I’m pleased to post Show #228, January 28, my interview with Prof. Lisa Lynch of Concordia University, on WikiLeaks and information leakers. Lisa has written extensively about the nature and role of information leakers in society today. Having interacted with Julian Assange for several years — including before he was the infamous figure that he is today (she’s even benefited from his editing suggestions) — her insights regarding the role of WikiLeaks draws on both scholarly and personal experience. Because the notions of “secrecy” and “democracy” are in a massive state of flux, Lisa’s work and insights are sorely needed, timely and unique. We had a wide-ranging discussion on information policy and leaking; Lisa’s candor and humor made for a terrific interview. I hope that you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed the discussion.
I am thrilled to post Show # 223, November 6, my interview with Prof. Frank Pasquale of the University of Maryland School of Law, author of The Black Box Society: Technologies of Search, Reputation, and Finance. I am an unabashed fan and admirer of Frank’s work, and find his ability to annotate blog posts to be the gold standard. So this was a difficult interview for me, simply because I was tempted to use the classic professorial one-word prompt “discuss,” and leave the microphone open for Frank to deliver a monologue for 50 minutes.
Alas, I did not do that. Frank’s book discusses the challenges inherent in commercial secrecy from a information access and democracy perspective. Focusing on algorithmic computing, he runs through the opacity of computing and its impact on the average consumer in areas ranging from finance to Internet searches. We discussed these challenging issues and potential solutions in our discussion. These critical issues deserve the attention that Frank pays to them, and I hope that you enjoy the discussion as much as I did.
I’m pleased to post Show # 216, July 9, my interview with Prof. David Schanzer of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, on Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency (NSA). It was a bit over a year ago that Edward Snowden appeared on the scene as the source of a seemingly-endless array of information about the NSA’s legal and illegal spying. Snowden has since become a household name for his willingness to expose this behavior despite significant personal risk, which has caused scholars, policymakers and others to weigh in on how Snowden should be viewed. In my interview with David, we discussed David’s views on Snowden as a felon, and whether the “whistleblower” label is appropriate. In the process, we also discussed some of the NSA’s activities and how policymakers might approach reform of the NSA. David’s experience in the counter-terrorism and law enforcement world is vast, and I greatly enjoyed the discussion.
I am pleased to post two more shows for this quarter. The first, Show #193, October 2 is my interview with Prof. Anupam Chander of UC Davis Law, author of the just-released book The Electronic Silk Road. Anupam has written a wonderful study of the impact of the Internet and technology more broadly on trade and the transference of culture. From the role of the Internet in allowing complex transactions to occur to the impact of the shift from goods to services, we had a wide-ranging and fun discussion. Anupam raises and questions many challenging issues and assumptions involving trade and technology, and I learned much from the book and the discussion!
My second interview, Show #194, October 16, is my interview with Chris Marsden of the University of Sussex and Ian Brown of Oxford University, authors of Regulating Code: Good Governance and Better Regulation in the Information Age. Ian and Chris have written a terrific analysis of the impact of “code” (read: technology broadly) on regulations themselves. By examining several “hard cases,” Ian and Chris offer insights into how regulatory and legislative practice might react to and change as a result of technology. We discussed copyright, regulatory processes and other high-profile issues. I greatly enjoyed our discussion!
Look for more new shows throughout November! And stay tuned for show #200!
I’m pleased to post the first two shows of the summer quarter. The first, Show #187, July 3, is my interview with Prof. Dave Opderbeck of Seton Hall Law School on FISA courts and NSA surveillance. David recently created a dataset which shows that very few government requests have been denied by the FISA court. While it may be tempting to dismiss this conclusion as obvious, it is useful to explore it in more depth. And so we did, discussing the role of the FISA court and its relationship to the Snowden/PRISM affair, and the implications of the data, political, social and legal. I enjoyed the interview.
The second show, Show #188, July 10, is my interview with Ron Epstein, CEO of EpicenterIP, on non-practicing entities/patent trolls, or as Ron puts it, “patent investors.” Ron is one of the most prominent people in this highly controversial world of patent investing and arbitrage. Regardless of the monicker placed on the activity, the purchase of patent portfolios raises fascinating questions regarding the role of patents in our economy and the limits of permissible use of the monopoly power that it confers. We explored the range of these questions, and I greatly enjoyed the discussion.
Look for more shows to be posted in a week or so, and thanks for listening!
I am pleased to post the first four shows of the summer quarter.
The first, Show #166, July 10, is my interview with Prof. Brett Frischmann of Cardozo Law, author of Infrastructure: The Social Value of Shared Resources. Brett has written a thoroughly-researched and thought-provoking account of the benefits and challenges of viewing our infrastructure, from the energy grid to the Internet, as a commons/shared resource. Drawing on his (and others’) writing on the topic of the cultural commons going back over 10 years, Brett’s book was a great topic and I very much enjoyed the discussion.
The second show, Show #167, July 17, is my interview with Profs. Francesca Coppa of Muhlenberg College and Tisha Turk of the University of Minnesota at Morris on vidding. Vidding is a massively creative effort on the part of many artists who reinterpret video to reveal/highlight/interpret their political and social moorings. We had a wide-ranging discussion about the purpose, meaning and technology of vidding, and I learned much in a fun conversation!
The third show, Show #168, July 24 is my interview with Mike Masnick of Techdirt. Techdirt is one of my go-to news sites for all issues surrounding technology law policymaking and challenges, and Mike’s reporting is always well-cited, sharp and entertaining. Indeed, he regularly covers a number of technology issues that are simply ignored in almost all other technology news sites, like the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. I learned much from the interview!
The fourth interview is Show #169, July 31, my interview with Berin Szoka of TechFreedom, co-editor of The Next Digital Decade. Berin is a leading thinker on technology policy and writes from a libertarian perspective. He amassed a stellar group of commentators for his book, and we discussed several of the questions that he posed to his contributors. I’m a fan of Berin and his work and was excited to have him on the show!
Look for the last three shows of the summer within the next week or two, and please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for future guests!
May brings the combined professor’s pincer of grading and writing deadlines. So it is that I submitted my 3L grades yesterday and now I’m posting (finally!) four new shows.
The first, Show #159, March 16, is my interview with Prof. Julie Cohen of Georgetown Law, author of the book Configuring the Networked Self. Julie has written a fascinating and forward-thinking critique of our relationship to technology and the primary challenges facing consumers of technology as they navigate the increasing intrusions of technology into our everyday lives. We covered a variety of topics in this discussion, from social constructs to secrecy, and part two (to be scheduled) will focus on a major portion of the book that was not covered here: privacy. I greatly enjoyed the interview.
Show #160, April 17 is my interview with Prof. Jennifer Holt of the University of California Santa Barbara, author of the book Empires of Entertainment. Jennifer looks at the period just prior to the explosion of the commercial Internet, 1980-1996, and focuses on the changes and consolidations that occurred during that tumultuous time in the history of the entertainment industry. Jennifer examines not just the business environment during this era, but also the legal and social contours that lead to where we were at the dawn of the Internet, and in that way has made a unique contribution to the literature on this era. We covered not just that recent history, but also some current events like the battle over SOPA and PIPA. The interview was fun and I hope that you enjoy it as well.
The third interview, Show #161, April 24 is my interview with Prof. Hamilton Bean of the University of Colorado Denver, author of the book No More Secrets: Open Source Information and the Reshaping of U.S. Intelligence. Hamilton has written a first-of-a-kind analysis of the use of public information (i.e., open source) in the collection and analysis functions of the US intelligence community. Drawing on many first-hand interviews, he focuses on the mystique and myths around secrecy in the intelligence community and the challenges of institutionalizing the use of open source information. Given the increasing study of “secrecy” as a field, I was excited to have Hamilton on the show and enjoyed the interview.
Finally, Show #162, May 1 is my interview with Prof. Daniel Margocsy of Hunter College, co-editor of States of Secrecy, a new volume of the British Journal for the History of Science. Daniel has brought together many great contributors, including several former guests on Hearsay Culture like Mario Biagioli and Peter Galison to analyze secrecy as a political, legal and social construct in the scientific community. Drawing on the history of the theory of secrecy, we (in some measure) continued the discussion from the previous week to focus on what secrecy means to the continued flow of knowledge and information to and from the scientific community. This was yet another interview that I found personally illuminating and fun.
Thanks for your patience and look for more new shows on the way soon!
In this incredibly busy semester (i.e., I’ve posted my most recent draft on SSRN, The Social Layer of Freedom of Information Law, which focuses on information formatting issues in the Freedom of Information Act, and I’m still facing multiple writing deadlines), I am pleased to (finally) post the first three shows of the quarter. The first, Show #156, January 27 is my interview with Prof. A. Michael Froomkin of the University of Miami Law School on Internet kill switch legislation. Amidst the furor surrounding SOPA and PIPA, this legislation has flown under the radar. Its focus is to allow the government, under certain circumstances, to shut off Internet access — a scary proposition without significant oversight, due process and accountability. This legislation has ramifications from speech to criminal law, and Mike and I had a wide ranging discussion that I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
The second show, Show #157, February 17, is my interview with Prof. Jorge Contreras of American University Washington College of Law regarding his draft article Wait for It … Latency, Copyright and the Private Ordering of Scientific Publishing. We have focused on issues of open access to knowledge on several occasions on Hearsay Culture, but never in the context of scientific publishing. Jorge and I discussed the impact of copyright law on traditional sharing of research among scientists and what can be done to address its impact. Given its import in forstering scientific advancement, I was thrilled to have Jorge on the show and I greatly enjoyed the discussion.
The last show, Show #158, February 24, is my interview with Prof. Derek Bambauer of Brooklyn Law School, author of Orwell’s Armchair. Derek has written another very insightful and forward-thinking article where he makes a counter-intuitive suggestion regarding government censorship of speech: we should establish rules and procedures for government censorship. At the core of Derek’s argument is a realist view that the US government is censoring, so rather than do it through a variety of indirect and obscure methods, we should have a policy so that censorship can be done in the open. We discussed his views on censorship, his solution and potential criticisms and concerns. Derek is always a great guest and this interview was no exception.
Enjoy (and now I’m back to writing).
I am pleased to post two more shows for this summer quarter. The first is Show #145, July 27, my interview with Prof. Peter Galison of Harvard University, discussing his documentary Secrecy. Peter’s documentary takes a visually and substantively striking look at the secrecy state that exists (it seems) in the entire Western world post-September 11. The first documentarian on Hearsay Culture, Peter’s work allowed me to take a close look at the role of secrecy not only in national security realms but those of informational sharing more generally. Peter’s interview closes the three-part summer secrecy series (the other guests were Prof. Archon Fung and Micah Sifry).
The second is Show #146, August 3, my interview with Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine, author of What Technology Wants. Kevin’s book takes technology seriously and examines the “wants and needs” of technology in its interactions with humans. In other words, what attributes of technology mesh well and not so well with humans and how humans interact with each other? In our discussion, we spanned several technological challenges facing society and Kevin’s insights, based on decades around and in the tech sphere, were explored. I greatly enjoyed both interviews!
The focus of much of my research and writing is the role of secrecy in intellectual property and its impact on governmental operations and society. Thus, I’m very pleased to post two more shows for the summer quarter, part of a three-part secrecy series for the summer. The first show, Show #143, July 13, is my interview with Prof. Archon Fung of the JFK School of Government at Harvard University, discussing transparency and technology. Archon has written extensively on transparency, democratic governance and technology, and we focused on some of his recent writings in the area, including his book chapter Open Government and Open Society in Open Government, edited by Daniel Lathrop and Laurel Ruma. Archon’s insights on the role of technology in transparency and the current state of open government were among the topics of this wide-ranging and fun discussion.
The second show, Show #144, July 20, is my interview with Micah Sifry of the Personal Democracy Forum, author of WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency. Micah has written a wonderful study of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and its role in government operations and our view of government as a whole. We focused not only on WikiLeaks but more broadly on how government can and should operate in the face of massive technological changes in the power of governments to both share and control information. I hope that you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!