|IMS 221 Information Policy
|Peter Lymanemail@example.com. 642-1087.|
|Class meetings:||Friday 10-12, 107 South Hall|
|Office hours: ||Tuesday 12-2, Friday 1-3 Room 303A South Hall|
The idea of an information policy seems modern, yet the Constitution defines the principles that still guide the
politics of innovation in America. The Constitution contains the word information: "[The President]
shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union." It defines a principle
of innovation to guide the ownership and distribution of knowledge and inventions: "To promote the Progress
of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their
respective Writings and Discoveries." And, of course, the 1st Amendment links information access
to democracy: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." And perhaps of equal, if less obvious importance,
the commerce clause -- "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the
Indian Tribes" -- since information has always been embedded within commodities that are transported on
As heirs to the Enlightenment, the founders were well aware of the links between technology and politics, but
could not have foreseen the technologies that have emerged over the past two centuries. Thus American history
provides a long dialogue between technology and policy, beginning with the establishment of the U.S. Post Office
(subsidized newspaper delivery, postal road infrastructure); railroads; telegraph; telephone infrastructures
and regulated monopolies; the first new media, radio and television; and now digital networks and information.
Each has provided a model for governing the next, but an important part of the innovation process is the discovery
that new technologies require new concepts and rules. Is this because each technology has unique characteristics,
or because each changes the social context of politics, or both? In asking this, however, we must not assume that
technology causes social and political change in some simple way, for one of the lessons of history is that political
choice also shapes the development of new technology.
This syllabus investigates the following questions that underlie information policy today:
- What kind of innovation is digital information? How are current political decisions shaping its nature
and dynamics? How is it, in turn, changing the nature of politics?
- How well do the political strategies created to govern previous innovations – especially print and telecommunications –
work in governing digital networks and information?
- Is an information policy the right goal, or should information policy be guided by an innovation policy that
contains a broader social vision?
The readings link current information policy problems to research on the social impact of digital information. The major themes and issues are:
- The 1st Amendment, digital speech, and the Communications Decency Act.
- Print copyright, digital documents, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
- How will digital documents change intellectual property? Organizational politics?
- Should the network be governed like telecommunications? Like television?
- Is the telecommunications model of universal service a good model for universal access on the Net?
- Is "information flow" a better conceptual framework for networked information than "infrastructure"? If so, how does it help to analyze the problem of information privacy?
- Is digital information uniquely new? If so, how might it be governed?
- How can nation states govern a global communications infrastructure and flow?
Ithiel de Sola Pool, Technologies of Freedom
Reader for IMS 221, Copy Central (available August 31). The reader contains most required readings; copies
of a few readings from .com addresses must be downloaded the Web for individual educational use.
Assignments and Course Requirements:
1. Class participation. Information Policy is designed as a seminar, thus participation in class discussions is essential. Student(s) should lead class discussions on specific themes from the syllabus, hopefully tied to your research paper theme. (20%)
2. Class papers. Two analytic papers (<10 pages) are required (around the end of September and the end of October), investigating a policy issue or theme from the syllabus in more depth. Assigned topics will be handed out, but students may propose alternatives. (40%)
3. A research paper (~20 pages) investigating an information policy problem or concept is due by December 10, 1999. Topic proposals should be submitted by mid-November. (40%)
Information Policy Syllabus
- What political principles govern U.S. information policy? (August 27)
- Ithiel de Sola Pool, "A Shadow Darkens," Technologies of Freedom, 1-10.
- Carl Shapiro & Hal Varian, "US Government Information Policy," July 30, 1997, from http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/~hal/people/hal/papers.html.
- The National Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Action from http://metalab.unc.edu/nii/NII-Executive-Summary.html.
Is digital information like speech? Information and Democracy (Sept. 3)
- Monroe E. Price, "Free Expression and Digital Dreams: The Open and Closed Terrain of Speech," Critical Inquiry 22:1 (Autumn 1995) 64-89.
- Jerry Berman & Daniel J. Weitzner, "Abundance and User Control: Renewing the Democratic Hart of the First Amendment in the Age of Interactive Media," The Yale Law Journal 104:1613 (1995) 1619-1637.
- Eugene Volokh, "Cheap Speech and What It Will Do," The Yale Law Journal 104:1805 (1995) 1806-1850.
- Brenda Dervin, "Information-Democracy: An Examination of Underlying Assumptions," JASIS 45:6 (July 1994) 369-385.
- Robert D. Putnam, "Tuning In, Tuning Out: The Strange Disappearance of Social Capital in America," PS: Political Science & Politics 28:4 (December 1995) 664-683.
- Mitch Kapor, "Where Is the Digital Highway Really Heading? The Case for a Jeffersonian Information Policy ", Wired Magazine, July/August 1993. Available at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1.03/kapor.on.nii.html
Is digital information like speech? Case study on the CDA. (September 10)
Should digital documents be governed like print? (Sept. 17)
- Ithiel de Sola Pool, Technologies of Freedom, Chapters 2,3 & 4.
- John Seeley Brown & Paul Duguid, "The Social Life of the Document," Release 1.0 (October 1995)
- Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, "The Electronic Vernacular," Connected: Engagements with Media, edited by George E. Marcus (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press 1996).
- Yochai Benkler, "Intellectual property and the Organization of Information production," from http://www.law.nyu.edu/benklery/Ipec.PDF
Should digital documents be governed like print? Case studies of the DMCA and UCC2B. (September 24)
Should digital documents be governed like print? Will digital documents change politics? (October 1)
- Max Weber, "Bureaucracy," From Max Weber (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978) 196-244
- Manuel Castells, "The Information Mode of Development and the Restructuring of Capitalism," The Informational City (Oxford: Blackwells, 1989) 7-32.
- Barry Wellman & Milena Gullia, "Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone: Virtual Communities as Communities," from http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman/links/index.html
- Eric S. Raymond, "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," from http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar.html.
- Jessica Litman, "The Public Domain," Emory Law Journal 39:4 (Fall 1990) 965-1023.
- Mario Biagioli, "The Instability of Authorship," FASEB Journal 12(January 1998) 3-16
First paper due on digital information as speech and/or print about now.
The information superhighway: what is "infrastructure"? (October 8)
- William J. Clinton & Albert Gore, Jr., "A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce" from www.iitf.nist.gov/eleccomm/glo-comm.htm
- Ithiel de Sola Pool, Technologies of Freedom, Ch.5-7
- Richard R. John, "The Politics of Innovation," Daedalus 127:4 (Fall 1998)
- Amy Friedlander, "Infrastructure: The Utility of Past as Prologue?" Fostering Research on the Economic and Social Impacts of Information Technology
Washington D.C.: National Academy Press, 1998) 165-187.
The information superhighway: Can the "e-rate" solve "the digital divide"? (October 15)
Information as signal: information flows? (October 22)
Information as Signal: Regulating global information flows (October 29)
- Peter Cowhey, "Building the Global Information Highway: Toll Booths, Construction Contracts, and Rules of the Road," in Drake, William J. ed., The New Information Infrastructure: Strategies for US Policy (20th Century Press, 1995) 175-204.
- Andrew Davis, "The First Technological Divide: Analogue Telecommunications" Telecommunications Politics: The Decentralized Alternative (New York: Pinter Publication, 1994) 19-85.
Second paper on conceptualizing information as infrastructure and/or signal due now.
- Swire & Litan, None of Your Business (Washington DC: the Brookings Institution Press, 1998)
Ch. 3. "Data Protection and Information Technologies" 50-75
Ch. 4. "Data Protection and E-Commerce" 76-89
Ch. 8. "Policy Recommendations," 170-172, 177-188
How can nation states govern global institutions like the Net? (November 12)
- Linda Weiss, "The Limits of Globalisation," The Myth of the Powerless State.
- David R. Johnson and David G. Post, "The Rise of Law in Cyberspace," from http://www.cli.org/X0025_LBFIN.html
- Joel R. Reidenberg, "Information Flows on the Global Infobahn" in Drake, William J. ed., The New Information Infrastructure: Strategies for US Policy (20th Century Press, 1995)
Innovation Policy or Information Policy? (November 19)
- Paul A. David, "Heroes, Herds and Hysteresis in Technological History: thomas Edison and ‘The Battle of the Systems" Reconsidered," Industrial and Corporate Change 1992 (1)1
- Vannevar Bush, "As we may think," available on the Web at http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/computer/bushf.htm
What problems do old policy metaphors help us solve? What new policy metaphors will we need to create to solve new political problems? (December 3).
- Reports from research papers in progress.
Final Research Paper due December 10, 1999.