Live-blogging from Internet Law Colloquium

Tonight, four students in ILC are presenting their reaction papers to
our I&S conference in December.  (Charlie Nesson has his Red
Sox cap on.)

* What are the relationships between blogging and television? 
Lindsay, the first presenter, says that blogs were mentioned a total of
four times over the
course of three entire conferences on the television industry that
she’s been to over the past year.  And yet, she showed us the
“blog swarm” story about Eason Jordan on CNN — a merging of the two
mediums.  There’s something limiting about the cost to present
high-production-quality content only, Susie thinks.  Trust and
credibility loom large as issues for the class.  They’re
interested in transparency: who is more transparent between TV news and
online.  As an aside, if you want real transparency, check out
what David Berlind is
doing over at ZDNet.  (Curiously, I’ll be on Channel 4’s nightly
news tonight about social software and what people could learn about
you.  I suspect that the reporter chanced upon me via this blog.)

* Tim Armstrong
wonders about a world in which every person can produce their own
segment.  He’s wondering if, in fact, the Supreme Court shuts down
the p2p networks via an overrule of the 9th circuit in Grokster, the
expansion of creativity and personal publishing and the like will fail
to occur.  “People have built better-looking applications on top
of BitTorrent,” Tim adds, which is yet another form of
generativity.  “It’s too new to be a business segment unto
itself,” Tim says, “it’s more of a protocol at this stage.”

* Eric Priest is thinking about whether internet architecture itself
could have a politically transformative effect.  Even apolitical
speech can have a politically transformative effect over time, he
says.  Bloggers in China and Iran and [fill in the blank with an
authoritarian regime] who are talking about soccer or recipes or
anything else — on innocuous topics — are in fact seeding a kind of
democratic movement.  (I remember Hoder making this point at the
December conference.)

* Joon Oh asked in the class wiki to follow Eric.  He’s eager to
delve into the potential of internet technologies.  Does the
potential lie in the techs being used for greater degrees of
communications (more societal connections, with different people) or is
there something inherently “political” about the way people use the
technology?  Does the “nature” of the technology lead to the
development of democratic norms?  Joon is playing devil’s advocate
— he’s not convinced.  Blogs can be used for authoritarian
campaigning (or commercial campaigning) just as they can be for
democratic campaigning, he challenges.

Terry Fisher
brings it in for a landing, starting with a story from US
history.  The concentration in political power in parties, he
says, paralleled the
concentration of economic power in a small number of large corporations
at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.  Then
think about the internet.  It bypasses the concentration. 
Take the music example.  It promises the reduction of the
strategic position of the intermediaries and maximizes the ability to
create of consumers.  Analogously: eBay is transforming the sales
process, away from the Sears model to a decentralized set of suppliers
and purchasers.  The internet allows the bypassing of modes of
power.  We would not think it revolutionary if what it does was to
allow us to choose between Sears and Wal-mart.  It’s
transformative if it changes the structure.  With some
imagination, you might imagine a political analogue.  It’s not to
campaigns for president that we ought to look.  It’s the
relocation of the kinds of activity that were concentrated in the
national government.  Never is defense going to be
decentralized.  But think about transportation systems, which
governments did in the 19th century.  The communicative medium is
our present-day analog.  It is not being built that same
way.  It is built by us.  It is managed by different
means.  As yet, a little-known example of a classic government
function being carried our by a decentralized system.  We might
make a list, looking at all the things that governments do.  Could
the tech help do these things differently?  It might then make us
think about democracy differently — the assembly of voice and

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