The Final Paper
John Palfrey (JP): Notes that some people have begun asking about the final paper. He says to think of final paper in cosmic, David Weinberger sense, less literal and more filled with possibility
-Can be ordinary law school 15-20 page paper
-Take some bit of law and doctrine, analyze in terms of broad themes of class, propose something that has gone wrong
-Don’t do straight descriptive thing – e.g. comparison of act in two different countries through close reading
-Something speaking in some way to whether or not the web is different
-Can also do something less like a law school paper
-e.g. Could pick up cartesian theme and talk about why web is different without ever talking about part of doctrine
-but must say something, shoot for originality
-Could also do something that’s the equivalent of 15-20 page paper but is more creative.
-e.g. video testimony before FCC
-something using the web in someway, perhaps jumping off from one of the group projects
If category one or two, 20 pages, not absurd margins, not absurd font. Bluebook not required, but consistency required. Don’t be annoying.
What is the equivalent amount of effort for category three?
-JP is more interested in force of the argument, than in exactly what is done
-bounce idea off him
-If want to do something like Lessig 08, ask JP and he’ll ask Aaron Swartz (sp?)
Can be linked to class project, that’s a good thing. Engagement with issue over long period of time is a good thing
JP and DW would be happy to sit down and discuss ideas
Connection to clinical is desirable but not required
Discussion about Zittrain Class’s Work on Wikipedia
First, discussion about link sent around about Jonathan Zittrain’s class’s work on wikipedia.
-For part of Zittrain’s class, an early assignment was to edit part of wikipedia. A week later they talked about dispute resolution on wikipedia and how that works. Assignment for the class to, with a group of others, pick a disputed article, post on the talk pages, and try to get that dispute resolved.
-Bunch of students decided to work on waterboarding article. Decided to take advantage of one person’s more extensive edit history, she proposed starting from defining torture and then going from there.
-Some people very actively follow this debate. They responded to the class’s edits. A couple of people in the HLS group responded to that. Some of those wikipedia editors who care a lot about this issue noticed that a bunch of people were all chiming in and that all accounts were created recently. Accused LT of being a sock puppet.
-Then argument moved to incident report section. LT responded by saying they were a bunch of students and pointed out wiki about the class (class wiki is now locked).
-The regular wikipedia editors noticed that it was a course project. Then question about whether they were meat puppets (collusion outside wikipedia)
-Some people also upset because felt like this was an experiment
-Counter argument was that isn’t it good to get these students involved
-Never actually touched the page, just talked about it on the talk pages
David Weinberger (DW): Is this wikipedia at its worst or its best?
-Different reactions by students
-Pretty impressed with the whole thing. All transpired over an evening. Cooler minds prevailed and whole thing became rational very quickly.
-Public historical reference – Can see whole thing online, how it was resolved. And its fast too
-Also sees as wikipedia as it best. Probably same thing happens inside closed doors at Encyclopedia Britannica
-A little disappointing to see people keeping others from working together.
-Likes seeing fast response
-Doesn’t this result in not so great articles? At least at Britannica someone wins
-But things are muddled everywhere
-Good to at least recognize that there are differences.
-DW-doesn’t to be much debate over content for Britannica
-Student reaction-wikipedia encourages people to do further research
-Debate over “Georgia” on wikipedia – should it go to Georgia the state or Georgia the country, and if there is disambiguation page, which should be more prominent
DW: When it comes to the nature of knowledge, there really is a web difference. Web has done something significant to nature of knowledge
-Web has unsettled all knowledge, just about. Not just wikipedia. Can’t help but run across unsettling facts, even if you dismiss them. Nothing is as settled as we thought it was. Not nearly as sure that science has changed as much
JP: Is this just a problem of seeing the sausage being made?
DW: Could be that seeing the sausage being made we see how great it is or that we become suspicious of all sausage. Either is possible and either is a change about how we generally think knowledge works.
Science and the Web Difference
DW: Nature – most prestigious science journal, at least in England. They’ve been very jealous of their reputation, but also aware of the web and quite interested in taking advantage of changes that are occurring
-Print version is very different.
-Forums, closer to a real time interactive dialog. Podcast, multimedia.
-Web site is more fun
-trying to spread their influence
-Its arguable that this populizing science is a difference
-pre-publication research and preliminary findings
Discussion of law reviews
-Whether it makes sense for other disciplines to be edited by professors, law to be edited by students
-Students more willing to look at footnotes
-Professors know more
-PhD Programs have far fewer students
What does open access mean to law reviews? Next week
Why peer review?
-What does it do?
-Gives legitimacy to paper
-Can prevent publication of novel/unpopular ideas
-Experts chosen are well-established. Because they’re well established, generally agree with dominant view
-see String theory – could all be wrong
-Sokol affair-got purposefully bad paper through. Also MIT grad students got paper that was randomly generated into conference
JP: How is that different because of the web?
-Couple years old, open access
-Peer reviewed, try to keep rejection level high
-increases reputation so prominent scientists will publish there
-Results in a high price – rejects good papers
-Peer reviewed, but publishes anything that passes peer review
-A few years old. Grandparent of a lot of this.
-Started out as simple repository of papers.
-No peer review. Pre-pubication
-Imposed requirement a few years ago that must have some academic standing
-What does that mean?
-must be affiliated with an academic institution
-have published there
-OR be recommended be someone affiliated with an academic institution
-Why? Keep conspiracy theorists, etc. out
Any way to get advantages of peer review without limitations on time/energy?
-maybe let people comment.
-but doesn’t give same cache
-and any idiot can comment
Is the bias issue the same on the web?
-in world of paper, need some sort of regime of control to narrow the funnel. Peer review results in things that are legitimate, have status, and is fairly efficient.
-but on web, risk inaccuracy since hasn’t been checked.
-Tradeoff between amount and quality
-DW-not clear we have to make decision on the web about what we’re going to do
-look at PLoS, PLoS one, and arxiv
-Don’t know this changes science
-we have access to more information, but not sure this is a fundamental change
DW:One possible area of change. How Nature has re-conceived its role in science’s effect on culture?
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