Archive for the 'radioberkman' Category

RB213: The Public Spectrum

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Most of the spectrum of frequency that exists in the US is occupied or owned by large wireless corporations, cable companies, by the government. But at least one small chunk of spectrum — “low-band spectrum” wireless, or TV white spaces (so-called because it is the space between the television dials) — has been somewhat open to the public.

There are thousands of devices on the market that take advantage of this spectrum without paying a license fee, allowing consumers to transmit bits without interference from walls, trees, or radiation from devices like microwaves.

But the Federal Communications Commission is now deciding whether to auction off this spectrum to the highest bidder, putting at risk not only billions of dollars in economic activity, but also very fundamental concepts of affordable public access to information spaces. And on May 15th, just a couple days away from this podcast, the FCC will be holding an open meeting to discuss whether auctioning off this spectrum would be a good idea.

Harold Feld, senior vice president for Public Knowledge, recently sat down with David Weinberger to talk about why we should be concerned about auctioning off this spectrum.

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RB 212: Richard Price on Academia.edu

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In January of 2012 a British mathematician posted a humble invitation on his blog for fellow academics and researchers to join him in boycotting the prestigious research publisher Elsevier. Citing high prices, exploitative bundling practices, and lobbying efforts to prevent open access to research, the mathematician publicly denounced Elsevier and refused to do business with them in the future.

Eighteen months later almost 14,000 researchers have joined the boycott of Elsevier, kicking off what’s been referred to as the Academic Spring movement.

But despite the effort, closed academic journals continue to be a frustration for professors and researchers in the digital age. Alternatives to closed journals are becoming more common, but growth is slow, and some fields are more welcoming to open access than others.

Enter Academia.edu, a topic agnostic platform for researchers to share their work, connect with peers, and present an entire corpus of their research, completely open and completely free.

Today’s guest Richard Price launched Academia.edu after encountering his own frustrations with the world of closed publishing as a student and researcher of philosophy. He recently spoke with David Weinberger about how the platform is facing up against for-profit journals.

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RB211: Bruce Schneier on Surveillance and Security

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Revelations of the NSA’s data surveillance efforts have raised serious questions about the ethics and necessity of violating privacy that have been bubbling under the surface for some time.

Efforts to monitor communication are nothing new, but electronically mediated communication has increased the amount of information being shared, and the possibilities for eavesdropping are endless.

But there’s a trade off. People tolerate incursions into privacy for greater security or even convenience: health care, transportation, public safety, or any number of web utilities we use on a daily basis.

Bruce Schneier is an author, Berkman fellow, and security technologist. He recently sat down with David Weinberger to talk about the positives and perils of privacy violation.

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RB210: The New Knowledge Worker

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As high school and college students transition into a knowledge economy they face both advantages and challenges with how they find information and engage with co-workers as teammates.

As a recent study of US employers and recent college graduates discovered, some young hires are pretty good at finding out information online and through social networks, but experience significant difficulty with traditional methods of finding answers — going through bound reports, picking up the phone, or researching with groups.

The study, How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace, was conducted by Project Information Literacy, and part of a series of studies supported by the Berkman Center and the Institute for Museum and Library Services to discover how research behavior is changing.

David Weinberger spoke with Berkman Fellow and director of Project Information Literacy Alison Head about her research.

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RB209: Crisis Spotting (Drone Humanitarianism II)

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What if you could witness a crime taking place from space, and even step in to prevent it?

A group of researchers at Harvard’s Humanitarian Initiative are trying to do exactly that.

As the nation of Sudan faced a complex crisis — a secession of the southern region that threatened to boil over into a civil war in 2011 — Nathaniel Raymond and his team at The Signal Program were carefully monitoring the conflict.

Their methods were uncommon. Using donated satellite imagery — the kind normally used to observe environmental conditions or create maps — the team tracked the movements of troops, military vehicles, and resources in near real-time, and used that information to alert humanitarian groups on the ground.

But it’s a process fraught with challenges, from imperfect imagery (imagine a cloud passing by just as you’re trying to spot tank movements), to the ethical questions that come with intervening in a conflict remotely.

So how does a group of civilians at Harvard go about monitoring an unfolding humanitarian disaster from space?

Our producer Frances Harlow spent a day with the team at the Signal Program to find out how they work.

(Click to find other episodes in our Drone Humanitarianism series!)

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RB208: The NetRoots

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How have politically engaged organizations used the web to fundamentally change how people organize and engage politically? Why are left wing organizations more likely to succeed in organization online? Why are conservatives less funny than liberals?

David Karpf chronicles the dozens of Netroots political organizations, both progressive and conservative, that have sprouted up with the mass adoption of the internet in his new book The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy.

On this 2012 election-themed episode of Radio Berkman he speaks with our host David Weinberger about how these organizations are having an impact on politics.

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RB207: Hacking Censorship (Drone Humanitarianism I)

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The Internet exists and persists on the border between helpful and harmful, between freedom and totalitarianism, access to knowledge and censorship.

But as long as technology is adaptable activists will be learning and creating workarounds to spread information and promote change.

Enter the Circumvention Tools Hackfest, a four-day bonanza of coders and freedom lovers gathered together to build and improve applications to help activists in repressive regimes get around censorship and surveillance.

Correspondent Becky Kazansky attended the Hackfest to find out what kind of tools these “hackers” cooked up. As part of our new series — Drone Humanitarianism: Harnessing Technology to Remotely Solve and Prevent Crisis — she filed this report.

(Click to follow our Drone Humanitarianism series!)

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RB 206: Unlocking Research

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Disseminating knowledge was once a costly undertaking. The expenses of printing, distributing, and housing the work of researchers and scholars left most research in the hands of publishers, journals, and institutions in a system that has evolved over centuries. And the licensing model that has arisen with that system butts heads with the quick, simple, and virtually free distribution system of the net.

The key to breaking free of the traditional licensing model locking up research is the promise of the “Open Access” movement. And the movement has already made significant strides. Over the summer the United Kingdom was enticed enough by the potential for greater innovation and growth of knowledge to propose Open Access for any research supported by government funds.

But Open Access still remains a wonky, hard to understand subject.

Today, Peter Suber — Director of the Harvard Open Access Project — shares insights with David Weinberger from his new guide to distilling Open Access, called simply Open Access.

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RB205: Remembering Elinor Ostrom

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Nobel Laureate and Economist Elinor Ostrom passed away last month at the age of 78.

Best recognized for her research into the management of common pool resources, Ostrom broke new ground with her findings that Commons were not inherently tragic, as previous generations of economists believed. In fact, Ostrom found examples of communities that could effectively manage limited resources, like agricultural land or open space, to prevent resource depletion.

Her work paved the way for researchers studying internet communities to explore how norms are established and cooperation is achieved.

On today’s show Berkman researchers and affiliates Benjamin Mako Hill, Judith Donath, Mayo Fuster Morell, and Oliver Goodenough discuss how Ostrom’s work impacted their lives.

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RB204: The Art and Science of Working Together

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If you’ve ever experienced the problem of a dead cell phone battery and only incompatible chargers within reach, you’ve experienced one of the minor frustrations of a non-interoperable system. This frustration — not to mention the environmental waste of having dozens of different charger types for the same class of device — has led some countries to institute regulations for cell phone manufacturers to use a single common standard.

Such a structure is an example of an Interoperable System. And interoperable systems can range anywhere from relatively minor markets like mobile phone chargers, to massive infrastructures like smart energy grids or air traffic systems.

Friends of the show John Palfrey and Urs Gasser are the authors of the newly released Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems. They spoke with David Weinberger about how Interoperability works, and how interoperable systems can lead to greater innovation, greater efficiency, and better functioning societies.

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