Information Technology

Corporations and Transparency: Improving Consumer Markets and Increasing Public Accountability

Corporations and Transparency: Improving Consumer Markets and Increasing Public Accountability
In "Transparency in Politics and the Media: Accountability and Open Government," Nigel Bowles, James T. Hamilton, David A. Lev, eds. I.B. Tauris/Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Gurin, Joel and Beth Noveck
12/09/2013

From cuneiform to card catalogs, people have always recorded data. But now we have tools to collect information faster than ever before. The proliferation of data includes statistics collected by governments about the economy, such as unemployment data or data that we supply on our tax returns and patent filings. When the media refer to the era of “Big Data,” they are including the vast amounts of information we also passively generate.  Our mobile phones and cars contain sensors to track and report our location, position, acceleration, and temperature.  The smart meters in our homes reveal when we turn on the heat or hot water. Companies increasingly gather data about our shopping and web browsing habits. The world’s storehouse of digital information is growing at the rate of five trillion bits per second.   

What is revolutionary is not only the quantity of data but also how we can use computers to search, sort, compare, aggregate, visualize, and track data. This kind of analysis can help us understand more about ourselves, our communities, and our environment, realizing the benefits of what has been called the quantified self  and community.  But these benefits can only be realized if data are available in a form that computers can ingest and process.  Data must be open –freely accessible and computable. When data are open, anyone can create sophisticated visualizations, models and analyses as well as spot mistakes or mix and mash across datasets to yield new insights.

Getting Started with Open Data, A Guide for Transportation Agencies

Getting Started with Open Data, A Guide for Transportation Agencies
May, 2012

Kaufman, Sarah M.
05/01/2012

Getting Started with Open Data is a guide for transportation agencies that would like to release their schedule data and administrative records to the public, and need an introduction to the practice. This guide is intended to result in streamlined use of transportation services and promote a productive dialogue between agencies and their constituents. It is being released as a living document, intended for input from both transportation data owners and users, to result in the most complete open transportation data guide possible.

Peer to Patent: Collective Intelligence and Intellectual Property Reform

Peer to Patent: Collective Intelligence and Intellectual Property Reform
20 Harv. J. L. Tech. 123 

Noveck, Beth
01/01/2006

The patent system is broken. The Constitution intended for patents to foster innovation and the promotion of progress in the useful arts. Instead, the Patent Office creates uncertainty and monopoly. Underpaid and overwhelmed examiners struggle under the burden of 350,000 applications per year and a mounting backlog of 600,000. Increasingly patents are approved for unmerited inventions. What if we could make it easier to ensure that only the most worthwhile inventions got twenty years of monopoly rights? What if we could offer a
way to protect the inventor’s investment while still safeguarding the marketplace of ideas from bad inventions? What if we could make informed decisions about scientifically complex
problems before the fact, rather than trying to reform the system ex post? What if we could harness collective intelligence to replace bureaucracy?
This Article argues that we should reform the patent system by re-designing the institution of patent examination. Our existing legal mechanisms for awarding the patent monopoly are
constructed around the outdated assumption that only expert bureaucrats can produce dispassionate decisions in the public interest. Building upon what we have learned from online and off-line systems of collaboration, we can now use the tools available to combine the
wisdom of expert scientific communities of practice with the legal determinations of a trained Patent Office staff.

The patent system is broken. The Constitution intended for patents to foster innovation and
the promotion of progress in the useful arts. Instead, the Patent Office creates uncertainty
and monopoly. Underpaid and overwhelmed examiners struggle under the burden of
350,000 applications per year and a mounting backlog of 600,000. Increasingly patents are
approved for unmerited inventions. What if we could make it easier to ensure that only the
most worthwhile inventions got twenty years of monopoly rights? What if we could offer a
way to protect the inventor’s investment while still safeguarding the marketplace of ideas
from bad inventions? What if we could make informed decisions about scientifically complex
problems before the fact, rather than trying to reform the system ex post? What if we could
harness collective intelligence to replace bureaucracy?
This Article argues that we should reform the patent system by re-designing the institution
of patent examination. Our existing legal mechanisms for awarding the patent monopoly are
constructed around the outdated assumption that only expert bureaucrats can produce
dispassionate decisions in the public interest. Building upon what we have learned from online and off-line systems of collaboration, we can now use the tools available to combine the
wisdom of expert scientific communities of practice with the legal determinations of a
trained Patent Office staff.

Trademark Law and the Social Construction of Trust: Creating the Legal Framework for On-Line Identity

Trademark Law and the Social Construction of Trust: Creating the Legal Framework for On-Line Identity
83 Wash. U. L. Q. 1733

Noveck, Beth
01/01/2006

The intellectual property system has fostered many debates, including recent ones, regarding how the system affects access to knowledge. Yet, before one can access, one must preserve. Two interconnected problems posed by the growth of online creation illustrate the predicament. First, unlike analog creations, important digital creations such as e-mails and word-processed documents are mediated and controlled by second parties. Thus, although these creations are core intellectual property, they are not treated as such. Service providers and software makers terminate or deny access to people’s digital property all the time. In addition, when one dies, some service providers refuse to grant heirs access to this property. The uneven and unclear management of these creations means that society will lose access to perhaps the greatest chronicling of human experience ever. Accordingly, this Article investigates and sets forth the theoretical foundations to explain why and how society should preserve this property. In so doing the Article finds that a second problem, which can be understood as one of control, arises.

This Article is the first in a series of works aimed at investigating the nature and extent of control one may have or exert over a work. As such, this Article begins the project by examining the normative theories behind creators’, heirs’, and society’s interests in the works. All three groups have interests in preservation, but the basis for the claims differs. In addition, an examination of the theoretical basis for these claims shows that the nature of the attention economy in conjunction with labor- and persona-based property theories support the position that in life a creator has strong claims for control over her intangible creations. Yet, the Article finds that historical and literary theory combined with recent economic theory as advanced by Professors Brett Frischmann and Mark Lemley regarding spillovers—positive externalities generated by access to ideas and information—reveals two points. First, these views support the need for better preservation of digital intellectual property insofar as it is infrastructure and has the potential for spillover effects. Second, although the creator may be best placed to manage and exert control of the works at issue, once the creator dies, literary, historical, and economic theory show that the claims for control diminish if not vanish. The explication and implications of this second point are explored elsewhere. This Article lays the groundwork for seeing that creators may need and have powerful claims for access and control over their works but that these same claims are necessarily limited by an understanding of the nature of creation and creative systems. The dividing line falls between life and death. The life and death distinction that this Article offers seeks to balance creators’ interests in control over a work and society’s interests in fostering later expressions and creations of new works. This Article examines the life side of the line.

The Law of Cyber-Space: An Invitation to the Table of Negotiations

The Law of Cyber-Space: An Invitation to the Table of Negotiations
United Nations Institute for Training and Research: Geneva, October

Kamal, A.
10/01/2005

The Law of Cyber-Space is a sequel to the earlier work on Information Insecurity, in which it had been pointed out that the absence of globally harmonized legislation was turning cyber-space into an area of ever increasing dangers and worries.

It lays down the parameters for a Law of Cyber-Space, and argues in favour of starting negotiations with the full participation of the three concerned stake-holders, namely, the governments, the private sector, and civil society.

In many ways, the situation in cyber-space is similar to the problems faced in dealing with the High Seas, where the absence of any consensus legislation had also created an avoidable and acute vacuum. The international community finally woke up to the challenge, and started negotiations on the Law of the Sea. Those negotiations went on for almost a decade before they succeeded. The world is much better off as a result.

In the case of cyber-space, the challenge is far greater. The speed of change is phenomenal, new shoals and icebergs appear every day, the dangers affect all countries without exception, but global responses are sporadic or non-existent. That is why a globally negotiated and comprehensive Law of Cyber-Space is so essential.

'Forever Worthy of the Saving': Lincoln and a More Moral Union

'Forever Worthy of the Saving': Lincoln and a More Moral Union
Lincoln's American Dream Edited by in Joseph Fornieri & Kenneth Deutsch. Potomac Books.

Kersh, R.
01/01/2005

Countering the claim that there is nothing new to be said about the 16th US president, political scientists Deutsch (State U. of New York-Geneseo) and Fornieri (Rochester Institute of Technology) introduce 33 diverse perspectives on his views and legacy. Lincoln scholars and political commentators examine such still-relevant themes as race, equality, the Constitution, executive power, war crimes, religion, and Federal vs. state rights. The last essay assumes the Lincolnian position on current debates over multiculturalism and abortion.

A Conceptual Framework

A Conceptual Framework
Chapter 1 in R. Zimmerman, R. and T.A. Horan, eds. Digital Infrastructures: Enabling Civil and Environmental Systems through Information Technology. London, UK: Routledge,

Zimmerman, R. & Horan, T.A..
01/01/2004

In a world that continues to increase in size and complexity, the dependence on information technologies (IT) that drive our life support systems is growing rapidly. Few other technologies have spread as rapidly. This book addresses the pervasive influence that IT has had on infrastructure, namely transportation, water supply and wastewater management, energy, and telecommunications, and its users. This is especially timely in light of the growing need for critical policy, management and technological choices about the reliability and security of IT and infrastructure systems, and in particular what was deemed critical infrastructure by the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection in 1997 (US Department of Commerce, Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office 1997) and again in 2003 by the White House (White House 2003).

Dept. of Building, Winning the West

Dept. of Building, Winning the West
The New Yorker, July 5,

Whitagker, C. & Finnegan, W.
01/01/2004

Both sides have started punching harder lately in the brawl over whether or not to build a seventy-five-thousand-seat football stadium over the Hudson rail yards on Manhattan’s far West Side. The New York Jets, who would own the place, will be taking computers from the mouths of needy schoolchildren if the state and the city are forced to provide the six hundred million dollars that would be their part of the deal—or, at least, that’s what the television ads paid for by the Dolan family, the owners of Madison Square Garden, say. Nonsense, say the Jets and their supporters, who include Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki, and the construction unions. The stadium will be such a financial success that it will end up giving computers to needy schoolchildren. Opponents say that the stadium will sink New York City’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics (the International Olympic Committee does not like controversy). No, say the stadium’s backers, it is the centerpiece of the city’s Olympic hopes.

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