Is Google a threat to free culture?
Jonathan Zittrain is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources for the Harvard Law School Library, and Co-Founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Previously, he was the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University and a principal of the Oxford Internet Institute. He was also a visiting professor at the New York University School of Law and Stanford Law School.
Zittrain’s research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.
He is also the author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, as well as co-editor of the books, Access Denied (MIT Press, 2008), Access Controlled (MIT Press, 2010), and Access Contested (MIT Press, 2011).
Question: Is Google a threat to free culture?
Jonathan Zittrain: I think so far, Google's been a friend to free culture. Their business model, as it turns out, has been premised on openness, and on letting people basically do what they want to do. The fact that you can use Gmail as a file storage system, because you're just given so many free gigabytes, is an example of that. But Google applications, like almost every other web application development system, is a service rather than a product. It is a service offered to developers, rather than a one time platform, where once you launch your app into the welcoming arms of a consuming public who happen to run the platform for which the app was written. Google Apps means that if Google doesn't want an app to run on its platform any more, it could cut it off. And any lawyer worth his or her salt, consulting with Google, would say, "Well, you never know what's going to happen. You might as well reserve the right to kill any app at any time, for any reason." So long as that is the terms of service for those apps, whether it's on Facebook or Google or other platforms, you have a way to nip a generative blossom in the bud that doesn't exist on the PC. Kazaa could happen, and ultimately challenge the music industry to support the iTunes music store, and later Amazon, fully unprotected mp3 downloads for a fee. I'm confident that the music industry would not have gotten into any of that but for the fact that they were having to compete against pirated versions of their own songs. And in that sense, I think Kazaa was salutary, even though brazenly illegal, in many of its uses. If you can nip it in the bud under today's application frameworks, you would never even have that cycle take place. I would rather place my bets with the unbridled programming environment generating cool stuff than I would with the much more controlled environment where ultimately cool but initially worrisome stuff gets killed in its early stages.
Recorded on: Mar 8 2008
So far, Google's been a friend to free culture, says Jonathan Zittrain.
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.
I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.
A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.
- A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
- The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
- The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now
To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.
Mathematicians studied 100 billion tweets to help computer algorithms better understand our colloquial digital communication.
- A group of mathematicians from the University of Vermont used Twitter to examine how young people intentionally stretch out words in text for digital communication.
- Analyzing the language in roughly 100 billion tweets generated over eight years, the team developed two measurements to assess patterns in the tweets: balance and stretch.
- The words people stretch are not arbitrary but rather have patterned distributions such as what part of the word is stretched or how much it stretches out.