Stanford Talk

Here’s the link to the announcement of my talk last Monday at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. (The talk was recorded, and I assume that the audio will be up shortly.)

The talk was based on my paper on social software , but I’ve been trying to extend that piece a bit and combine some of its ideas with themes from other stuff I’ve written. The talk itself, then, was something of a blend (too many crazy ideas in one place, as I’ve been told more than once) and explicitly something of an intellectual work-in-progress. In case anyone out there wants to chime in on this, here are the current ingredients of what I loosely refer to as “my project.” The notes that follow the list reflect both questions that I got at the talk and questions that I’ve gotten from others. Undoubtedly, there are others.

1. Blends of conventionally “public” and “private” governance institutions.
2. The dynamics of informal groups.
3. The role of material culture (language, objects, place and space, narrative, among other things) in shaping information law and policy.
4. The limits of what Berlin called “universalizing rationalism” as a mode of inquiry.

To use one example — something that I mentioned in the talk but didn’t examine in detail — I’ve been thinking about Creative Commons: What makes it tick? What should make it tick? Should “the law” care, and if so, what should “the law” do? And what do the answers to those questions tell us — if they tell us anything — about information governance more generally? Do those answers tell us anything that we don’t know already via (for example) theories of the firm? Via social norms investigations?

The work has close conceptual ties to Julie Cohen, who in many ways uses a similar vocabulary, and to Yochai Benkler, who does not.

The folks at CIS (Jennifer, Lauren, Larry) were generous and gracious hosts, and I was impressed by and grateful for the number of students who turned out and listened, too patiently, to what I said.

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