Dr. Urs Gasser on Information Quality

Berkman affiliate, and recent graduate of Harvard Law School’s LLM program, Urs Gasser, is presenting on his promising work on Information Quality.  This coming year, he will be a Visiting Scholar at HLS, pursuing this research with Prof. Fisher, and hopefully will be working extensively with the Berkman Center as well.

He recommends a book by Martin Eppler of University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) on Managing Information Quality, which provides one of a series of methodological frameworks for Dr. Gasser.  Yochai Benkler’s Layers theory and Lawrence Lessig’s four mode of Net regulation (law, architecture, markets, social norms) also offer frameworks for thinking about the Internet and the laws of cyberspace.

He uses, by way of example, wikipedia.  I love the story: that encyclopedia entries are developed on an open source model, where bad information can be corrected quickly by peers invested in the quality of the information.

This project is terrifically ambitious.  It’s clear from the nature of the comments and questions here at OII that it has deep relevance across fields, immediately important for law (the US Data Quality Act among others) but extending far beyond.

Kaye Trammell on "Celeblogs"

Kaye Trammell, a soon-to-be Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of Florida, is working on a paper on “celeblogs,” (did she just coin that term?) or blogs by celebrities.  Will Wheaton, Moby, Jeff Bridges, Mariah Carey, Melanie Griffith, Adam Curry, No Doubt, RuPaul, many others are in her sights (sites?).  (Will Wheaton, BTW, has an audio blogChris Lydon, watch your back!)

She’s taking on an important, hard problem: how do you carry out a rigorous academic study of Web logs?  She’s seeking to find the right population of celeblogs; then sample from those blogs; then do some quantitative analysis (others here pushed her toward some qualitative analysis as well).  She’s a serious scholar and her methodologies will be well worth watching.

Kaye offered a number of great insights into how we might improve the Weblogs at Harvard Law initiative as well, which I was thrilled to receive.  Dave Winer, et al., I’ll fill you in when I get home!

My favorite of Kaye’s entries for this week: “Does a blog act like a flasher?”

Intellectual Property Day at the Oxford Internet Institute

First session: we explored five scenarios for the future of copyright, built from Prof. Terry Fisher’s work and the subject of our ongoing research with Gartner|G2.  It was a spirited discussion, in which the graduate students here posed as parliamentarians.  Their job was to determine what types of further information they’d need to make a decision as to which scenario would be most advisable.  (We’ll keep up this discussion with industry leaders at a conference in September here in Cambridge).  This group was terrific in terms of seeing the value of doing further exploration of these future scenarios, suggesting ways that we might get back to first principles in thinking about our copyright systems around the globe, and determining what types of social science research might help to inform this discussion.  Richard Hodkinson has more in his very first blog post.

Second session: Peter Davies, an very impressive ex-industry lawyer who’s a fellow here at OII, reviewed the Felten case.  He made the very good point that IP issues have become dominated by more hyperbole than serious debate.  Mr Davies and I disagreed, however, about the impact of the DMCA anti-circumvention on research. There have been multiple research projects that we’ve decided not to pursue or to publish, despite our belief that the information would be useful, because of our fear that the method of garnering the information could expose us to DMCA liability.  The counter-point: that we wouldn’t really get sued and that there’s not so much to be worried about.  Maybe so.