I am starting to enjoy myself better every day here in Cambridge, Ma. Yesterday was the last day of the first week of the Summer Doctoral Programme and a good one it was. We started off with a session about copyright – leads Brian Fitzgerald and Wendy Seltzer – focusing primarily on intermediary liability in the context of copyright infringement. I was looking forward to this session because of my dissertation I plan to deal with liability of search engine intermediaries as well. We talked about the Viacom- Youtube lawsuit and about different recent Perfect 10 cases in the United States. I was impressed by the way Brian Fitzgerald made the material and important issues understandable for the group; there are a lot of people without a legal background. My conclusion with regard to balancing copyright enforcement with freedom of speech was: It is better to have 10 infringing pieces on the Web than 1 non-infringing piece taken down.
The next session was about democratic participation and new media, lead by Henry Jenkins and Carrie Lambert-Beatty. Jenkins is the author of ‘Convergence Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide‘. They showed some great videos and talked about the boundaries of policial participation and the possible empowerment by new media.
In the afternoon we went to visit MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is quite close to Harvard but has a totally different atmosphere on the campus. We first visited the Media Lab, than the One Laptop Per Child project and after that Chintan Vaishnav, one of the PhD’s in our group, gave a wonderful tour around the campus, full of little witty anecdotes.
The Media Lab was amazing. If you want your child to study something technical you have to take it there. If I would have seen that when I was 13 or 14, I would have dreamt of going to study at M.I.T. for the rest of my high school period. The child in me was further rewarded at the One Laptop Per Child center, where we were allowed to play a little with them. I had read about these laptops and their functionalities in a Dutch newspaper a couple of weeks ago. That had made me think I would love to have one myself. I wish the OLPC all the best with further implementing this project.
We finished the day with a dinner at a wonderful chinese place. The chinese in our company, Mena Ning Wang and Sampsung Xiaoxiang Shi , ordered a range of great and tasty dishes. I alomost exploded after that. After dinner we walked around on Harvard Square, where a strange kind of commercial hysteria had taken a hold on the Cambridge population. There was a line of at least 2000 people waiting to buy a copy of the new Harry Potter book. At least they were waiting for a book. The iPhone hysteria was even harder to understand.