iLaw week at HLS

This is a great time in Cambridge, MA, as lots of friends — new and old — come together to talk Internet Law (here’s the schedule).  This morning, it’s Lawrence Lessig and Jonathan Zittrain on regulation
of speech, like pornography, on the Net and Yochai Benkler on his
layers theory and telecommunications debates, like municipally driven
fibre to the home.  Blogging friends/fellows/staff/others, like Dave Winer, Donna Wentworth,
Frank Field, Rebecca MacKinnon, Jay McCarthy, Clancy Ratliff, Seth Finkelstein (blog is here), and many others are here and are
taking good notes, so you can follow along if you’re not in the room.

A few highlights:

* Yochai’s wrap-up of “Physical Layer: Wires and Wireless“.

* One of the things that I like most about iLaw is the retelling of the
stories, and explanation of the theories, that are at the core of the
field of internet law.  I’ve just been listening to JZ tell, for
the umpteenth time (for me anyway), the story of the early days of the
domain name system (as Frank Field reports it, in fantastic detail).  Jonathan is endlessly entertaining, so it’s never
boring, and he’s forever tinkering with his slides and the nuances and
precise arc of the story itself.  It does, all the same, make me
wonder: does it make sense for us to keep telling the same stories over
and over again?  I think it does.  One reason is obvious: the
stories
(and theories, like Lessig’s four modalities of regulation, and
Benkler’s lawyers explication, for that matter) are very good. 
Many participants of any conference may not have heard them,
first-hand, anyway, from the likes of Lessig and Benkler.  Another
is that the stories still are relevant to the hardest net issues of the
present day.  But
just as important, it seems valuable to keep the oral tradition of
story-telling, with its many virtues, alive.  Retro, yes, but
refreshing in its way.  I think we should affirmatively value this oral history in the making (and re-making).

We are, as ever, grateful to the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute Information Program for supporting scholarships for participants from developing countries to iLaw.

2 thoughts on “iLaw week at HLS

  1. John,

    I very much like your thoughts about narratives. A great read (and not many pages…) in this context is Jerome Bruner, Making Stories. Law, Literature, Life (2002):

    “Stories–whether chronicles of truth or fancies of fiction–pervade our world and shape our understanding of it. They inform our basic impressions of reality and impose structure on our lives. Yet so intrinsic is our grasp of narrative–we all tell stories ans like to hear them–that we find it hard to question its purpose or explain its effects.” (from the blurb).

    Take care, -Urs

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