Beyond the Web

Upcoming Salon Series events

Archived talks and streams

"Saving us from Big Tech: the Gen Z Solution"

Tech monopolies profit from undermining public health, democracy, human autonomy, and competition in the economy. The incentives of industry, politicians, and journalists are misaligned with the needs of consumers, but that means that young people are our best hope for both political solutions and new technology alternatives.

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"Infrastructure for Community Governance: Two Prototype"

Join Professor Nathan Schneider of the University of Colorado for a lively discussion asking what kinds of tools would we need to enable robust, creative shared governance in online spaces? This talk introduces two prototypes that attempt to answer that question: CommunityRule (for designing group structures and processes) and Modpol (for embedding governance in online games).

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If Doc Searls’ theory is right, markets will change radically—in compliance with what customers actually want, rather than what marketers can guess at (mostly by spying on people). His theory is that free customers are more valuable than captive ones—to sellers, to markets, and to customers themselves. Doc has been probing that theory since 2006 through ProjectVRM at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, and lately also at the Ostrom Workshop, where he and his wife Joyce are both visiting scholars.

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The main business model of the Web goes by a label we all now know from the title of Shoshana Zuboff’s landmark book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. How do we fight surveillance capitalism? And how do we work around it? How, especially, can we keep our new Byway from becoming infested with it—or with the mendacities behind it?

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The Web is wonderful. Yet, while it’s a place where you can gather easily and find nearly all the information you want, it’s also where it’s easy to unknowingly have your thoughts, opinions, prejudices and choices of friends hacked by algorithmic nudging and viral misinformation. How can we do better, elsewhere on the Internet—such as on the Byway we’re exploring in this salon series?

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“Back when the Internet took off, in the mid-1990’s, it was called the “information superhighway.” (See the usage trend here.) While that term has fallen out of use, the need for original approaches to transport, both offline and on, is greater than ever—especially since we seem to have entrenched status quos in both. Can we meet that need?”

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“How can the Internet do what its parents wanted it to do: extend human reach and cognition, facilitate coordination and cooperation, work as an architectural foundation, and have no owners? And why has the Web failed at much of that? Also, how can the Byway succeed while the Web is still busy failing, yet clearly satisfying a great many needs?”

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“What was the Internet in the first place? And can we get past seeing it through the lens of the Web?”

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