Mercatus Center at George Mason University | Suprisingly Free
February 16, 2011
Source: Mercatus Center at George Mason University | Jerry Brito
A weekly podcast featuring in-depth discussions with an eclectic mix of authors, academics, and entrepreneurs at the intersection of technology, policy, and economics. Hosted by Jerry Brito, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of its Technology Policy Program.
93. Johnny Ryan on the history of the Internet and its future
Johnny Ryan, Senior Researcher at the Institute of International and European Affairs, discusses his recent book, “A History of the Internet and the Digital Future.” The book is a comprehensive overview of the Internet and where it came from. Ryan discusses some of the core concepts, including what made the Internet revolutionary, and how many of these ideas came from RAND Corporation researcher Paul Baran. He explains that the initial concept for packet switching did come from the need to build a communications system to withstand nuclear attack. The discussion then turns to the advent of communication between computers, which sprang from a group of graduate students who used a collaborative process to create the network. Finally, Ryan discusses Web 2.0, and how technologies like cloud computing and 3-D printing will disrupt industries in the future.
92. Alisdair Gillespie on restricting access to the Internet
Alisdair Gillespie, Professor of Criminal Law and Justice at De Montfort University in Leicester UK, discusses his new paper in the International Journal of Law and Information Technology, Restricting Access to the Internet by Sex Offenders. Gillespie discusses whether access to the Internet is a human right, and if so, when that right can be curtailed. He establishes that access to the Internet could be a negative right, then turns to how Internet access can be restricted, particularly in the case of sex offenders. Gillespie talks about different ways to prevent these offenders from using the Internet for ill, including complete restriction as well as technological tools similar to parental control software, and the difficulties that arise when trying to implement any one of these schemes.
91. Adam Thierer on Internet sales tax
Adam Thierer, a Senior Research Fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center, discusses his new paper, co-authored with Veronique de Rugy, The Internet, Sales Tax, and Tax Competition. With several states in the midst of budget crunches, states and localities struggle to find a way to generate revenue, which, according to Thierer, leads to an aggressive attempt to collect online sales tax. He discusses some of these attempts, like the multi-state compact, that seeks taxation of remote online vendors. Thierer believes this creates incentives for large online companies like Amazon to cut deals with certain states, where jobs will be created in exchange for tax relief. This, according to Thierer, creates unfairness for smaller online companies as well as for brick and mortar shops who have to pay taxes to the state where they have a physical presence. He proposes an origin-based tax, which imposes the tax where the purchase is made instead of tracing the transaction to its consumption destination. This proposal, he submits, will level the playing field between brick and mortar companies and online companies, and promote tax competition.
90. Simon Chesterman on electronic intelligence surveillance
Simon Chesterman, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore, and Global Professor and Director of the NYU School of Law Singapore Programme, discusses his new book, One Nation Under Surveillance: A New Social Contract to Defend Freedom Without Sacrificing Liberty. The discussion begins with a brief overview of the NSA and how it garnered the attention of Americans after 9/11. Chesterman discusses the agency’s powers and the problems the NSA encounters, including how to sort through large amounts of data. The discussion then turns to how these powers can become exceptions to constitutional protections, and how such exceptional circumstances can be accommodated. Finally, Chesterman suggests that there has been a cultural shift in western society, where expectations of privacy have dimished with technological and cultural trends, so that information collection by the government is generally accepted. However, he says, society is concerned with how that information is used. According to Chesterman, there should be limits and accountability mechanisms in place for government agencies like the NSA.
89. David Robinson on rogue websites and domain seizures
David Robinson, a fellow at the Information and Society Project at Yale Law School, discusses his new paper, Following the Money: A Better Way Forward on the PROTECT IP Act. The bill, now being considered by Congress, targets “rouge” websites. Robinson discusses the different ways these websites host infringing content and sell counterfeit goods, as well as the remedies proposed in the bill. The measures involve two main consequences: cutting off information through the seizure of domain names by law enforcement, and cutting off financial gain by prohibiting payment processors like Visa and Mastercard from delivering profits to infringing website owners. Robinson discusses why he thinks the Act will better serve IP law if the flow of money is restricted, and not the flow of information. He goes on to discuss what he considers to be troubling about information control, including several constitutional implications.
88. Derek Bambauer on censorship
Derek Bambauer, associate professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, discusses his forthcoming University of Chicago Law Review article entitled Orwell’s Armchair. In the paper, Bambuer writes that America has begun to censor the Internet, and he distinguishes two forms of censorship: hard and soft. He defines hard censorship as open and transparent, and where the government directly controls what information can and cannot be transmitted. Soft censorship, says Bambauer, is indirect, where government tells third parties to prevent users from accessing information, and it’s not clear what is being censored. He submits that if America is going to censor the Internet, it should do so through hard censorship. Indirect censorship strategies, he writes, are less legitimate than direct regulation.
87. Sonia Arrison on technology and longevity
Sonia Arrison, writer, futurist, and senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, discusses her new book entitled 100+: How the Coming of Age of Longevity Will Change Everything from Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith. The process of aging, according to Arrison, is not set in stone, and the way humans experience age can be changed as technology evolves. She discusses the different types of technology, including tissue engineering and gene therapy, which are poised to change numerous aspects of human life by improving health and increasing lifespan to 150 years and beyond. She also talks about how increased lifespans will affect institutions in society and addresses concerns, such as overpopulation and depletion of resources, raised by critics of this technology.
86. Annemarie Bridy on scaling copyright enforcement
Annemarie Bridy, professor of law at the University of Idaho, and visiting associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, discusses her new paper, “Is Online Copyright Enforcement Scalable?” In it she looks at the advent of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing and the copyright enforcement problem it has created through the lens of scalability. In solving difficult problems of scale in their effort to revolutionize the distribution of information goods, the designers of P2P networks created a problem of scale in the form of “massive infringement.” Bridy discusses how to to approach solving that new problem of scale–massive infringement. Bridy argues that the DMCA has proven to be remarkably scalable for enforcing copyrights in hosted content but has altogether failed to scale in the context of P2P file sharing, leading to the dysfunctional workaround of mass John Doe litigation. She discusses alternatives to mass litigation, including dispute resolution systems and “three strikes” proposals.
85. Tim Lee on patent reform
Timothy B. Lee, adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, a contributor to Ars Technica, and blogger at Forbes.com, discusses the recent patent wars and the prospects for reform. Over the last two decades, large software companies like Microsoft and Apple began acquiring a significant number of patents, gaining the power to shut down or demand payment from any software company that might inadvertently infringe those patents. Lee talks about Google’s entry into the patent game, particularly with the acquisition of Motorola. He also discusses the theory behind these patent wars and how the use of patents have been altered from incentives for innovation to a litigation shield. Finally, Lee talks about different proposals for patent reform, including a first to file scheme that is part of the America Invents Act.
84. Michael Nelson on digital preservation
Michael Nelson, Associate Professor at Old Dominion University, developed, along with colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, “Memento,” a technical framework aimed at better integrating the current and the past web. In the past, archiving history involved collecting tangible things such as letters and newspapers. Now, Nelson points out, the web has become a primary medium with no serious preservation system in place. He discusses how the web is stuck in the perpetual now, making it difficult to view past information. The goal behind Memento, according to Nelson, is to create an all-inclusive Internet archive system, which will allow users to engage in a form of Internet time travel, surpassing the current archive systems such as the Wayback Machine.
83. Gerald Faulhaber on the economics of net neutrality
Gerald Faulhaber, Professor Emeritus at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Law School, discusses his new paper in Communications & Convergence Review entitledEconomics of Net Neutrality: A Review. Faulhaber delves into the network neutrality debate noting that consumers do not want complete neutrality since they approve of ISPs blocking content such as child pornography or malware. He explains that there is little evidence that violations of net neutrality have actually occurred, so that consumers today are getting as much neutrality as they want. Faulhaber submits that implementing prophylactic regulations will only stifle innovation and encourage rent seeking.
82. Adam Thierer on children’s privacy online
Adam Thierer, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in the Technology Policy Program, discusses his new paper, Kids, Privacy, Free Speech & the Internet: Finding the Right Balance. For kids, using the Internet has become second nature, but sites that track a child’s online activity can raise privacy concerns. A number of well-intentioned lawmakers are introducing regulatory measures that aim to expand the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Thierer discusses the unintended consequences that could result from regulations, like mandatory age verification and an Internet “eraser button.” He proposes an alternative to regulation, which includes education and empowerment, placing importance on personal and parental responsibility.
81. Ryan Calo on personal robots
Ryan Calo, a scholar at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, discusses his new article in the Maryland Law Review entitled “Open Robotics.” Robots are frequently used in war, manufacturing, warehouse management, and even in surgery. Now, personal robots are poised to be the new explosive technology, and Calo anticipates their social effect to be on par with that of the personal computer. He discusses why he believes personal robots are more likely to thrive if they are built on an open model–rather than closed or proprietary framework–even though robots open to third-party tinkering may be subject to greater legal liability than closed, discrete-function robots. To protect open-model innovation, Calo recommends immunity for manufacturers of open robotic platforms for what end users do with these platforms, akin to the immunity enjoyed under federal law by firearms manufacturers and websites.
80. David Brin on transparency and accountability
David Brin, a physicist and Hugo and Nebula award-winning science fiction writer, wrote the prescient 1997 nonfiction book, The Transparent Society, which won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association. He’s written a new essay revisiting the themes of that book and discusses how the ideas presented in The Transparent Society relate to his new essay and to the world today. The government continues to increase its ability to look in on citizens, creating an Orwellian-like society that people may find alarming. According to Brin, reciprocal accountability, which is the ability for people to look back at the government and hold it accountable, is key to minimizing undesirable effects and behaviors. Brin goes on to discuss the benefits of a more pragmatic approach to transparency as opposed to immediate and radical transparency like WikiLeaks.
79. Kembrew McLeod on copyright and hip-hop sampling
Kembrew McLeod, independent filmmaker and Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa, discusses his new documentary with Benjamin Franzen called Copyright Criminals. Digital music sampling is used throughout several genres of music but it is probably most prominent in hip-hop music. Hip-hop artists like Run-DMC began using snippets of other artists’ songs to create sounds of their own. This process, according to McLeod, helped facilitate creativity, but it also brought a flurry of lawsuits within the music industry. Now, as McLeod demonstrates in his documentary, artists are hesitant to use samples of music in their songs because they fear potential legal consequences, and as a result, a lot of musical creations that use sampling may never reach our ears.
78. Woodrow Hartzog on clickwrap and browsewrap agreements
77. Hal Singer on wireless competition
Hal Singer, managing director at Navigant Economics and adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, discusses hisnew paper on wireless competition, co-authored by Gerald Faulhaber of the University of Pennsylvania, and Bob Hahn of Oxford. The FCC produces a yearly report on the competitive landscape of the wireless market, which serves as an overview to policy makers and analysts. The report has found the wireless market competitive in years past; however, in the last two years, the FCC is less willing to interpret the market as competitive. According to Singer, the FCC is using indirect evidence, which looks at how concentrated the market is, rather than direct evidence, which looks at falling prices, to make its assessment. In failing to look at the direct evidence, Singer argues that the report comes to an erroneous conclusion about the real state of competition in wireless markets.
76. Tim Harford on adapting and prospering in a complex world
Tim Harford, economist and senior columnist for the Financial Times, discusses his new book, Adapt: Why Success Starts With Failure. He argues that people and organizations have a poor record of getting things right the first time; therefore, the evolutionary process of trial and error is a difficult yet necessary process needed to solve problems in our complex world. Harford emphasizes the importance of embracing failure in a society focused on perfection. According to Harford, one can implement this process by trying different things in small doses and developing the ability to distinguish success and failures while experimenting. A design with failure in mind, according to Harford, is a design capable of adaptation.
75. Daniel Solove on the tradeoff between privacy and security
Daniel Solove, professor at the George Washington University Law School, discusses his new book Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff Between Privacy and Security. He suggests that developments in technology do not create a mutually exclusive relationship between privacy and national security. Solove acknowledges the interest government has in maintaining security within our technological world; however, Solove also emphasizes the value of personal privacy rights and suggests that certain procedures, such as judicial oversight on governmental actions, can be implemented to preserve privacy. This oversight may make national security enforcement slightly less effective, but according to Solove, this is a worthwhile tradeoff to ensure privacy protections.
74. Pamela Samuelson on codifying the Google Books settlement
Pamela Samuelson, the Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law at Berkeley Law School, discusses her new article in the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts entitled, Legislative Alternatives to the Google Book Settlement. Samuelson discusses the settlement, which was ultimately rejected, and highlights what she deems to be positive aspects. One aspect includes making out-of-print works available to a broad audience while keeping transaction costs low. Samuelson suggests encompassing these aspects into legislative reform. The goal of such reform would strike a balance that benefits rights holders, as well as the general public, while generating competition through implementation of a licensing scheme.
73. Ronald Rychlak on online gambling laws
Ronald Rychlak, Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association Professor of Law and Associate Dean at the University of Mississippi School of Law, discusses his new article in theMississipi Law Journal entitled, The Legal Answer to Cyber-Gambling. Rychlak briefly comments on the history of gambling in the United States and the reasons usually given to prohibit or regulate gambling activity. He then talks about why it’s so difficult to regulate internet gambling and gives examples of how regulators have tried to enforce online gambling laws, which often involves deputizing middlemen — financial institutions. Rychlak also discusses his legal proposal: create an official framework to endorse, regulate, and tax online gambling entities.
72. Steven Levy on how Google works
Steven Levy, a columnist for Wired and author of the tech classicHackers, among many other books, discusses his latest book, In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives. Levy talks about Googliness, the attribute of silliness and dedication embodied by Google employees, and whether it’s diminishing. He discusses Google’s privacy council, which discusses and manages the company’s privacy issues, and the evolution of how the company has dealt with issues like scanning Gmail users’ emails, scanning books for the Google Books project, and deciding whether to incorporate facial recognition technology in Google Goggles. Levy also talks about prospects for a Google antitrust suit and the future of Google’s relationship with China.
71. Larry Downes on IP enforcement online
Larry Downes, who writes for CNet, blogs at Forbes.com and the Technology Liberation Front, and is the author of several books, including most recently, The Laws of Disruption, discusses enforcement of intellectual property rights online. Downes talks about the Protect IP Act, a bill recently introduced into Congress that aims to curtail infringement of intellectual property rights online by so-called rogue websites. Downes argues that forcing intermediaries to blacklist domain names has the potential to “break the internet.” He discusses how the rogue website problem could better be addressed and how the proposed bill could be improved.
70. Konstantinos Stylianou on technological determinism and privacy
Konstantinos Stylianou, a former Fulbright Scholar now working on a PhD in law at Penn Law School, and author of the provocative new essay, “Hasta La Vista Privacy, or How Technology Terminated Privacy,” discusses technological determinism and privacy. Stylianou’s thesis is that the evolution of technology is eliminating privacy; therefore, lawmakers should switch emphasis from regulating the collection of information, which he claims is inevitable, to regulating the use of that information. Stylianou discusses why digital networks specifically make it difficult to keep information private, differences between hard and soft technological determinism, and when he thinks people will realize about their private information what the recording industry has finally realized about digital music.
69. Micah Sifry on government transparency and WikiLeaks
Micah Sifry, co-founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, editor oftechPresident.com, and author of the new book, Wikileaks and the Age of Transparency, discusses government transparency. Sifry talks about the various purposes of government transparency, technology’s effect on it, and bi-partisan competition that can promote it. He also discusses Bradley Manning’s case, the evolution of WikiLeaks, and the transparency, or lack thereof, within the WikiLeaks organization.
68. Joseph Menn on the hunt for internet crime lords
Joseph Menn, a Financial Times technology reporter and the author of Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down The Internet, discusses cyber crime. Menn says that one of the main challenges of cybersecurity is that the internet was never intended for many of the things it’s used for today, like e-commerce or critical infrastructure management. He talks about the implications of the internet still being in beta form and comments on the recent Sony data breach and other similar cyber attacks. Menn also discusses his book, telling a few anecdotes about the people who go beyond computer screens in pursuit of internet crime lords.
67. Julian Sanchez on electronic surveillance
Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institue who focuses on issues related to technology, privacy, and civil liberties, discusses electronic communications. Sanchez talks about changes in surveillance of electronic communications since 9/11, highlighting the large number of cases in which the FBI has gathered phone, internet, and banking information without judicial oversight. He then discusses the legal framework around electronic communications, which he says was built for a very different set of assumptions than we have today. Sanchez also gives a few recommendations for how to disentangle the convoluted legal standards related to electronic communications.
66. Jessica Litman on reclaiming copyright for readers
Jessica Litman, professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School and one of the country’s foremost experts on copyright, discusses her new essay, Reader’s Copyright. Litman talks about the origins of copyright protection and explains why the importance of readers’, viewers’, and listeners’ interests have diminished over time. She points out that copyright would be pointless without readers and claims that the system is not designed to serve creators or potential creators exclusively. Litman also discusses differences in public and private protections and talks about rights that should be made more explicit regarding copyright.
65. Jane Yakowitz on tragedy of the data commons
Jane Yakowitz, a visiting assistant professor at Brooklyn Law School, discusses her new paper about data anonymization and privacy regulation, Tragedy of the Data Commons. Citing privacy concerns, legal scholars and privacy advocates have recently called for tighter restrictions on the collection and dissemination of public research data. Yakowitz first explains why these concerns are overblown, arguing that scholars have misinterpreted the risks of anonymized data sets. She then discusses the social value of the data commons, noting the many useful studies that likely wouldn’t have been possible without a data commons. She finally suggests why the data commons is undervalued, citing disparate reactions to similar statistical releases by OkCupid and Facebook, and offers a few policy recommendations for the data commons.
64. Gavin Andresen on Bitcoin
Gavin Andresen, project lead of the open source, decentralized, and anonymous virtual currency project Bitcoin, talks about the project. Andresen explains how the peer-to-peer currency functions and talks about what allows Bitcoin to operate without a central bank, why it doesn’t have to rely on intermediaries, and how it overcomes thedouble-spending problem. He also discusses the project’s implications for government regulation, what attracted him to the project, and Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakomoto’s motivation for creating the currency.
63. Rob Carlson on biological technology
Rob Carlson, principal at Biodesic, an engineering, consulting, and design firm in Seattle, and author of the book, Biology is Technology: the promise, peril, and new business of engineering life, discusses his book. Carlson explains what he means by “biology is technology” and gives a few examples of how humans have been using biology as technology for thousands of years. He then discusses a few modern biotechnology applications, like antibiotics, biologics, genetically modified organisms, fuels, and plastics. Carlson also talks about why more biotech garage innovators are needed, what the industry might be able to learn from open source software and hardware, and how legal and regulatory barriers to innovation in biotechnology might be minimized.
62. Kevin Poulsen on cyber crime
Kevin Poulsen, a senior editor at Wired News, former hacker, and author of Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground, discusses his new book. Poulsen first talks about how he became interested in hacking and why he was eventually sent to prison for it. He then discusses his book, a true crime account of Max Butler, a white hat hacker turned black hat who went from security innovator to for-profit cyber criminal to hacker of other hackers, eventually taking over the cyber crime underground. Poulsen finally comments on cyber security policy, noting that while many security vulnerabilities exist today, he suspects that legislation is not the answer.
61. Mark Stevenson on his tour of the future
Mark Stevenson, writer, comedian, and author of the new book An Optimist’s Tour of the Future: One Curious Man Sets Out to Answer “What’s Next?”, discusses his book. Stevenson calls An Optimist’s Tour of the Future a travelogue about science written for non-scientists, and he talks about why he traveled the world to try to draw conclusions about where human innovation is headed. He discusses his investigation of nanotechnology and the industrial revolution 2.0, transhumanism, information and communication technologies, and the ultimate frontier: space. Stevenson also discusses why he’s hopeful about the future and why he wants to encourage others to have optimism about the future.
60. Patri Friedman on seasteading
Patri Friedman, executive director and chairman of the board of The Seasteading Institute, discusses seasteading. Friedman discusses how and why his organization works to enable floating ocean cities that will allow people to test new ideas for government. He talks about advantages of starting new systems of governments in lieu of trying to change existing ones, comparing seasteading to tech start-ups that are ideally positioned to challenge entrenched companies. Friedman also suggests when such experimental communities might become viable and talks about a few inspirations behind his “vision of multiple floating Hong Kongs”: intentional communities, Burning Man, and Ephemerisle.
59. Joseph Hall on e-voting
Joseph Hall, a postdoctoral researcher at the UC Berkeley School of Information and a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy, discusses e-voting. Hall explains the often muddled differences between electronic and internet voting, and talks about security concerns of each. He also talks about benefits and costs of different voting systems, limits to having meaningful recounts with digital voting systems, why internet voting can be a bad idea, and the future of voting.
58. Siva Vaidhyanathan on why we should worry about Google
Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, discusses his new book, The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry). Vaidhyanathan talks about why he thinks many people have “blind faith” in Google, why we should worry about it, and why he doesn’t think it’s likely that a genuine Google competitor will emerge. He also discusses potential roles of government, calling search neutrality a “nonstarter” but proposing the idea of a commission of sorts to monitor online search. He also talks about the human knowledge project, an idea for a global digital library, and why a potential monopoly on information by such a project doesn’t worry him the way that Google does.
57. Jim Harper on identification systems
Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, discusses identification systems. He talks about REAL ID, a national uniform ID law passed in 2005 that states have contested, and NSTIC, a more recent government proposal to create an online identification “ecosystem.” Harper discusses some of the hidden costs of establishing national identification systems and why doing so is not a proper role of government. He also comments on the reasoning behind national ID proposals and talks about practical, beneficial limits to transparency.
56. Elias Aboujaoude on our e-personalities’ offline effects
Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist and author based at Stanford University, discusses his new book, Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality. Aboujaoude says that the internet has positive effects, but he’s worried that most of our day-to-day online activities are negatively affecting us. He explains how, in his view, behaviors like compulsive online shopping and angry commenting on blogs is seeping into our offline lives, with profound negative effects. He also talks about why he thinks the internet is different from previous technologies that caused techno-fear, why he thinks it’s often difficult for online norms to develop, and what he thinks proper roles are for medicine, psychiatry, and government in the online sphere.
55. Jaron Lanier on technology and humanity
Jaron Lanier, pioneering computer scientist, musician, visual artist, and author, discusses his book, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto. Lanier discusses effects of the web becoming “regularized” and dangers he sees with “hive mind” production, which he claims leads to “crummy design.” He also explains why he thinks advertising is a misnomer, contending that modern advertising is more about access to potential consumers than expressive or creative form. Lanier also advocates for more peer-to-peer rather than hub-and-spoke transactions, discusses why he’s worried about the disappearance of the middle class, claims that “free” isn’t really free, talks about libertarian ideals, and explains why he’s ultimately hopeful about the future.
54. Susan Maushart on pulling the plug
Susan Maushart, a columnist, author and social commentator, discusses her new book, The Winter of our Disconnect. Maushart talks about her experience unplugging herself, and her three teenagers, from most screen-based technologies for 6 months. She discusses how she got her kids to go along with the plan, how she found support in Thoreau’s Walden, what boredom is, and whether she found balance through the experience. Maushart also talks about limits to allowing your children the luxury of choice, commenting on Amy Chua’s Tiger Mother philosophy.
53. Joseph Reagle on the culture of Wikipedia
Joseph Reagle, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, discusses his recent book, Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia. Reagle talks about early attempts to create online encyclopedias, the happy accident that preceded Wikipedia, and challenges that the venture has overcome. He also discusses the average Wikipedian, minority and gender gaps in contributors, Wikipedia’s three norms that allow for its success, and co-founder Jimmy Wales’ role with the organization.
52. Sean Lawson tempers cyber doom
Sean Lawson, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah and a contributor to the Forbes.com security blog, The Firewall, discusses his new Mercatus Center working paper, Beyond Cyber-Doom: Cyberattack Scenarios and the Evidence of History. Cyber security may be the new black, but it’s been a significant policy issue since the 1980s. Lawson talks about the current cyber security discourse, commenting on widespread conflation of diverse cyber threats, over-emphasis on hypothetical doom scenarios, and their effect on policy proposals. He then looks to the history of disasters, including blackouts, the attacks of 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina, to help analyze effects of potential cyber disasters. Lawson also discusses incorrect doomsday predictions about strategic bombardment and air power theory during WWII, and he offers some conclusions and policy recommendations based on his research.
51. Don Norman on living with complexity
Don Norman, a former Apple vice-president, co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, and one of the world’s most influential designers, discusses his new book, Living With Complexity. Norman talks about differences between complexity, something being complicated, and simplicity, and suggests that people who bemoan “technology” don’t actually seek simplicity. He also discusses differences between designing a product and designing a system, using examples of iPods and iTunes, the Amazon Kindle, and BMW’s Mini Cooper — products whose success depended upon the success of larger systems. Norman also notes the difference between a forcing function and a nudge, explains how complicated rules can weaken security, and comments on sociable design in realspace and on the internet.
50. Declan McCullagh on WikiLeaks
Declan McCullagh, chief political correspondent for CNET and former Washington bureau chief for Wired News, discusses WikiLeaks. McCullagh gives a quick recap of the WikiLeaks saga so far, comments on the consequences of the leaks themselves, and talks about the broader significance of the affair. He also offers a few insights into Julian Assange’s ideology based on his interactions with Assange in early ’90s “cypherpunk” circles. Lastly, McCullagh discusses the future of diplomacy and the chance that Assange will be indicted in the United States.
49. Evgeny Morozov on the dark side of internet freedom
Evgeny Morozov, a visiting scholar at Stanford University, a fellow at the New America Foundation, and a contributor to Foreign Policy, the Boston Review, and the Wall Street Journal, talks about his new book, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. Morozov first discusses misperceptions about the effectiveness of American broadcasts and pamphlets to promote democracy and liberty during the Cold War. He then suggests consequences of bringing such historical baggage to internet policymaking, pointing out that many people today have faulty assumptions about the power of internet freedom to effect change in places like China, Russia, and Iran.
48. Adam Thierer reviews the year in technology policy
Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in the Technology Policy Program, reviews the past year in technology policy and looks ahead to next year. Thierer first weighs in on net neutrality and upcoming FCC deliberations could that hatch a new regulatory regime for the internet. He then talks Google and antitrust, the proposed Comcast-NBC merger, and disputes between broadcasters and content providers. He also suggests that two issues — privacy and cyber security — will be at the forefront of tech policy debates in the coming year, pointing to support for do-not-track rules and to recent WikiLeaks and state secrets drama as momentum behind the respective issues.
47. Milton Mueller on internet governance
Milton Mueller, Professor and Director of the Telecommunications Network Management Program at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, discusses his new book, Networks and States: The Global Politics of Internet Governance. Mueller begins by talking about Wikileaks’ recent leak of diplomatic cables, using the incident to elaborate on the meaning of internet governance. He notes the distinction between traditional centralized systems of authority and peer-produced, distributed governance that rules much of cyberspace. He also discusses global democracy, contradictions in cyber libertarian views, judicial checks and balances on the internet, and future issues in internet governance.
46. Peter Thiel on the stagnation of technological innovation
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, early investor in Facebook, and president of Clarium Capital, discusses the stagnation of technological innovation. Thiel gives reasons why innovation has slowed recently — offering examples of stalled sectors such as space exploration, transportation, energy, and biotechnology — while pointing out that growth in internet-based technologies is a notable exception. He aslo comments on political undercurrents of Silicon Valley, government regulation, privacy and Facebook, and his new fellowship program that will pay potential entrepreneurs to “stop out” of school for two years.
45. Tyler Cowen answers your questions
Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University, general director of the Mercatus Center, and founder of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution, answers questions from Surprisingly Free listeners and Marginal Revolution readers. Cowen discusses why people will be appalled that we ever questioned intrusive searches by TSA, what should have been done to minimize unemployment and other harm from the financial crisis, how the “famous American formula” for good government is broken, what might force us to sit around opening cans of dog food with our teeth, and which global sites should be connected by Stargate portals to create the most value. He also asks, “Why read books?”, speculates about the value of his blog, addresses price discrimination of chicken McNuggets, talks about a modern day Athens in Asia with good food, suggests that internet comments are a relatively harmless form of stupidity, and opines about the best thing that government does.
44. Duncan Hollis on cyber security
Duncan Hollis, professor of law and associate dean at Temple University Beasely School of Law, discusses cyber security and his recommendation to counter cyber exploits — an electronic SOS. Hollis gives a brief history of online threats, notes the difference between cyber attack and cyber espionage, discusses the difficulty of deterring online exploits due to the anonymity of the internet, and talks about how governments and individuals have responded to cyber threats. He then outlines his proposal — a duty to assist others when they are under duress online — which was inspired by laws of the sea and an episode in which a U.S. Navy warship aided a North Korean vessel that was under attack by Somali pirates.
43. Joseph Isenbergh on open versus closed systems
Joseph Isenbergh, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, discusses his new essay about open versus closed operating systems, their respective marketing strategies, and their influence on the smartphone market. Isenbergh talks about early competition between Macintosh, with its closed operating system integrated with its PC hardware, and Microsoft, with its openly-licensed operating system that could be installed on any PC. He discusses the trade-off between open platforms that offer lots of consumer choice and the ostensible enhanced user experience created by bundling software with hardware. Isenbergh speculates about the future of the smartphone market, Apple’s iOS, and Google’s Android. He also comments on VHS versus Sony Betamax recording systems, tie-in strategies in wine-selling, and Blu-ray versus HD-DVD formats.
42. Tim Wu on innovation, creative destruction, and government interference
Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, the chair of media reform group Free Press, and a writer for Slate, discusses his new book, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires. Wu’s book documents the history of media industries in the United States and speculates on what that history teaches us about the future. On the podcast, he discusses Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of innovation, cycles of open and closed competition within industries, the history of government-backed monopolies in telephone and radio, and his thoughts on the future of information empires, the internet, and regulation.
41. William Powers on taking control of our technology
William Powers, a writer who has been a columnist and media critic for such publications as The Washington Post, The New Republic, and National Journal, discusses his new book, Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age. In the book, Powers writes, “You can allow yourself to be led around by technology, or you can take control of your consciousness and thereby your life.” On the podcast, he discusses historical philosophers’ ideas that can offer shelter from our present deluge of connectedness, how to create gaps that allow for currently elusive depth and inward reflection, and strategies that help him and his family regain control over their technology.
40. Kevin Kelly on technology evolving beyond us
Kevin Kelly, a founding editor of Wired magazine, a former editor and publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, and one of the most compelling thinkers about technology today, talks about his new book, What Technology Wants. Make no mistake: the singularity is near. Kelly discusses the technium–a broad term that encompasses all of technology and culture–and its characteristics, including its autonomy and sense of bias, its interdependency, and how it evolves and self-replicates. He also talks about humans as the first domesticated animals; extropy and rising order; the inevitability of humans and complex technologies; the Amish as technology testers, selecters, and slow-adopters; the sentient technium; and technology as wilderness.
39. Don Tapscott on mass collaboration
Don Tapscott, writer, consultant, and speaker on business strategy and organizational transformation, and co-author of the bestseller Wikinomics, discusses his new book, Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World. In the book, Tapscott and his co-author, Anthony Williams, document how businesses, governments, nonprofits, and individuals are using mass collaboration to change how we work, live, learn, create, and govern. On the podcast, he discusses an Iraq veteran whose start-up car company is “staffed” by over 45,000 competing designers and supplied by microfactories around the country. He also talks about how companies are using competitions for R&D, and how mass collaboration can improve government regulation and universities.
38. Joanne McNeil on online introversion and curation
Joanne McNeil, a science and technology writer living in Brooklyn, New York, and curator of Tomorrow Museum, a collection of images and speculative essays exploring how technology, science, and economics are affecting the fine arts, discusses online introversion and curation. McNeil discusses realspace introverts turned online extroverts, explains the lack of social media presence of many extroverts and celebrities, and parses the distinction between shyness and introversion. She also talks about Hanoi Wi-Fi and other technology encountered on her recent trip to Southeast Asia and addresses online curation, link blogs, and Tumblr.
37. Nick Bilton on how technology creatively disrupts society
Nick Bilton, Lead Technology Writer for The New York Times Bits blog and a reporter for the paper, discusses his new book, I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works. In the book, Bilton examines how technology is creatively disrupting society, business, and our brains. On the podcast, he talks about neuroplasticity and reading, a debate with George Packer about Twitter, innovators’ dilemmas in the porn industry, why many CEOs and movie producers bristle at how the future works, and “ricochet working.” He also discusses effects of combining human curation with computer algorithms, hyperpersonalization, informational veggies, and serendipity. He concludes with his theory about today’s news (and the reason he doesn’t worry about missing tweets): “If it’s important, it will find me.”
36. Kimberley Isbell on news aggregators
Kimberley Isbell, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society working as a staff attorney with the Citizen Media Law Project, discusses legal implications of news aggregators. The rise of aggregators amid the transformation of news and journalism spurred Rupert Murdoch to label news aggregation “theft.” In her recent paper, Isbell classifies various types of news aggregators and examines their roles in light of copyright, fair use, and hot news misappropriation doctrines. She notes that courts have yet to decide key aspects of the issue, but legal rules that promote flexibility and free access to information are needed to ensure a productive and innovative future for news.
35. Caren Myers Morrison on Jury 2.0
Caren Myers Morrison, assistant professor at Georgia State University College of Law, discusses how internet tools are affecting our jury system, which she details in her new paper, Jury 2.0. She cites examples of jurors using the internet to seek information about cases, Facebook-friending witnesses and defendants, and even blogging about trials on which they are deliberating. She also expounds upon jury tradition in America, the evolution of impartiality’s definition, jury secrecy and integrity, ramifications of jurors’ internet activities, and the future of the jury — Jury 2.0
34. Tim Lee on net neutrality, spectrum policy, and software patents
Timothy B. Lee, PhD candidate in computer science at Princeton University and fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, discusses a variety of issues. Lee parses new net neutrality nuances, addressing recent debate over prioritization of internet services. He also discusses wireless spectrum policy, comparing and contrasting a strict property rights model to a commons one. Lee concludes by weighing in on potential software patent reform, referencing Paul Allen’s wide-ranging patent-infringement lawsuits and the Oracle-Google tiff over Java patents.
33. Danny Sullivan on search neutrality
Danny Sullivan, an expert on the internet search industry and editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land, discusses search neutrality. He explains the concept of search neutrality and discusses a recent New York Times editorial suggesting Google’s search algorithm should be subject to government oversight or regulation. Sullivan points out flaws inherent to the notion of search neutrality and discusses competition in the search engine industry. He also imagines what it might take to topple Google from its perch atop internet search.
32. Kevin King on federalism, internet gambling, and geolocation
Kevin King, a recent law school graduate now clerking for a federal court of appeals, discusses his recent paper, Geolocation and Federalism on the Internet: Cutting Internet Gambling’s Gordian Knot. In his paper King uses the online gambling industry to examine conflict between federalism and the internet — the borderless nature of the internet eschews traditional models of state jurisdiction. He discusses previous attempts to regulate online gambling, conflict between internet gambling providers and the Kentucky horse betting sector, Congress’ current online gambling bill, and a solution that utilizes geolocation technology.
31. Peter Sunde on Flattr
Peter Sunde, co-founder of BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay and creator of Flattr, a new online social micropayments system, discusses Flattr. Sunde explains the Flattr concept, how it differs from previous micropayment platforms, and why it’s more meaningful than the Facebook “like” button. He also briefly discusses progress of the Pirate Bay case.
30. Birgitta Jónsdóttir on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative
Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Member of the Icelandic Parliament for the Movement party, and one of the chief sponsors of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, discusses the initiative. She explains how it was crafted, who it would protect and how, and Wikileaks’ influence on it. Jónsdóttir specifically discusses the proposal’s impact on journalists, sources, whistleblowers, libel tourism, superinjunctions, freedom of information, prior restraint, and government transparency. She also talks about the inspiration behind the initiative, which stems partly from her background as a writer and activist, and her path to the Icelandic Parliament.
29. Gilbert Wondracek on the economics of online porn
Gilbert Wondracek, research fellow at the International Secure Systems Lab and postdoctoral fellow at the Vienna University of Technology, discusses his research on the online porn industry. He addresses various economic roles of online porn providers and the industry’s connections to malware and cybercrime. Wondracek also explains how he investigated the industry, how he set up adult websites to assess user vulnerabilities and examine traffic, what he learned, and how he got approval for the project.
28. Perry Chen on Kickstarter
Perry Chen, co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter, an online platform for funding creative projects, discusses the enterprise. Chen talks about the inspiration behind Kickstarter and its business model, how project creators convince backers (not investors) to fund them, funding success rates, and the most interesting projects funded so far.
27. Catherine White on the Noisy Idiot Dilemma
Catherine White, graduate student at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she is researching productive participatory discussion, talks about her thesis on the Noisy Idiot Dilemma. White explains the dilemma — how to foster productive online conversation when certain speakers exhibit noisy, unproductive, or unhelpful behavior — and discusses her research on various online forums, weblog comments, effects of humor, anonymity, and empathy online, and characteristics of elastic, oily conversation.
26. Eric Frank on openly-licensed textbooks
Eric Frank, Co-Founder and President of Flat World Knowledge, the leading publisher of commercial, openly licensed college textbooks, discusses the company and its business model, which he compares to that of Red Hat. In the podcast Frank addresses moral hazards of the traditional college textbook publishing model, the company’s genesis, products and services it offers, how it makes money, and why it appeals to students, professors, and authors.
25. Tim Stevens on cyber war
Tim Stevens, PhD candidate in the Dept. of War Studies, King’s College London, where he researches the politics of cybersecurity and cyberwarfare, and regular contributor to The Guardian, Forbes’ cybersecurity blog The Firewall, and Current Intelligence discusses cyberwar. Stevens talks about the current cybersecurity climate; nuances between cyberespionage, cybercrime, and cyberwar; the balance between roles of government and private sector; and differences in cybersecurity attitudes in the U.K. and the U.S.
24. Adrian Johns on Piracy
Adrian Johns, professor in the Department of History at the University of Chicago, expert on the history of science and the history of the book, and author of the new book, Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Guttenberg to Gates, discusses the history of intellectual property and piracy. He discusses origins of copyright law in London, the first pirates, and today’s digital piracy. He also addresses the future of books and potential tipping points that could prompt changes in copyright law, citing the Google Books project and pharmaceuticals in the developing world.
23. Clay Shirky on Cognitive Surplus
Clay Shirky, adjunct professor at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, discusses his new book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. Shirky talks about social and economic effects of Internet technologies and interrelated effects of social and technological networks. In this podcast he discusses social production, open source software, Wikipedia, defaults, Facebook, and more.
22. Nicholas Carr on what the internet is doing to our brains
Nicholas Carr, bestselling author who writes on the social, economic, and business implications of technology, discusses his new book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Carr posits that the internet is changing not only they way we consume information but also the biological and neurological workings of our brains. He addresses the internet’s effect on attention span and the ability to think deeply, neuroplasticity, multitasking, reading books v. snippets, Google, commonplaces, and much more.
21. Gina Trapani and Anil Dash on Expert Labs and ThinkTank
Gina Trapani, blogger, author, software developer, and creator of ThinkTank, and Anil Dash, director of Expert Labs and blogging pioneer, talk about Expert Labs, an organization that seeks to improve government by letting policy makers tap into the collective wisdom of the public, and ThinkTank, an open source tool that the White House is using to crowdsource and sort policy ideas, insights, and recommendations offered through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
20. Adam Thierer on the future of media
Adam Thierer, president of The Progress & Freedom Foundation and the Director of its Center for Digital Media Freedom, discusses the future of media. He explains recent proposals by government commissions and Congress that would proactively prop up media and journalism. Thierer also outlines problems with the proposals, such as threats to free speech and separation of press and state. He also addresses newspapers as non-profits, shared experiences vs. diversity, and journalism ethics in the context of the recently scooped iPhone.
19. David Post on the state of the internet
David Post, the I. Herman Stern Professor of Law at the Beasley School of Law at Temple University and author of In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace, discusses the general state of the internet. He contrasts a decentralized Jeffersonian approach to the internet with a more centralized Hamiltonian one and also addresses netizenship, open vs. closed source, and online global relations.
18. Tyler Cowen on how the internet changes everything
Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University, general director of the Mercatus Center, and founder of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution, discusses how the internet influences and changes practically everything. The conversation broadly centers on how the web allows us to find, distill, and sort information as never before, which has profoundly affected people’s consumption of culture and creation of their own economies. Tyler touches on LOST and Battlestar Gallactica, the iPad and the publishing industry, old and new media, Facebook, Twitter, ChatRoulette, and his favorite things on the internet.
17. Wendy Seltzer on delegated censorship, copyright, and the DMCA
Wendy Seltzer, a fellow with the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado and with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School discusses copyright infringement and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The discussion also turns to the relationship between copyright law and free speech protected by the First Amendment.
16. Jerry Ellig on the National Broadband Plan
Jerry Ellig, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and contributor to the Surprisingly Free blog, talks about the National Broadband Plan. He also discusses network economics, railroads, and electricity distribution.
15. Bruce Yandle on the rise of national TV and the spread of social regulation
Bruce Yandle, Dean Emeritus at Clemson College of Business and Behavioral Sciences and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Economics for the Mercatus Center’s Capital Hill Campus, discusses the rise of national TV broadcasting and the spread of health, safety, and environmental regulation in mid-20th century America.
14. Evgeny Morozov on democracy, the limits of social networks, and cybersecurity
Evgeny Morozov, Yahoo! Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University and contributing editor for Foreign Policy, discusses the limits of social networks in promoting democracy. The discussion also turns to Morozov’s experience as a promoter of online freedom in Eastern Europe and cybersecurity.
13. James Grimmelmann on harassment, anonymity, and the Google Books settlement
James Grimmelmann, Associate Professor of Law at the New York Law School and faculty member of the Institute for Information Law and Policy, discusses online harassment and anonymity. The discussion also turns to a new proposal to combat online harassment and the Google Books settlement.
12. Michael Geist on ACTA
Michael Geist, Law Professor and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, discusses the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, better known as ACTA. The discussion also turns to secrecy and transparency issues with ACTA and recent efforts to shed light on the text of the treaty.
11. Nathaniel Gleicher on the Stored Communications Act and the need for reform
Nathaniel Gleicher, Affiliated Fellow at the Yale Information Society Project and a Henry Luce Scholar advising the technology regulator in Korea for the year, discusses the Stored Communications Act and the need to reform it. The discussion also turns to online privacy, the lack of 4th Amendment protection on the Internet, and how users are tracked as they browse the web.
10. Thomas Hazlett on telecommunications policy and economics
Thomas Hazlett, Professor of Law & Economics and Director of the Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law, discusses telecommunications policy and economics. The discussion also turns to the history of spectrum regulation, ongoing inefficiencies in the current system, and suggestions for possible improvements.
9. Ethan Zuckerman on internet censorship and the limits of circumvention
Ethan Zuckerman, Senior Researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, discusses internet censorship and the limits of circumvention technology. The discussion also turns to censorship in China and other countries, Twitter’s role in last year’s disputed Iranian elections, and online public spaces.
8. Rob Frieden on internet applications, content providers, and net neutrality
Rob Frieden, Pioneers Chair and Professor of Telecommunication and Law at Penn State University, discusses internet applications, content providers, and net neutrality. The discussion also turns to the history of telecom regulation, the Comcast/BitTorrent controversy, and the limits of the FCC’s regulatory authority.
7. Daniel H. Kahn on social intermediaries, identity, and code-backed norms
Daniel H. Kahn, a recent Harvard School of Law graduate and clerk on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, discusses social intermediaries and their potential to radically improve the social life of the Web. The discussion also turns to portable identities, code-backed norms, and trolling.
6. Jim Harper and Berin Szoka on privacy and Google Buzz
Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, and Berin Szoka, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Internet Freedom at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, discuss privacy and Google Buzz.
5. Johannes Bauer on economic incentives and cyber security
Johannes Bauer, Professor of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at Michigan State University and director of Special Programs at the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law, discusses economic incentives facing Internet users and providers in addressing cybersecurity risks. The discussion also turns to the differences between cybercrime and cyberwarfare and recent examples of cyberattacks.
4. Edmund J. Walsh and Andrew J. Tibbetts on the benefits and risks of Open Source software
Edmund Walsh and Andrew Tibbetts on the legal risks of incorporating Open Source software into commercial products.
3. John Wonderlich on government transparency and accountability
John Wonderlich, the Policy Director at the Sunlight Foundation, discusses the government transparency movement. The discussion also turns to the work of the Sunlight Foundation and Lawrence Lessig’s recent article on “naked transparency.”
2. Michael S. Sawyer on user-generated content, fair use, and the DMCA
Michael S. Sawyer, a fellow at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, discusses the impact of the DMCA on user-generated content. The discussion also turns to the principle of fair use and competing solutions for dealing with copyright infringements on user-generated content sites.
1. Tim Lee on bottom-up processes, innovation, and the future of news
Tim Lee, a graduate student in computer science at Princeton and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, discusses bottom-up processes, the theme of his new blog. The discussion also turns to the innovators dilemma, the link economy, and the future of newspapers.