"The Berkman Center was founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. We represent a network of faculty, students, fellows, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and virtual architects working to identify and engage with the challenges and opportunities of cyberspace.
We investigate the real and possible boundaries in cyberspace between open and closed systems of code, of commerce, of governance, and of education, and the relationship of law to each. We do this through active rather than passive research, believing that the best way to understand cyberspace is to actually build out into it.
Our faculty, fellows, students, and affiliates engage with a wide spectrum of Net issues, including governance, privacy, intellectual property, antitrust, content control, and electronic commerce. Our diverse research interests cohere in a common understanding of the Internet as a social and political space where constraints upon inhabitants are determined not only through the traditional application of law, but, more subtly, through technical architecture ('code').
As part of our active research mission, we build, use, and freely share open software platforms for free online lectures and discussions. We also sponsor gatherings, ranging from informal lunches to international conferences, that bring together members of our diverse network of participants to swap insights - and sometimes barbs - as they stake out their respective visions for what the Net can become. We also teach, seeking out online and global opportunities, as well as supporting the traditional Harvard Law School curriculum, often in conjunction with other Harvard schools and MIT."
(Berkman Center for Internet & Society)
"the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was first outlined by the United Nations General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot of Paris in 1948. Upholding the fundamental covenants of humanity, dignity and equality - in short, standards of living far too often taken for granted despite the ongoing and appallingly widespread human rights abuses evident worldwide - it was ratified by individual nations in 1976 and has since been upheld as a Bill of international law. With yesterday, the 10th December, marking its anniversary in the celebration of Human Rights Day, the video above is a subtle yet beautifully concise presentation of the thirty Articles contained within the Declaration. Created by artist and shoe designer Seth Brau, produced by Amy Poncher and featuring music by the LA-based Rumspringa (courtesy of Cantora Records, home of MGMT), it is as much of a fantastic exercise in motion typography as it is a worthy reminder of the importance and value of human life."
(Sarah Badr, pieces-at-random.com)
[An ad campaign by the Human Rights Action Center for Burma's National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The ad draws on the sentiment expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.]
In April 2008, FOB Mixtape brought their music to the Australian public in their first live show at Federation Square in Melbourne. Armed with 'music with a difference' but a modest budget, FOB Mixtape used the social networking website, MySpace to garner support and interest in their show. The band members created a promotional video and viral marketing: digital promotional strategies that are increasingly used by emerging and established artists to engage instantly with large audiences, without huge overheads. FOB Mixtape is an Australian hiphop group with a social conscience and their music aims to challenge racial stereotypes of Asian migrants in Australia. FOB Mixtape draw on their experiences as second generation migrants to write humorous lyrics such as 'I ain't the type of guy that you're used to seeing, the human being that's a few between a gook and a European'. The group takes a tongue and cheek look at the plight of being labelled an 'Asian' in Australia today, as seen in the group's name FOB Mixtape or 'Fresh Off the Boat'', which is immigrant slang used to describe newly arrived migrants. Recently featured on the SBS series mY Generation, FOB Mixtape can be seen as typical of Generation Y's expressing themselves through digitally sampled music, their ease with using online marketing - all of which was created in the basement of one of their parent's home. This experience of FOB Mixtape is an example of a new form of civic engagement that uses everyday, digital technologies to address some of the racial intolerances that exist in the culturally diverse societies of Australia today.
"With 'the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa,' to borrow Anthony Giddens' description of globalisation (Giddens, 1990), even localised policy matters increasingly involve issues of global concern. Transnational communities of knowledge elites, or epistemic communities, have emerged to deal with this new spatial pattern of social relations (Stone, 2001). These communities shape how information becomes knowledge, and facilitate the diffusion of that knowledge from the local to the global level, which then influences international policymaking. The dissemination of knowledge takes place through many different channels, including direct contact with decision-makers, consultation during policy meetings, publications in academic journals, participation in ad hoc working groups and conferences, and providing expertise to various media outlets.
The direction of this knowledge's movement is crucial: partly because of the lack of a global government and partly because of increased economic and social integration resulting from globalisation, (Ibid, p. 116.) policy change in the international arena is primarily a bottom-up process (Reinicke, 1999). Thus issues such as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (Krause, 1998), anti-personnel landmines (Price, 1998), and the transfer of hazardous waste from the developed to developing world - all problems formerly overlooked or ignored by global governance regimes and institutions - are shifted from the local to global agenda with the help of epistemic communities. Since 'control over knowledge and information is an important dimension of power' that can 'lead to new patterns of behaviour,' (Haas, 1992) outlining what exactly epistemic communities are is particularly important.
An epistemic community is a loosely connected network of experts informally bound by a shared belief in the cause of a particular problem and the correct approach to solving it (Ibid, p. 3.). Members of such a community do not necessarily come from a single discipline; in fact, with crossdisciplinary issues such as climate change, terrorism, or, as will be seen below, the hazardous waste trade, it is beneficial for epistemic community members to be drawn from different areas of expertise. For example, in his study of the role of epistemic communities in the creation of the Mediterranean Action Plan, Peter Haas identified United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) officials, members of powerful agencies such as the World Health Organisation, regional government officials, ecologists and marine scientists as participating in the Plan's regional development and implementation (Haas, 1989). Haas attributes the success of the Plan to the involvement of such a wide array of participants.
Epistemic communities are distinct from other networks like interest groups and global policy advocates, which can also play important roles in shaping international public policy. Epistemic communities, as the name implies, are concerned with an empirical production of knowledge that relies on accepted notions of validity - brought about through 'debate, retesting and peer review' - to achieve a consensual perspective on social and physical phenomena (Dunlop, 2000). The knowledge produced by epistemic communities is highly appealing to policymakers because it is perceived to be more scientific and rational than information provided by groups with ideological or political biases. Epistemic communities enjoy a perception of legitimacy that networks founded on ideological beliefs - like interest groups - find difficult to achieve. Epistemic communities' input into the policy process is therefore seen as apolitical and value-neutral, and important because rationality is seen as a virtue in policymaking".
A. Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990), p. 64.
D. Stone, 'The Policy Research' Knowledge Elite and Global Policy Processes,' in Non-State Actors in
World Politics, ed. Daphne Josselin and William Wallace, p. 117 (London: Palgrave, 2001).
W. Reinicke, 'The Other World Wide Web: Global Public Policy Networks,' Foreign Policy vol. 117 (1999),
See: K. Krause, 'The Challenge of Small Arms and Light Weapons,' 3rd International Security Forum, Kongresshaus
Zurich, Switzerland, 1998, available online http://www.isn.ethz.ch/3isf/Online_Publications/WS5/WS_5D/Krause.htm (accessed 21 February 2007).
See: R. Price, 'Reversing the Gun Sights: Transnational Civil Society Target Land Mines,' International Organization
vol. 52 no. 3 (1998), pp. 613-644.
P. Haas, 'Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination,' International Organization vol. 46,
no. 1 (1992), pp. 2-3.
P. Haas, 'Do Regimes Matter? Epistemic Communities and Mediterranean Pollution Control,' International
Organization vol. 43, no. 3 (1989), pp. 384-385.
C. Dunlop, 'Epistemic Communities: A Reply to Toke,' Politics vol. 20, no. 3 (2000), p. 139.
T. J. Kallio, et al., 'Rationalizing Sustainable Development' - a Critical Treatise,' Sustainable Development
vol. 15 (2007), pp. 41-51.
"The Maps Descriptive of London Poverty are perhaps the most distinctive product of Charles Booth's Inquiry into Life and Labour in London (1886-1903). An early example of social cartography, each street is coloured to indicate the income and social class of its inhabitants."
(Charles Booth Online Archive)