Education experts say the future of learning will be determined by students

3 05 2010

WWW 2010 - "The Future of Learning is the Web." From left to right: Negar Mottahedeh, Mark Anthony Neal, Tony O'Driscoll, Cathy Davidson. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker.

Though they discussed a wide array of topics, the Future of Learning Panel centered its conversation on one theme articulated by session Chair Cathy Davidson: “How do we make the most of traditional institutions and unite worlds that are not always part of our institutions as traditionally conceived?”

The panel consisted of five professors from Duke University:

  • Cathy Davidson, co-founder of HASTAC – the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory
  • Laurent Dubois, a historian of French colonialism and the Caribbean
  • Negar Mottahedeh, a highly respected academic author who staged the first-ever Twitter Film Festival
  • Mark Anthony Neal, the author of four books, a frequent commentator for National Public Radio and contributor to several on-line media outlets
  • Tony O’Driscoll, author of “Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration,” with Karl M. Kapp.

In addition to discussing the future, the panelists talked about some of their individual experiments with  technology in the classroom. Mottahedeh spoke about her experiment with the Twitter Film Festival in her introduction to film studies class. Students posted video clips to a class blog and Tweeted about them with links to analysis. The effort attracted more than 300 followers from all walks of life.

Dubois is currently working on a project called the Haiti Lab that will link Haitian students with faculty through the Internet to continue education while the country is still in a state of disrepair.

WWW 2010 - "The Future of Learning is the Web." From left to right: Laurent Dubois, Negar Mottahedeh, Mark Anthony Neal. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker.

“There’s a need for the university to be a space of rapid reaction,” he said. “Haiti needs an immediate plan and action.”

Davidson drew national press attention by writing a blog post titled “How to Crowdsource Grading,” which encouraged educators to use peer learning to evaluate students’ work and make it public. Now that the end of the semester is approaching, Davidson said her class did surprisingly well, producing a high caliber of work and motivated by the fact that it will be published.

O’Driscoll is teaching a class in which students put all deliverables into the creative commons and evaluate one another’s work. He said students held one another accountable for the material they produced, even asking to use his criteria to assign grades.

Neal has used his classes to take students’ knowledge into the Durham community through live webcasts, one of which drew 10,000 viewers. He also posts prompts to his exam questions publicly to employ generative learning.

Much of the panel’s spirited discussion was generated from audience questions, addressing issues like the use of Twitter during class, the ways technology affects student attention, and computer games as motivational learning.

“To allow students to be on their blackberries and computers is giving up a lot of power associated with being in ivory tower,” Anthony said.

WWW 2010 - "The Future of Learning is the Web." Cathy Davidson. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights

Though some argue that electrons distract students rather than enhance their experiences in the classroom, Davidson pointed out that just because students stare at their instructors does not mean that they are paying attention.

Some of the panelists felt that the use of social media during class could actually enhance the student experience. O’Driscoll said he uses a class hash tag to monitor student interest and questions, as a replacement for the “note card technique” of collecting questions. There are even filter applications available to help determine the most relevant questions.

“Teaching does not exist in a pristine way,” Davidson said, noting that learning will continue to change as technology advances.

O’Driscoll said he hopes that more educators will follow the example of a game-based school called Quest to Learn that uses the “magic circle” method to enthrall students. He said teachers need to find “the magic between solid instructional design and the magic circle, and ground it deeply in good, solid pedagogy.”

Mottahedeh ended the discussion by noting that it isn’t the technology that will determine the future but the students.

“Students are the difference in the world, and we’ll figure out together how they will make that difference,” she said.

– By Rachel Cieri

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Coleman of SAS leads FutureWeb panel on Internet’s impact on public health

1 05 2010
Charles Coleman SAS

Charles Coleman, managing director and senior strategist of the SAS Institute’s Education and Medical/Healthcare practice, talks about predictive applications being developed to leverage information to serve public health goals. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights

Charles Coleman, managing director and senior strategist of the SAS Institute’s Education and Medical/Healthcare practice,  led a panel discussion on the future of public health and the Web during Friday afternoon’s FutureWeb session. Panelists included Jeff Heard, a senior researcher at Renaissance Computing Institute and Deborah Tate and Kurt Ribisl, both of the UNC Health Behavior and Health Education Department.

Coleman noted that “Public health is in the process of catching up with other industries.” He introduced a panel of experts who are working to find ways to help better leverage new technology tools to make a significant difference in the future of public health.

Coleman talked about a new program that just came into existence the past couple of months titled “NC Be Prepared.” “It is a theory and a vision for proactive surveillance [of public health] that has three key elements in it,” he said. “First, ‘early cuing,’ which means, ‘ah, I’m starting to see something evolve, second, pattern recognition, meaning ‘I’ve seen this before, it looks like this,’ and third, situational awareness, which is kind of a government term for ‘what is the situation? – I need to be briefed, I need to act, I need to know what to do next.'”

He said “Tomorrow” is a part of this NC Be Prepared vision. It is the predictive and preventative aspect to this program, asking “what could happen?” “what is about to happen?” and “what can I do to prevent what’s about to happen?”

He said this is all an interesting intersection of advance analytics and biosurveillance using some high-end algorithms that allow you to do predictive indicator analysis and some surveillance on the preventative side.

“The idea,” he said, “is to identify a problem earlier, whether it’s an outbreak or a disease, whether it’s sarin gas when it’s terrorism, whether it’s West Nile disease or its H1N1, etc. The whole idea is to get to the point so I can see what is developing and I can act on it.”

He added that tremendous amounts of research are being driven by technology today. “A lot of the health surveillance since 9/11 is being powered by Internet, World Wide Web-based applications, not only at the federal level, but at the state and local level.”

Jeff Heard

Jeff Heard discusses his research into public health and the use of the Web in public service at the FutureWeb conference in Raleigh, N.C., in April 2010. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights

A farmers’ market may not be an entity many think of as having a vast amount of research potential. But Jeff Heard of RENCI, the Renaissance Computing Institute, said tracking census data will bring more opportunities for nutrition from farmers’ markets to lower-income families. He works to link local, sustainable food systems to public health.

Heard asks: “How does eating local impact obesity, the environment and the economy?’

“The aim of our company is to engineer tools around the new, massive amounts of data coming in on the Internet and computing the power of that data… and to embrace the fact that not everyone’s a computer expert,” Heard said.

The overarching goal of his project is to increase the availability of local food to local markets, in a way that gives more people access to the resources.“To increase the variability of local food markets so we can increase access,” he said. “We embrace the fact that not everyone is not a computer expert …and we try to build tools that people in the research community can use.”

One of those tools is a geo-location application that uses open source to acquire data from the US census about farmers’ markets, the Farmers’ Market Geolocator Tool, which “takes a lot of open source tools that are already out there and puts them together in a very unique way,” Heard said.

While such a tool won’t replace the knowledge that the people involved in local farmer co-ops have or tell  exactly where a market might best be built, it does indicate various strengths and weaknesses of a particular area. “No geolocator tool is going to replace the local knowledge that a farmer’s co-op has about their market,” he said, “but the goal is to show the strengths and weaknesses of local sites, based on key economic indicators.”

RENCI uses Huff’s Probability Model to compute with other markets and uncover source population and income. “We make the tool widely available by making it web-based,” Heard said.

Deborah Tate FutureWeb Health Future

Deborah Tate of UNC's School of Public Health discusses "Internet intervention" - the use of online tools to help people get healthy and stay healthy - at the FutureWeb conference at WWW2010 in Raleigh. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights

Deborah Tate of the UNC School of Public Health is using the Web to advance her work with health behavior. She has been researching obesity and how individuals can manage weight via the Web. She began her work in 1992 when she created a Web engine to look at the walking behavior of people.

“Internet intervention,” as she calls it, allows for a combination of technology with a support system. “Many of the leading causes of death are preventable, such as smoking and obesity,” she said. “The problem is many people don’t know how to implement changes and maintain motivation.”

Tate and her colleagues have developed technological tools to change these detrimental behaviors.

In the case of obesity, on which much of her research focuses, Tate realized the health industry must go beyond traditional means of support in order to reach out to such a large population. The Internet offers an approach with a wide reach and the capability of bringing people together. For instance, the Internet allows those suffering from obesity to access “transforming treatments.”

deborah tate FutureWeb future health

Tate says that Internet-based information is vital, but people still need face-to-face human networks to help them overcome health problems. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights

The methods are evolving over time to include new interactive components, enhanced by technology.

“IHC’s (interdisciplinary health communications) are usually Web-based,” she said. “They are found to have significant positive effects on knowledge, contributing to social support and (favorable) clinical and behavioral outcomes.”

Tate has studied whether or not Web-based interventions are favored over non-Web-based interventions. What she found was that people seem to prefer managing obesity through Web programs, including online diaries, video education sessions and online weight monitoring.

“We’re getting more evidence that these kinds of approaches work,” she said.

Tate stressed though that the online tools are not enough; personal support is still crucial to help individuals with medical obstacles.

“We can’t just link them to cool apps and expect those apps to change their behavior,” Tate said. “They need support along the way. How you use the Internet to change behavior matters.”

Kurt Ribisl

Kurt Ribisl discusses the dark side of online health - concerns over access to drugs and underage purchases of items such as cigarettes at the FutureWeb conference at WWW2010. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights

Following Tate, Kurt Ribisl discussed the dangers and harsh realities of various shady online vendors. He discussed, for instance, how minors have access to ordering products such as cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, guns and even prescription medications such as oxycontin on the Web.

“Some are totally illegal…Some are totally tangible,” Ribisl said. “I’ve looked at the regulation of these issues online, and you have a disconnected process between ordering and receiving (products), unlike in the real world. We need to really think about what’s actually being sold and promoted on the Internet,” Ribisl said.

He stressed that one of the biggest obstacles is that it is difficult to find out who is behind this content because of the plethora of domain names.

Ribisl conducted a study of the ways in which teenagers buy cigarettes online. The only proof of age required by all of the online vendors he studied was a check-box “verifying” that the person making the request was at least 18 years old. “It was a very flimsy type of age-verification process,” Ribisl said.

He found 76 of 83 purchase attempts were successful, a rate of 92 percent of underage teens who were able to order cigarettes.

In 2005, a landmark agreement was passed ceasing payment processes for Internet cigarette vendors online. The same year, UPS, DHL and Fedex ceased shipment of cigarettes. In 2008, 34 states passed laws regulating Internet cigarette vendors. But illegal underage transactions are still often taking place and people of all ages are often acquiring drugs they should not be using because online vendors are making them easily available.

Ribisl said there are three ways that policy makers have attempted to address the problem, none of which have been completely successful: individual states have sued vendors; state revenue departments have pursued smokers; and some states have tried to cut vendors off from certain business partners.

“There is still some evidence that certain types of policies may eventually have some type of impact on the issue,” Ribisl said.

– By Ashley Dischinger, Laura Smith and Janna Anderson

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EPIC’s Rotenberg talks ‘privacy paradox,’ legislative challenges with Rainie

1 05 2010

Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet, led a final session at FutureWeb in which he discussed privacy issues with Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC.)

WWW 2010 - "Special Session: Marc Rotenberg & Lee Rainie." From left to right: Marc Rotenberg, Lee Rainie. (Photo: Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. )

Rotenberg is arguably the best-known privacy advocate in the world, and he and his team work to bring to light the emerging civil liberties issues tied to the many uses of technology.

“Mark is my number one teacher on these issues,” Rainie said in his introduction. “He has schooled us (at Pew) both directly and indirectly, and his work has stood up remarkably and robustly as this environment has changed.”

Rotenberg addressed the privacy paradox, where on one level Americans tend to place value in the ability to control identity, but at the same time they don’t always stay true to this principle.

“The challenge is that people are constantly being coerced to give up data and to make information available because of some opportunity that is presented to them,” he said, in an indirect but obvious reference to online social networks like Facebook and online search companies such as Google.

He noted the historical similarities between the early years of the automobile and the early years of the Internet. Drivers in the early 1900s were in the similar situation of using a new product, despite the lack of safety features. Because it offers advantages, despite the threats to their well-being the consumer decides to use the product. As the product evolves, the challenge then becomes how to enhance it’s benefits to consumers while reducing the necessary risks.

“The key insight is that at the end of the day, it isn’t the driver going to auto safety school making the experience safer,” he said. “It is not possible to effectively place this burden on the driver. It has to be the responsibility of the manufacturer. I think that’s the big shift we’re going to see on the Internet privacy front.”

Rotenberg then spoke to the political atmosphere of the issue, saying it’s becoming more common to see people speaking up. He finds it encouraging that young people are participating in the conversation, citing the example of the Facebook group created to protest the largest social network’s new terms of service.

The launch of Google Buzz created similar activity involving privacy issues. After the introduction, Gmail users resisted the violation of privacy rights and there was an enormous pushback on Google.

“The next step in the maturing of the privacy debate is making the connections between recognition and… real action by Congress,” Rotenberg told Rainie. He is a strong advocate of specific privacy legislation and says new laws are necessary in this new environment.

Rotenberg added that it is not right for our representatives in Congress to trade off too much of people’s personal privacy in exchange for national security and government access.

“If you really lose privacy, it will be very hard to recapture,” he said.

Rotenberg said ideas about privacy in the Internet context tend to be universal around the world, and it is interesting how much agreement there is on basic principles. People tend to reflect similar values due to a common understanding of the issue.

A topic that many people are now concerned with is privacy in a mobile environment. Good privacy laws will focus on the collection and use of personal data from mobile devices, he said.

“People should be able to make decisions about what to post online,” Rotenberg said. “That’s what freedom’s about, and that’s a good thing. But when companies start to take that data (and analyze and distribute it)… I’m really uncomfortable with that.”

– By Ashley Dischinger

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FutureWeb open source panel discusses its evolution, growth, governance

30 04 2010

"The Future: Harnessing the Power of Open Source." From left to right: Chris DiBona, Brian Bouterse, Paul Jones. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights.

With Linux creator Red Hat just down the street from the Raleigh Convention Center, open source has been a huge part of the Web’s development, and the Future of Open Source Panel reiterated that fact.

Chaired by Red Hat Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs Tom Rabon, the panel included three men with from diverse business and technology backgrounds:

Brian Bouterse – Research Associate, Secure Open Systems Initiative with NC State University and Networking and Systems Specialist, The Friday Institute

Chris DiBona – Open Source and Public Programs Manager, Google

Paul Jones – Director,

To show how far they’ve come, the panelists spoke about their first experiences with the Internet. Bouterse, the youngest of the panelists, first used the Internet as a 10-year-old and became fascinated by the “button with the little world” that took him outside of the AOL realm. DiBona first experienced the Internet through a Compuserve game and remembers arguing with a sevice provider for a faster connection.

Jones has a unique story in which he had Tim Berners-Lee demonstrate his protocol from his rejected paper when he visited Jones at the University of North Carolina.

“Had a couple of beers and then we installed it and it almost worked,” he said. “Then we had a couple of more beers and it did work.”

The panelists also spoke about the start of their involvement in open source. DiBona said he became involved with Linux in college and that “it’s really nice being able to control your own destiny.” Similarly, Bouterse said the availability of the Red Hat Linux tools gave him the access and ability to become interested.

On the other hand, Jones said he was given Unix by AT&T years ago, and then it was taken away. AT&T then issued a statement restricting any programmer who had seen Unix from working on other operating systems because they had been “mentally contaminated.” This restriction, of course, did not last very long.

The panelists then evaluated the state of open source in its growth and development. DiBona said he’d put it “at the knee,” and Bouterse said it was somewhere in between a toddler and a teenager. Jones said the base ideas were good, but not enough projects “fork” and take a creative turn.

Jones said strong intellectual property laws will continue to help the growth of open source because it will encourage people to create their own code rather than stealing from someone else. He compared open source to American literature in the country’s early days; publishers preferred to print British literature because it was not copyrighted or the copyright was not enforceable.

The panelists had differing views about the government’s role in open source. Bouterse said open source is the correct mechanism for transparency, while Jones emphasized the roles of procurement, bondable stock and availability, and drawing on subsidized intellectual endeavors.

When asked how the public could help sustain and grow open source, Bouterse advised people to get involved in any way they can. If they cannot create content, they can become users. If they do not become users, Bouterse advises them to “take a moment and recognize when you are benefiting from open source.”

Jones takes it one step futher, asking the public to honor content creators by attributing their work to encourage them to keep contributing.

“I wouldn’t want to live in a world without open source,” Bouterse said.

-by Rachel Cieri

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Marc Rotenberg leads panel discussion on the future of privacy policies, education

30 04 2010
Annie Anton

Annie Anton discusses privacy and applications at the FutureWeb conference, part of WWW2010 in Raleigh.

Marc Rotenberg, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), led an interactive session this afternoon on the future of privacy and the Web. Panelists included Dave Hoffman of Intel, Anne Klinefelter of the UNC School of Law, Jolynn Dellinger of Data Privacy Day, Annie Anton of NC State and Woodrow Hartzog of UNC’s School of Mass Communication.

Rotenberg, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), led a lively and interactive session at FutureWeb on the future of privacy and the Web that touched on many aspects but mostly focused on social media and cloud computing.

Klinefelter addressed some policy issues from an educational standpoint. She said that readers’ privacy has long been a concern of librarians, but it is a problem that has been amplified online. Since books have gone digital with the invention of E-readers and tablets, people’s uses of content can be tracked and the information is not solely personal anymore.

“Some of the privacy settings can be surprising,” she said. “What’s really surprising is the way your data about your reading habits are being shared. You need to think about the way your data is being used. If it’s for commercial or governmental purposes you are being disempowered.”

Klinefelter said Internet users should band together to protest, in order to achieve privacy settings on all personal online content. Without the implementation of fair and open policies, the consequences can include identity theft, access to financial records and the compromising of health records.

Marc Rotenberg

Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, leads expert panelists through a lively discussion of privacy issues.

The panelists discussed how social media can expose many layers of information people once kept private. Rotenberg asked audience members if they think employers have the right to look at political candidates’ Facebook pages. The majority of people raised their hands said they did not agree.

One audience member noted that a lot of the information on Facebook, such as that about religion, political opinion and sexuality, would not be legal to ask about during a formal job interview.

Antón, co-founder and director of, said most people have a reasonable expectation of privacy but don’t realize they have to set up specific privacy settings on Facebook to achieve that expectation. And age doesn’t matter, she said. “I don’t think this is a generational issue,” Antón said. “Some people know and some people don’t.”

Antón addressed further challenges of online privacy rights, including expectations of privacy on social networks. “A lot of people have a reasonable expectation of privacy but don’t understand they have to participate in setting things up so they can have that expectation of privacy,” she said.

There is a large percentage of the population that remains uninformed about privacy issues, though Anton doesn’t view it as a generational glitch. “Some people know, some people don’t – it’s as simple as that,” she said.

How do we express privacy policies more effectively? Antón said society needs to address issues such as Australia’s censorship controversy and consider how to balance privacy rights with national security and free speech.

Jolynn Dellinger of Data Privacy Day discusses a point about privacy education at the FutureWeb conference at WWW2010 in Raleigh.

Dellinger, of Data Privacy Day, spoke about the challenges to informing the general public about privacy rights.

“I’ve seen a disconnect between common knowledge and technology,” she said. “I think it’s fair to say a lot of people using Google and Facebook have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes, much less having real knowledge that will help them make informed decisions.”

Dellinger’s work related to Data Privacy Day tries to take education and put it into the hands of people to help with individual privacy practice. She said education is essential because it’s impossible to actively participate without an informed voice, adding that she hopes more tools on privacy education will be available in the future.

“There are people in big corporation that do care about privacy,” she said. “It’s trying to get those materials in the hands of people who can use them (such as educators).”

Woodrow Hartzog, formerly a clerk with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, spoke about privacy as “an umbrella term,” encompassing two issues: obscurity and confidentiality. There is a certain value that lies in obscurity that is only going to increase, he said.

Woodrow Hartzog says privacy is an umbrella term for "obscurity and confidentiality."

He compared the explosion of online content to the urbanization of cities, which allows people to become somewhat lost in the crowd.

“With this explosion of content on the Web we’ve moved to a place now where the Web is not just broadcast,” he said. “Now it’s this never-ending series of back alleys and there are invisible parts of the Web that do not show up in search engines.”

Hartzog noted that people can find ways to hide their blogs from search-engine results, and they can refrain from the real-time conversation, which is also more searchable today, with some content like that of Twitter being exposed even in a Google search. He said people should not be shy about requesting more confidentiality when they want it online.

The transparency of companies in confidentiality agreements is crucial when thinking about the future of privacy, he said.

David Hoffman of Intel concentrated his remarks on cloud computing and continued the discussion on privacy’s future by referencing the past. “I think cloud computing is somewhat like how we’ve been physically reaching the clouds (through commercial air travel) for the past 50 years,” he said. He noted that this aspect of human sharing – by storing information in remote databanks – “in the cloud” instead of on a local hard drive – is nothing new. But mass adoption of the cloud for storage of vast amounts of people’s most personal information is.

Our culture has developed to the point where we have a substantial reliance upon technology, along with a need to trust this technology – we trust it to be available and functional, to possess a certain measure of security assurance and trust that privacy will be respected, he said.

Hoffman said he is unsure of whether we are doing a satisfactory job of meeting these privacy expectations. “We’re heading to a global digital infrastructure,” he said. He described the key problems can that arise online include the fact that private information can be stolen or hacked and that the information stored in the cloud can be lost.

“We are now relying upon the cloud to such a degree that threats we don’t know about can create harm,” he said. “We trust it to be available, functional. We have a need to trust that our privacy will be respected.”

Hoffman noted that policy should be changed to compensate for new interactive technologies that allow for increased violation of privacy.

Klinefelter agreed that privacy laws need to have a second look.

“I would like the legislation – to have more an opt-in than an opt-out,” form of online privacy she said.

Antón said laws should changed to be compliant with software that can protect privacy, and Hartzog said he hopes to see revision in surveillance law.

– By Ashley Dischinger and Laura Smith


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Bob Young shares insights on future of publishing business model

30 04 2010

Bob Young admits that he could be playing golf for the rest of his life, but he won’t. And it’s not just because he’s a bad golfer.

Instead, he’ll be using his management insight from his management experience at RedHat to help authors publish and distribute their work, helping them overcome the Internet’s “terrible signal to noise ratio.”

According to this RedHat founder and CEO, as human communications and media change, all the rules on how to be successful change. He said everyone has deep expertise in very narrow field, and Lulu is dedicated to finding a way for the Internet to deliver this expertise.

The idea, he said, came from his time at RedHat. He compared the company and its competitors to David and Goliath, but not in the way one would expect.

“We are, in fact, Goliath because we have a bigger engineering team than Google or Microsoft can afford to employ,” he said, referring to the hundreds of programmers contributing to the open source code. “One-third of the contributions came from dedicated and enthusiastic amateurs. No way of compensating them because their no way of evaluating their contributions.”

Their compensation, he said, could come from recording their expertise on a platform like Lulu. He told one of his favorite stories of a retiring scientist publishing a text on timing differentials in subatomic particles, a topic the author said had an audience of 214 people, 170 of which the author knew personally.

“His work would have retired with him if he didn’t publish it,” Young said. “The future of publishing on internet – if this is going to work, you have to rethink the way it works.”

The company has done just that, eliminating the “author to agent to publisher to reader” separation. The site also employs a social mechanism to bring readers to the content they desire.

“We read books because someone told us to!” he said. “It is a social mechanism, how we choose the books we read.”

Social networks allow the readers to communicate their favorite books so their friends can find the most relevant content. He explained that his teenage daughter reads Harry Potter instead of a better, less popular fantasy story because she wants to read the same book as her friends, enhancing her social interactions.

In terms of electronic readers, which make up 10 percent of Lulu’s sales, Young sees it as just a matter of time before “dead tree readers” fall out of popularity. He does not see Lulu’s books as good candidates for an advertising-based electronic business model because they do not have big enough readership, but it could be a good business model for more popular titles.

He explained that Lulu’s economic model works because they print 2.5 million books a year, making the printing cost low, and they don’t print books until customers have ordered them.

He said he believes that libraries and newspapers have outdated business models and that they will have to adapt rapidly in order to survive.

“We could paint a model of the future, and there’s not a chance one thing will come true!” he said.

“Lulu is likely to be my last project,” Young said, noting that he will likely move on to share his management insight in one of the area’s universities.

-by Rachel Cieri

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Carl Malamud explains rules for radicals

30 04 2010

Carl Malamud of discusses the rules for radicals. (Photo by Dan Rickershauser)

Day three of the FutureWeb conference, part of WWW2010, was started off with a keynote from Carl Malamud, the president and founder of and an advocate for the public domain.

He shared a brief history of his encounters with seven bureaucratic institutions over the years, as he fought to convince the government and some private institutions to put public information into the public domain.

He is arguably the world’s foremost public domain advocate, and his message was aimed at equipping everyone in the room with the tools to save, swap, share, negotiate and thrive doing it.

“I hope to leave you with some rules for radicals,” he said proposing, in essence, a how-to guide for fighting off nay-sayers, getting the opposition on your side of the ring and rallying public support. The tips were framed around his personal efforts to move documents of public ownership and importance to be widely accessible on the web, and available for free. It’s a task that often meant elbowing off institutions that were turning a profit on what was technically public property.

His tales of working with bureaucracies ranged from working with the International Telecommunication Union in the early 90s to release the Blue Book, an essential resource for the development of the Internet that laid out telecommunication standards, to his more recent struggles to get video of historic importance available on YouTube. The tips were framed around his personal efforts to move documents of public ownership and importance to be widely accessible on the web, and available for free. It’s a task that often meant elbowing off institutions that were turning a profit on what was technically public property.

Malamud reminisced about the early days of the Internet, merrily name-dropping in tales about his encounters with the early initiators of the standards and protocols of today’s highly evolved networks – including his experience seeing Tim Berners-Lee give one of the first demonstrations of the Web.

“There was the Internet, and then there were respectable networks,” he joked as he discussed an early Internet that was based on open standards with no king.

He shared anecdotes about the winding path of permissions he took to getting to the point where he has digitized hundreds of government films for the Internet Archive and YouTube. He has also published a 5-million-page crawl of the Government Printing Office.

Along the way he shared …

Carl Malamud’s RULES for RADICALS

Rule 1: Call everything you do an experiment.

“Word started to trickle back that maybe the Internet was bigger than previously thought,” Malamud said.Getting the antiquated file of the Blue Book into a usable form took some effort. And who knew that putting the book online would consume practically all of the bandwidth the National Science Foundation had at the time?

Rule 2: When the authorities fire the gun, run as fast as you can that way, when they get that queesy feeling, it’s too late to stop.

When the congressional overseers of the SEC gave the green light to make EDGAR data accessible on the web, a number of players quickly aligned to make the dream possible.

“If code is law then law is code,” he said. “It has to be open source.”

Malamud described how he did a lot of the “future is here demos” when researching the Internet in the early 1990’s.

He worked with Steve Wolff of the National Science Foundation to receive an NSF grant. Ninety days after receiving the grant, the first server was up and running. It ran for a year and a half. By mid 1995 there were 50,000 people a day using the service, Malamud said.

Rule 3: Eyeballs rule, build up a user base and you will have more leverage.

“Build up a user base and you have more leverage than you would just blowing smoke,” Malamud said. When Malamud worked to get the SEC to take responsibility for putting the EDGAR database online, it certainly helped that 50,000 people a day were using the service. And having those users fill the inboxes of News Gingrich, Al Gore and the chairman of the SEC helped to prove the importance of having the EDGAR database in the public domain.

Rule 4: When you achieve you objective don’t be afraid to turn on a dime and be nice.

It might take some stern words, straight-arming and threats to get people to comply with open source requests, but once you get there be nice to the organizations you’re working with. A few years later, Google bought YouTube for 1.5 million and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) developed in Washington, DC, which allows for access to approximately over 3 million publications covering 350 subject areas.

“The nice thing about the government” Malamud said…. “is that for the most part, it is public domain.”

Rule 5: Keep asking and keep rephrasing the question until they can say, “yes.”

When the National Technical Information Service was charging rates like $50 for a 29-minute government-owned VHS video, Malamud called foul. He soon found that by law the NTIS had to cover their costs, and low demand for the videos were the culprit for the unreasonable fees. He was able to work a deal where the government would loan his group FedFlicks the tapes, they would digitize it and put it in the public domain, and then return the VHS to the government. A simple solution that just took a few tries to arrive at.

Rule 6: When you get the microphone, make your point clearly.

Malamud described the importance of open source.

“We write down the rules that citizen must obey,” he said. “How can we be citizens of law if that isn’t open source?”

It took some work to show government officials that they were getting royally duped by a deal made with Amazon to distribute government videos. When Malamud laid things out clearly during a congressional testimony, he was able to get politicians to supporting putting the videos in the public domain.

Rule 7: Get standing. Have some skin in the game and a reason that you are at the table. If there’s something clearly wrong that can be documented, the government has to talk to you.

Rule 8: Get the bureaucrats to fight with you.

Some people might have started shaking in their boots when the Oregon legislature sent a take-down notice for publishing their state statutes online. They claimed it violated copyright because the state sold a print edition of the statues and Malamud’s website was threatening their revenue stream.

Rule 9: Look for overreaching, something that’s truly nuts.

Since state statutes can’t be copyrighted, Oregon eventually came around and voted to waive the actions about copyright.

Rule 10: Don’t be afraid to fail.

Malamud closed his talk by telling the tale of Thomas Edison who reportedly failed 10,000 times before he got the lightbulb to work. “I have not failed,” Edison said, “I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

“Fail often. And don’t forget to question authority,” Malamud concluded.

By Olivia Hubert-Allen and Laura Smith

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30 04 2010

The final day of the FutureWeb conference at WWW2010 in Raleigh features the following schedule: JOIN US

Marc Rotenberg

Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center is a moderator and key speaker at Day Three of FutureWeb.



FutureWeb attendees invited to attend the WWW2010 KEYNOTE BY CARL MALAMUD, president and founder of

10-10:30 – Coffee break

10:30-12 – Concurrent sessions run in two rooms:

ROOM 304 – A SPECIAL SESSION with a keynote by BOB YOUNG of on the FUTURE OF PRINT PUBLISHING (including a follow-up Future of the Web interview session with Young led by Rainie).


12-1:30 – Lunch on your own

1:30-3 – Concurrent sessions in two rooms:



3-3:30 – Coffee Break

3:30-5 – Concurrent sessions in two rooms:

ROOM 402 – A SPECIAL SESSION in which LEE RAINIE interviews MARC ROTENBERG about the future of the Web,

ROOM 304 – THE FUTURE OF LEARNING IS THE FUTURE OF THE WEB (organized by CATHY DAVIDSON of Duke University, HASTAC and the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition; including LAURENT DUBOISMARK ANTHONY NEALNEGAR MOTTAHEDEH and TONY O’DRISCOLL).

Rainie, Searls interview: The future of open source, innovation, and value

30 04 2010

In the last session of the second day, Lee Rainie sat down with Doc Searls, the Linux Journal senior editor, and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman center. Searls is part of the Pew’s closest network, and has praised the Pew Research Center from early on.

Lee Rainie, left, interviews Doc Searls in a special session of FutureWeb. (Photo: Dan Anderson, Elon University)

Searls briefly discussed how he got into the Linux community, and said the appeal came from his observation that the Internet empowered individuals as much as it empowered larger organizations. He also talked of the connection between the Internet and construction, saying he had the inkling that “the language of writing code was the language of construction.”

Throughout the interview, Searls continued to relate the Net to construction and geology. He sees the Internet as the foundation for web ‘construction’ sites. “Buildings come and go, but the geology doesn’t, and the geology is the Net,” Searls said.

As a “correctly-labeled ‘Techno-uptopian,’” Searls maintained his optimism for the future of the Internet throughout the majority of the talk. When Rainie asked what he believes threatens innovation, Searls responded by saying that the originality of human beings could be endless. He elaborated by discussing some of his exciting initiatives, such as the Listen Log, which allows users to log what the listen to. In terms of public radio and other radio, Searls loves the idea of “giving people a way to see what it is they value.”

Rainie then moved to a question about the notion of property, and what the current world has wrong with its very definition.

“Intellectual property is an oxymoron,” Searls said. “We would not have the Internet now if people had asserted intellectual property control.”

Searls explained value beyond the physical realm, and how morality can play a role in the creation of this value. He contrasted two morality principles: the exchange, where one item is traded for another; and the relationship, where there is no transaction taking place, and there is no price put on love.

According to Searls, the Internet falls in the second category, where it is something so inherently generous, yet no transaction is taking place.

Rainie challenged this generosity concept, and asked the normally optimistic Searls what worries him for the future. He discussed global warming prospects and the notion of running out of Earth’s vital elements.

He compared our long-term state to the condition of ants with a hill on the sidewalk, metaphorically implying that eventually someone will step on (us).

“I hope the Internet will help us see that,” he said.

– By Katie Roberts

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Journalism facing tough times panel says

30 04 2010

The FutureWeb Future of Media panel.

Journalism is in the most tumultuous time in history according to the panelists from the FutureWeb session on the future of the media.

The panel was led by ibiblio creator Paul Jones and included Penny Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at University of North Carolina, Michael Clemente, senior VP of news for FOX News, Sam Matheny, general manager of News Over Wireless at CBC New Media Group,  Dan Conover and Doc Searls, Berkman Center Fellow at Harvard.

One of the hot topics discussed by the panel was the role the mobile phones and the mobile Web play in how consumers receive and disseminate information.

“Mobile will be for the next five to ten years the place where the majority of the innovation is coming from,” Maheny said.

One of the biggest examples of this idea is the iPhone, he said.

“People buy the iPhone with the phone being the afterthought.”

He also noted this stems from the need to obtain information on a rapid pace.

“People will always want access to info faster and easier than they can get it,” he said.

What this is doing to journalism, is lessening it, Clemente said.

“There’s more information out there than ever, ever been before but there’s less journalism,” he said. Clemente attributed this to a rush for journalists to be the first to get their story out and use the Internet as the platform to do so.

Print newspapers are part of the dwindling aspect of journalism as well, the panelists agreed.

Abernathy said this problem stems from the revenue side and the attempt at paywalls and their affects. In addition, there is a conflict with newspapers trying to preserve the traditional print model, she said.

Education for student journalists is another obstacle an audience member noted.

According to moderator Paul Jones, student journalists are now being required to learn and understand concepts such as data mining, data visualization, citizen journalism and storytelling.

“The key challenge will be for (student) journalists to provide the time to do that work,” Matheny said in reference to the programs such as Flash that take a more extensive amount of time to learn.

In terms of citizen journalism, Abernathy said it won’t save journalism.

Searls said there is not a rift between bloggers and journalism. “I think bloggers are journalists,” he said.

Conover said the major question is what is good.

“Today I don’t know what’s good anymore,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re making the world better, sometimes I think we’re making society sicker…We have people who are horrendously misinformed.”

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