See the calendar on the right for upcoming meeting times and topics. (Click on dates in bold to see what's happening.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Clinton's Internet Freedom address

I had the opportunity to attend Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s policy address on Internet freedom yesterday, and wanted to share a few of my notes. In her talk she identified several basic rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of worship, and freedom to connect with others (a digital update of assembly), that should be afforded to all people, and observed that fostering and sustaining free, secure, and reliable networks around the world is a priority for this administration.

With this goal in mind, she announced several initiatives that the State Department is spearheading. First, Clinton said that the US will be funding the development and deployment of tools for circumventing censorship. There were some comments during the post-address panel suggesting that this strategy may already be in play, but it certainly appears to be a more public endorsement than has been previously offered. Second, the State Department plans to begin funding partners in industry and academia to design and build software that can be used to empower citizen. She gave the example of a mobile phone application that would allow citizens to rate ministries in terms of responsiveness and corruption. Third, she announced an innovation competition that seeks to identify technologies that effectively connect people to services that they need. Winners will be awarded grants to facilitate building these technologies on a large scale. Fourth, she urged US companies to take an active role in challenging censorship requests from other states. Google’s recent decision to either remove restrictions on the results produce by its China-based search engine or to pull out of China, announced just a few days prior, is an obvious example. (And Yahoo’s decision to hand over emails and other information about Chinese dissidents back in 2005 is an obvious example of what the US would like to avoid.) Clinton also alluded to the recent cyber-attacks originating in China against Google and other technology firms, and said that the US wants the Chinese government to pursue a full and transparent investigation into the sources of these attacks.

One interesting omission, in my view, was any discussion of how the US will respond should it become evident that attacks on US-owned network infrastructure located abroad were actually state sponsored. Presumably this is because such action could constitute cyber-warfare, and the State Department does not want this particular hypothetical to distract from the broader emphasis on global Internet freedom.

Given the specific funding opportunities identified during the speech, CATS members may want to discuss whether we could play any role in these types of projects. We would certainly need to collaborate with people in other fields, e.g., computer science, but I expect that our expertise could be valuable.

Obviously, this is only a partial summary of the speech. More information is available online.

A transcript is available courtesy of Foreign Policy magazine:

A video of the speech is available on YouTube.

The Chinese government has already responded critically to Clinton’s address.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter '10 schedule

1-29 Computational Social Science: Accessing and analyzing real-world data from the Internet (reading will be circulated in advance of meeting)

2-12 Law School Youth and Social Media Symposium (

2-26 Jon D'Angelo, Erin Schumaker, John Valez, Title TBA

3-12 Sarah Brookes, "Playing the Story: Transportation as a Moderator of Involvement in Narratively-Based Video Games"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

February 12, 2010: Youth and Social Media Symposium

I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society is hosting a free February 12, 2010 symposium on the value of social media for the lives of young people and the challenges and opportunities that social media present. Everyone is invited to the conference, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Saxbe Auditorium of the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Co-sponsors include the Moritz College of Law, the Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies, and Literacy Studies @ OSU.

The symposium will bring together nationally and internationally recognized experts on law, media, technology, public health, and communication to discuss the implications of social media for young people’s safety, privacy, free expression, cultural engagement, sense of identity, and civic role. Keynote speaker Dr. danah boyd is a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She is widely followed for her writings on the role social network sites like MySpace and Facebook play in everyday teen interactions and social relations.

For more information, please visit A flyer for the symposium is attached. Feel free both to forward this notice widely and to print out and post the flyer wherever appropriate.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Facebook Fellowship

Facebook has announced its '10-'11 grad student fellowships. Social computing, including social media, social search, and collaborative environments, is listed among the topics the company is interested in supporting. The application deadline is February 15, and decisions will be announced on March 29. The application is short -- just a couple pages explaining the research and how it relates to Facebook -- and the Fellowships are generous.