November 3, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
- "Berkman Center People: Fellows". Cyber.law.harvard.edu. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
- "Advisory Board Notes". RSS Advisory Board. July 18, 2003. Retrieved September 4, 2007.
- Az internet természete - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
- Berkman Center Selected to Lead Internet Safety Task Force, February 28, 2010
- Yochai Benkler (March 20, 2010). "Ending the Internet's Trench Warfare". New York Times Op-Ed.
- Berkman Center Selected as Independent Expert to Review ICANN, 10 August 2010
- See current alumni and affiliates lists.
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