Intellectual property law depends on technological changes of Internet, FutureWeb panel leader Dave Levine says

26 04 2010

This week at FutureWeb2010, Dave Levine of Elon University School of Law and creator of “Hearsay Culture,” a technology and intellectual property law interview radio show/podcast at Stanford Law School, will lead the panel on the future of intellectual property and the Web.

Panelists will include Ann Bartow of the University of South Carolina School of Law, Eric Fink of Elon Law, Jacqui Lipton of Case Western Reserve University and Ira Nathenson of St. Thomas University School of Law.

“It will be a range (of topics) from concerns about copyrights and trademarks to speech privacy,” Levine said. “We’ll be talking about international issues…it’ll be a broad coverage.”

Levine said one of the biggest concerns with Internet property law today is the question of how to adapt current law to meet the changes the Internet and technology bring.

“Within the world of Internet law generally, there’s a running debate about whether we need Internet specific laws or whether currently written law is good enough to cover the field,” Levine said. “The Internet, of course, has a variety of impacts from distribution, to creativity, to innovation and abilities for companies to bring products to market more quickly, to communicate with customers and competitors and licensing partners.”

Levine said it must be decided if Internet-specific laws need to be implemented or whether current law is adequate enough to deal with the changing technological landscape.

He also said it is laws such as Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that will affect issues such as piracy. ACTA looks to establish international standards on intellectual-property-rights enforcement within participating countries and is currently being negotiated in Congress.

“….Intellectual property law… is increasingly impacted and impacts the Internet itself; it’s an interesting interaction,” he said. “Where IP law is capable of dealing with the questions that the Internet raises, depends largely on how much change technology has lost to traditional social relationships and legal relationships.”

Levine said this topic will mainly be what the panel will be discussing. “Areas where they see the Internet and IP law conflicting and as the call of the conference suggests,” he said. “Looking towards the future for what the law should do, what issues will arise and how they should be addressed.”

To learn more about the future of intellectual property and the Web, register for the FutureWeb conference. More details about the conference schedule and speakers can be found on the FutureWeb site.

-By Laura Smith


MIT students create wireless mouse gloves for class project

8 04 2010

Step aside, iPad. The wireless glove mouse might just be the next big trend in computer technology.

Pop culture first introduced us to this futuristic concept in the 2002 action thriller, Minority Report, in which Tom Cruise uses simple hand movements on an advanced computer interface to call up information, shift it and manipulate it.

Thanks to cutting-edge research from MIT, the idea is no longer limited to science fiction cinema. In 2008, MIT students Tony Hyun Kim and Nevada Sanchez tackled a digital electronics class project last year in which they developed mouse gloves. They created an interface where they could merely wave their gloved hands in their air in order to navigate, zoom and manipulate a map on the screen. Their project used basic equipment that cost them less than $100.

Kim and Sanchez took their glove mouse invention one step further in March, making the device wireless. The duo says the addition of wireless capabilities adds the convenience of moving around more freely.

Watch the video demonstration of the wireless glove mouse:

The technology works through an LED located on the back of the gloves’ index fingers. It can then be picked up by a low-resolution webcam, allowing it to function as a cursor on the screen. There are buttons located under the index and middle fingers that can be activated by the thumbs in order to select specific areas.

Still, don’t expect this technology to be available to mainstream audiences any time soon. The pair of MIT students has no current plans to commercialize their invention, which they say was “really just cool to actually build in real life.”

Another MIT product, by a team led by student Pranav Mistry, was demonstrated by well-known technology researcher Pattie Maes at a TED conference in February 2009. The Sixth Sense is a wearable device with a projector – made for just $350 with off-the-shelf products – that also paves the way for the type of interactions seen in “Minority Report.”

Click here to view the Sixth Sense demonstration.

To learn more about developing and future technologies involving the Web, register for the FutureWeb conference.  More details about the conference schedule and speakers can be found on the FutureWeb site.

By Ashley Dischinger

FutureWeb speaker Cathy Davidson strives for enhanced learning through technology

18 03 2010

Image courtesy of Duke UniversityThe future of the Web is the promise for the future of learning and education according to Cathy Davidson, FutureWeb panel leader.

Davidson, Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University, will lead the panel on the Future of Learning and the Web at FutureWeb2010.

Panelists will include Laurent Dubois, historian of French colonialism and the Caribbean,  Mark Anthony Neal,  author and  scholar of Black popular culture in America, Negar Mottahedeh, academic author and Tony O’Driscoll, author of Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration.”

“All the panelists on my panel are public intellectuals who make the fullest use of the Internet and mobile technologies for the work they do out in the public,” Davidson said. “They are very public and political intellectuals who reach different audiences beyond the classroom or the academy. They’re new style educators.”

During the panel session, Davidson is hoping questions will be asked regarding where learning would be without the Internet and where it can go because of it.

“I think the main thing will be asking questions about…how would the world be different, how would learning be different if the Web didn’t exist and how will learning be different because of the web,” she said. “But even more than that, how do the future of the Web and the future of learning go together?”

Learning and technology

Davidson is the co-founder of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory), a network of individuals and institutions that examine how new technology can aid in education, organization and communication.

HASTAC recently joined the White House on the Educate to Innovate campaign, a movement by President Obama to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

According to Davidson, education and technology can work hand in hand to modernize the way students learn.

“I think there’s some disappointment that learning institutions, formal institutions of education, have not really comprehended the new learning styles used today,” she said. “As individuals, we have done a much better job of accommodating to all the changes in the world than our institutions have. Our institutions are much slower to change than individuals and I think education is often the slowest at changing and the last at change.”

Davidson said she believes education needs to become more collaborative among students.

“Learning has to be much more student driven,” she said. “It has to focus more on collaboration rather than single individual achievement. One thing that HASTAC has pushed very hard since 2002 when we started is something called collaboration by difference….We try to come up with situations where people who are almost opposite in their skill sets or the ways they learn or their interests come together to focus on a problem and to solve that problem together.”

Davidson is a big proponent of using laptops in the classroom and said it is a regular occurrence for her to tell students to get on the Internet in class.

“I say not only should they be sitting there with their laptops, put them to work,” she said. “I try to conduct my class almost like a hypertext with the students participating, linking what’s happening in the classroom to Google searches and flows of information that come back into the classroom from their searches.”

Digital Media Learning Competition

One of HASTAC’s current projects is the 2010 Digital Media Learning Competition in conjunction with the MacArthur Foundation’s $50 million DML Initiative which allows individuals to explore how digital technology is changing learning and everyday life. Winners will be announced the first week of May.

To Davidson, the competition entails collaboration between individuals who can create technology with those who can think critically about it.

“For students it  means two things,” she said. “One is that informal learning is happening in all kinds of ways outside the school systems… We’re all learning how to collaborate, we’re learning how to customize…we’re learning how to participate in new ways. All those constitute new ways of social, civic and cognitive forms of learning.”

Where learning is headed

“The future of learning needs to see more and more of a return to learning by doing, learning by experiment, learning by creative engagement,” Davidson said. “(It needs to be) much more hands-on kinds of learning and I think that’s true in all fields whether we’re talking about the humanities or computer science.”

Davidson said she sees technology aiding in capabilities such as distance learning, teaching via gaming platforms or virtual environments and communication between teachers and students in different parts of the world.

“Digital technologies are a big factor in facilitating collaboration, not just as tools but in the deep structure the thinking,” Davidson said. “Learning is going to be done by communities that are not necessarily communities of people in the same place but distributed communities working together for specific goals.”

Upcoming projects

In addition to her work with the Digital Media Initiative and contribution to the FutureWeb conference, Davidson will soon make history with her book, Now You See it:  The Science of Attention in the Classroom, at Work, and Everywhere Else.

“It is about our ability to see new options when we have the right tools and the right partners,” she said.

Last week, Viking Press Publishers announced its partnership with iPad and the book will be one of the first to be available on the digital tablet.

“My book is going to be among the first generation of books that Viking Press publishes in its partnership with the iPad and that will be designed in multimedia formats, hypertext links, and interactive features and applications that push the boundaries of what a “book” is,” she said. “I’m thrilled.”

Davidson will lead the panel on the Future of Learning and the Web on Friday, April 30.

“I think FutureWeb is going to be as exciting as the WWW Conference,” she said. “Janna Anderson and Paul Jones and others have done an incredible job putting together FutureWeb.”

-By Laura Smith,

Pew Research Center releases new study on participatory news consumerism

4 03 2010

The Pew Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism released a joint report Monday exploring the “participatory news consumer.” This new breed of news consumers is the product of advancing technologies and interactive media that continue to enhance the news consumer’s experience.

Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project and a keynote speaker at FutureWeb, is a co-author of the Pew Research Center report on the participatory news consumer. (Photo courtesy of Flickr.)

Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project and leading participant in the FutureWeb 2010 conference, is co-author of the report. Rainie is scheduled as a keynote speaker to address issues surrounding the future of the Web, a topic that directly relates to his recently released participatory news consumer report.

The full 50-page report details research gathered on topics such as the general American news environment, the specific ways in which people use the news and the Internet’s impact on the news industry. The report also covers more recent trends in consumer news such as the attitudes and behaviors of on-the-go news consumers and news that takes on the characteristics of a social activity.

Pew’s research reflects many of the topics that will be discussed at FutureWeb 2010, namely the growing trend of participatory news. The explosion of the digital era, along with interactive Web sites, social media and new technologies, allows an overwhelming 92% of Americans to access their news through multiple platforms on a daily basis.

Almost half of those surveyed say they get news from four to six media platforms, including national TV, local TV, the Internet, national newspapers, local newspapers and the radio. The report also revealed that the Internet is now the third most popular source of news.

The increasing popularity of the Internet is directly related to the survey’s findings that Americans are now embracing a variety of participatory news media. Approximately 37% of Internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented on stories or propagated news through postings on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook.

The majority of those surveyed say that their news experience is becoming increasingly social. Friends, family and co-workers commonly share links, post news stories to their social networking sites and link to other news on personal blogs. Topics and current events are discussed through the Internet platform.

Pew reports:

“The advent of social media like social networking sites and blogs has helped the news become a social experience in a fresh way for consumers. The ascent of mobile connectivity via smart phones has turned news gathering and news awareness into an anytime, anywhere affair for a segment of avid news watchers.”

Pew also reports:

“Online, the social experience is widespread: 75% of online news consumers say they get news forwarded through e-mail or posts on social networking sites and 52% say they share links to news with others via those means.”

The report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans’ use of the Internet, with data collected through phone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between December 28, 2009 and January 19, 2010. The sampling reviewed the responses of 2,259 adults, age 18 and older. Pew Internet reports a 95% confidence rate that the range of error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

The Internet & American Life Project continues to conduct surveys and analyze research on Internet-related issues that continue to impact the daily lives of Americas, as part of a nonpartisan, not-for-profit initiative. The team has been examining the social impact of the Internet since the late 1990s.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism aims to conduct research to better understand the information revolution. This project specifically evaluates press performance through content analysis in a manner that simultaneously helps journalists who produce the news and news consumers.

The Pew Internet & American Life Center is currently conducting research on what specific technologies are utilized the most, what people are doing online and how consumers are using Pew’s research. For more information, visit the Pew Internet homepage.

By Ashley Dischinger

Investigation of School Official Monitoring Students Raises Issue of Privacy Rights

28 02 2010

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Facebook pages, Twitter updates, YouTube videos, blogs and other popular social media tools certainly demonstrate our culture’s tendency to favor transparency over privacy. Still, the recent controversy involving an FBI investigation into allegations that a Pennsylvania school official remotely monitored a student in his home causes one to question the boundaries of personal privacy.

The family of the student filed a lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District, accusing an assistant principal of spying on their son through his laptop’s webcam.

CNN reports:

“District Superintendent Christopher McGinley rejected allegations. ‘At no time did any high school administrator have the ability or actually access the security-tracking software,’ he said. ‘We believe that the administrator at Harriton has been unfairly portrayed and unjustly attacked in connection with her attempts to be supportive of a student and his family.’”

Still, school officials admit they failed to make families aware of laptop features that allow the school to monitor the computer hardware.

The Lower Merion School District would be within their legal rights to remotely access student laptops if one were reported lost or stolen. The correct procedure, so as to not violate privacy laws, is to request access from the district’s technology and security department and receive authorization before utilizing the security feature.

The development of new technologies such as the laptops’ security-tracking software certainly presents several advantages, yet the potential invasion of privacy undermines the benefits. The capability of school officials to remotely monitor unsuspecting students in their own homes has frightening implications. A simple abuse of power can easily result in the potential violation of students’ privacy rights, as demonstrated in the ongoing Pennsylvania investigation.

The ongoing Lower Marion School District investigation isn’t the only case regarding student privacy issues. A New York middle school assistant principal, Dan Ackerman, is at the center of a similar controversy. After the introduction of a new technology program, aimed at enhancing the education of its students, Ackerman openly details how he can activate student webcams and monitor their activities remotely.

In an interview with Frontline, Ackerman said:

“6th and 7th grade have cameras. This kid looks like they’re editing their MySpace page…they don’t even realize that we’re watching. I always like to mess with them and take a picture…nine times out of 10 they duck out of the way, then they shut down and get to work.”

For the sake of maintaining a certain degree of discretion, both online and in day-to-day life, let’s hope this is not a lasting trend. New technologies promoting transparency ought to be embraced, but those that endanger basic human privacy rights warrant serious re-evaluation.

By Ashley Dischinger

Apple unveils anticipated iPad

3 02 2010

Last week, Apple introduced its highly anticipated tablet computer device, the iPad. The iPad acts similarly to the popular iPhone, running existing applications from the Apple apps store but with a much larger, nearly 10-inch screen. It is currently priced at $499 (not including applications, which will cost around $4 each).

According to Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, the iPad will be about a half-inch thick and weigh about 1½ pounds.

“What this device does is extraordinary,” Jobs said in an interview with CNN. “It is the best browsing experience you’ve ever had. … It’s unbelievably great … way better than a laptop. Way better than a smartphone.”

The iPad will allow users to read books, newspapers and magazines electronically, chat with friends, type and surf the Web.

However, the long awaited tablet device has been receiving scrutiny from hopeful admirers, and not just for it’s name being linked to a woman’s personal hygiene product.

The iPad does not have a camera (although Apple has already announced a camera connection kit which will include a $30 pair of adapters which will let you either plug the camera in direct or plug in an SD card to pull out the photos). It also does not have a USB port, phone, or Flash capability and there have been talks of its inability to run multiple applications at one time.

“The innovation is going to be limited to what’s possible [on the iPad], you know,” said Peter Farago, vice president of marketing at Flurry, a group that tracks app sales in a CNN interview. “I don’t think imagination can override the true limits of what’s offered.”

The iPad, used as an attempt to save print journalism some say, may still be in too much of its infancy to produce what users want while slapping on an expensive price tag.

“A large fraction of the public doesn’t read the news online as they did in print,” said Pablo Boczkowski of Northwestern University in an interview with Slate Magazine.

“They’re more interested in browsing, searching, linking, and interacting than they are in long, sustained intakes of information. “Put differently,” he said, “getting the news online is normally surfing, less often snorkeling, and very rarely scuba diving. Most people need a simple surfboard, rather than the complex—and costly—diving gear.”

According to Apple, there will be many more versions of the iPad to come. Only time will tell if the device becomes the next everyday household item or if it is merely a passing technological fad.

-By Laura Smith