Saturday, December 15, 2007

The HLS Berkman Center explained

The Harvard Law School Berkman Center for Internet and Society is an interesting organization. I subscribe to a few of their e-newsletters, sometimes read blog posts written by Berkman fellows, and also met a few of the Berkman staff when I was in Singapore for State of Play V. Readers may recall that the Berkman Center has teamed with the Extension School to create for-credit courses in virtual reality -- see Interview: Harvard's Rebecca Nesson discusses teaching in Second Life, and Harvard on the cutting edge: A virtual Law School/Extension School class.

A few days ago, the Compete blog published an interview with HLS Professor John Palfrey, the Berkman Center's executive director. He gives a good overview of what the Berkman Center does on a day-to-day basis, as well as its mission:
It’s crucial to us at the Berkman Center that we’re not just another ivory-tower think-tank. It’s important that we do some work that is theoretical and even abstract. We trust also that our work is intellectually rigorous and that our methodologies are sound. But at the same time, we try hard to be certain that we are speaking to an audience online that is bigger than our immediate circle of students and colleagues and other friends.

One way we do that is through our various modes of research, teaching, and activism. We believe in building out into cyberspace as we study it, so we have terrific developers on the team who put up the first blog server at a university, supported the first podcast series, built real-time teaching tools for the classroom, and a whole lot of code for specific research projects. Pretty much everything we do we publish to the web – whether on a blog, on our website, on a podcast, or by video. We are never as successful at this as we’d like to be, but it’s a constant area of focus. We think of our work as relevant to a broad audience and strive to avoid navel-gazing wherever possible.

The Berkman Center is now in its tenth year, and there are several anniversary events scheduled to take place next spring and summer. Check 'em out, they look pretty interesting -- especially the release of the book Born Digital, by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. For an overview of what the book is about, read Palfrey's blog post, "Born Digital."

(Thanks to Planet 02138 for the link)


Anonymous said...

hey ian-
great blog post! glad you enjoyed the Q+A with john.
you should definitely come check out the various events that the berkman center puts on, as i have a feeling you'd really enjoy them!
-amar, berkman center staff member

I Lamont said...

Thanks Amar,

I'd love to go, but I often have time conflicts, especially for events on weekdays. However, I am able to tune into streamed events, which is really great ... it seems that the staff really make an effort to make events accessible to people who are not physically in Cambridge.

Keep up the great work!


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that you watch the streaming! (Our online presence/media is something we've been trying to improve). If you do have any suggestions to make it easier for you to watch / catch up on Berkman stuff, I'm all ears!


(ashar at cyber . law . harvard . edu)